Should Placebo Effect be Used in Medicine

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Your mind can be a powerful healing tool when given the chance. The idea that your brain can convince your body into thinking that a fake treatment is a real treatment is called the placebo effect

The placebo effect is defined as a phenomenon in which some people experience a benefit after the administration of an inactive substance or sham treatment.

A placebo is a substance with no known medical effects, such as sterile water, saline solution, or a sugar pill. This placebo effect, has a long, rich history, it certainly had an outsized role in the medicine of centuries in the past when useless pills and potions were all that physicians had to offer.

The first scientific demonstration of the placebo effect came in 1799 when a British physician, John Haygarth, set out to test one of the quack remedies (medical treatments that you think are unlikely to work because they are not scientific) on sale at that time which was a expensive metal rods named Perkins tractors that’s purpose was to draw disease from the body. Haygarth pitted these rods against sham, wooden Perkins tractors that looked just the same as the 5 genuine ones on sale, and found that 4 of 5 patients with rheumatism reported that their pain improved.

Place in Society

Placebos are often used in clinical trials as an inactive control so that researchers can better evaluate the true overall effect of the experimental drug treatment under study. In these clinical trials, one subset of patients would receive the placebo and one group would receive the experimental drug, but neither group is aware of which treatment they have received. In addition, researchers in the study would not know which patients have received active or placebo treatments. These studies are called “double-blind”

Furthermore, the placebo effect is no small or insignificant statistical aberration. Estimates of the placebo cure rate range from a low of 15 percent to a high of 72 percent. The longer the period of treatment and the larger the number of physician visits, the greater the placebo effect.

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As of 2013 in the UK About one in eight said that they had given out 'pure placebos' such as sugar pills and saline solutions, And 97% said they had prescribed 'impure placebos'


30% of people who suffer form chronic pains get relief from placebos. It Mimics the effects of the 'study drug' and so provides a cheaper way to gain the same effects. Researchers have found that the placebo treatments can stimulate real physiological responses, from changes in heart rate and blood pressure to chemical activity in the brain, in cases they treat illness involving pain, depression anxiety, fatigue, and even some symptoms of Parkinson’s.” Studies have found that there was a 50 percent decrease in the normal seizure frequency for people who have epilepsy
In the U.S. common pain relievers called NSAIDs, examples of which include Advil, Motrin, Aleve and aspirin, account for an estimated 7,600 deaths and 76,000 hospitalizations every year. Therefore using placebos would be a more safer option


Individuals can experience negative symptoms as a response to a placebo, a response that is sometimes referred to as the 'nocebo effect.' For example, a patient might report having headaches, nausea or dizziness in response to a placebo.

Another argument says that if a patient is prescribed with a placebo, the correct diagnosis of a serious ailment might be postponed. Doctors and pharmacists could potentially open themselves up to fraud charges.

Placebos are know to make you feel better, they don’t always cure your illnesses. After taking the placebo the effect doesn’t last long. Critics argue that placebo effects tend to be small, temporary and inconsistent, and that they have little proven positive effect on diseases


My response to the question “should placebos be used in medicines more frequently”, is that placebos should not be used in medicines more frequently as after lots of research and investigation i have come to this conclusion for a number or reasons. Firstly i have learned that in some cases placebos don’t necessarily cure the disease or illness, they only make you feel better, The term 'cure' means that, after medical treatment, the patient no longer has that particular condition anymore. People take medicines to make them feel better but most importantly people take medicine to cure a illness or disease, if a medicine is not curing a disease then there is no point in taking it and also the placebos are only short term and don’t last as long

Secondly i have come to this conclusion as i came to find out that if a patient is prescribed with placebos then the correct diagnosis or treatment may be postponed and as a result of this the patients illness or disease may become even worst, making it harder for the doctors to figure out a cure for them

My final reason of this conclusion is that placebos only tend to work on people with a positive or uplifting attitude, it is said that the more a person believes they are going to benefit from a treatment, the more likely it is that they will experience a benefit. if a pessimistic person takes a placebo it is less likely to work on him/her whereas if a optimistic person was to take placebos it is more likely to work on him/her, medicines should work on all types of people with different attitudes, it is not worth the risk of the correct diagnosis or treatment may be pushed forward as i had mentioned on my previous point.

I do agree that Placebos should be used in medicine to cure little illness or disease but it shouldn’t be used in medicine frequently. Placebos should be seen as a second opinion or a plan B.

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