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Placebo effect may explain reported benefits of psychedelic microdoses -- ScienceDaily

Szigeti and his colleagues designed a citizen science study where individuals who were already microdosing could participate online. First, the 191 participants followed a setup procedure that mixed placebo pills with microdose ones. After the setup, the participants had a set of capsules without knowing which were placebo and which were microdose. The authors call this process 'self-blinding', as participants lost knowledge of which drug they were taking. The setup included barcodes which, when scanned, linked to the study's IT infrastructure and allowed the researchers to track who had taken microdoses or placebos. The participants then filled out surveys about their experiences and completed online cognitive tests, while they took the pills over a four-week period. Participants who were taking the real psychoactive drugs and those unknowingly taking the placebos reported similar psychological benefits. "Our results are mixed: on the one hand, we observed microdosing's benefits in a wide range of psychological measures; on the other hand, equal benefits were seen among participants taking placebos," Szigeti explains. "These findings suggest that the benefits are not due to the drug, but rather due to the placebo-like expectation effects. Many participants who reported that they experienced positive effects while taking the placebo were shocked to learn after the study that they hadn't been taking the real drug."