Hi folks, I decided to work on my book Placebo 3.o in public. I am posting the intro here. My plan is to publish a new section each week. The final version will be available as ebook and in print. I hope you find this new perspective on placebos interesting and useful. Your feedback is very welcome.

This Book

This book is for anyone who seeks well-being and is open to exploring the power of their mind and body to

  • relief symptoms
  • self-heal
  • enhance performance
  • grow as a human being

This book is a life hack. We will cover the core experience of modern health care: taking pills. The purest version of this experience is to use pills designed to convey meaning, set expectations, and trigger healing in the absence of active ingredients – in other words, pure placebo. We’ll rethink what placebos are and how to design placebo-taking experiences that are honest, safe, and beneficial.

I’ll propose to use well-designed, branded placebos that are free of any active ingredients and are taken in a state of full awareness. These are 3rd Generation placebos. Honest placebo-rituals offer patients new ways to complement traditional medicine. I expect that 3rd Generation placebo-experiences will provide immediate benefit to many people. However, prior to using placebos, life style changes can help in many situations. There are highly effective and safe ways to obtain health and well-being that one should try out before taking placebos. Here are just some of my favorites:

  • exercising
  • eating mindfully
  • deep mediation
  • staying hydrated
  • getting enough sleep
  • having a fulfilling social and work life

For doctors, honest (double unblinded) placebo-administration offers new options to deliver care in a safer, more effective and more structured way.

Here is how I let the story unfold in this book:

I am start by proposing an update to placebo terminology, followed by a description of key studies that explored placebo effects. I’ll group the benefits of placebo experiences into four main categories and summarize for you how placebos may work. I am concluding the book with short placebo manuals: one for patients and one for doctors. The final chapter describes the multiple ways to well-being beyond the placebo experience.

The basic principles of this book are honesty and transparency. My re-design of the pill-taking ritual is based on honesty and trust. Where possible I back up my statements with research and cite sources. Where there is no research available, simply take my words as hypotheses to be explored further.


Enjoy this journey into the re-design of pill-taking experiences, fascinating studies, and mind-boggling hacks for complex systems. My wish is that this book helps you, that it advances placebo practice, and that it stimulates more research in this important field.


Contributions I intend to make with this book:

Proposal for an advanced placebo terminology

Overview of placebo studies and history

Framework for safe and ethical placebo use

Placebo innovations

Effective placebo design

Individual placebo outcomes tracking

New applications for placebos


Create, help others, feel better, get better, be honest,

– Uwe Heiss

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