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Microdosing with psilocybin mushrooms: a double-blind placebo-controlled study

zosima

In studies such as these with huge intersubject variability, and probably also quite large intrasubject variability from day to day on many scales, it makes sense to look at change from baseline for individuals in the various groups rather than just differences in raw scores between treatment groups.

It seems by a cursory glance that most analyses done were of the latter kind, and I think then a study such as this, with low N, is expected to not show very much effect of any kind. (Since the intersubject variability and potentially also the natural intrasubject variability for most measured scales seem higher than any expected treatment effect).

I am almost certain that e.g. none of the approved and quite convincingly working SSRI:s would have shown any efficacy in a study with this design and similar N.

nine_k

I don't see how this may be relevant to the usefulness of microdosing.

- Assume that a microdose either improves an outcome, or does nothing. Then, averaged over a large group, such random improvements would lift the group's outcome a little. It's a microdose worth taking.

- Assume that a microdose can both improve and worsen the outcome, or have no effect. If the experimental group's averaged results are indistinguishable from the control group's averaged results, it means that the microdose worsens the outcome about as often and / or as much as it improves it. This, to me. means that a microdose is a gamble not worth taking.

There is, of course, a difference between a microdose having no effect at all, or having an effect which can be either positive or negative. This difference is important for further research. For usage here and now, it's sadly irrelevant.

If a microdose only works when the person taking it knows it works, then it's basically the placebo effect. A good placebo can be useful, at least for commercial purposes.

Enginerrrd

>This, to me. means that a microdose is a gamble not worth taking.

This has always been the problem with psychedelics as a therapeutic approach. It's hard to reconcile being a responsible clinician and recommending a therapy with such mixed and often-negative results. They are in charge of a person's mental well-being in a way that people evangelizing psychedelic therapy don't seem to properly appreciate. If a patient is interested in that therapy, they might be a better candidate, but even then... if the results aren't great it's hard to justify.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with psychedelics for personal use, and I've seen them do wonderful things for people. But I've also seen them do horrific things to people and I feel like a lot of young people have a great trip and then immediately conclude that literally every human being NEEDS to go out and trip without any more consideration. That same sort of evangelism carries over to the microdosing realm. It may have a place! But personally, I've tried it with psiolocybin, and I found that typical microdoses have a very detrimental effect on my ability to focus.

meaningjoj

Keep in mind this is study is evaluating the claims that microdosing lead to specific outcomes such as enhanced wellness and cognitive enhancements, which people seek out while microdosing. That's different from using strong doses of psychedelics to, say for example, break entrenched thought patterns (addiction, depression, OCD).

In the former case, a positive outcome is expected and therefore negative outcomes are in a sense less tolerable, especially since a false positive would lead to people repeatedly microdosing over an extended period of time, to their long-term detriment.

In the latter case, a "negative experience" does not preclude getting the desired results. And an acute negative experience in a one-time dose may be tolerable when contrasted with the long-term severity of the pathology it is meant to treat.

jerojero

As far as I know experiments of CBT + psychedelics have shown very promising results for treating PTSD and certain kinds of depression, specially in people that are about to die and need to come to terms with that.

These are not microdosing experiments though. The usual way it is handled is that you get a few weeks of CBT then you get half a dose and the following week you get a full dose followed by more weeks of CBT. There is no placebo effect here that's possible because, well, it is impossible for someone to believe they have taken a full dose of pscychodelic drugs and not feel anything. But you still have a control in this case because you have a group that goes through CBT and another group that goes through CBT + drugs.

In fact, from these studies there have been very little "bad trips", mostly I guess because you have the half-dose session and then the full dose session in a very controlled environment and so on. These experiments are obviously done quite responsibly.

So I think you're mixing things up a little bit and I would suggest doing a little more research in the topic. Psychodelic therapy, at least the kind that is being explored seriously is not really done through microdosing.

bnralt

I wonder how much of this is true for therapy in general. When I've looked into it, the evidence for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a lot less than I would have expected, and there seems to be some question about how much of its effect is due to the placebo effect. This study on microdosing makes the point that if an experiment isn't double-blind - if the researchers know what is the placebo and what isn't - than this will have an impact on the results (and they seem to think this is the reason their double-blind experiment got different results). But I'm not sure it's possible to have double blind experiments when it comes to therapy (someone correct me if I'm wrong), and would likely make many single-blind studies of therapy appear more useful.

zosima

If the natural variability is high enough, then any effect will be hidden by it. Sure, we can say with some certainty that the effect of microdosing on most scales are not that huge. But we wouldn't have expected very large effect sizes anyway, because they are almost unheard off. (Unless the subjects become really severely impaired)

And there may still be meaningful treatment effects, at least judging by current standard of care for many psychiatric ailments and how those have performed in studies.

