There is a lot of talk about micro dosing and what positive effects it can give. At the time of writing, there are approximately one hundred thousand followers of the theme Microdosing on Reddit and people talk about amazing results. And with apparently little side effects. So what is it, why do people do it and what can we conclude?
What is microdosing?
Microdosing is a concept that involves taking small doses of psychedelic drugs, most often then psilocybin or LSD. The dosage is usually about one tenth of a regular dose and should be just below / above the level of psychoactive effect. By taking such a microdose, many claim that you get the positive effect of psychedelic drugs into everyday life without taking whole doses.
Why do people microdose?
There are many who report good results from microdosing and that it helps with a number of issues. The most common uses are treatment of depression and anxiety, ADD / ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder and as a performance enhancer for increased concentration, creativity and physical performance. In addition, the risk is reduced compared to high-dose use of psychedelics and many manage to combine micro-dosage with a normal working day.
What does the research indicate so far?
Some microdosing studies have been done that can be said to provide some indicators. There is little money to raise and little support to get from the public, so it may take some time before we can conclude. This means that until you have several placebo-controlled studies, you have to interpret the results as much as you want so far.
Most research in creativity, openness and general mental well-being
One study has looked at changes in personality, mental health and creativity. The results of this study suggest that there is a significant correlation between micro-dosing and mental health measurements including reduction in dysfunctional attitudes and negative emotionality, and increased openness and creativity. The study has several weaknesses, the largest being the selection of participants and the fact that it is not placebo controlled. The study nevertheless concludes that there are good enough indications to explore this area further; "These findings are the initial evidence that warrants RCTs to directly test safety and therapeutic efficacy." Several surveys have also been conducted (e.g. this) which also concludes that it is promising, but you still have the same challenge here. Those who have completed the survey may also be the ones who have had the best experience and without placebo control much of the effect may lie in placebo.
What does the risk picture look like?
It is known that the physiological risk picture is good for classic psychedelic drugs, even at full doses. They have very low toxicity and it takes terribly large doses to die from overdose. When microdoses are taken, the risk is significantly lower again, including psychological harm. There are some who report worsening of symptoms, especially groups struggling with anxiety or personality disorders. The effect seems to be temporary in most cases, but I would always advise people to be aware of how to experience it and write a diary to record developments.