Placating Our Kids With Placebos?

Brian Johnson, our marketing assistant at LWL Worldwide, sent us an interesting article yesterday.

It’s about a placebo pill developed by a woman who wanted to control her niece’s hypochondria by giving her some kind of pill — preferably not a drug, since her mother-in-law (also a nurse) had suggested Motrin.

Since placebos were not readily available at the drug store, she decided to develop one for kids called Obecalp (“placebo” spelled backwards). Basically a gummy candy that’s meant to taste bad so children think it’s medicine.

The whole article in the NY Times is here.

Okay, hold on a second… I sense good intentions from the inventor — after all, she didn’t want to give her children or her niece REAL drugs — but, come on! What the heck are we trying to teach our kids with this kind of “solution”?

First of all, in order for a placebo to be effective, the patient has to believe it’s a real drug with real ability to cure whatever ails them.

So either the parent has to be fooled too… or the parent would have to lie to their children.

Yeah, I know, parents lie about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny… but those are actually kind of a kiddie version of the Universe, in my eyes. Kids learn that if they want something (whether a toy car or a chocolate egg), and focus on how great it would be, but don’t get too attached to something, then the thing they wants often shows up. Early manifestation training!

What are the benefits of lying about a non-drug? All it does is teach kids that reaching for a pill is a “quick fix” to their problems… just the kind of lesson that can lead to serious addiction down the road.

So secondly, we’re potentially creating a generation of addictive personalities who believe sticking a pill in their mouths is a fast cure-all.

If children really do have aches and pains — or even if they only think they do — wouldn’t it be better to teach them about the healthy natural cures that are out there?

Here are a few that personally work well for me:

Got a headache? Down a teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a shot of liquid (I like to use flat cola to mask the hotness, and have found that citrus juice and cayenne doesn’t mix well — but an even healthier version would be apple juice, natural apple cider, or plain water). Then follow up with a chaser of the liquid. I like to pour it right back into the same glass so I rinse out the remains of the cayenne as well.

Another trick that works well is an ice pack on the forehead and/or eyes, or massaging the acupressure points that feel really tender — they’ll most likely either be around your eyebrows, on your temple, or at the back of your skull where it meets your spine.

Got an upset stomach? Natural Apple Cider Vinegar works extremely well. Mix about half an ounce of ACV in a glass of water, or make a stronger mix (1/2 ACV, 1/2 water) in a shot-sized glass if you want to just down it. Too acidic-tasting for you? Add some natural honey, which is actually supposed to enhance the ACV properties. Important tip: Only use natural ACV with the “mother” in it (it looks like it has stringy cloudy bits floating around) such as Bragg’s. This is very healthy, full of vitamins, and the same acidity as your stomach acid, so it helps you to digest.

Eating a cup of yogurt (especially plain) can also set your innards back to normal, almost immediately.

So really, why do we need placebos that can only cause more harm than good in the long run?

And if the problems children have are non-physical, then we have bigger life lessons to teach them. Tantrums? Acting up? Hyperactive? Not getting along with other kids? Yeah, placebos (or real drugs, for that matter, in my opinion) are the last thing we want to give kids at that point.

They might be convenient for the parent — but they only do a disservice to our children, and that’s the most important part of the equation.

Keep Unwrapping the Mysteries of Life!

Heather Vale

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