The history of medicine is largely the history of the placebo effect. Before the 20th century, symptomatic relief was the main criterion of the physician’s art. Evidence-based medicine de-emphasizes intuition, unsystematic clinical experience, and pathophysiologic rationale as a sufficient ground for clinical decision making and stresses examination of evidence from clinical research. However, evidence-based medicine is not “cookbook” medicine. There are several areas where the importance of the “art of medicine” remains. The expectations of population regarding medicine are often exaggerated. Economic welfare and social cohesion determine the population’s health more than medicine, while both lifestyle and the environment play an important role. Alternative medicine and complementary medicine may well support academically orientated services but they need adequate legislation.