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Despite a large body of research indicating the positive outcomes of microdosing, many of the studies use self-reported measures such as surveys and questionnaires and as a result, cannot be used as reliable clinical evidence. Furthermore, although a significant number of positive anecdotal reports from people who microdose exist, barely any scientific studies have taken place exploring both the physiological and pharmacological effects of microdosing. Such studies are needed in order to determine the safety and efficacy of microdosing and to avoid any potential harms.
The present study is one of the first studies to examine the effects microdosing LSD has on cognitive processes in healthy adults. This double-blinded placebo-controlled study assessed electroencephalography (EEG) and event-related potential (ERP) responses, techniques commonly used in psychedelic studies involving larger doses, to determine the effect 13ug or 26ug of LSD has on human brain function. In comparison to fMRI, EEG is much better at capturing events over time, but at lower ‘resolution’.
The study found that:
- Low doses of LSD reduced oscillatory power across frequency bands indicative of cortical desynchronization during rest, both with eyes closed and eyes open. Effects were dose dependent i.e the higher dose of LSD (26μg) produced greater effects.
- The observed cortical desynchronization was similar to that found in studies using higher doses of psychedelics.
- Participants in the study also reported increases in positive mood, energy, elation, anxiety and intellectual efficiency.
This study provides hope that low doses of LSD may produce behavioural and even therapeutics effects in the absence of a full psychedelic experience. Such findings may indicate that repeated low doses of psychedelics, in combination with sufficient support and preparation, may provide an alternative treatment model to the current high dosing procedures.
This way, similar outcomes could be reached without the costs associated with having one or two trained therapists sitting a full psychedelic experience. Using a microdose could also open up these forms of treatment to those not wanting to have a full psychedelic experience or not being able to for health (or again costs) reasons.
Anxiety disorders can severely impact a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks and live a normal life. The increasing global prevalence of anxiety disorders is beginning to outpace our ability to provide effective evidence-based treatments for these disorders. Psychedelics are tipped to be the next big thing in mental health care and based on emerging evidence, these psychoactive drugs are showing promise for treating anxiety disorders.
In the present study, the authors review the current state of research regarding the potential of psychedelics to treat a form of anxiety disorder known as social anxiety disorder (SAD). Specifically, the authors discuss how MDMA-assisted therapy may disrupt the neurological, perceptual, receptive, and expressive systems regulating social behaviour in SAD and the proposed mechanism by which MDMA may alter these systems.
What the review hypothesizes:
- In terms of social anhedonia (disinterest in social contact) and reduced social reward sensitivity, the authors suggest that MDMA may enhance a person’s willingness to connect with others and positively alter perceptions of social reward for an extended period.
- People with SAD tend to perceived social stimuli as threatening. The authors hypothesize that MDMA helps people feel safer with others and experience greater ease in relating to both close and more distant relationships for weeks after administration.
- Shame is thought to underlie the maintenance of heightened social threat in SAD. MDMA-assisted therapy may help to increase feelings of self-compassion and reduce self-criticism. MDMA may also result in corrective emotional experiences and boost memory consolidation.
- A variety of social behaviours which aim to decrease anxiety in social situations but inadvertently induce discomfort in others are present in those with SAD. It is believed that MDMA helps to improve social skills which elicits positive interpersonal responses from others, ultimately enhancing social efficacy.
This review provides a comprehensive overview of how MDMA-assisted therapy may be of great benefit to those with social anxiety disorder (SAD). Currently, there are no studies that have looked at MDMA for SAD directly. Earlier studies have found that MDMA has positive effects for autistic adults, but no changes in anxiety for those with a life-threatening illness. As one in eight has suffered from SAD sometime in their life, and 7% of the US experiences SAD in each given year, this may be a fruitful line of research to pursue further.
If you’ve ever been swept away by music, moved to elation by your favourite artist, or touched by a song from childhood. Then you know that music has the ability to change your state of consciousness. A study earlier this year was the first to investigate the brain states of experienced shamanic practitioners and found that their brains changed in ways similar to the psychedelic experience, and even exceeding them on many measures.
The shamanistic practitioners (shamans) had an average of 20 years of experience and were holding 13 healing sessions each month. The 18 shamans were matched with 19 other participants of the same age (56) and sex. The shamans entered the shamanic healing state by thinking of healing someone whilst listening to a drumming recording
What did the study find?
- On the Altered States of Consciousness questionnaire (OAV) the shamans scored much higher than the control participants.
- Surprisingly, they even scored higher than the average participants in 43 studies with psychedelics. Shamans had the highest scores on the subscales of 1) complex imagery, 2) experiences of unity, 3) spiritual practice, and 4) insightfulness.
- Their EEG-measures (level of electrical activity in the brain over time) showed higher ‘criticality’ in the gamma waves, something also seen with psychedelics like LSD and a possibly indicator for more awareness, consciousness or entropy.
This paper shows the truly flexible ability of our brains and the way they, with years of experience, can be trained to react so strongly to music.
Research Report Readout
A survey of more than 7000 people in the US found that people generally self-medicate with psychedelic mushrooms for reasons related to mental health, with users reporting significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression.
A smaller survey of 120 people explored the co-occurrence of PTSD in patients with a substance use disorder (SUD). It was found that SUD patients with PTSD were more likely to use MDMA than those without PTSD and MDMA use was associated with avoidance symptoms. MDMA use might reflect an attempt to self-medicate to deal with avoidance symptoms however, it may also be the case that MDMA use led to more severe avoidance symptoms.
A newly translated case study from 1959 revisit the first known documented case of psilocybin being used to treat anorexia nervosa. After two separate injections of psilocybin, the patient stated she was able to understand the psychological cause of her illness. With clinical trials now underway exploring the effects of psychedelics on eating disorders, this case study offers interesting insight.
Different psychedelics lead to desynchronization of EEG measures in rats, as was also used in the human study mentioned earlier in this report. The overall results were almost identical to the effects from human EEG studies, proving that the method has robust translational validity.
Another EEG study with 35 participants showed that the baseline power of theta oscillations (associated with mind-wandering) negatively correlated with the intensity of mystical-type (MEQ30) experiences after smoking DMT.