Again, I'm quite confident that the effect of many current psychiatric standard of care treatments would never have been picked up by this study. Not because they don't work (at least somewhat), but simply because there is too much noise and natural variability.

pfisherman

If the observed effect of an intervention does not rise above the background variance it means that the intervention does not do what you want it to do.

Either (1) it has no effect or (2) the strength and direction of the effect are random. Either of those qualities renders the intervention ineffective. You can’t justify giving a patient something that will have no effect, or will make them worse off half of the time when there are more effective options are on the table.

Of course this is comes with the caveat that the study is adequately powered to detect the strength of the effect you are looking for. That being said, there is plenty historical data for the placebo, so I don’t think that being underpowered because of misestimation of the background variance would be an issue.

jamiek88

Quite confident but utterly wrong.

As has been pointed out to you several times.

Science does not and cannot work by cherry picking.

PragmaticPulp

> it makes sense to look at change from baseline for individuals in the various groups rather than just differences in raw scores between treatment groups.

That’s called cherry picking. Results are always noisy. You could give two groups of people the same tests on different days without any drugs at all and some subset would show “improvement”. If you start focusing on the individuals that show the result you want to see, you cherry-pick your way into false results.

This is a well-known way for researchers to abuse variable or noisy data sets to misleadingly show the result they want to show.

> I am almost certain that e.g. none of the approved and quite convincingly working SSRI:s would have shown any efficacy in a study with this design and similar N.

Thats not true. SSRI studies with ~30 people will show a trend toward improvement in the SSRI group that exceeds the placebo group. I think you’re confusing the different statistical measures.

This study showed that expectations and placebo effect were the predictor of micro-dosing success. The blinded group and unblinded group showed completely different results.

karmanyaahm

> > it makes sense to look at change from baseline for individuals in the various groups rather than just differences in raw scores between treatment groups.

> That’s called cherry picking. Results are always noisy. You could give two groups of people the same tests on different days without any drugs at all and some subset would show “improvement”.

No, GP is talking about a matched pairs design. You look at the difference between the scores of very similar individuals by applying one treatment to each (active and placebo), or, applying both treatments to the same individual (in random order).

Cherry-picking would mean only using scores from selected individuals, whereas matching only emphasizes the difference.

snet0

They're not saying you should look at some subset of individuals with positive results, you have misread.

The notion is that the difference between participants can mask the effect of the drug, such that comparing any individual participant to anyone but themselves is improper.

zosima

No, why would you claim that?

PragmaticPulp

Claim what? If you go through the results and exclude the individuals who didn’t show the outcome you wanted to see, that’s called cherry-picking. It’s a well-known phrase.

There is a concept of subgroup analysis in studies like these, but you have to be careful about how it’s done and what conclusions are drawn. If you simply select positive results and exclude negative results then even the placebo group would show great success.

This study showed that telling people that they were microdosing was more important for the perceived outcome than the micro dosing itself. In other words, placebo is key to making it work.

redox99

Did you actually read the methodology? Because what you are saying doesn't really fit the used methodology.

They had all participants on shrooms for 1 week, and on placebo for 1 week (order randomized), and compared the results.

j_m_b

I'm sort of surprised they didn't extract/synthesize psilocybin directly and administer that. Decades ago, I grew a few batches of P. Cubensis. Even amongst mushrooms from the same rice cake, the dosage wildly varies. You could have a "trip" from a tiny mushroom or eat a handful of duds.

IlliOnato

It might be so that researchers investigate the common practice of "microdosing" and its effects, not necessarily (just) the effects of psilocybin low dosage. So they tried to closely emulate this practice, as it is done by users in real-life.

But this of course introduces more uncertainty, as you pointed out, so to have any conclusive results a much larger sample group would be needed, I think.

