Hard to know how to approach this product…is it a massive scam, the likes of which you’d need big big balls to even attempt, or a fascinating and medically beneficial play on the weirdness that is human psychology (and perhaps even physiology)?

Enter the cunning wonder that is… Obecalp. Yep, Obecalp. D’ya geddit?

Anyone who spent a moment thinking about the above may have noticed that Obecalp is the backwards spelling of “placebo”. A placebo, for those unversed in the wonders of medical science amongst other fields, is a type of medication given to patients, often in a research study (but far from always), that is entirely inert. That is to say that there is no ingredient in it that would help with whatever the medical problem is. So it should do nothing to help. But sometimes that isn’t the case.

Instead it can lead to the “placebo effect”. This is where the patient, who is unaware that they have taken something designed to do nothing, appears to recover from their ailment thanks to this nothing-medicine thing. Very handy in research of course because it allows a comparison between experimental medications and this natural placebo effect, but not generally thought so handy for actual day-to-day general medical practice.

But maybe that changes with the “invention” of Obecalp; invention being in quotes insomuch as placebos were used rather before this brain-child was invented. And the “first standardized, inert placebo for sale to anyone” was invented “by a momma!” no less, as the promo materials and shop site massively emphasise for some reason. In fact Jennifer Buettner, mom-extraordinaire, has a related blog at http://inventedbyamother.com/.

So this product is now on sale, RRP $5.95 for a bottle of 50 - this is the regular strength variant the Poorhouse emphasises, there is no explanation as to how much the extra strong variation might cost - which basically are cherry flavoured dextrose pills (unlike, it must be said, most real medication. Have you ever chewed a Paracetamol?!).

It’s not passed any sort of FDA medical trials, but then it doesn’t need to because, despite its designated use-case, it’s classified as a diet supplement rather than a medicine. No clinical trials have been done on Obecalp, not even to compare it to placebo.

It’s marketed to mommas, to chuck down their kiddy’s throat whenever they start moaning about something. Better than whamming them full of downers to shut them up perhaps, but nonetheless various experts in whatever fields are full of doom and gloom reticence.

As quoted in the Guardian:

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?"

From the New York Times

“Placebos are unpredictable,” said Dr. Howard Brody, a medical ethicist and family physician at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. “Each and every time you give a placebo you see a dramatic response among some people and no response in others…. The idea that we can use a placebo as a general treatment method…strikes me as inappropriate.”

Dr. David Spiegel, a psychiatrist who studies placebos at the Stanford School of Medicine, said conditioning children to reach for relief in a pill could also make them easy targets for quacks and pharmaceutical pitches later. “They used to sell candied cigarettes to kids to get them used to the idea of playing with cigarettes,” he said.

“I don’t like the idea of parents lying to their kids,” said Dr. Steven Joffe, a pediatrician and bioethicist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. “It makes me squeamish.”

Unsurprisingly, Jennifer doesn’t really agree, saying, slightly unconvincingly some might say, “The overprescription of drugs is a serious problem, and I think there needs to be an alternative”…the alternative seemingly being prescribing more drugs, albeit ones that have no chemical basis for working. Also that there are no particular pseudo-prescribed usages for this magic pills, rather “you’ll know when Obecalp is necessary”.


The reverse word I'd like to see

Personally, I'd like to treat all the whiney kids with that old remedy 'Nosiop'. That quietens them down. But I have issues.

Old style remedy

That is an alternative to bromide-containing sedatives. The name of that drug used to be `sedoneural`, which was taken off the market because of the side-effects. That was an inorganic source of bromide. I guess since cherries are a natural source, it would count as an organic alternative. Yummy !

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