C. Guijarro Neurosciences and History 2015;3(2):68-80
Type of article: ORIGINAL
C. Guijarro Department of Neurology. Hospital La Milagrosa, Madrid, Spain; Hospital Santa Bárbara, Puertollano, Spain.
Background. A placebo is a treatment designed to simulate a medical intervention, but which does not exert a biological effect on the disease in question. The term originates from the Latin for “I shall please”. Centuries of medical practice provide many examples that lead us to ponder whether the history of treatment is actually equivalent to the history of the placebo effect. The main question is whether the total effect of any substance is equal to the sum of the effect of its active ingredient (specific effect) and its placebo effect.
Methods and development. This study examines different treatments that have been applied throughout the history of medicine. In contrast with the medicine employed by primitive societies, which is based on magic and religion, modern pharmaceutical treatments always include an active ingredient.
Conclusions. The placebo effect is very important in clinical trials, considering that the placebo is the gold standard against which treatments are compared in these studies. Guidelines are needed for both alternative medicine and evidence-based medicine so that the placebo effect can be measured in both cases.
Placebo effect, history of medicine, clinical trials, alternative treatments
Neurosciences and History 2015;3(2):68-80
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