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    The power of placebo 
    #1
    Bluelighter specialspack's Avatar
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    This has come up in a few threads I've been in in PD recently, and I just wanted to emphasise the power of placebo and expectation in any drug experience.

    From the anecdotal reports, such as Shulgin's story of being given sugar solution and being told it was a sedative, in PIHKAL, to the early work done with LSD and hypnosis there's all kinds of evidence for the sheer power of the effect.

    And, relatively recently, the placebo effect has been shown to have direct neurochemical consequences:

    That case has been strengthened by the recent work of Fabrizio Benedetti of the University of Turin, who showed that the placebo effect can be abolished by a drug, naloxone, which blocks the effects of endorphins. Benedetti induced pain in human volunteers by inflating a blood-pressure cuff on the forearm. He did this several times a day for several days, using morphine each time to control the pain. On the final day, without saying anything, he replaced the morphine with a saline solution. This still relieved the subjects' pain: a placebo effect. But when he added naloxone to the saline the pain relief disappeared. Here was direct proof that placebo analgesia is mediated, at least in part, by these natural opiates
    From: http://www.newscientist.com/article/...f-nothing.html

    I would argue that this, more than any slight variations in chemical substance, determines the nature of the experience.

    Thoughts?
     

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    #2
    Thats interesting. Your experience may be largely regulated by what you expect and have been told. I do find this rather unlikely however, as sometimes I expect effects of a drug to be one way, and they turn out quite different.

    This placebo effect is done through physical conditioning, which is rather different than expectations going into a psychedelic trip.
     

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    #3
    Mushroom
    Its interesting that in the 'Good Friday Experiment', some of the participants still had full-blown mystical experiences from the placebo. Perhaps if they were given an anti-psychotic drug (serving the same role as the naloxone in the other experiment) this would have prevented those experiences and using the same logic as the University of Turin research would 'prove' that placebo mystical experiences are mediated, at least in part, by natural endogenous psychedelics (DMT etc).

    Also if naloxone were to be combined with LSD, mushrooms, MDMA etc, and the euphoric aspects were absent or greatly diminished this would demonstrate that the ecstatic bliss common with these substances is correlated with endorphin release. Personally, I would think that the neurochemistry of 'tripping' is quite complex, with endogenous DMT playing a very large role in almost all traditional psychedelic experiences (this would exclude ketamine and salvia). This would help to explain both the overlapping effects and also the cross-tolerance between substances in the tryptamine and phenethylamine families...
     

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    #4
    Bluelight Crew Beenhead's Avatar
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    ^^Are you saying that you theorize that ingesting psilocybin will to some extent realease endogenous DMT? Also, I believe cross tolerence can be attributed to the similar structure, i.e. the fact they (psychedelics) bind to the same receptors and are broken doen by common enzymes.
     

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    #5
    Well, psilocybin IS basically exogenous DMT, so perhaps not the best example to use, but I'm more theorizing that many of the PEAs and tryptamines are 'modulating' a common endogenous psychedelic rather than being the whole cause themselves.

    I'm basically just thinking aloud, I'm not basing this on anything, just a few random ideas that came while I was reading about the 'New Scientist' article. The most commonly accepted explanation (as you outlined above) also makes complete sense to me.
     

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    #6
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    Certainly the power of placebo is great, and I see it at work all the time. Hell, the whole set and setting rule displays the mighty power that expectation (the priciple behind placebo effect) has on the experience, whatever that experience may be.

    However, I think I know the threads which you speak of, and while placebo plays a role in the resulting experience, I don't think it's correct to completely disregard variations in the concentrations of different secondary alkaloids in plant psychedelics. I definitely think placebo plays a large role in the differing experiences between users, in fact I think it plays the single largest role. However, there is more at work than just placebo, especially when you're talking about plant psychedelics, which contain more than one active alkaloid, with differing ratios between species and individual speciments. For example, mushrooms contain psilocin, psilocybin, and baeocystin, and perhaps others. Psychedelic cacti contain mescaline, several different analogues of mescaline, and a large variety of active and potentially active phenethylamines. Ingesting pure, isolated mescaline is going to result in a different experience than ingesting peyote, or san pedro, or peruvian torch, regardless of placebo effect.
    Last edited by Xorkoth; 13-10-2006 at 19:33.
     

