At first, I thought this was an ‘April fools’ joke. Then I looked at it a bit closer and realized that it seemed for real: Amazon is selling a placebo tablet. Here is how it is advertised:
- Honest Placebo Tablets by Zeebo Effect, inert ingredients, halal & kosher
- Focus on symptom relief, concentration, clarity, energy, calm, sleep
- Ze logo on each tablet, the original honest placebo brand trusted since 2014
- Randomized Controlled Trials with Zeebo Published in Journal for Pain, Nature, American Family Physician
- Each bottle is sealed with a transparent, tamper-proof neckband
Zeebo Tablets – Honest placebo tablets (white, round, 250mg each) are designed to help you create a safe placebo experience. Zeebo comes with the Ze logo on each tablet. Zeebo is made from an inert, natural fiber. Vegan, free of sugar or dyes. When it comes to Zeebo, You are the active ingredient. Users of Zeebo Tablets know they are taking a placebo containing only inert ingredients. Zeebo Tablets are taken intentionally obtain stress and pain relief, to release tension, irritability and nervousness, to help with calm and sleep serving as a sleep aid. Some of our customers take Zeebo Tablets to solicit placebo effects for increased mental focus, clarity, concentration, test performance and to sustain higher energy levels during physical exercise. Zeebo tablets are pure placebo, they are non-drowsy, non-homeopathic. There are no known interactions between Zeebo Placebo Tablets and other medications or supplements. Do not use Zeebo to delay or replace medical treatment. Visit zeeboeffect.com to learn about Zeebo. Look for the ebook The Placebo Cure to find out more about how to create your own Honest Placebo experience.
Take as needed. You may or may not respond to placebo. Do not use Zeebo to replace or delay medical treatment. Use Zeebo without deceit.*
* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease.
Statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.
Zeebo Tablets are an ethical placebo. People take it knowing it is a placebo. Take it without self-deceit. Zeebo is not made to look like any other ingestible. In fact, we think that the Zeebo branding can help enhance the experience. Have a look into ethical placebo or honest placebo studies. You will find a lot of research there, published in the journals Nature, Pain, for example. No need to trick yourself.
After reading all this, I am again not entirely sure whether this is a hoax. If it is, I failed to get the fun of it. If it isn’t, there might be reasons for concern. When a placebo was marketed, a few years ago, THE GUARDIAN published opinions about the idea:
Jennifer Buettner, whose company Efficacy is marketing the placebo, says it can stimulate “the body’s ability to repair itself and the miracle power of the brain”. She said the company planned to distribute the pills, which cost £3 for 50, in the UK. “When drugs are not needed and the patient still thinks that medicine would help, we believe that the placebo effect can work,” she said.
But Dr Clare Gerada, vice-chair of the Royal College of GPs, described the pill as “medicalising love”, adding: “This placebo disempowers parents. It is telling them that unless you give your children this pill there’s nothing else.” Douglas Kamerow, associate editor of the British Medical Journal, said giving placebos to children was a “deeply bad idea”. Writing in the latest edition of the journal, he said: “The problems are numerous. Firstly, whom are we treating here, children or their parents?” He added that if parents used placebos to comfort their children they were teaching them that tablets are the answer for all life’s aches and pains.
As we have seen previously, the evidence on ‘open placebos’ is less impressive than many think. It makes me wonder whether the sale of placebo tablets is a good idea.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?