Microdosing is a technique for studying the behavior of drugs in humans through low doses.
People taking small amounts of psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, may have improved psychological and cognitive function, suggests a new study.
Microdosing is a technique for studying drug behavior in humans by taking extremely low doses.
The effect of microdosage has had a recent increase in popularity with demands for increased productivity, concentration, creativity, mood and well-being, all without the typical "high" of psychedelics.
Australia's Macquarie University has published the first study of these requirements, where researchers recruited 98 microdoses and tracked their experiences over a six-week period.
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Dr. Vince Polito, who led the study, said while some of the expected effects of microdosing were supported by the study, many were not. There were also some unexpected negative experiences.
"Glowing media reports have presented microdosing as a panacea," Polito said.
"Although there were clear positive effects on depression, stress and concentration, we saw no signs of expected improvements in creativity, well-being and attention.
"Participants also experienced increased neuroticism, which is a risk not generally discussed by supporters of micro-dosing."
New Zealand research on microdosing does not currently exist, but a group of researchers at the University of Auckland are working on it.
Professor Dr Suresh Muthukumaraswamy said the effect of LSD on the human brain was very interesting, and research like Politos gave more reasons to study it.
LSD binds to important serotonin receptors in the brain, making these receptors function differently biochemically, altering the electrical signaling leading to the strange effects and vision.
"It's fascinating neurophysiology, so we're interested in studying it," he said. "If you set aside the stigma, there's no scientific reason you wouldn't."
LSD is known to be highly potent, but micro-dosage consumes one-tenth of a standard tripping dose. Consumption of the drug is quite different from cocaine or heroin and not nearly as addictive, he said.
Muthukumaraswamy said while the results of the study were interesting, there were many variables in observing microdosing, rather than having a controlled clinical trial in a laboratory.
"If you do it in a laboratory, it is controlled in the wild, you don't know what you're getting."
Expectant Effects – People who experience the effect they think they should have – can be controlled in double-blind gold standard tests using placebo.
A clinical trial would be closely monitored to see if the results of observational studies were correct, he said.
"Alternatively, if you find that it's not true and we find its expectation effect, then people would stop doing it."