Also I agree with others that comparison with the baseline for each test subject, not just between the test group and control group, would be important.

TranquilMarmot

It would be nice if they were to study the effects of different doses of psilocybin directly. Could feed into possible depression treatments in the future... if somebody is trying to treat depression with psilocybin, they probably want a predictable dose that you can't really get eating mushrooms directly.

aeturnum

I figured it was this as well - the motivation for performing the study is the anecdata from self-reports on microdosing with traditional techniques. I suspect that, if they had seen strong evidence for microdosing here - they would have moved on to investigating the effect in detail.

14

They just need a large batch of mushrooms and grind it to a powder and weighed out and placed in a pill capsule, much like what I saw back in high school being sold. No taste as it is in a pill capsule and the dose is pretty consistent.

tayo42

Is psyocybin the only active chemical in mushrooms or is it like Marijuana where other chemicals in it can have some effect too

psych_out

Psilocybin is not active, but is converted to active psilocin by dephosphorylation when it is digested. Mushrooms also contain some psilocin. There is active research into the effect of other tryptamines in mushrooms, including, baeocystin, norbaeocystin, and norpsilocin, and others.

(note - "in mice")

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32077284/

Kab1r

Psilocin is also present.

monktastic1

One improvement is to take the entire batch and blend it up, so that at least doses from that batch are consistent. Still doesn't help inter-batch consistency for scientific studies, of course.

jrochkind1

Same. Most psilocybin research I am familiar with synthesizes psilocybin, in part to be able to exactly control dosage, indeed. But it may also be to avoid dealing with illegal market?

I think this research was not done in the US but in another country (not sure which one?), not sure if research norms or availability or what differ there.

hiram112

Apparently, one of the companies actively pursing psilocybin for medicinal purposes has just patented one of the main methods of synthesis. From what I remember from the article that hit HN just last week regarding one of the main chemists for this company, this may be putting off researchers and others from using anything other than the natural mushrooms in their trials, tests, products, etc.

* https://www.vice.com/en/article/93a5x3/judges-deny-challenge...

varispeed

It's interesting that when it comes to cannabis they often do the opposite - that is they give subjects synthetic THC rather than the whole spectrum extract. THC isolate is quite nasty - but the same amount of THC combined with CBD and other cannabinoids can work wonders.

I think there may be that if they isolated psilocybin, they could have missed other compounds that play a part in causing desired effects. Obviously this is a different substance than cannabinoids, but I think when it comes to plants it makes more sense to test it exactly how subjects use it rather than use synthetics.

edit: I hope I didn't cause offence to any mushroom - of course they are not plants, but I hope you get my point.

entropie

> Even amongst mushrooms from the same rice cake, the dosage wildly varies

This is the main reason with psychoactive mushrooms overall. You can't dose exact via bio material so overdosing happens regular and could be actually harmful.

sowbug

Would you mind citing a case of harm caused by pharmacological effects of mushroom overdose? My own online research since your post found no such recorded instances, but perhaps we're using different terminology.

entropie

I actually cant, my knowledge is anecdotal. When I search around the web, there are articels that stating the same. Here is a (old) reddit thread:

https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/allg3/i_used_lsd_and_... (I see this is anecdotal as well)

Its hard to find serious papers about it because most of the time its due to "abuse" of drugs and (!) mixed consums.

Anyways, I had a friend who was really into mushrooms overall (not only psychoactive ones) and while he was pretty open to drug using he stated multiple times that overdosing can lead to bad trips and so called "hängenbleiben" (I dont now the english term, it means the trip never really stops).

h2odragon

Extracting from shrooms with ethanol is quite consistent, the psilocybin isn't very soluble so after a few days soaking you can be pretty confident that the ethanol has taken up all it can. for microdosing the ethanol probably isn't enough to worry about trying to take it back out of solution, drink .25 oz or so.

yarg

(It's strange that we're using the term microdose, even in scientific contexts - prefixes have meanings - it should be called a decidose.)

Anecdotally, I've had a degree of short term success treating my depression with smallish doses of mushrooms, but I've never had the continuing access required for a microdosing regiment.

It'd be nice if the government were willing to come to the table on this, but alas.

