The science on the benefits of microdosing is still being developed, but its most promising use seems to be that of a safe replacement for common antidepressants on the markets. Psychedelic substances themselves are generally non-toxic, have zero-to-minimal side effects, and will typically be tolerated by most when ingested as a microdose.
Larger, therapeutic doses have been shown to promote functional and structural neuronal plasticity (i.e., the ability of the brain to form new neural connections). Specifically, the active compound in magic mushrooms has been shown to cause neurogenesis (formation of new neurons) in the hippocampus, a part of the brain integral to learning and memory. Brain scans after ingestions showed that claustrum (the ego center) had marked decreased activity, meaning the area of the brain believed responsible for setting attention and switching tasks is turned down when on the drug. Researchers say that this central nervous system phenomenon is what is responsible for creating the perception of being interconnected to the world and energies surrounding an individual.
On the other hand, although subtly imperceptible, microdoses can still produce effects similar to that of full psychedelic doses (i.e. time perception, divergent thinking, convergent thinking) suggesting that they still produce increased cognitive flexibility and a sense of oneness with life. Their ability to induce feelings of awareness or mindfulness leads to less cyclical thought cycles and higher compassion for self, thereby suggesting its potential to treat depression by getting to the underlying causes of the issue.
This makes microdosing quite the conundrum for many researchers as the lack of alterations in consciousness does not seem to coincide with the significant benefits that so many individuals self report. Many accounts do report sustained benefits during a microdose experience, yet the long term benefits such as reduced psychosomatic distress and flexible cognitive constructs suggests that neural repatterning and neurogenesis is still taking place without the need for a full therapeutic dose.
Yet, this still begs the questions. What benefits exactly can someone expect while microdosing?
In a study by Thomas Anderson et. al. 2019, 278 real respondents, who reported taking regular microdoses, reported on a survey what benefits and challenges they commonly experienced during their microdose days. The self reported benefits in this study ranked as follow:
- Improved mood – 26.6%
- Improved focus – 14.8%
- Creativity – 12.9%
- Self-efficacy – 11.3%
- Improved Energy – 10.5%
Many of these benefits are what have been discussed in psychedelic circles for many decades, so it may not be surprising to some, but in the cause of microdosing the science still has a bit of catching up to do.