Potential safety, benefits, and influence of the placebo effect in microdosing psychedelic drugs: A systematic review

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2020 Dec:119:194-203. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.09.035. Epub 2020 Oct 5.


Microdosing psychedelic drugs-that is, taking sub-behavioral doses of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or psilocybin-is a growing practice in Western societies. Taken mainly for creative or mood-enhancing purposes, thousands of users are increasingly being exposed to (micro)doses of psychedelic drugs. In this systematic review, we searched the available evidence from human studies, focusing our results in terms of three main axes: efficacy, safety, and the influence of the placebo effect in microdosing practices. While the available evidence has some strengths (e.g. large sample sizes, robust methodologies) there are also remarkable limitations (e.g. gender bias, heterogeneity of dosing schedules and drugs used). Highly contradictory results have been found, showing both the benefits and detriments of microdosing in terms of mood, creative processes, and energy, among other regards. This review provides a general overview of the methods and approaches used, which could be useful for improving future studies.

Keywords: Hallucinogens; LSD; Microdosing; Psilocybin; Psychedelic drugs.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Hallucinogens*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Placebo Effect
  • Psilocybin / therapeutic use
  • Sexism


  • Hallucinogens
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Psilocybin