Psychedelic microdosing is unlike any other scientific phenomenon in history. Its use became practically widespread before any studies analyzing its effectiveness and safety had been conducted. Overwhelming anecdotal evidence continues to circulate the internet, proposing that microdosing can increase productivity at work, boost creativity and energy, and alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Fortunately, the scientific community has caught on, and researchers are beginning to look into microdosing as a tool for reaching optimal mental health and wellbeing. Here are some of the potential benefits of microdosing that research has supported so far:
Reduced Depression and Anxiety
One study published in March 2019 looked at the effects of microdosing N,N-DMT on rats, who serve as a reliable model organism for human biology. DMT is the base molecule for most other psychedelic compounds, including psilocybin mushrooms and LSD.
The researchers attempted to learn whether the purported benefits of microdosing hold up in a controlled lab setting. They found that, in fact, microdosing N,N-DMT seems to produce antidepressant effects and contribute to fear extinction. Furthermore, microdosing produced anxiolytic effects in the rats, whereas higher doses of N,N-DMT tend to increase anxiety levels.
The study also looked at social behavior and working memory, and found no significant improvements due to microdosing in either. However, the fact that so many people have reported significant improvements in sociability and focus warrants further research, since psychedelics are likely to affect our highly developed brains in vastly different ways.
Creativity and Mood
This study gathered data from current microdosers to assess differences in personality, mental health, and creativity when compared to a control group.
Subjects completed a mix of questionnaires and tests, including the Unusual Uses Test for creativity, which measures an individual’s ability to come up with as many different uses for a particular object as they can.
When compared to the control group, microdosing subjects were found to have reduced negative emotions and dysfunctional attitudes, as well as greater levels of wisdom, open-mindedness and creativity.
Focus and Awareness
Another study collected psychological data from participants microdosing with various psychedelics, most typically LSD and psilocybin. Using a series of subjective tests, researchers found increases across all measures including connection, contemplation, creativity, focus, happiness, productivity, and wellbeing. They found these results to be strong on the day of microdosing, but weak on the days in between.
More notably, the study looked at the sustained long-term effects of microdosing, after participants followed a 6-week regimen. They found significant decreases in depression and stress, and a significant increase in absorption – a state of intense focus and awareness with something such as a natural setting or a piece of art.
The study also found a sustained decrease in mind wandering among microdosing subjects. This could be linked to reduced activity in the Default Mode Network (DMN), a phenomenon also associated with higher doses of psychedelics. The DMN is involved in self-reflection as well as thoughts about the past and future, and high activity in this brain region has been linked to depression and anxiety. A reduction in its activity could reveal insights into how microdosing works in our bodies.