The positive health benefits of microdosing psychedelic drugs are “unconvincing,” according to a psychiatrist.
This morning an article in The Irish Independent detailed writer Suzanne Harrington’s use of magic mushrooms to “elevate mood, reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, and enhance general feelings of wellbeing.”
Microdosing involves taking 5% to 10% of the usual dose of psychedelic drugs and is currently an illegal practice.
Speaking to The Moncrieff Show, consultant psychiatrist Dr John Kelly said the studies to date looking at microdosing aren't “showing a clear therapeutic benefit over placebo.”
“That's not to discount people's individual experiences, some people may respond, but overall, at a group level, the studies on microdosing thus far have been unconvincing,” he said.
Dr Kelly said the studies involve looking at 25mgs versus 10mgs versus 1mg – with 1mg being a microdose.
“In the 25mg group, 40% has an antidepressant or therapeutic effect compared to 20% in the 1mg group,” he said.
“Of course, people who were doing microdosing are doing it more regularly than that, but it does give you an insight into the differences between the usual dose and then the microdoses.
“For treatment with depression, 40% in that 25mgs group did have a therapeutic effect, so, it's a positive signal, it laid the groundwork for larger studies.
“It's trying to figure out now how we can get that 40% number up – why are some people having transformative positive experiences and others aren't?”
Dr Kelly said the use of psychedelics in larger doses is being researched to help people with anorexia nervosa and people with addictions.
“The reason that it might have a positive impact across the different diagnoses is because, for some at least, the psychedelic might increase flexibility,” he said.
“This may for some, open the opportunity to shift perspectives and open up alternative solutions to revise previous maladaptive patterns of behaviour and force.”
Process of treatment
The treatment is delivered with psychological support and therapists in a caring environment, Dr Kelly has said.
“Unlike microdosing, it's sort of a once-off dose or maybe, maybe one to three doses over the course of treatment,” he said.
“People would meet the therapist at least three times before receiving the dose of psychedelic and therapists would be with the person for the duration of the six to eight hours.
“After that, they need the therapist anywhere between three and four times over the next number of weeks.
“I think that's the way it really should be delivered because they do dramatically alter one's thought and emotional processes.
“It's not for everyone – not everyone will have a mystical experience or the oceanic boundlessness or the emotional breakthrough.
“It is important to mention that and to temper one's expectations about it as well to avoid disappointment.”