First of all I clearly do not think all supplements are placebos but frequently responses to supplements are placebo responses. A fact about supplements is that when supplements are taken there are very frequently noticable effects. When ill, change is viewed as a positive and the perception, which can be an illusion, is that one is moving away from being ill hence a placebo response.
The difficulty with supplements as placebos is that frequently change is not for the better or even biologically neutral and can even be for the worse which I think is all too frequently the case with supplements. Supplements are a minefield.
Individuals are biolgcially programmed to try to improve their health. Most people have a strategy for staying healthy. A non fad diet, excercise, and a continous learning program are right now by far the safest way to go. The best way to get a placebo response now from supplements is to take only one or two supplements and take only dosages suggested on bottles. This sounds facetious but is not taking a supplement at the suggested dosage that is ‘good for the immune system’ or ‘good for cardiovascular health’ is the safest way to get a placebo response though herbs must be avoided. All sorts of junk is put into herb formulations. I think one day supplements can be a key part of a healthy way of living.
That Silicon Valley is full of individuals who take lots of nootropics and lots of supplements does not bode well for Silicon Valley’s future.