Researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand have gained approval to study the effects of microdosing LSD on the human brain.
A team led by Dr. Suresh Muthukumaraswamy will select 40 men to take part in the trial. Some will be given small doses of acid over a prolonged period of time, while others will be given a placebo, and the researchers will monitor any changes in mood they experience.
A microdose is typically somewhere between 6 mg and 20 mg, and it does spark a radical change in mood. Instead it is designed to offer a number of subtle but positive benefits.
“Users report improvements in mood, wellbeing, improved attention and cognition, so those are the things we will be measuring,” said Muthukumaraswamy as he revealed details about the research.
Women will not be chosen for the trial due to their menstrual cycles potentially affecting their mood. Muthukumaraswamy was keen to point out that they are not “being sexist pigs” and said they hope to run trials on females in future, when they have a level of control that factors in the menstrual cycle.
The existing evidence on the effectiveness of microdosing is anecdotal, and the team at the University of Auckland’s School of Pharmacy hopes to offer more robust findings. Muthukumaraswamy said participants will be given very tightly controlled doses to take at home in a bid to mirror the real-life experience of microdosing.
The New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority has approved the trial, and the researchers now just have to gain a licence to prescribe the LSD.
In a slightly unconventional move, the team has turned to crowdfunding in an effort to raise cash for the trial. It hopes to whip up NZ$100,000 (US$64,000).
It hails psychedelic therapy as a potentially safe and effective treatment for depression and anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction and other mental health conditions, but stresses that more research is needed for it to become a safe, effective and available treatment method.
The hurdle holding researchers back from conducting definitive studies in this transformative field is simply funding, according to Muthukumaraswamy’s team. The crowdfunding page promises that every dollar raised will go towards the world’s first randomized-controlled trial of LSD microdosing.
Muthukumaraswamy’s completed his PhD in psychology at the University of Auckland in 2005, and his research has focused on understanding how therapies alter brain activity, with an emphasis on ketamine, LSD, and psilocybin.
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