That said, every time that I've had a months long lift, it hasn't been a small dose, but an epic dose that often cast me into a night of turmoil.

(Which would make the rigours of double-blind testing completely ineffectual.)

timthorn

> It's strange that we're using the term microdose, even in scientific contexts - prefixes have meanings - it should be called a decidose.

Not really - its from the Greek for small, rather than a SI prefix in this context. If the suffix were quantitative then you might have a case, but we talk quite happily about microphones and microscopes. Microdose is useful because it is not conditional on a particular regular dose size, we just know it is much lower than usual.

comonoid

Also, 1 microbe is 1/1000000 of be.

richthegeek

Microbes are actually around 1 micrometer!

Whilst I'd generally hate for a 1 meter bee to exist, it might be worth it just for the nerd joke.

So purely factually, a microbe is only 1/10000th of a bee

adrian_b

While "micro" means indeed small, many people have the wrong impression that the similarly sounding "macro" must have an opposite meaning to "micro" so many incorrect terms have been coined, e.g. "macroscopic" vs. "microscopic".

In reality, in Ancient Greek the opposite of "micro" was "mega", i.e. "big" (so megameter vs. micrometer was a correct addition to the metric system in 1873, like also the name Micromegas, which was coined by Voltaire in one of his novellas), while "macro" meant "long", not "big".

("macro" is cognate with words from other European languages which mean slim/slender/thin/lean, only in Ancient Greek its meaning has shifted from "slim" to "long", replacing the older word for "long", "dolicho").

quickthrower2

What is the difference between "Low Dose" and "Microdose" though? I have heard the specific term Low Dose before.

carrychains

Generally, a microdose is supposed to be below threshold. In other words, imperceptible. A low dose can be above threshold. This study seems to be testing something most microdose adherents would refer to as a low dose.

eurasiantiger

Microdose = sub-perceptual dose

Threshold dose = dose at which effects can barely be perceived

Low dose = dose at which effects become definitely perceptible

The people in this study were taking something between a threshold dose and a low dose, given some interpersonal variability.

34679

I'm of the belief that it should be called a dose. There are many therapeutics that will make you hallucinate if you ingest too much. We call that an overdose.

dylan604

While others might call that the point.

game-of-throws

I think decidose would be even less accurate. A normal dose is 3g-5g. A microdose is 0.1g-0.2g. That's not a ratio of 10. At least microdose has a widely-agreed on colloquial meaning.

yarg

> We investigated the acute and short-term effects of 0.5 g of dried mushrooms on subjective experience, behavior ... and brain activity.

jrochkind1

> It'd be nice if the government were willing to come to the table on this, but alas.

They're starting to, although they haven't funded a study on microdosing for depression.

> [October 2021] Johns Hopkins Medicine was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to explore the potential impacts of psilocybin on tobacco addiction. This is the first NIH grant awarded in over a half century to directly investigate the therapeutic effects of a classic psychedelic

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/...

yarg

Different country, even more useless government.

Though the progress in the US/Canada makes me think that maybe in 15-20 years NZ can have a referendum and continue with prohibition.

hackerlight

> night of turmoil.

Can you elaborate?

jmartrican

My guess is OP is referring to a bad (or powerful) trip.

InCityDreams

Whereas I'd say 'turmoil', is a beautifully-concise word to describe great trips, too.

yarg

Hanging out with spider demons at the end of time, that sort of shit.

mritchie712

Have you tried Kratom? I'm by no means recommending it, just curious if you've tried it to combat depression.

BossingAround

As a daily Kratom user, I would not recommend using Kratom for something like depression. You're treating the symptomps at best while cultivating addiction.

helsinki

Yeah, always best to not fuck around with chemicals that bind to gabba receptors (alcohol, benzodiazepine, kratom). It will give you a hell of a withdrawal if you take high doses. This is why there are alcoholics.

loeg

Why daily?

kebman

Why do you want to change your condition with a thing, when the answer is inside you?

titzer

Jeesh, the brain is not allowed to have physical maladies now?

yarg

Because searching inside for the answer when my brain keeps popping up with "nice train tracks over there..." doesn't really work for me.

kebman

So many addicts in here... You guys need counselling not micro doses.

EmilyHughes

Been doing it for some months on & off, this shit is legit. Altough 0,5g has me tripping so I rarely dose above 100 milligrams.

