What is Microdosing, and Does it Work?

Much of the early microdosing research was anecdotal, enthusiastic. survey responses from users who experienced increased attention and cognition, a sense of well-being, and relief from anxiety and depression. Laboratory studies of microdoses of psilocybin and LSD tend to support these claims, showing improvements in mood, attention as well as creativity. But these studies were generally small, and they did not compare the microdose with placebo. “You are probably only participating in a microdosing trial at this point if you really have a strong belief that it can help you,” said Dr. David Errizzo, clinical director of the Center for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London. And when people expect a benefit from a drug, they usually do.

The two largest placebo-controlled studies of microdosing were published last year, and both suggest that the benefits people experience are due to the placebo effect. In the studies, volunteers used their own drugs to participate and, unknown to them, received either active doses or placebos packaged in identical capsules. After a few weeks, almost everyone’s mood and well-being improved, regardless of what they were taking.

“At first I was surprised but also a bit disappointed with the results because when we started the study we were quite optimistic that microdosing could have an effect” beyond placebo, said Michiel van Elk, assistant professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Leiden. . in the Netherlands, who led one of the tests.

Dr. Errizzo, fled another study found that the effectiveness of the drug depended on the expectations of users. If they took a placebo but thought it was a microdose, they felt better, and if they took an active dose but mistakenly assumed it was a placebo, they did not feel better.

The third placebo controlled study, published earlier this month by the University of Chicago, attempted to sidestep user expectations by giving participants four microdoses of LSD over the course of two weeks, but without telling them the purpose of the study or even what they were taking. Again, there was no difference between the LSD and placebo groups.

However, some scientists point to evidence that microdosing has a direct effect on the brain to argue that its benefits are real. Using neuroimaging technology, the researchers showed changes in brain activity as well as connectivity after single small doses of LSD, which is similar to what is observed with large quantities of the drug. AND study in Denmark found that a microdose of psilocybin activates almost half of the specific type of serotonin receptors that psychedelics act on, causing hallucinogenic effects.

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