Sometimes a little can go a long way, and while taking tiny amounts of psychedelic drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms may not produce the earth-shattering mystical experiences that larger doses can inspire, new research is revealing how microdosing could help to combat a number of hard-to-treat conditions, ranging from severe depression to period pains.
What is microdosing?
Microdosing involves taking “sub-perceptual” quantities of psychedelic substances and was originally championed by Albert Hofmann – the creator of LSD – who claimed that ingesting tiny amounts of his “problem child” alleviated his depression and enhanced his creativity, without sending him on a full-blown cosmic trip.
When the first wave of psychedelic research later swelled to its peak in the 1960s, psychologist Jim Fadiman was among those studying the effects of LSD on mental health and wellbeing. Yet the wave came crashing onto the rocks when the US government outlawed LSD, research on microdosing has remained in suspended animation ever since.
Taking LSD produces a more integrated pattern of connectivity throughout the entire brain, with increased communication between separate brain networks. Beckley/mperial Research Programme
However, as the disastrous “War on Drugs” has taught us, banning a substance doesn’t stop people from using it, and microdosing has recently become a major fad in Silicon Valley, where technology whizzes and high-flying executives have been using it to increase their productivity. And with psychedelics banished from the laboratories yet widespread throughout society, Fadiman has now harnessed the power of citizen science to conduct the first scientific report on microdosing in half a century.
Hundreds of people around the world have been following his microdosing protocol, which involves taking a minuscule dose of a psychedelic every few days, and filling in a scientifically-validated daily checklist designed to measure changes in mood and symptomology. This has allowed the research team to observe the impact of microdosing on a wide range of different conditions.
“We’ve been looking at half a dozen syndromes, and we’re hoping to find out who shouldn’t be microdosing as well as who should,” Fadiman told IFLScience. “For example, we’re finding some groups do not do well, predominantly people whose major symptom is anxiety.”