Study: Benefits of Microdosing LSD Likely Placebo

Researchers at the Imperial College London say that any psychological benefits of microdosing LSD — which are frequently described, at least anecdotally — are likely caused by the placebo effect.

Full story after the jump.

Researchers at the Imperial College London have found that the anecdotally reported benefits of microdosing LSD can likely be attributed to the placebo effect, The Guardian reports.

Their study — reportedly the largest-ever placebo-controlled investigation into the potential benefits of psychedelics — found that while daily small doses of LSD appeared to carry beneficial psychological effects, study participants in the placebo-controlled group reported equally positive results.

To conduct the study, researchers recruited 191 people who were already microdosing with LSD. Volunteers were told to prepare their LSD microdoses (approximately 13μg, each) and placebos ahead of time using gel capsules, then mix them up with envelopes. Each batch was flagged with a QR code which participants would scan before accessing, thus leaving participants unaware but allowing researchers to track whether a participant was actually taking LSD or just the placebo. The volunteers then completed surveys throughout the study’s four-week trial to log their experiences.

“Our findings confirmed some of the beneficial psychological effects of microdosing from anecdotal reports and observational studies, such as improved sense of wellbeing and life satisfaction. But we see the same improvements among participants taking placebos. This suggests that the improvements may not be due to the pharmacological action of the drug but can instead be explained by the placebo effect.” — Balázs Szigeti, lead author and research associate at Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research

The medicinal use of psychedelics is growing in popularity with researchers around the world launching investigations. Last year, a study found that psilocybin — the mind-altering substance in psychedelic mushrooms — offered patients with depression “more than four times greater” relief than traditional antidepressant medications.

Additionally, the U.S. military allocated $17 million last June for medicinal psychedelic research.

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