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    #7
    Yeah, I want to take this time right now to point out that a lot of things that people can't explain away get conveniently lumped under the "placebo" umbrella, which is more often than not mere speculation. It is my humble opinion that people are too easily convinced that when something happens in their trip that is unusual or couldn't be explained away scientifically, it's always, "Oh yeah that was placebo, of course, set and setting this and that." And while I don't necessarily agree or disagree with that, it's a little presumptuous, half of the time.

    Set and setting are important, as always. And placebo is a real phenomenon. But I don't think it's fair to categorize EVERYTHING that doesn't fit into preconceived notions as being placebo.

    FWIW.
     

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    #8
    God is the biggest Placebo there is
     

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    #9
    Undoubtedly the placebo effect is 'real' in one sense - but then it's not really because it's not a thing - it's an explanation of why things aren't happening that someone (an observer) might expect to happen.

    Can't imagine giving somebody 500mics LSD in a controlled setting, telling them it was water, and finding they just got bored cause nothing was happening.


    Z
     

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    #10
    Ex-Bluelighter Gaian Planes's Avatar
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    SpecialSpack, interesting post.

    I would reword the phrase "power of placebo" though. I understand this is a catch phrase and fun to say and think, if only phonetically. But, what is actually the component which is powerful is the human mind. The placebo itself is powerless without the mind.

    Anyways, its interesting, and linking it to LSD is even more interesting. Especially given that LSD is in and out of the brain rather quickly and its ht2 binding may not account for the full experience. It seems it enters and sets off some sort of chain reaction then takes its leave.

    Peace.
     

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    #11
    Bluelighter Ximot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ninjadanslarbretabar
    God is the biggest Placebo there is
    highly ambivalent statement ... or is that paradoxical ... catch-22.. i love that statement, wow!
     

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    #12
    Bluelighter Mr_Fluffykins's Avatar
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    Some people can get the placebo effect stronger,
    and you can't have any doubt in what your buying, say if you get blotter that looks a little sketchy so you doubt it, you won't trip, or feel anything

    Didn't they find that some people have a certain gene that makes them more religeous then others because of the effect praying and mediation has ont heir mind,

    maybe its the same people that placebo has an effect on, the strong belief in something producing mystical experience
     

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    #13
    Quote Originally Posted by EntheoDjinn

    Can't imagine giving somebody 500mics LSD in a controlled setting, telling them it was water, and finding they just got bored cause nothing was happening.


    Z
    That would not be placebo.
    plaˇceˇbo (pl-sb) Pronunciation Key
    n. pl. plaˇceˇbos or plaˇceˇboes

    A substance containing no medication and prescribed or given to reinforce a patient's expectation to get well.
    An inactive substance or preparation used as a control in an experiment or test to determine the effectiveness of a medicinal drug.
    Something of no intrinsic remedial value that is used to appease or reassure another.
     

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    #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Ximot
    highly ambivalent statement ... or is that paradoxical ... catch-22.. i love that statement, wow!
    Remark to "God is placebo"

    Ambivalent would be it for me (as far as deciphering what he was trying to communicate.

    From Valis:
    God is nowhere
    God is now here

    Paradox is the keyword when the Archetypes have been activated in someone: approached by a stranger that says everything is nothing and that the end is always ending and emptiness and eternity are making love would have been touched by the gods, and probably have injested something not a placebo (or some other shift in brain chemistry that would register very real if we knew where to look).

    And I think catch 22 refers to the sometimes stupid things that happen when we live by others rules.
     

