Nearly every drug and medical devices on the market are tested against the power of your mind–the power of suggestion–otherwise known as the placebo effect. However, this was not always the case. Before 1963, drugs that were sold in the United States had to be proven safe, but they did not have to be proven effective. It was common to find many drugs on the market that claimed to be effective for a wide variety of health conditions without any proof that they actually worked. Then, in 1963 Congress enacted an amendment to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, which required drug manufacturers to actually prove that their products were both safe and effective.

It was common knowledge even then that the power of suggestion could heal a wide array of health disorders, so placebo-controlled clinical trials became the standard proof of effectiveness. This type of clinical trial intentionally obscures or “blinds” both the patient and the researcher to the nature of actual treatment. In other words, some patients receive the studied drug, some receive a dummy drug (the placebo) and some receive no treatment at all, and the doctor administering the treatment does not know which patient is in what group.

Without fail, the group that receives only the power of suggestion improves, often with remarkable results: 20%, 30%, 50% or more of the efficacy of treatment is often attributed to this amazing feature of our own minds. To prove effectiveness the studied therapy only has to have a slightly higher rate of success than the placebo treatment. And while most headlines report the new “wonder drugs” of the day, they fail to highlight the even more amazing results of the power of suggestion.