Get up early, do a workout, take cold shower, meditate and then pop a microdose shrooms, feels great. Microdosing is like steroids for meditation.

Especially helpful for the programmer logic types of people like me, gets you out of your head for some time and helps you connect with your emotions and body.

mtlmtlmtlmtl

Yeah, drugs feel great, news at 11. If psychiatry was just a matter of giving people a constant buzz, it would be solved a century ago.

I'm not judging you for wanting to be high all the time, I've been there myself. But be intellectually honest and call it that, at least. Because it's not some kind of psychological panacea, and I wish people would stop implying it is.

And yes, I've tried it. It made me high, but generally I was far less productive than I would be taking stimulants for my ADHD instead.

PragmaticPulp

> And yes, I've tried it. It made me high, but generally I was far less productive than I would be taking stimulants for my ADHD instead.

I had some coworkers try microdosing several years ago.

They were convinced that they were smarter and more productive on those days. Meanwhile, the rest of us could clearly see that they were just operating slower than normal and had a weirdly positive response to even slight achievements. Eventually the illusion was shattered when the rest of us would casually guess when they were microdosing and call them out because they were making obvious mistakes, missing things, or being amazed at benign realizations.

And before anyone asks: Yes, they tried many different doses down to minuscule amounts.

In retrospect, this is actually the least surprising result: That taking a micro-dose of a psychedelic produces a micro-trip.

hinkley

I have often wondered this about people doing the napping versus sleeping experiment. Euphoria makes you feel like you know so much more than you do.

I know of maybe one or two people who gave themselves cognitive tests during their experience. I don't recall the results but I clearly didn't take them seriously since I'm still unconvinced. I don't know about you guys but I tend to do better if I'm given the same kind of test three or four times. So if I were doing this experiment and my results stayed steady, I'd objectively be losing capacity versus the control.

mtlmtlmtlmtl

Yeah not sure what the source of this homeopathic type logic is. It's very strange, and applies to basically nothing else. So I'd like some pretty extraordinary evidence before I believe that taking deliberately ineffective doses of anything has any effect. And, good luck producing a dose-response curve...

henriquemaia

That's an uncharitable reading. OP is just sharing what works with her/him. Which is ok. From what I understood from your comment, for you it doesn't. Which is ok too, as now you know yourself a bit better. Two personal experiments with very different outcomes. There's no need for moral judgments either way.

mtlmtlmtlmtl

I'm not saying her experience is invalid. If it works for her, great. But there is this tendency of microdosing proponents to oversell what is effectively a high(nothing wrong with that, I love getting high) as some sort of profound self-help tool. It's a high. That's fine. Getting high can have positive effects too. Call it that, though.

YeGoblynQueenne

Does "if it works for you" also go for things like aspirin, antihistamines, antihypertensives, antibiotics, etc? I've never heard anyone say "if aspirin works for you then take it, but it doesn't work for me". I've only heard this kind of thing said for things like homeopathy, astrology, accupuncture, osteopathy, and microdosing, of course. Hence, I'm very skeptical.

[Edit: OK, I've heard people say that aspirin doesn't work for them, but what they meant was that they had pains that were too strong to respond to mere aspirin.]

EmilyHughes

Trust me I tried all kinds of drugs and psychedelics are not the kind that get you hooked. Stimulants are especially addictive in my opinion. Psychs are the kind of drugs you say I have enough for a while if you overdo. On top of it they build tolerance immediately.

carschno

That's hardly a counterargument. GP said you were high all the time, that's different from being addicted. There is some overlap, depending on the substance, but also significant difference. Think of nicotine, caffeine (addictive, but no high) vs psilocybin (high but arguably not addictive).

dtx1

Can confirm, especially mushrooms. I had one trip on them and what my main take away was: It's exhausting to trip on mushrooms and after 4-5 hours I wanted to be sober again. I'll probably do it again in a few month but for me it's a whole-weekend kind of deal and hardly a party drug

nicoburns

I get what you’re saying, but I think the GP may see being less productive as a positive thing (productivity not being a universal value)

shudza

This. People need to stop looking for excuses and justification for wanting to experience drugs. I bet 95% percent of them 'missed out' doing it when it was age appropriate, and are just looking to scratch that itch while having a moral justification.

