A New Chapter in the Science of Psychedelic Microdosing

Haley Weiss, writing for The Atlantic:

The purported benefits of microdosing psychedelics are as numerous as the research is sparse. The technique, which involves ingesting small amounts of LSD, mushrooms, or other hallucinogenic drugs every three or four days, has made headlines for its popularity as a “productivity hack” among the Silicon Valley elite. But anecdotal endorsements of microdosing claim that the routine can lead to a whole variety of benefits, including heightened emotional sensitivity, athletic performance, and creativity; and relief from symptoms of anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and chronic pain—all without resulting in any sort of trip.

In a lab setting, meanwhile, these effects have hardly been studied. Microdosing straddles a line between homeopathic remedy and experimental biohacking as a promising tool that hasn’t yet made its way through the clinical system’s rigorous checks and balances. Now a new study published Monday in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience provides the first biological evidence that psychedelic microdosing could have unique therapeutic effects that differ from the effects of a full dose.

New research found that microdosing DMT produced positive effects on mood and anxiety in rats without impacting working memory or social interaction. This is exciting news.

However, the study also found that the female rats experienced a decrease in dendritic-spine density, while the male rats were unaffected. This is concerning because it could indicate that these minuscule doses of the drug may have caused certain damage to this particular area of the brain. What’s odd is that bigger doses of DMT haven’t produced this cytotoxic effect.

So while microdosing may be able to assist with mental health issues, more research will need to be conducted to determine exactly what is going on with the female rats.