Psychedelics are receiving increased interest from the psychiatric community due to their effectiveness in treating conditions like PTSD, depression, and substance abuse disorders. LSD is one of the psychedelics under study again. One of the questions researchers are working to resolve is whether or not a person needs to undergo the typical psychedelic experience in order to achieve therapeutic results. One route to understanding this is to try to develop similar medicines that affect brain pathways like psychedelics do. So, just exactly what is LSD microdosing?
LSD Microdosing Amounts
Microdosing is a common practice when researchers are developing medicines. They can find out how a drug is absorbed, processed, used up, or excreted using even very small amounts. This approach makes it safer for the test subjects. Doses are only increased when micro doses are found to be safe. At that point medicines are tested to see how effective they are. The usual doses for research microdosing are around 1% of the normal therapeutic dose. The micro doses of LSD are from 5% to 10% of the amounts typically used to produce a hallucinogenic or psychedelic experience.
Why Use LSD Microdosing?
Those who promote LSD microdosing point to improved mood, cognitive improvements, and pain reduction as benefits of LSD microdosing. Those who use this approach take micro doses of LSD at regular intervals. This practice was used as far back as the 1500s when Spanish conquistadors reported that Aztecs used repeated low doses of psychedelic mushrooms which we now know contained psilocybin. The Aztecs used this medicine to treat rheumatism and reduce fevers.
Are There Any Benefits of LSD Microdosing?
Microdosing with LSD may well be a great idea. The problem is that nobody has studied this using a set dose and set schedule. To know if this approach makes a difference there needs to be a double blind study in which half of the participants get a placebo and half get the medication. Then the study needs to be continued for the weeks or months that current microdosing advocates use. To know if this does any good researchers need to find things to measure like cognitive testing, reports of pain, and reports or tests of mood. Testing needs to be done before, during, and after treatment. Along the way there needs to be attention paid to any side effects. This is how the FDA tests medicines before giving them the OK for standard use.
The range of things that can be studied in regard to whether or not microdosing helps is very wide. For example, there is good evidence that a drink or two of alcohol daily improves the chances of survival in people who have had a heart attack. Drinking more does not help and may even hurt. There may be similar benefits of long term micro dosed psychedelics such as relief of depression, PTSD, and substance abuse. One issue that needs to be addressed is whether or not psychotherapy or coaching should be part of the treatment regime with each micro dose or if this can be tested as an alternative to the standard therapy that is evolving for use of psychedelics for PTSD and depression. If this approach yields positive results, different time frames and varied dosing can be examined as well.
Potential Benefits of LSD Microdosing
Although all evidence regarding the efficacy of LSD microdosing so far is anecdotal, it is compelling. Reported benefits include enhanced cognitive processes and abilities, increased energy levels, improved emotional balance and mood, reduced anxiety, improvement in depression, help with treatment of addiction and reduced substance abuse, reduced pain, improvement of cluster headaches and migraine, fewer symptoms of attention deficit disorder, improvement in self-care, sharpened senses, greater cardiovascular endurance, better sleep, and reduced sensitivity to trauma.
Surveys reveal that a fifth of people who have tried LSD microdosing did so because of depression, one in fourteen did so to reduce anxiety, one in eleven used microdosing to improve other mental health conditions, and one in fifty use LSD in this way to help deal with substance abuse.
LSD is not the only psychedelic medicine that could be used via a micro dose treatment regime. To know which, if any, psychedelics would be useful when given this way, testing needs to be carried out of the sort required by the FDA to see if a drug is safe and then if a drug is more effective than placebo.