They end up overdoing, and overthinking about it and it all has a bad end.

eurasiantiger

Uh, so you took a break from your ADHD medication to microdose?

And you claim it is the microdose that made you less productive?

I posit you need to take a microdose with your normal ADHD medication, otherwise the anecdote is meaningless even as a personal reference.

mtlmtlmtlmtl

No, I wasn't on medication at the time, couldn't get a script. I was looking for possible replacements, and a few psychedelics(LSD and 2C-B to name a couple) have psychostimulant properties. The idea was to try a few different regimens:

True microdose alone: no noticable effect on concentration, and some worsening.

Subpsychedelic yet strong enough doses to have stimulant effects: significant effect, but working memory was somewhat impaired. Impulsivity also increased.

Various conventional but obscure RC stimulants: some were highly effective, even more so than D-amp or mph. But it wasn't possible to rule out long term cardiotoxic effects like valvulopathy, so I didn't stick to them for safety reasons.

Then I did some limited trials with said stims + a true microcode, this just made me extremely scatterbrained and I quickly discontinued.

Eventually I decided even if I found something, which I had, I couldn't safely use it long term anyway. I cleaned up my act long enough to get real meds.

pengaru

> And yes, I've tried it. It made me high, but generally I was far less productive than I would be taking stimulants for my ADHD instead.

If it made you high, you didn't microdose.

mtlmtlmtlmtl

With even lower dose, no effect was present. See my response to one of the other replies.

jokoon

Yes, those drugs can't replace SSRI

threeseed

> Get up early, do a workout, take cold shower, meditate and then pop a microdose shrooms, feels great.

But if you did all of those things without the shrooms you likely would still feel great.

Especially exercise which is scientifically proven to improve wellbeing unlike the shrooms.

EmilyHughes

sure, it's just the cherry on top on some days. You don't microdose and lay on your couch eating McDonalds, would feel wrong to me. Stacking all the good stuff has a nice synergy.

Scalestein

Does your daily routine change when you microdose? Do you still take the cold shower and meditate and all that regardless of it being a microdose day or not?

I found that when I was microdosing it made me way more mindful and apt to make "good/healthy" choices than normal. I think this is a tremendous benefit but for me very difficult to differentiate from a placebo effect.

EmilyHughes

No it doesn't - that's my daily routine. I just microdose on some days on top of it.

aeturnum

> Been doing it for some months on & off, this shit is legit.

> Microdosing is like steroids for meditation.

I feel like I see a bit of wanting it both ways from people who like microdosing. There are lots of reports, like in this study, that the practice slightly (but only slightly!) lowers performance in most tests. On one hand, that's a pretty good trade-off as far as psychopharmaceuticals go. On the other hand, that's never how advocates present it. It's never "I'm a little less sharp but a lot happier."

My personal view of the situation is that the traditional view that psychedelics push peoples' mental mindsets away from those that work best with capitalist models of productivity is correct. Stoners really don't make 'good workers' (though a good worker could still gain a much needed respite by getting a little stoned here and there). But actually that is good! A drug that had mild side effects and allows you to be released from the productivity-focused conditioning of our work-culture is a really useful tool. You just shouldn't focus your advocacy on the idea that these drugs should be promoted on the off chance they increase productivity: because the mean case is not going to.

Edit: A clearer way to state what I mean is - occasional stoners probably do make more balanced workers - but they probably don't do their best work while they are stoned (or micro-stoned) and trying to insist they do seems unlikely to be the argument that decriminalized psychedelics.

NotTameAntelope

Eh, just sounds like you have a good routine going, based on the study results you could probably skip the microdosing and achieve the same performance.

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riekus

I recommend dosing before your workout, I enjoy my long runs a lot more on micro/threshold dose of CBD or acid.

riekus

I recommend dosing before your workout, I enjoy my long runs a lot more on micro/thresh

BossingAround

> Been doing it for some months on & off, this shit is legit

The linked study seems to contradict you:

>> According to our findings, low doses of psilocybin mushrooms can result in noticeable subjective effects and altered EEG rhythms, but without evidence to support enhanced well-being, creativity and cognitive function. We conclude that expectation underlies at least some of the anecdotal benefits attributed to microdosing with psilocybin mushrooms.

kortex

Lack of strong evidence is not strong evidence of lack. Subtle effects like "well-being, creativity, and cognitive function" can be quite hard to track, and there are confounders galore.

paulcole

> We conclude that expectation underlies at least some of the anecdotal benefits attributed to microdosing with psilocybin mushrooms.

