Placebo me up!


So my life this past few months has been a bit of a rollercoaster. And when I say ‘rollercoaster’, I’m speaking as a person whose (rare!) rollercoasting experiences have normally involved terrified screams of “GET ME OFF THIS THING I AM GOING TO DIE NOW I DO NOT WANT TO DIE”, combined with a truly special level of nausea as I hang on for dear life and try not to open my eyes. In short, I’m more of a dodgems girl myself.

This is also, by the way, why posts here have been few and far-between. Bloggistry has had to take a back seat to sorting my life out, I’m afraid. I haven’t forgotten you, though, and by now I have notebooks positively bulging with notes on posts.

One of the side-effects of all of this rollercoastering has been absolutely terrible sleep, with all that goes with it. Not wanting to do anything with potential major side-effects about this, I’ve spent the past week popping herbal, alt-meddy sleeping pills. They’ve worked a treat! I’m less irritable, more optimistic, and the bags under my eyes no longer look like I’ve been moonlighting as a punching bag. Result!

I’m pretty sure that this is mostly the placebo effect. I say ‘pretty sure’ and ‘mostly’ because I’ve been incredibly careful to not research these particular herbal, alt-meddy sleeping pills at all. I know that they’re not homeopathic, and that’s about it. While I’m well aware that the placebo effect works even if you know it’s a placebo, I’m not willing to part my money with stuff I know to be bullshit. You’ll note, by the way, that I’m not letting on to You Lot what they are either. I know you too well to think that one of you wouldn’t have a link to something empirical in the comments before I’d finished my cuppa.

So here’s my question to you: What do you think about knowingly placebo-ing yourself? How would you feel about treating yourself with things you know to be placebos? Do you think there’s anything dodgy about it? Do you think it’s ridiculously cool that it works? I’m unsure myself. But for now, I ain’t complaining.

2 thoughts on “Placebo me up!

  1. If it works, it works. No matter the reason. And considering herbs were the source of lots of pharmaceuticals, it’s very likely that it’s not a placebo effect. Valerian is the source of valium, f’rex. St. John’s Wart has melatonin. If you’re taking either, keep these facts in mind: St. Johns Wart makes you susceptible to sunburn, and valerian shows up on piss tests as valium. Word on the street is that valerian is also addictive.

    Some folks swear by catnip tea before bed. I suspect it is setting a habit that is effective, rather than any quantifiable compound in nepeta.

    Chamomile is a mild emmenagog, but it seems to be a favorite for a sleep aid.

    I’d advise against just taking an herb without looking it up; They too have side effects, just like drugs. Their value is in how easy they are to get compared to prescription drugs, their affordability. Remember, cannabis is an herb, too!

  2. I’m totally in your camp–I think it’s amazing how well placebos work, and I would totally use a placebo in any case that it’s effective. (Exactly as @Edie_Howe says: If it works, it works!) But I also wouldn’t want to spend money on something that I know to be purely a placebo. Maybe if it tasted good and was a placebo….

    And @Edie_Howe is also right that certain herbs can have very powerful effects and side effects. I’m glad that you haven’t experienced any side effects yet that have made you kick yourself for not researching the stuff. I’ve used herbs successfully without too much research as well, but it’s always a tiny risk.

    As for me, I’m sick, too, and I’m about to poke into my newly-purchased variety pack of herbal “wellness” teas to see what I might want to try first. (Hopefully they’ll taste good, even if the placebo doesn’t work!)

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