As microdosing psychedelics becomes a more popular choice for boosting creativity and focus, especially in Silicon Valley circles, the question remains why and how effective the practice can be. Psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms and LSD are illegal, so the number of users is completely unknown. Scientists say most reports on psychedelics tend to be anecdotal and patient-forward—mirroring comments often made in medical communities regarding cannabis—but a new study will aim to answer the persistent question lingering around microdosing.
This week the Beckley Foundation launched a first-of-its-kind placebo-controlled trial on microdosing at the Imperial College London, as the Guardian first reported. Researchers will aim to discern if microdosing has impact on “cognitive function” or “psychological well-being” beyond a placebo effect.
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To conduct the research, scientists have gathered those who already engage in microdosing to partake in a “self-blinding” study. Participants will create capsules of their normal microdosing amount of LSD and also capsules with nothing inside. Then these capsules will be placed in individual envelopes, which will be shuffled around and re-organized, so participants no longer know which envelope contains the actual drug or a placebo.
Throughout the process, they will play cognitive games and complete questionnaires online. By the end, they should know if they were more content and focused because they were on LSD, or because they just thought they were.
“The people who microdose right now are not an average random set of people from the street,” Balázs Szigeti, the study leader, told the Guardian. “They are very likely to have used psychedelics before and have preconceptions about them.”
“You are doing something novel and exciting and that you believe in—and you know you are doing it,” he added. “It is absolutely no surprise that you are getting a positive effect.”
Those who agree to sign up for the study, which you do so here, will be sent a manual with instructions of how to set up the capsules and envelopes. Each envelope will have a QR code you can scan with your smartphone, so at the end of the study you’ll know which you took: a placebo or LSD. Forewarning: Researchers will not be supplying psychedelics, so don’t try signing up if you aren’t serious about the study and can provide your own.
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“It has become popular in Silicon Valley as a way to increase creativity and productivity,” said Szigeti. “I was interested in this and looked at the scientific literature. To my great surprise I found there were zero studies on microdosing. If you go online there are hundreds and hundreds of people expressing very positive outcomes but this is completely novel terrain in scientific literature”
Added Amanda Feilding, director of the Beckley Foundation: “I think it could give a boost to vitality, an improvement in mood possibly. […] One can’t and doesn’t want to encourage people to microdose, but it is interesting to try to gather data in a slightly more scientific way from people who are doing it.”