That’s the key point. This person expects it to work so it works. They’re not adding it to their Morning Productivity Hacks Routine because they think it doesn’t work.

Gatsky

I think this is saying that microdosing is mainly placebo effect, and otherwise doesn’t do much. This makes sense. All these participants took full dose psychedelics at some point, and thus had very strong associations.

BossingAround

So far, as far as I know, that seems to be the prevailing scientific opinion, i.e. microdosing seems to be about as effective as placebo (at least microdosing of psilocybin).

bkitano19

I think the point of differentiating between the blinded and unblinded groups was to show that placebo alone does not account for the effects of microdosing.

nevershower

I see the appeal of microdosing, but to me it renders similar to the kick you might get out of rebelliously sipping a pocket-flask at work. You get the mental boost of "letting loose" while impaired just below the radar.

eurasiantiger

This is a common fallacy perpetuated by people who have only experienced the alcohol drug.

Microdoses of psychedelics are not impairing. On the contrary, they can improve performance, especially in abstract problem solving.

mtlmtlmtlmtl

This study doesn't bear that out, nor have any other placebo-controlled trials.

Also, I've experienced about 40 different psychoactive drugs, including both micro and megadoses of psychedelics. And my experience tracks with GP in that it does cognitively impair you. Maybe don't make blanket statements about people you disagree with, it doesn't make your argument look any stronger.

austinjp

Erm, define "impairment". Yes this study notes reduced performance in some areas (but the authors acknowledge plenty of weaknesses and explanations in their discussion). However, increases in something like "creativity" might reduce e.g. verbal fluency, while increasing "performance" for artists, or increasing insights when problem solving in many disciplines.

ace2358

This aligns with my experiences. Especially for me, how low my productivity was during the come down, which could sometimes last a week or four!

eurasiantiger

Perhaps people are different in this regard.

manmal

Now we have two blanket statements.

istinetz

>I've experienced about 40 different psychoactive drugs

That is insane

How is your brain not fried

geden

Apparently not, according to this study at least.

hinkley

And according to several other top level comments with anecdotes.

kirsebaer

Participants were required to bring their own psilocybin mushrooms. Probably because it can be expensive and difficult for researchers to get obtain and administer pharma-grade psilocybin.

The dose was 0.5g of dried Cubensis mushrooms. Usually a microdose is 0.1-0.2g.

All the participants were healthy volunteers. There may be more noticable effects in people with depression or anxiety disorders, etc. Consider that antidepressants often have no effect in healthy volunteers.

josebrwn

>The dose was 0.5g of dried Cubensis mushrooms. Usually a microdose is 0.1-0.2g.

Precisely. This experiment had nothing to do with microdosing. Half a gram is a light dose but it is definitely inebriating.

standardUser

We need better terms for differentiating low doses and true microdosing. Half a gram is certainly a low dose, but I'd expect most people to feel at least some high.

magnat

> These changes were accompanied by reduced EEG power in the theta band, together with preserved levels of Lempel-Ziv broadband signal complexity.

Sounds more like a specs of a DSL modem than a psychiatry paper. I certainly didn't expect to see Lempel-Ziv mentioned in a context other than compression.

nibbleshifter

> microdosing

> half a gram doses of cubes.

I don't think the studies designers really thought this one through.

erokar

Agree, does seems high.

nibbleshifter

0.5g of dried cubes is more so a "museum dose". Not visibly impairing for me, but certainly can feel something.

0.3g is about the ceiling for a microdose of dried cubes, and even then, that's a touch high for most people.

Jolter

If you think the dose is too high, yet they found no significant effect compared to placebo, what would you expect would happen at a _lower_ dose?

nibbleshifter

0.5 grams of p. cubensis is a noticeable dose. Its not a microdose by any means, and usually will result in some impairment.

Its about what I'd take if I wanted to enhance a visit to a museum or art gallery, or music production.

