This post is for independent researchers interested in putting drugs through their paces. No one on the payroll of drug companies would even dream of trying to make better placebos because it would make drugs performance worse by comparison. If better placebos coupled with better health care methods produced more cures and less suffering than drugs, and did it more inexpensively, then more power to placebos.
Why not engineer better, more effective placebos? And when doctors study the effects of withdrawing medication, why not use highly engineered generic placebos rather than nothing during the withdrawal? Afraid of seeing how unnecessary continued use of the medication really is, once the symptoms have been alleviated and the placebo effect has aided the ailing brain?
Generic placebos could be highly engineered to be more effective. Not just sugar pills, and though tasting good may be helpful in compliance, it has the disadvantage in that many people associate effectiveness with a bitter taste. Maybe make different types of generic placebos and give them to patients based on their answers to questionnaires about efficacy. In any case, definitely a pill that makes the person feel better, just by taking it.
How about vitamin and mineral supplements geared to match common deficiencies that exacerbate our worsening health? Particularly important would be those important “V3 nutrients” not common in supplements. The standard placebo could also have some taurine and any other such substances in it to energize and lift the spirits of the patient. Better yet, a set of placebos -taken on a rotating basis- with proper doses (usually “low”) of all kinds of beneficial agents.
How about disease-specific placebos? Why not match placebos to medicines, with 10x or so dilutions of medicines (with 90% being the generic placebo ingredients) to reduce side effects, while still capturing a small beneficial effect on the symptoms? Something to make a fuss over, something to encourage the patient to keep taking them.
Simpler and Better: a short course with real medicines to knock down symptoms – followed by withdrawal with generic placebos. Once the patient thinks he is cured, he won’t need the medicine anymore, provided that the “mental problems” behind his disease susceptibility have been properly dealt with during the medical treatment. Success in that “psychological” treatment defines the time to stop the medication (not relief of symptoms per se)
The real power behind the placebo effects
What needs more work than the actual high-tech composition of placebos is the healing hands of the doctor. It is the skillful psychiatrist -mostly a relationship counselor with training in relentlessly applying Pareto’s principle to get the most out of procedures with the least effort – within the confident, reassuring, gentle, caring, patient GP who helps to alleviate the mental anguish torturing the suffering patient, or who is so skillful that he can find workable solutions to their personal problems, or refer them to specialists who can (in some cases, these specialists may be attorneys or financial advisors).
And why not have some psychiatrists rebrand/retrain themselves as GPs? This gets past the stigma some people still associate with seeing a psychiatrist. The patient comes in and spends most of his time talking about what is eating at him. At the end, the soothing and confident GP prescribes lifestyle changes tailored specifically to the person’s “problems,” including improved interpersonal relationships, stress control, improved nutrition and outdoor exercise, and highly engineered placebos, and refers those patients with more serious symptoms to specialists in dealing with those psychiatric problems. With proper training, they will best conventional medicine with ease.
Associated essential practitioners would also include experts in interpersonal relations, nutrition, stress-management, and time management. The current GP with his toxic medications -administered chronically- can more or less go away or better, morph into something useful.