All in the mind

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Could taking tiny, regular doses of psychedelic drugs enhance your mental health? Not any more than a sugar pill, according to the largest placebo-controlled study on “microdosing” to date.

Microdosing involves taking substances such as LSD or psilocybin (the hallucinogenic compound in magic mushrooms) a couple of times a week, at around 10 per cent of a typical recreational dose. It has recently surged in popularity, as the dose is too small to cause hallucinations, but is purported to improve mood, creativity and psychological wellbeing.

One hundred and ninety-one people volunteered for the study, administered by researchers in the United Kingdom. Over four weeks, the participants either took drugs or a placebo, without knowing which they were ingesting.

After four weeks, those taking psychedelics reported significantly improved wellbeing and life satisfaction. So did the people taking inactive capsules. There were no significant differences between the two groups—both experienced the same positive effects. The researchers suggest the benefits of microdosing arise not from drugs, but from the power of our own expectations.

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