Its not what I'd take and try do a day of work.

hinkley

Pun intended?

anovikov

It's very difficult to dose mushrooms properly, in real world, content of psilocybin in a particular bag of mushrooms may vary by a factor of 5 or more, plus it decays at speed hard to predict. Even proper taking of mushrooms is quite unpredictable - you can be blown away or hardly feel anything - and microdosing is always harder. Personally i don't like mushrooms for that reason. If you could eat more if the original amount turned insufficient that would be OK, but psychodelics just don't work that way.

eurasiantiger

Based on available literature, 0,5 grams of dried mushrooms is definitely not a microdose.

umvi

Do mushrooms make you write incoherent ramblings on Facebook about how you are God and how everyone else is stuck in the matrix? Because I have 3 different friends who all started doing that after dabbling in psychedelics

TheAceOfHearts

Your friends are doing their best to connect with others and share their newfound perspective using whatever crude tools are available to them. Be kind.

Psychedelics give you a new map into reality. If nobody teaches you how to read the map, it's easy to get lost or misread it. Integrating a bunch of different maps can be very challenging.

Charitably, what they probably mean is that if we model god as the sum total of all experiences and all things, then it can be said that we are all aspects of divinity.

The tree recognizes itself as a tree and as part of the forrest.

the_doctah

Playing into and encouraging other people's delusions isn't helping them.

TheAceOfHearts

Denying people's experiences and calling them delusions isn't helping them.

maybeiam

Have you tried it? They're pointing at something here that all of humanity has tried to point at.

I'm a very strident atheist and even I would claim that I have "found god" while high on mushrooms. And you and I both happen to be "it".

I'm not pointing at the institutional god. But I end up using the institutional words, because it's hard to find other words that describe it properly.

Alan Watts is the closest I've found that describes it without using religious phrases.

hinkley

There is something to be said for waiting until you're 25 to do this stuff. Let the brain form all the way first. I think the last study I saw on marijuana linked most of the worst effects to starting while still a teenager.

The logistical problem of getting access to these experiences if you wait until well after college is not insurmountable (especially with THC, today) but it definitely seems more like a project than just showing up on a Friday night to your extended social group.

Poor Paul Stamets ('the' mushroom guy of this era). From his writing it seems like half the people who want to talk to him want him to hook them up with psychedelics. It's hard to tell if he's playing up that ratio or playing it down. His standing answer is "I don't do that, I can't help you." He also mentions that the DEA has made him aware that they are aware of his existence.

psych_out

I would certainly hope that the DEA is aware of his existence, as the DEA granted him a license to grow Schedule 1 "narcotics".

“That led to being covered by a DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] license to study psilocybin active mushroom species. So, I specialized in the taxonomy of those species, and then, because of the cultivation skills that I gained, I branched out into growing edibles and medicinals, and my mother was much happier.”

https://www.herbalgram.org/resources/herbalgram/issues/109/t...

jnovek

I’ve seen the observation that psychedelics evoke a sense of spirituality in people. I wonder if this is how people cope with that feeling of spirituality if they don’t participate in any organized religion?

the_doctah

The last time I took mushrooms with a friend they tried to talk me into joining them in worshiping Satan. Maybe you're onto something.

palimpsests

it depends, of course. to experience a transpersonal / “spiritualized” angle into reality can be deeply challenging for non-religious, non-spiritual, or atheist folks.

or it can feel quite curious, new, refreshing, even liberating.

or anything else along that spectrum.

kayza

It actually really does show you a „different reality“. It has different effects on different people, I assume. For me, it was quite eye-opening, in that it made me stop using cigarettes for example. But for others, it leads to those strange thoughts of living in the matrix or something

BossingAround

The perceived effects of psychedelics can be very strong. That is why it's recommended to take them with a professional, so as not to become delusional, e.g. being a god.

However, the effects of even a single trip can be quite profound and life changing.

akomtu

That "god" thing is often misunderstood. If we assume that humans are somehow connected, by quantum entanglement in their brains or whatever, then mushrooms make this connectedness apparent by muting the link to the body motor complex. In other words, that "god" is the union of all humans, and currently it's undergoing, for its own reasons, a severe form of schizophrenia when its big consciousness is split into a few billions small consciousnesses.

poulpy123

As far as I know it is a possible side effect of psychedelics indeed