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Psychedelic Research: Risks and Rewards of Microdosing

Lauren Gamble

Posted on March 19 2021

Research on psychedelics recently published in the ACS Chemical Neuroscience journal found that microdosing has both beneficial and risk factors. Research on microdosing for mental health is a nascent field of research that is finally getting some funding and backing from the mental health community. Microdosing is one way that people are using psychedelics for mental health. Microdosing involves taking just a fraction of a dose- a dose is what is required to have a full-on psychedelic “trip” or journey. 

Two studies on psilocybin, from magic mushrooms, was shown to alleviate chronic and ongoing depression. This study did not determine any adverse side effects like apathy or emotional dullness sometimes associate with antidepressants. Another study on Ayahuasca, a traditional Amazonian plant medicine, found that Ayahuasca “may be a safe and promising treatment” for mental health problems of depression and alcohol use disorder. Additional research on DMT, a compound in Ayahuasca, found that DMT helped rodents overcome their fears in a test that modeled anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 



Side effects of microdosing differed for male and female rodents in the DMT study. Male rats gained weight after the treatment, while female rats developed neuronal atrophy. The findings on neuronal health contradict earlier studies on DMT which showed that a single dose of DMT actually boosted neuronal growth.

These contradictory results suggest that an acute dosage of psychedelics may be beneficial in affecting the brain while intermittent doses microdosing may not be of benefit, and could even be detrimental to health.  Additional studies are needed to determine optimum dosing and consistency of care for humans. 



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