The participants appeared to develop a tolerance to LSD over the course of the study, with the drug's effect decreasing with each subsequent session.
Microdosing is hot. It is often a search for the potential benefits of taking small amounts of psychedelics on a regular basis. However, a recent study shows that microdosing LSD can lead to some sort of resistance.
A new study finds that people can build up a tolerance to taking low doses of LSD on a regular basis. Therefore, the drug could not achieve lasting improvements or changes, researchers write in the journal Addiction Biology.
"The results were a little disappointing because we didn't see any significant improvements in mood or cognition, or really lasting changes in any of the measures we looked at," said lead researcher Harriet de Wit, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago. .
In the study, 56 participants were randomly selected to repeatedly receive either a placebo or an extremely low dose of LSD, 13 or 26 micrograms. By comparison, people take doses of 100 to 200 micrograms to induce a hallucinogenic trip, de Wit said. LSD, short for lysergic acid diethylamide, was first synthesized in the XNUMXs. The American Central Intelligence Agency used it in mind control experiments during the Cold War. In the sixties it became a real hippie resource and symbolized the counterculture.
Study participants were given their microdoses during four separate five-hour sessions in a lab, three or four days apart. They were not told what type of drug was being tested, so as not to let their personal expectations influence the study results, de Wit said.
To assess their mood and mental performance, the participants performed brain tests and emotional tasks during their microdose sessions and during a drug-free follow-up session. The study found that microdosing LSD is safe, with no negative effects on heart rate, blood pressure or other vital signs.
But the participants seemed to develop a tolerance to LSD over the course of the study, with the drug's effect appearing to wear off with each subsequent session. “We saw some effect when people first got it,” said de Wit. “They felt more stimulated, they felt more awake and energetic, but that effect diminished a bit over the four sessions.”
Benefits or placebo?
Although LSD is considered a Schedule 1 drug by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (substances with no accepted medical uses and a high potential for abuse), microdosing is promoted as a way to enhance creativity, make someone smarter or sharper, improve mood. and sharpen social skills, experts said.
According to Matthew Johnson, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research in Baltimore and de Wit, there is solid biological reason to suspect that microdosing LSD may have an effect on the brain.
“LSD works on the serotonin system, and the serotonin system is also the same neurotransmitter where antidepressants like SSRIs work, so there's a neurobiological reason to think it might work.”
Unfortunately, this new research sheds a different light on microdosing the compound. It seems to be at least partly a placebo effect. Johnson: “The relevant question is whether it is all a placebo effect. So far, no study has really found any evidence to pick up even a small signal of the benefits of microdosing.”
Microdosing or macrodosing
The concept of microdosing actually runs counter to modern research into psychedelic drugs, where high doses are administered. Studies using large doses of psilocybin and other psychedelic compounds "show really promising effects for treatment," Johnson said.
Despite this, researchers don't want to say definitively that microdosing doesn't work at all, based on the results of this study. Longer studies could eventually see a result of frequent microdosing. People who suffer from a mood disorder such as anxiety or depression might also see a greater effect. Johnson: "It wouldn't be at all surprising that a drug that alters your serotonin system could help with depression."
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