With the increasing rate of depression, anxiety and stress symptoms among individuals in today’s fast-paced world, the need to suppress these symptoms and live a robust and healthy life arose.
Also, It may seem that some individuals are no longer satisfied with the “slow to take effect” of antidepressant treatments and have turned to some other means for succor. This is where psychedelic microdosing plays a role.
PSYCHEDELIC MICRODOSING DEFINED
Psychedelic microdosing is the act of taking in psychoactive or sub_hallucinogenic substances that induces serotonin receptors in very minimal doses or concentration with the aim of improving behavioral, physiological and cognitive functions.
Common psychedelics include Lysergic acid diethylamide(LSD), and Psilocybin found in some mushrooms known as “magic. mushrooms”. Others include ayahuasca, a South American beverage and N, N-dimethyltryptamine.
Psychedelics are reportedly taken in very limited doses of about one-tenth (1/10) or one-twentieth (1/20) of the substance every three days. People who take psychedelics generally follow the “one day on, and two days off” mode of administration. Psychedelic microdosing was first discovered by a Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman. Hoffman discovered the mood and mind-influencing properties of LSD in 1943.
THE CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING PSYCHEDELIC MICRODOSING
Following the discovery of psychedelic microdosing, there has been almost little to no research done to ascertain the claims of people who use the substance. The effects of psychedelic micro-dosing are purely anecdotal accounts of people who use the drug.
They reportedly claim that psychedelics help them to attain mental clarity, gain control of their emotions, sharpens their concentration and keeps them energetic and open to social interactions. They claim that psychedelics help with depression and anxiety symptoms and heighten their level of productivity and creativity without altering their consciousness.
They also reported that compared to antidepressants which take weeks to take effect, psychedelics effects change just after a single administration. Some claim it helps lessen pains associated with migraines and painful periods.
The problem with these conjectures is that science has not proved their credibility. In fact the possession of psychedelics is considered illegal as the Federal Drug and Food Administration (FDA) classifies it as “schedule 1 controlled substances” which means a substance that is prone to abuse and has no accepted medical value.
However, some notable people have endorsed the use of psychedelics. Kally Muris who discovered the science behind Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Claims that he was inspired after using LSD. Another person who has never denied his involvement with LSD is the legendary Apple founder, Steve Jobs.
He reported how taking LSD helped him shape his outlook on life and put things into perspective for him in order of priority. Steve believes LSD played a vital role in his life and impacted his inventions. A lot of people especially in tech-savvy Silicon Valley are inspired to attain this same greatness or it’s like through LSD by following in Steve’s steps.
Psychedelics are a bone of contention between scientists, researchers, and health experts. While some are of the opinion that it only works because people believe it would in a phenomenon known as the “placebo effect”, others feel that it should be given a chance as the substance may have potential health benefits if researched and studied properly. Some others believe, in order not to expose the body to health risks, people should steer clear of the substances since it is yet to have an established and medically approved health benefits and tested side effects.
RISKS AND BENEFITS
Little to no research was carried out on psychedelics after the FDA banned the only study that was investigating it in 1966, not until James Fadiman decided to embark on its research.
James’s research is purely observational and is built around a website where he collects experience generated data of people who are currently using psychedelics, especially those with history of health conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, menstrual disorders, severe headaches and those with mental health conditions such as depression and bipolar disorders.
He and his colleague, Sophia Kurb, had generated data from about 1500 participants which they are currently working on. Fadiman also published a book titled “Psychedelic Explorer’s guide; safe, therapeutic and sacred journeys”.
Based on information gathered on his website, some anecdotal benefits of psychedelic microdosing are as follows
- Relief from headache
- Relief from menstrual cramps
- Improvement in sleeping habits
- Better exercise
- Improved appetite
- General overall well being
Despite these benefits, Fadiman’s website points out that people who have color blindness, autism and psychotic disorders could be exposed to potential risks from taking psychedelics.
According to the site, people with color blindness experienced optical aberrations, those with autism require more than allowed dosage for the substance to take effect and publications suggest that individuals with psychotic disorders can be negatively affected by the impact of psychedelics. This sparks the thought that psychedelics may probably have risks associated with its usage.
Aside from Fadiman’s research, a couple of other studies investigating psychedelic microdosing have sprung up. The most recent and notable of all the studies is a research carried out by scientists at the University of California. The study which was published on March 4 in the journal of chemical neuroscience projects that microdosing psychedelics may truely have benefits and potential risks as well. They conducted the research using “sparague Dawley rats” as a case study.
The group of scientists microdosed male and female rats with the psychedelic DMT. According to them, they settled for DMT as their choice of psychedelic as it bears a similar structure with common psychedelics, LSD and Psilocybin. They also found that it is fairly compatible with rodents. The scientists gave the rats one-tenth of the dose every three days, which is the reported schedule for administration of psychedelic substances. They administered the dosage for two months. The rats were subjected to treatment for two weeks before commencing behavioral tests on mood, anxiety and cognitive functions. The tests were carried out during the 48 hour period between one dose and the next.
Results indicated benefits such as helping the rats to overcome their response to fear in a test that is replicate of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder in humans. It also showed a reduction in immobility which is associated with antidepressant effects However, it is important to note that the tests for cognitive functions and social interactions came out as neutral. There was neither a visible improvement nor damage to cognitive and social functions as opposed to claims made by people who microdose on psychedelics.
The results of the study also indicated potential risks such as an increase in the weight of the male rats and neuronal atrophy in the female rats. This side effect in the female rats came as a surprise, as a study they conducted earlier where the rats were treated with a high dose of DMT produced a positive increase in neuronal growth. They concluded that long term intermittent low doses and short term high doses may produce different structural and biochemical results.
This study is evidence of a near breakthrough in the acceptance of microdosing psychedelics as a medically approved substance that can improve the overall well-being of humans. Until then, it is unanimously agreed that microdosing psychedelics should be subjected to thorough research, tests, and experiments for its benefits and risks to be factually unraveled.