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Why More and More People Are Leaning Toward Microdosing for Depression

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Microdosing, until now the province of trendy Silicon Valley biohackers and Reddit users, is taking on a shiny new respectability as serious scientists and researchers take notice. Over the past few years, some of the most respectable journals of science — hello, The Lancet — have published studies looking into the practice of microdosing mushrooms, LSD, MDMA, and other psychedelics. The findings are no surprise to those who have been paying attention to the anecdotal evidence. Here’s a look at some of the purported benefits of mushroom microdosing for depression.

What Is Microdosing?

According to Dr. James Fadiman, who has been researching psychedelics since the 1960s, microdosing is taking tiny amounts of a psychedelic — far below the level that would cause noticeable perception-altering effects — on a regular basis as a way to rebalance” your brain. Fadiman has been collecting anecdotal reports about microdosing from people around the world. He says that people report improvements in mood and clarity, enhanced focus, more creativity, and productivity, as well as relief from the symptoms of depression and other psychological problems.

While the term microdosing is relatively new, the concept — and the practice — are not. Dr. Albert Hoffman, who discovered LSD, was a proponent and long-time practitioner, and, as Fadiman noted in an interview with Huffington Post, indigenous people have been microdosing for thousands of years.

Why People Microdose 

People turn to microdosing for a wide range of reasons. There are reports that it’s effective for everything from easing anxiety to relieving the symptoms of ADHD and opening them up to more creative ideas. It seems very much a YMMV type of experience. Fadiman says as much when he notes that people who wrote for help with anxiety found it helped their anxiety, those looking for something to help their productivity benefited in increased productivity, and so on. Here’s a look at some of the reasons people tried microdosing and their results:

What Science Says

Researchers have been looking at psychedelics — both natural ones like psilocybin and synthetics like LSD and MDMA — as possible treatments for psychological disorders for decades. It’s only recently, though, that they’ve turned to studying microdoses as a method to enhance cognitive functions and ease symptoms of depression, PTSD and anxiety. Since the early 2000s, a number of small studies have suggested that there are definite benefits to taking small, sub-perceptual doses of psychedlics on a regular basis.

Much of the information about microdosing is anecdotal, and what little research does exist tends to focus on how microdosing LSD or mushrooms makes you more productive, more creative or otherwise improves your value.” That’s about to change. The Beckley Foundation has recently launched the first full study into microdosing and its effects on mood and general well-being in addition to creativity and productivity. This could be a game-changer in the field, opening more avenues of research into the possible uses of microdosing to help people fighting a range of mood regulation disorders.

Deb Powers is a freelance writer living and working in Massachusetts. She frequently writes about wellness, health and lifestyle topics.

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