Are binaural beats a placebo

Binaural beats : I-Dosing: drugs out of the headphone

Each age has its own drug. The intoxication phenomenon of the digital world comes from the USA and is called "I-Dosing". It works with so-called binaural beats - or at least it should. The titles can be downloaded from the Internet, the whole thing is even completely legal. Both ears are independently played with tones of different frequencies via headphones. This supposedly creates a kind of trance.

The website that touts itself as the leader in binaural beats technology is Here the curious user can stock up on various high-temperature experiences depending on their taste. From opium to acid, cocaine and ecstasy - there are no limits to the imagination. Each drug has its own sound. They are not pleasant sounds: monotonous whirring, loud roaring and high-pitched beeps make for a listening experience of the exhausting kind.

So a tough road to drug intoxication. And as it is with drugs: You don't get anything for free either. Most titles cost between two and five dollars. For example, a reusable dose of cocaine is available for $ 3.75. But there is also a price category higher, for example with “Hand of God”. The webshop of I-Doser advertises the 30-minute clay shredded meat as actually "too powerful to be consumed by the public". Scruples or not, for 199 dollars everyone can still try it. We promise insights into the universe, a VIP tour through infinity at the hand of the Almighty personally. That makes you curious. Can there be anything to it? Although the webshop advertises the effectiveness of its legal drugs with tests by "I-Doser scientists", it does not provide any evidence of the results.

"Pure money making," says Lutz Berger, author of the book "Music, Magic and Medicine". He has been working with binaural beats for years and knows their effect on human brain waves. "With binaural beats you can promote relaxation, attention or meditation. I do not think it is possible to generate intoxication, however."

Teenagers all over the world seem to have discovered I-Dosing anyway. Video portals on the net are full of amateurishly recorded self-experiments that document the effect of the beats. The process is mostly the same here: First little Michael or little Sarah is lying on a bed with headphones on, eyes closed. Then suddenly something happens. She jumps up, screeches, her eyes wide. He starts twitching and laughing hysterically. Can it all be played?

"If these pieces of music have an effect, then only through a placebo effect," says Berger. "You shouldn't underestimate that. The form of the day and the expectations of the listener are decisive. Only if everything is right can - under certain circumstances - a placebo effect occur."

Michael Custodis, musicologist at the Free University of Berlin, is also skeptical. He doesn't consider the entire I-Dosing phenomenon to be a brand new cyber trend: “It's just a new twist on an ancient idea. The attempt to achieve trance states through music has fascinated people for a long time. Music is an important spiritual tool and an indispensable part of ritual or religious practices. "

Custodis thinks the business idea of ​​simply giving this old phenomenon a new coat of paint and asking for money for it is clever. “If someone wants to buy the tones, why not? I find the pieces musically very poor, but the marketing strategy is clever. "

Experts in this country can only partially understand that many parents in the USA are concerned about possible hearing drug addiction in their offspring. “Even this excitement is nothing really new and, as a desired reaction from worried parents, is part of the company's strategy,” says Custodis. “Since the 1960s, music as a drug in youth culture has been a constant excitement for the parents' generation. Think of the Beatles or the Stones. Rock’n’Roll was also seen as music that disinhibited young people and morally corrupted them! And generation conflicts on the subject of music can be read in Plato anyway. "

So that's it, the I-Dosing phenomenon: Not a drug consumption revolution, but rather a lot of ado about nothing.

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page