Harriet De Wit, PhD Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience University of Chicago

LSD: Study Examines Effects of Repeated Microdosing

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Harriet De Wit, PhD Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience University of Chicago

Harriet De Wit, PhD

Harriet De Wit, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience
University of Chicago 

MedicalResearch.com:  What is the background for this study?   

Response: There are numerous reports that psychedelics like LSD, taken in very small ‘microdoses’, help boost mood, cognitive function and productivity. The practice is popular in Silicon Valley and among media figures, who report remarkable beneficial effects from regular use of these microdoses. The possible antidepressant effects of LSD are plausible from a neurobiological perspective, as the drug acts directly on serotonin receptors, the same systems where SSRI’s act.  However, the effects of microdosing have not yet been validated in controlled research.

In our study, we recruited healthy men and women to ingest repeated, low doses of LSD under double blind conditions.  They attended four laboratory sessions, separated by three to four days.  They were randomly assigned to one of three groups who received the same drug on all four sessions: placebo, 13 micrograms of LSD or 26 micrograms of LSD. Subjects were not told exactly what drug they were receiving until the end of the study.  We measured their mood, emotional reactivity and cognition.

MedicalResearch.com:  What are the main findings?

Response: The higher dose produced detectable effects the first time participants received it.  On the first session, it produced feelings of stimulation and decreased negative mood during a task that mimicked social rejection. However, these effects declined across the four sessions, and no significant effects were observed on other measures or with the lower dose.  No adverse effects were reported.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: In this first attempt to document the popular practice of microdosing, we found no adverse effects of the drug, but little evidence for lasting improvements in mood or cognition.  

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: It remains to be determined if beneficial effects of LSD can be demonstrated after a longer periods of use, in symptomatic individuals who report high levels of depression or anxiety, or with more sensitive outcome measures to detect the drug’s effects. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Response: Hanna Molla, PhD, helped to write this report.  The research was funded in part by the Institute for Translational Medicine at the University of Chicago (UL1TR002389). 

Citation: de Wit, H, Molla, HM, Bershad, A, Bremmer, M, Lee, R. Repeated low doses of LSD in healthy adults: A placebo-controlled, dose–response study. Addiction Biology. 2022; 27 (2):e13143. doi:10.1111/adb.13143 

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Last Updated on February 17, 2022 by Marie Benz