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    #15
    Bluelighter Mr_Fluffykins's Avatar
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    Maybe all theese people who claim to have visions of mary or speaking to god had a release of dmt from their brain.

    although i read somewhere that it was just rumour that there was dmt in the brain
    but that might just be a rumour in itself,

    in the end, i am young and don't know everything, so correct me where i am wrong:P
     

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    #16
    DMT is certainly endogenous to the human brain. The myth lies within its supposed activity in near death and mystical experiences.
     

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    #17
    Bluelighter Ximot's Avatar
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    @BreakingSet

    catch-23 then, maybe. First I heard of that was when I met the guy who wrote this book: http://www.t23.info/Gigs/Catch_23_Bo.../Biography.htm

    Fun read!

    Yeah I dunno it's just an amazing statement for the unproveable. you feel "it" or you don't. now you see now you can't. plus the fact that you really can interpret it both ways entirely. all healing happens. or the opposite. it's all in the mind. Whether we choose to believe or not, that is the difference. Still unsure whether the poster is a believer in spiritual projection / energetic resonance aka "God" or actually denouncing it as fraud. And I'm not sure if it matters. The oracle has spoken

    Mr Fluffykins, I do really really like that statement!
    Last edited by Ximot; 14-10-2006 at 00:14.
     

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    #18
    Bluelighter Mr_Fluffykins's Avatar
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    is there any proof that its not around in the mystical or death experiences, or is it just a theory everybody takes for fact making it a myth

    i mean theyd have to get someone in a sober mystical expericne and be scanning their brain then, thats a little hard, because people can't control when the're being touched by god
     

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    #19
    Applying the concept of placebo to something outside of pharmacology, I always think of yoga (or the idea of yoga my brain contains).

    For instance, I get up every morning and stretch, and while I'm doing this, when the warm pain crawls through my extending muscles, I imagine that heat being love or a healing radiance.

    On days I miss my stretching I tend to feel worse. So I'm asking if anyone else thinks ritual can produce a placebo like effect: can doing something routinely for a purpose eventually bring about that purpose even if there is not a physiological connection or reason for it to happen. Can any meaningful event be used to trigger an expected response? Or is this to much along the lines of conditioning?

    Or Ostin Osman Spare's sigils, or prayer, or telling a woman she's beautiful.
     

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    #20
    Bluelighter Mr_Fluffykins's Avatar
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    Yoga is a form of meditation, they say meditation and praying have a similar effect on the mind. God seems quite addictive to the people who are really heavily into it, maybe all this meditation or praying causesa chemical change(or placebo effect) in the brain that there so used to it that it comes to be a form of comfort for them, like an addiction in times of pain.

    In some people there minds are stronger then another so this chemical change (or placebo) on a strong mind could lead to mystical experience

    just some speculation
     

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    #21
    Bluelighter Ximot's Avatar
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    Love is placebo, too. Definitely works though.
     

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    #22
    Bluelighter Mr_Fluffykins's Avatar
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    Faith healers sort of like a saline solution, sometimes it yeilds effects, the mystery of the mind
     

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    #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Ximot
    Love is placebo, too. Definitely works though.
    'Love' is not placebo, its endogenous phenethylamine being released in your brain. : )

    Perhaps the loss of the 'magic' after the start of a relationship, is similar to the loss of 'magic' when overindulging in PEAs, some type of downregulation occurring etc...

    After writing the above I just found this:

    Phenethylamine is the chemical of romantic infatuation. People who have fallen in love have high levels of brain Phenethylamine. All of the before-mentioned are also chemical cousins of Amphetamine and Adrenaline. In fact, falling in love is a phenomenon not unlike taking an Amphetamine as the "lovers can not sleep and lose their appetite." This may be due to the close chemical similarity between Phenethylamine (the chemical of romantic love) and Amphetamine.
    http://www.enneagramcentral.com/pharm_7.htm
     

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    #24
    Bluelighter Mr_Fluffykins's Avatar
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    maybe thats why you get a loveing fdeeling on mdma
     

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    #25
    Its interesting that in the 'Good Friday Experiment', some of the participants still had full-blown mystical experiences from the placebo

    They didn't. The only people who had mystical experiences were the people who had psilocybin.
     

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