Microdosing LSD: Why The Powerful Drug Can Change Your Life

Microdosing LSD: Why The Powerful Drug Can Change Your Life

Microdosing psychedelics refers to the practice of taking tiny, ‘sub-perceptual’ doses of a psychedelic substance. The dose is so small that no classic psychedelic effects take place, such as changes to your perception. Microdosing LSD is a popular form of this practice. Many people who microdose LSD find it offers a range of psychological benefits. These include an increase in positive mood, creativity, productivity, and life satisfaction, as well as less rumination. 

LSD tabs often come in doses of 100 micrograms (mcg). This precise amount allows users to divide the tab into sections that contain the microdose they want. A microdosage is usually 5-20mcg. Another way of microdosing LSD is something ‘volumetric dosing’. This involves putting a 100mcg LSD tab into a 100ml solution of distilled water or alcohol spirit. Then users can take out the preferred quantity. In this case, 1ml would be roughly equal to 1mcg of LSD. 

When the trend of microdosing LSD first emerged, no studies on microdosing existed. But this has changed over the past several years. Some researchers have conducted self-report studies and placebo-controlled trials on microdosing LSD. These features alongside a wealth of anecdotal reports about the benefits of taking microdoses of LSD. Let’s explore these benefits in more depth.

People Claim Microdosing LSD Has Changed Their Lives

It isn’t just Silicon Valley workers who were claiming to benefit from microdosing LSD. Many ordinary people are trying to see if taking small quantities of LSD might improve their overall mental health. In online communities like the microdosing subreddit, the true extent of this is palpable. People report how microdosing LSD has helped them deal with issues like depression, generalized anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A wealth of anecdotal reports reveal similar claims.

The author Ayelet Waldman has also touted the life-changing benefits of microdosing LSD. She does so in her highly popular book A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life (2017). In fact, Waldman believes that microdosing helped save her marriage. This was because, before microdosing, her poor mental health was putting a strain on her relationship with her husband. But due to the significant improvements to her well-being from microdosing, she was able to maintain healthier relationships.

Self-Report Studies

Self-report studies – where participants fill out a questionnaire – have indicated a number of benefits to microdosing LSD. One 2019 study, published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, found that volunteers reported increases in positive emotions and productivity. They also found it easier to interact with others. However, James Fadiman, who led this study, stressed that people whose major symptom is anxiety should not microdose. He believes this could worsen anxiety. 

The results from this study were similar to a previous 2019 study on microdosing LSD published in PLOS One. In this earlier research, participants reported heightened levels of creativity, focus, connectedness, contemplation, happiness, productivity, and well-being. However, researchers discovered microdosing was associated with an increase in neuroticism. This is a personality trait that predicts the experience of negative emotions. 

Placebo-Controlled Studies

The downside to self-report studies is that they are susceptible to the placebo effect. This is when a user expects a positive outcome from microdosing LSD and that expectation causes that outcome to occur. However, a handful of placebo-controlled studies on microdosing LSD now exist. These have tried to clarify whether the benefits of small doses of LSD are due to the drug alone.

Another 2020 placebo-controlled study of note is published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology,. It highlighted that microdosing LSD can lead to increases in positive mood, attention, friendliness, confusion, and anxiety. This illustrates that microdosing LSD might change your life in positive ways, as well as having negative effects as well. 

This same study discovered that participants felt an increase in productivity when taking 5mcg and 10mcg of LSD. However, they experienced a reduction at the 20mcg dose. It should be noted, however, that these were subjective reports of productivity. The study did not measure if participants were able to work more efficiently. It also didn’t account for potentially higher output compared to participants who took the placebo.

Another 2020 study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, demonstrated that 20mcg of LSD can effectively reduce pain perception. These effects were compared to a placebo. The placebo group did not cause participants to experience the same significant reduction in pain perception.

These studies indicate that microdosing LSD is more than just the placebo effect. Moreover, it seems that microdosing can provide a range of benefits, from improved mood to pain management.

The Role of the Placebo Effect

The above placebo-controlled studies don’t mean that the placebo effect isn’t involved at all in microdosing. Indeed, more recent research shows that microdosing LSD may change your life because you expect it will. 

A placebo-controlled study, published this year in the journal eLife, is telling in this respect. It suggests that the psychological benefits of microdosing are likely due to users’ expectations about taking a microdose. Balázs Szigeti, lead author and a research associate at the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London, stated:

“Our findings confirmed some of the beneficial psychological effects of microdosing from anecdotal reports and observational studies, such as improved sense of wellbeing and life satisfaction. But we see the same improvements among participants taking placebos. This suggests that the improvements may not be due to the pharmacological action of the drug but can instead be explained by the placebo effect.”

Earlier 2021 research, published in Scientific Reports, tells a similar story. It likewise discovered that positive expectations predict the improved mental health outcomes that follow microdosing. Researchers noted that the placebo response was significant. They cautioned “against zealous inferences on its putative therapeutic value.” This isn’t to say that microdosing LSD is ineffective. Instead, its benefits may largely come down to the expectation that benefits will occur. 

Should You Microdose LSD?

Evidence on microdosing receives mixed responses. Countless anecdotal reports illustrate how microdosing LSD has helped to change people’s lives for the better. But when it comes to scientific research, many studies have failed to verify some of these benefits. More recent research suggesting that any improvement in mental health is likely the result of the placebo effect. 

Microdosing LSD could positively impact your life. However, you should not expect the changes to be as significant as taking a larger dose in a therapeutic setting. The evidence is much more clear when it comes to the effectiveness of psychedelic therapy.

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Sam Woolfe

View all posts by Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe is a freelance writer based in London. His main areas of interest include mental health, mystical experiences, the history of psychedelics, and the philosophy of psychedelics. He first became fascinated by psychedelics after reading Aldous Huxley's description of the mescaline experience in The Doors of Perception. Since then, he has researched and written about psychedelics for various publications, covering the legality of psychedelics, drug policy reform, and psychedelic science.

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