Microdosing psychedelics has received growing attention in recent years, as it’s been said to enhance creativity, increase focus, and lift the weight of depression. Now, scientists want to figure out whether using small amounts of these substances lives up to the hype. On Sept. 3, researchers from the Beckley Foundation and Imperial College of London launched a first-of-its-kind study to investigate the potential benefits of microdosing LSD. If the study goes well, it could provide powerful insights into the realm of diverse psychedelic-use.
Innovative Microdosing Research
The aim of the study, known as the “self-blinding microdose study,” is relatively straightforward: scientists want to know whether or not microdosing psychedelics produces verifiable, positive results in users.
When a person microdoses with psychedelics, they generally take a tiny dose of LSD or mushrooms. The concept is that these tiny doses are too small to produce a full-blown, out-of-body psychedelic experience, but large enough to activate and energize the brain. Many microdosers claim the practice improves their day-to-day lives and has a positive impact on workflow.
The scientists on this project are, thus, looking to see if people who report positive effects from microdosing are actually experiencing benefits from the drugs or if they’re experiencing the placebo effect.
But because psychedelics are illegal, researchers are not allowed to provide psychedelics to test subjects. As a result, the study cannot be performed in a standard lab setting. So, to work around these obstacles, researchers came up with a method they’re referring to as a “self-blinding study design.”
How the Study Works
Researchers gathered a group of test subjects who are already active microdosers– but only those who use LSD, as it’s harder to disguise ground-up mushrooms in a capsule than it is a micro-tab. Researchers then send the subjects detailed instructions on how to make said capsules. Some will contain a microdose of the subject’s own LSD, while others will have blotter paper in them with no acid. All of the capsules are opaque to keep subjects from seeing what mini-tabs are inside.
After creating the doses, the subject will place each one into an envelope along with a special QR code used to track which days the subject took LSD or a placebo pill. Then, all envelopes will be sealed and shuffled up. At that point, test subjects will not know which envelopes contain psychedelic or placebo capsules. This effectively randomizes the study and keeps the subject clueless about when they’re taking a microdose.
The test subject will open one envelope per day, and ingest the pill inside. Then, they’ll complete an online questionnaire and a series of cognitive games, which will track their responses and results. Researchers hope this “self-blinding” experiment will help them generate concrete data about the effects of microdosing.
“In our study, voluntary participants will microdose at home on their own initiative without the study team’s supervision,” researchers explained on the study’s website. “We hope to aggregate data from microdosers following our design, thus, producing placebo-controlled data on psychedelics microdosing.”
Microdosing Psychedelics Growing in Popularity
The study comes at a time when microdosing with psychedelics has gained increasing popularity. In particular, it’s become a growing trend among young professionals in the tech space, especially those working in Silicon Valley.
Additionally, the idea was recently the subject of a popular podcast called “Reply All.” In the episode, podcast hosts experimented with microdosing LSD and recorded their experiences.
Similarly, researcher and writer Michael Pollan published a book about psychedelics earlier this year. Titled “How to Change Your Mind,” the book provides a review of previous attempts to study psychedelics and the legal challenges that have restricted this research.
The idea of microdosing has also expanded into the world of cannabis in recent years. In particular, many claim that microdosing weed lets them tap into many of the plant’s therapeutic benefits without getting too high to carry out daily responsibilities and tasks.