This observational study, published June 30 in Nature-Scientific Reports, included over 900 people who reported microdosing Psilocybin during the past month, and a control group of 180 people who did not engage in microdosing psychedelics.
There is a long history of using psilocybin-containing fungi to improve health and wellbeing in a variety of cultures. Psilocybin has resurfaced beyond its natural indigenous contexts as a therapeutic substance to cure mental illness and improve well-being.
Repeated use of small quantities of the psychedelic substance psilocybin can improve mood and mental health, a new study suggests.
There haven’t been many prospective studies that have examined microdosing. In the first longitudinal study of microdosing, which followed 98 microdosers over the course of six weeks, daily assessments revealed acute transient improvements in a variety of psychological functioning on days when small doses were administered, as well as decreases in stress, depression, and distractibility over the course of the study. Furthermore, although the study’s findings were constrained by the absence of a control group that did not use microdosing, additional analyses came to the conclusion that the observed effects were not compatible with what may be predicted based on general assumptions about microdosing.
Researchers found that people who microdosed psilocybin saw “small- to medium-sized” improvements in symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress over a 30-day follow-up, compared to those who did not.
The results of this study add to the increasing body of knowledge on microdosing in a number of ways. A rather constant link between microdosing and enhanced mental health is suggested by the comparability of our findings with those of past research from various places and using various procedures in light of these methodological advantages.
Notably, following roughly 30 days of microdosing psychedelics, the subgroup of respondents who indicated mental health issues at the time of baseline evaluation showed an average reduction in depressive symptoms that led to a transition from moderate to mild depression.
“This is the largest longitudinal study of this kind to date of microdosing psilocybin and one of the few studies to engage a control group,” study author Zach Walsh, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus in Kelowna, said in a press release. “[The results] add to the growing conversation about the therapeutic potential of microdosing,” he added.
Researchers gathered longitudinal data from self-selected participants in a broader study on psychedelic microdosing between November 2019 and May 2021. The course contents were included in a programme that was accessible to iOS users who were 18 years of age or older, proficient English readers, and owners of an iOS device. Participants in the study could either practise microdosing or not, and participants were simultaneously sought out through presentations at psychedelic research and outreach events as well as through psychedelic-related media.
The evaluation schedules were the same for both microdosers and non-microdosers and included a baseline assessment at the start of the trial and a follow-up assessment 22–35 days later. The tests included cognitive and psychomotor processing tasks as well as questions about recent psychedelic use, mood, and mental health. Each evaluation took 20 to 30 minutes to complete, and because of branching, many of the items were only shown to a portion of the participants. All participants gave their informed consent, and all procedures were conducted in compliance with rules and regulations. Results and hypotheses were not registered in advance.
The major benefits of microdosing remained consistent among participants regardless of their mental health conditions, as shown by the lack of significance in the interactions between the mental health concerns and Microdose groups for any of the areas. Scores on depression changed among microdosers with mental health concerns from 18.85 (12.03) at baseline to 11.73 (9.85) at month one; scores on anxiety changed from 11.04 (8.48) at baseline to 7.46 (6.68) at month one; and scores on stress changed from 19.93 (9.71) at baseline to 13.91 (9.02) at month one.
The scores on depression, anxiety, and stress among participants without a history of mental illness changed from 10.40 (9.78) at baseline to 6.65 (7.60), from 6.53 (6.50) at baseline to 4.81 (5.57) at month one, and from 13.96 (9.12) at baseline to 9.78 (7.50) at month one. Additional analyses contrasted the effects of stacking conditions on DASS sadness, anxiety, and stress ratings between baseline and month 1. There were no noticeable differences between Psilocybin + HE Microdosers and Psilocybin Only Microdosers. Psilocybin Only Microdosers and Psilocybin + HE + B3 Microdosers did not differ from one another, either.
It is unknown whether these findings are generalizable because this is the only study to report on stacking.
The effects of microdosing on assessments of cognitive and psychomotor performance were inconsistent and restricted to psychomotor performance; there was no discernible effect on processing speed or spatial memory. Furthermore, the strength of these effects seemed to depend on age and whether psilocybin was taken with HE or B3. Due to the uniqueness for psychomotor performance and reliance on several elements, any interpretation should be done with caution.
On the theory that B3 may increase psilocybin and HE bioavailability by vasodilation29, the combination of HE, B3, and psilocybin has gained popularity in informal microdosing information networks. It has been suggested that the beneficial effects of psilocybin and HE both work through BDNF-related mechanisms, which opens the door to super-additive effects.
The possibility that psilocybin microdosing could be used to treat sadness and anxiety strongly suggests the need for greater investigation into the nature of the connection between microdosing, mood, and mental health, as well as the degree to which these effects are specifically due to psilocybin.
The present results may nevertheless represent a significant initial step in the development of innovative treatments for common and refractory neurological illnesses if these findings hold true across a variety of samples and investigators. Last but not least, despite the fact that these results are more accurately defined as suggestive, they nevertheless provide preliminary support for anecdotal accounts of benefits from the particular combination of psilocybin, HE, and B3.
The study is constrained by potential subconscious biases related to participant self-selection and recruitment through venues that are supportive of psychedelic use, which may have led to an overrepresentation in the sample by people who respond favourably to microdosing. These limitations are in addition to small samples in subgroups, observational design, and a generally exploratory approach.
Furthermore, only those with access to Apple devices were eligible to participate because there was no Android OS version of the programme at the time of the study. Additionally, this study did not look into how dosage and dosing procedures affected results.