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best ingredient for a placebo pill?


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Just something I was thinking about... if you were designing a study that including a placebo, what would you use as the ingredient in the placebo pill?  It seems like lots of potential ingredients could cause a physiological response (like sugar, anything with gluten, any type of bean based flour).  Was thinking maybe corn starch? Maybe powdered vitamin C?  What is least likely to cause any sort of reaction or stomach upset or blood sugar spike?  Assume the placebo dose could be as high as 4 grams or 8 "00" capsules at one time.


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Some bit of indigestible fiber, like konjac. If it's a small amount, like 4 grams or so, it should not impact anything like blood sugar or anything, since it's not bound up with anything else in a matrix, it's not getting digested, it's just passing along into the colon, where such a small amount is not going to have any special binding ability on anything else. I'd think that's a pretty good bet on something fairly neutral. Now, if it was more than a few grams, perhaps it would impact the gut bacteria and exert some effect through that, but not something that's like 4 grams. YMMV. 

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5 hours ago, TomBAvoider said:


According to: https://www.healthline.com/health/konjac#how-to-use-konjac

Recommended dosages vary by manufacturer and what you’re using it for. They typically range from 2 to 6 grams. 

Like most high-fiber products, however, it may cause digestive problems such as:

  • bloating
  • diarrhea or loose stools
  • abdominal pain
  • gas
  • nausea
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Well, konjac is just one fiber - there are many others, perhaps some less prone to having side effects. However, I have to say, any - and I mean any - foodstuff can cause all sorts of side effects and you can be allergic to literally anything, including your own sweat. So, before I'd get overly concerned about those possible side effects of konjac, I'd see how commonly it happens - if it happens rarely, then it's not much of a concern.

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