Can the Placebo Effect Mimic Psychedelics?
Psychedelics give the most significant transformations in consciousness known to humanity.
Current researchers called iatrochemists (chemists that offer chemical therapies for disease) consider that the dosage requirements of psychedelics are vital for effectiveness.
Having an overdose is very psychologically harmful. You’re more likely to overdose on marijuana than psychedelics making them perfect for study.
Microdosing has become one of the essential productivity pastimes of Silicon Valley, with knowledge of tech people swearing that LSD helps them focus.
As psychedelics are still illegal, little research has been done, but it is starting to snowball.
Director Robin Carhart-Harris at Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research has over 100 published papers on mental health issues using psychedelics as therapy.
The research center recently did one of the first microdosing large-scale studies. However, because of legal issues, the psychedelics were self-supplied, and the results were self-reported.
Published in eLife, the study consisted of 191 psychonauts to microdose either LSD or a placebo over a few weeks as they recorded the psychological effects.
Each volunteer was shown how to create their microdose gel capsules, with some containing LSD and others containing a placebo.
Volunteers then mixed the capsules in bottles to know if they were getting the LSD or placebo.
The studies’ design: every capsule had its QR code scanned after the ingredients were added but before the capsules were put in jars so that the scientists knew what the volunteers were taking.
The Placebo Effect Psychedelic Study
The drawback: the volunteers had to supply their acid. The lack of quality control may have had a profound effect on the results.
The results: the microdosers under LSD had described a better overall satisfied life, feelings of mindfulness, and significant reductions in paranoia.
The hook: the control group reported similar results. Between both groups, there were no statistical differences.
The researchers propose that the enhancements might not be due to the pharmacological effects of the drug. Instead, it is most likely the placebo effect.
Psychedelics are notoriously challenging to control forgiven the severity of the experience.
A study from 2019 found that 61% of the volunteers that received the placebo in its place of the psilocybin did feel some psychedelic effects, with some volunteers having full-blown acid trips.
There were a few volunteers that had reported they seen the paintings on the walls ‘reshape’ or ‘move’ themselves, and some people described being ‘heavy as if gravity [had] a greater hold.’ One woman said she had a ‘come down’ right before another ‘wave’ smashed into her.
The research team thought that the expectation of a trip might have been adequate to generate similar results.
Expanding Psychedelic Market
The psychedelic market is currently expanding exponentially, with one company that just reached a $2 billion valuation, a frequent irony in the topic of research and psychedelics: our minds might be enough to feel a better overall life with a greater sense of mindfulness.
Some researchers believe that if this is possible with a placebo, we should question if it is necessary to spend billions to create more pharmaceuticals.
Pharmaceutical dependency is an imperfection in the psychiatry industry. However, when it comes to our health and overall wellbeing, there are some things money can’t buy.
Society is on track to replace a lot of harmful pharmaceuticals that have severe side effects that only partially work with psychedelics.
Still, perhaps we can find a way to take a placebo as the ultimate cure-all—your mind is a powerful resource.