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A Piece of My Mind
July 28, 1999

Can an Amulet Cure Leukemia?

Author Affiliations

Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1999;282(4):307. doi:10.1001/jama.282.4.307

Since antiquity, people have attempted to ward off misfortune, sickness, and "evil spirits" by wearing pieces of paper, parchment, or metal discs inscribed with various formulae to protect or heal the bearers. Such artifacts, known as amulets or talismans, are frequently mentioned in talmudic literature, where they are called kemiya. Consisting either of a written parchment or of roots or herbs, the amulet is worn on a small chain, in a signet ring, or in a tube. It was considered to be of proven efficacy when a physician certified that it had cured either one sick person on three different occasions or three different persons. In the ancient world, amulets were considered part of the legitimate therapeutic armamentarium of the physician.1

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