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The popularity of psychedelic microdosing: what does the science say?

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The popularity of psychedelic microdosing: what does the science say?

Psychedelic drugs have attracted the attention of physicians and patients alike for their increasingly proven potential to bring about long-term improvements in the mental health of people suffering from conditions such as treatment-resistant depression.

More and more people are taking very small doses of psychedelic substances like LSD or psilocybin to feel better. Microdosing is taking a fraction of a dose that people take to hallucinate. While much scientific evidence is still lacking, there is much anecdotal evidence that microdosing psychedelics improves mood, creativity, concentration, productivity and the ability to empathize with others.

No clear definition of microdosing

There is no single, clearly recognized definition of microdosing for any psychedelic drug, and this complicates efforts to conduct consistent research. One definition is about 1/5 to 1/20 of a recreational dose. (Anecdotal experience shows that this is correct, as a medium dose of psilocybin is 2 to 3 grams of dried mushrooms and a microdose is usually about 0,3 grams.)

One obstacle is that the potency of mushrooms can vary enormously. LSD is an invisible, tasteless, odorless substance that usually comes in liquid form or is embedded in a piece of paper that is slid under the tongue. The dose to be taken for the desired effect may differ from person to person. In addition, the body can build up tolerance, reducing the effect as people stay on the same dosage.

Is microdosing safe?

There is an increasing amount of research into the influence of psychedelics on mental health. Psilocybin is generally considered safe in low doses and has been used by indigenous peoples for centuries. However, taking too large a dose can result in a terrifying – even traumatic – experience.

Psilocybin is a compound produced by nearly 200 species of fungi (mushrooms). Experts expect some psychedelics to be fully legalized for supervised medical use in the coming years.
The safety of psychedelics would probably improve if cultivation and production were monitored and regulated. At least one state (Oregon) and many cities in America have decriminalized psychedelics on a local level.

Proponents of decriminalization look forward to a safer product and wider access. Skeptics are concerned that uncontrolled access to these drugs would have a bad effect on patients with mental illness.

Source: health.harvard.edu (EN)

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