The popularity of microdosing psychedelics: what does the science say?


There is no evidence yet that microdosing with psychedelics is effective or safe.

Psychedelic drugs have captured the attention of doctors and patients alike for their increasingly proven potential to sustainably improve the mental health of people with conditions such as treatment-resistant depression. Microdosing psychedelics such as LSD or psilocybin involves taking a fraction of a regular dose (a subperceptual dose) that is far lower than what one would take if one wanted to “trip” or hallucinate. on these substances.

Many people share the idea that microdosing with psychedelics improves mood, creativity, focus, productivity, and the ability to empathize with others. Or could the benefits be an “expectation effect”? This means that most people who take a daily pill they take fervently expect will help them feel happier and smarter will be feel happier and smarter – just by taking the pill, no matter what’s in it.

What is microdosing?

There is no single, clearly recognized definition of microdosing for a psychedelic drug, which complicates attempts to conduct consistent research. One definition is about 1/5 to 1/20 of a recreational dose. (In anecdotal experience, this is correct, as an average dose of psilocybin is 2-3 grams of dried mushrooms, and a microdose is usually around 0.3 grams.) One hurdle is that the potency of mushrooms can vary widely, as they are unregulated outside of clinical trials, so it’s not an exact science. Similarly, LSD is an invisible, tasteless, and odorless substance that usually comes in liquid form or embedded in a piece of paper to slip under the tongue.

Given its current illegality and lack of regulation, there’s no good way to know what dose you’re taking unless you have an extremely reliable supplier. LSD is an extremely potent, long-acting drug, and you don’t want to take more of it than intended. Additionally, psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD can produce physiological tolerance, which could suggest that while microdosing helps, there could be diminishing returns if one stays at the same dosage.

Is microdosing safe?

We don’t know as much about safety as we might have learned without the War on Drugs, which curtailed much of the research on psychedelics beginning in the late 1960s. five to ten years, and many medical centers are conducting research on psychedelics. Psilocybin is generally considered safe in low doses and has been used for centuries by indigenous peoples. However, if one takes too large a dose, it can lead to a terrifying, even traumatic experience.

Psilocybinis a compound produced by nearly 200 species of mushrooms (mushrooms), and the mushrooms must come from a reliable source. It is very easy to poison yourself with the wrong type of mushroom, as there are many types of mushrooms in nature that may look similar, but some are poisonous and can damage your liver, causing serious illness or even death.

Could psychedelics become safer if legalized?

Experts in the field predict that some psychedelics could become fully legal — for medical use, under supervision — in the next few years, particularly psilocybin and MDMA (ecstasy). Some policymakers and public health experts believe the safety of these psychedelics would be enhanced if they were decriminalized and their cultivation and production monitored and regulated. At least one state (Oregon) and many cities nationwide have decriminalized psychedelics locally.

Some proponents of decriminalization look forward to a safer product and broader access that could include not having to see a medical professional to obtain a prescription or being under medical supervision when consuming psychedelics. Skeptics fear that uncontrolled access to these drugs could affect patients with mental illness, or even precipitate mental illness such as psychosis in vulnerable people.

It is important to mention that the use of all psychedelic drugs should be undertaken with the utmost caution – if they are to be used at all – in patients with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. For safety reasons, these patients are generally excluded from studies involving psychedelic drugs.

Evidence for microdosing psychedelics is mixed

Does microdosing work? In short, the jury is still out. Some studies indicate very real and significant benefit from microdosing, while others are much less convincing and show little or no benefit. A recent study used a naturalistic, observational design to study 953 microdosers of psilocybin versus 180 participants without dosing for 30 days, and found “small to moderate magnitude improvements in mood and mental health that were generally consistent according to sex, age and the presence of mental disorders”. health concerns.” This study and others like it seem to confirm many anecdotal reports from people who swear by the benefits they have received from microdosing.

Other microdosing studies are far less impressive. In one example, researchers conducted a randomized controlled study, which represents the strongest type of evidence because it eliminates the placebo effect. The researchers took 34 patients and randomized half of them to receive psilocybin and the other half to a placebo. Although there were intriguing subjective effects (people felt happier and more creative), and even some changes in brain waves recorded on an EEG machine, they concluded that low-dose psilocybin mushrooms did not show objective evidence of improved creativity, well-being, and of cognitive function. Studies like this support the hypothesis that the effect people receive from psychedelics at these subperceptual doses is primarily an expectant effect, and that one must consume a higher dose to receive therapeutic benefit.

To microdose or not to microdose?

While any medical or lifestyle decision is an individual’s choice (assuming it does no harm to others), I strongly recommend that you speak with your doctor to explore your decision to take psychedelics and see s there are medical reasons why you should be careful or avoid these drugs. Paying attention to the legality and quality of your product is essential – you probably can’t afford to put yourself in legal danger, and certainly can’t afford to poison yourself.

Finally, it is important to understand that there is no definitive proof yet that microdosing is helpful at all, or even safe in the long term. With these points in mind, it is fair to say that psychedelic drugs are becoming better understood and are experiencing a resurgence in research and more widely accepted use.

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