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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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June 2020 (Vol. 5 Issue 4)

You can even take a trip with a placebo
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

You can even take a trip with a placebo image

Every drug has the placebo effect—the person feels better even when there's no active ingredient—and that even goes for psychedelics.

People given a placebo instead of psilocybin, or magic mushrooms, still had 'a trip'. Around 20 of the 33 participants given the placebo said they experienced some psychedelic experience, from seeing paintings on the wall move or reshape themselves.

Researchers from McGill University invited the participants to a 'psychedelic party', which included lights and music, and there were 10 white-coated assistants in the room to help anyone had had a bad trip.

As researcher Jay Olson said, context and setting were everything, and it convinced most of the participants that they were taking a magic mushroom and not a sugar pill.

There's a serious side to the research. With psychedelics being used to treat depression, it's possible for patients to be given a harmless placebo—which wouldn't have all the side effects of a psychedelic—and still get similar benefits.

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(Source: Psychopharmacology, 2020; doi: 10.1007/s00213-020-05464-5)

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