Highlights from

ECNP 2020

ECNP Congress Virtual

Virtual 12 - 15 September 2020

Microdosing psychedelics offers perspective but needs further evaluation

Microdosing of psychedelic drugs has gained considerable interest over recent years. It may offer benefits for individuals who try to self-medicate or want to enhance their creative output. However, microdosing is surrounded by many questions; evidence is scarce and there is a clear need for further exploration [1].

“Microdosing is using one-tenth of a recreational dose repeatedly. There is a lot of attention in the media for this topic, and people often report that they feel better by doing it,” said Dr Kim Kuypers (Maastricht University, the Netherlands). People microdose psychedelic drugs like LSD to be more creative, to enhance their mood, to self-medicate, or out of curiosity (see Figure) [2].

Figure: Reasons for microdosing [2]

Figuur-Pagina12

*Other reasons include enhancing empathy and spirituality. Adapted from Hutten et al. [2].

Evidence on microdosing is of yet scarce and mainly anecdotal. What is known is primarily studied with LSD. Liechti et al. found that a few single administrations of LSD or related substances within a therapeutic setting may have beneficial effects for patients who suffer from anxiety associated with severe illness, depression, or addiction [3]. Dr Kuypers stated that psychedelics do have effects, but these are small and not subperceptual. Furthermore, the effects are not only mood enhancing, they can be impairing as well. The effects of microdosing are partially in line with higher doses; one dose seems to work in healthy volunteers. Although data so far suggests that it is safe, repeated dosing trials are needed, as most studies involved single doses.

Even though statistically significant effects have been shown [3], the clinical relevance of these effects is unknown. Future research should explore anecdotal evidence: does it help with depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and mood? This anecdotal evidence should be integrated with data from the studies that have already been conducted. Furthermore, Dr Kuypers advises that studies assess which psychedelics should be used; either short-acting, intermediate-acting, and longer-acting. The same holds true for the dosing schedules.

Another important issue is the negative effects, which have been observed in animals at the biological and cognitive levels. Some animals showed aggression or had a scruffy appearance. Dr Kuypers ended her talk by stating that she wants to reserve psychedelics for people with psychiatric indications only. For people who are just looking for a new way of relaxing she advises other types of leisurely activities, such as a walk in the woods [1].

Keywords: Microdosing, Psychedelics

  1. Kuypers KPC. Micro-dosing with psychedelics to enhance mood and performance: anecdotes or scientific evidence? EDU.04.02. ECNP Congress 2020.
  2. Hutten NRPW. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2019 Jul 1;22(7):426-434.
  3. Liechti ME. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017 Oct;42(11):2114-2127.

Top image: @ iStockPhoto: CIPhotos

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