Microdosing Study Yields Mixed Results

By Paul Gaita 02/13/19

Researchers explored the physical and mental effects of microdosing in a new study.

psychedelic mushrooms are often used in microdosing

The practice of microdosing—consuming very small amounts of psychedelic substances like psilocybin, allegedly to increase mental capacities—has gained popularity among individuals who have reported greater focus, happiness and creativity from the practice.

To determine whether these claims had any validity, researchers conducted a study that posed a daily series of questions to regular microdosing proponents about their mental and emotional responses to their chosen substances.

Their responses—which highlighted mostly positive but also negative reactions—underscored both the researchers' and High Times' assessments that the subject was worthy of further study.

The study, conducted by researchers from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia and published in the journal PLOS One, recruited 98 participants to conduct its research. And to circumvent any legal issues involved the study of psychedelics, all of the subjects were already involved in microdosing.

Over the course of a six-week period, the participants were tasked with answering sets of questions on a daily basis, as well as a separate and more intensive set at the beginning and end of the six-week timeframe.

Upon reviewing the results, the researchers found that the majority of the participants reported that their experiences were largely positive. They claimed to experience an increase in a number of areas, including creativity, focus, happiness and productivity, on days when they microdosed. Such reactions were reported less on days when doses were not taken.

Participants also claimed that they experienced lower levels of depression and stress, though study author Vince Polito also noted that none of the 98 participants reported problems with either condition prior to the launch of the study.

While most of the responses skewed positive, some participants also reported a slight increase in neurotic feelings at the conclusion of the six-week test. Additionally, some reported such a negative response to their first experience with the psychedelic substances that they stopped their involvement after that initial experiment. 

Noting that the participants' previous and/or regular experiences might cause a degree of bias in their responses, the researchers also queried a group of 263 microdosers with varying degrees of experience about pre-existing beliefs and expectations about microdosing.

The researchers found that while all participants believed that microdosing would produce considerable and extensive benefits, what they believed would happen was markedly different than what was reported by the actual group undergoing the microdosing. 

As High Times noted, Polito and his co-author, Richard J. Stevenson, observed that their study was based on very broad and general information, and was drawn from personal questionnaires and not scientific experiments.

Still, Polito noted that their findings showed "promising indications of possible benefits of microdosing, [as well as] indications of some potential negative impacts, which should be taken seriously."

The study authors concluded that research on microdosing is in its early stages, and requires more comprehensive studies to make more specific determinations.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.