Researchers at McGill University in Canada and Stanford University in California published a fascinating research paper titled Tripping on nothing: placebo psychedelics and contextual factors.
The goal of the placebo effect and tripping on nothing study was to better understand how the placebo effect with psilocybe cubensis mushrooms would impact the perceived effects in a psychedelic experience and explore the placebo high, and the results were nothing short of amazing for psilocybin vs placebo effect.
In today’s post, we’ll take a look at the placebo effect itself, the Tripping on nothing study, and an oft-recommended “TEK” in the psychedelic community that may be nothing more than the mysteriously powerful placebo effect.
It’s All in Your Head: The Placebo Effect is Far From Imaginary Including for the Placebo High
As readers likely already know, the placebo effect and possibly the placebo high is a phenomenon that takes place when a person believes that a non-effective substance or practice will yield some kind of benefit—and instead of simply remaining unchanged, the person experiences those benefits anyway through mental experiences and beliefs, which is nearly as good as the real thing.
The most common observance of the placebo effect is in the context of medicine. For example, a patient with a medical problem of some kind is given what they believe to be effective medicine to cure or soothe that issue. In fact, the patient has been given a sugar pill or something equally as ineffective.
Yet time and again, the patient taking magic mushrooms or other psychedelics or pharmaceutical substances experiences a positive effect as though they really had taken the medicine or plant medicine, and in the case of psilocybe cubensis mushrooms this is regardless of the perceived psilocybe cubensis mushroom potency factors.
These effects aren’t just perception either: real, measurable, physiological changes can occur. Studies have even been done where a group of participants was given what they thought was a stimulant but was really just a sugar pill, and their reaction times (i.e., how quickly one can react to unexpected stimuli like a ball being thrown) were increased.
Golden Teacher and Penis Envy Shrooms – hey no placebo effect here – only the real thing!
People using magic mushrooms for therapeutic or psychoactive benefits have found that the Golden Teacher Mushroom spores that yield golden teachers really make a difference in their real experience with tangible benefits and effects for psychoactive experiences noticed. It’s more than just with Golden Teacher but Penis Envy Shrooms are equally psychoactive and deliver real benefits that are obvious – if you know what I mean.
And yet, the very same placebo was given to another group except they were told it was a sleeping aid. Of course, they reported having an easier time falling asleep and having experienced longer, more restful sleep.
How is this possible with mushroom spores or with any other consumed product or food? We know that the placebos given to subjects in these cases weren’t the cause of the changes or experiences, so how can it be that people undergo real, measurable physiological events—to the degree that even patients suffering from neuropathic (nerve) pain can feel relief when taking a placebo?
Scientists don’t really know, but the running theory which certainly sounds plausible is that the individual’s expectations, or in other words, the thoughts in their mind, have such a degree of control over the body that it’s actually capable of altering the body in ways that shouldn’t normally be possible.
But if you want to see and touch and experience something physical to get your head around, please examine magic mushroom spore prints to begin your research on psychedelics, mushroom spores, and on the placebo effect of psilocybe cubensis, it’s a psychoactive journey worthwhile.
Nocebo Effect vs Placebo Effect
Your mind is a lot more powerful than you think! Really! Your mind is capable of giving you a psychedelic experience, even when you haven’t introduced any foreign compounds (like psilocybin) to it? For that matter, there’s both the placebo effect and the nocebo effect which is even more mind-blowing, like when you’re actually getting a real effect but fail to acknowledge it due to psychologic bias such as doubt, or politics, or beliefs.
Tripping on Nothing: How a Sugar Pill Gave a Majority of Study Participants a Psychedelic Experience
As stated earlier, researchers conducting a McGill and Stanford psychedelic experience study used thirty-three subjects describing having a psychedelic experience, even though it was just the placebo effect based on science principles of research.
Here’s what happened: the subjects were told that they were being given a psychoactive drug similar to psilocybin. The researchers purposefully wanted to boost the expectations of the group, so they established a setting that included mood-appropriate music, colored lighting, artwork, and so on. They also had “undercover” participants (called confederates) who, though under the influence of nothing, acted as though they were “tripping.”
61% of the subjects experienced some effects that they believed was caused by the psilocybin-like placebo—and interestingly, the effects were similar to what would be expected from a moderate dose of real psilocybin, and even in some cases a high dose. For example, some participants reported as having felt heavier, a common feeling of being pleasantly weighted down that can be associated with real psilocybin. Others claimed to have experienced moving patterns and “breathing” visuals on the walls surrounding them.
Of course, this was all the result of the placebo effect—nobody had taken any psilocybin whatsoever. If the placebo effect can have such a strong effect on a person who hasn’t introduced psilocybin to their bodies, what could it do for someone who actually has?
Lemon Tek: The Placebo Effect at Work?
In the psilocybin community—made up of those who live in jurisdictions where possessing this Schedule I substance is legal, of course—there’s a “Tek” (shorthand for technique or Technical Educational Knowledge) that involves consuming both lemon juice and psilocybin mushrooms. Proponents explain that doing so will result in a psychedelic experience with a faster onset and a shorter but more intense “trip”.
Chemically speaking, this is likely due to the mild MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) effects of citrus. Monoamine oxydase is a chemical in the brain which, among other functions, is responsible for breaking down other chemical components, such as those found in foods or, as it turns out, psilocybin mushrooms. When this process is inhibited, more of the compound reaches the brain before being broken down, thus increasing its effects.
However, the amount of MAOIs in citrus is quite small, so there’s some debate over what actually causes the changes experience when “lemon Tekking”. Some theorize that it may have to do with CYP3A4, a cytochrome ferment in the liver, also responsible for metabolizing compounds introduced to the body. However, some speculate that it may all ultimately boil down to a placebo effect—imbibers are certain that the Tek will work, and so it does.
Perhaps it’s all of the above?
Not a Placebo: The Joy of Studying Psilocybin Mushroom Spores Under Your Microscope
Here’s what isn’t a placebo: the absolute educational joy experienced by an amateur microscopist while studying mushroom spores under powerful microscopes.