Placebos have been in use since antiquity and may have been significant in improving health and quality of life when little was known about the etiology of most illnesses. In fact, most outcomes were likely due to a placebo effect since the available treatments were unproven. For example, the use of snake oil and bloodletting was a common practice of the past. However, those that responded positively to those treatments likely did so because of a placebo effect. The emergence of placebo-controlled clinical trials in the 1940s reintroduced the placebo effect to the modern day. The classic article “The Powerful Placebo” by Henry Beecher highlighted the placebo effect and emphasized a need to account for it to evaluate the efficacy of a treatment modality properly. Both research and clinical settings utilize the placebo effect.
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