Microdosing for mental health?
Microdosing is the practice of taking reduced or small doses of psychedelic drugs primarily for mental health and well-being purposes, as well as for increased productivity and occasionally for more recreational purposes. In recent years, the focus has moved from utilising psychedelics on a purely recreational basis, to the potential benefits that psychedelics may have in aiding mental illness. “Taking microdoses of a psychedelic drug means taking only a fraction of a dose that is required to have a full-blown psychedelic experience, or “trip.” (Medical News Today). The most recent studies that have emerged in the last year have indicated that certain compounds found in psychedelics such as the psilocybin which is the active psychedelic agent in magic mushrooms, actually has the potential to alleviate the symptoms of ‘treatment resistant’ depression as noted by Ana Sandoiu in Medical News Today. The psychoactive substance has also been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety in certain instances as well as aiding in treating depression in long-term cancer patients (2018).
Another substance under the microscope so to speak is derived from an Amazonian plant mixture called Ayahuasca. According to the studies examined by Medical News Today, this substance was looked at specifically in the context of treating depression and alcohol dependency and related disorders and may in fact be a “promising” and viable method of treatment in future for them. One of the biggest benefits to consider thus far in the studies that have been conducted is that the use of psychedelics in microdoses can eliminate some of the side effects generally associated with and experienced when using more conventional forms of antidepressants, such as “emotional blunting and apathy.” There have also been many people, including some famous and influential figures such as the late Apple founder Steve Jobs, who attest to the cognitive and creative benefits of utilising substances like lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).
Professor David Nutt, who is the Edmond J. Safra Chair in Neuropsychopharmacology at the Imperial College London, is a contributor to the latest research published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology that explores microdosing and its potential health effects – both the positive and negative. According to Professor Nutt: “Despite so much interest in the subject, we still don’t have any agreed scientific consensus on what microdosing is — like what constitutes a ‘micro’ dose, how often someone would take it, and even if there may be potential health effects.” The review focussed primarily on the active component found in magic mushrooms: psilocybin due to the fact that is more likely to be considered a clinically approved treatment in comparison to some of the other psychedelic drugs examined. However, at this stage, there is still much to do in the way of scientific research regarding the long-term effects of microdosing, as well as the undeniable issues surrounding the legality of the substance in most countries. It is important to note that while “patients might feel attracted by those reports to try it [they] may actually not [be] helped by it. We try to emphasize the lack of scientific proof that microdosing is indeed effective in combating certain symptoms and hope that this will give impetus to new lines of research in this area “says Dr Kim Kuypers.