A new study on the effects of microdosing LSD in healthy volunteers finds short-term mood-boosting effects but no significant long-term benefits.
Microdosing, or taking very small doses of psychedelic substances like LSD or psilocybin mushrooms, has gained popularity in recent years as a potential tool for enhancing mood, creativity, and productivity.
Despite its growing popularity, there is still limited scientific research on the effects of microdosing, and anecdotal evidence has been mixed. Some individuals report positive effects on their well-being, such as improved mood, increased focus, and reduced anxiety, while others report no significant effects or negative experiences.
A new study published in the Biological Psychiatry Journal investigating the purported mood-elevating properties of microdosing LSD in healthy volunteers has shed further light on the potential benefits and limitations of psychedelic microdosing.
In this home-administered randomized controlled trial, healthy male volunteers were divided into two groups, with one group receiving a small dose (10 micrograms) of LSD in distilled water, and the other group receiving a placebo (water only). Each group received 14 doses every three days for six weeks, with the first dose given in a supervised laboratory setting and the other doses self-administered by participants in their home.
Results showed that on the days when the participants in the LSD group took the drug, they reported feeling more creative, connected, energetic, happy, irritable, and healthy compared to the days when they didn't take it. These effects persisted even after controlling for their expectations before the study.
However, after the six weeks of dosing, there were no significant long-term changes in depression, anxiety, mindfulness, or stress levels.
The authors suggest that microdosing could potentially have benefits for people who are affected by mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression by improving their ability to experience pleasure. This study found that the benefits of microdosing on mood and social behavior could help individuals to counteract their inability to experience pleasure or joy (a condition called anhedonia) by restoring their enjoyment of creative and social activities.
It is also important to note that four individuals withdrew from the study due to feelings of overstimulation after taking the LSD microdoses. When combined with stressful life events, this resulted in feelings of anxiety. However, in all cases, anxiety was alleviated within two weeks with the help of light supportive psychological care provided by the clinical research team.
Although some participants in the LSD group experienced anxiety and overstimulation, it was not a universal reaction, and in three cases where it did happen, reducing the dose prevented the need for stopping the use of LSD. This indicates that starting with a lower dose and gradually increasing it may be the best approach until we have more information on how individuals may respond to microdosing.
While the study suggests that microdosing LSD may have some short-term mood-boosting effects, it did not produce any significant long-term benefits. Although these effects on mood were not strong enough to produce long-lasting changes, they may still be helpful for people with certain mental health conditions.
Overall, these results are best regarded as preliminary and further research is needed to better understand the effects of microdosing on mood. Future studies in clinical populations, such as people with depression or anxiety, may use active placebos to control for placebo effects and adjust the dose to account for individual differences in drug response.
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