Placebo May Affect Some As Effectively As Psychedelics

by Prachee published on -

The debate around the use of psychedelic substances is especially intense with a popular argument in favor of their use to alleviate depression and anxiety. However, the observations made by a new study may have opened up some new avenues to consider. The single-arm study found that the placebo effect in psychedelics, especially in the right settings, maybe stronger than previously reported.

Dried mushrooms, ingredients for psychedelic tea

Special kind of ‘shrooms’ are consumed for their psychedelic effects. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Single-arm studies refer to any research which gives the same treatment to all participants. In this case, involved 33 participants were all observed for effects for placebo instead of psychedelic drugs. They were placed in a set-up resembling a psychedelic party, with elements such as research assistants in lab coats, psychiatrists, security guards, to fulfill the illusion. Observed for four hours in the room, the participants were expecting to be a part of a study which observed the effects of drugs on creativity.

While everyone was given a placebo, they were under the impression that they are consuming an active ingredient derived from psychedelic mushrooms. The crowd was also interspersed with actors who were supposed to act out the effects of such drugs. When asked about their experience with the ‘drug’, about 61% of the participants reported a range of effects, from mild to high.

“The study reinforces the power of context in psychedelic settings. With the recent re-emergence of psychedelic therapy for disorders such as depression and anxiety, clinicians may be able to leverage these contextual factors to obtain similar therapeutic experiences from lower doses, which would further improve the safety of the drugs,” said Jay Olson, a Ph.D. candidate in McGill’s Department of Psychiatry and the lead author on the research paper.

The study notes that knowing the context and expectations shape placebo psychedelic effects, researchers can isolate drug effects to help clinicians to maximize therapeutic potential. The results of this study have been published in the Psychopharmacology journal.

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About the Author

Prachee is a content writer for Organic Facts and is responsible for writing on the latest wellness trends. A former Journalism & Media teacher, she prides herself on being able to seamlessly dabble between health, science, and technology. She has completed her Masters in Communication Studies from the University of Pune, India as well as an online course on “Introduction to Food and Health” from Stanford University, US. Prachee fancies herself to be a poet and a cook when the rare lightning of inspiration strikes.

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