The latest study on microdosing psychedelics led by Luisa Prochazkova of the Cognitive Psychology Unit & Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition at Leiden University, “Exploring the Effect of Microdosing Psychedelics on Creativity in an Open-Label Natural Setting,” was published October 25 in the journal Psychopharmacology.
In describing their new study, Prochazkova and co-authors said, “Taken together, our results suggest that consuming a microdose of [psychedelic] truffles allowed participants to create more out-of-the-box alternative solutions for a problem, thus providing preliminary support for the assumption that microdosing improves divergent thinking.”
While psychedelic substances have been illegal and prohibited from study in the vast majority of countries up until the past few years, many of the world’s top experts have made incredible strides picking up on research started in the 1950s and 60s.
Although almost no research has been done on microdosing specifically, we know something about what large doses of psychedelics do to the brain.
Much of what we understand about how psychedelics work involves serotonin, a chemical that keeps our brains ticking. It is one of the most important neurotransmitters in the brain and affects nearly everything we do, from how we feel to how we process information.
Classic psychedelics such as LSD and Psilocybin share a similar structure to serotonin, and work along a similar pathway.
Psychedelics work more directly, by mimicking serotonin. This means that one of their main effects is to stimulate a serotonin receptor, located in the prefrontal cortex, called “5-HT2A.”
Microdosing is the act of taking ‘sub-perceptual’ doses of psychedelics, meaning the dose level is not high enough to cause substantial deviations from reality.
Ideally, a microdose will not cause a substantial change in mood, disposition, or mindset. Instead, its effect will be subtle but present.
Preparing Psilocybin Mushrooms for microdosing involves more steps than LSD, but is still straightforward!
Fresh and dried Psilocybin Mushrooms will contain different quantities of psilocybin. Not only that, but different strains of mushrooms will have different psilocybin contents. Even different parts of the mushroom contain different amounts of psilocybin!
As such, we recommend drying a batch of Psilocybin Mushrooms, grinding them into a powder, and measuring out around 0.1g of powder as a starter microdose. You can then adjust the amount accordingly after your first attempt.
Microdoses contain about 10% of the psychoactive components of a standard dose of psilocybin. The idea is to get the benefits but not the downsides of the drug, minimal effects that can stimulate thinking but not lead to extremes, like hallucinations.
The researchers tested the effects of about .035 grams of a psychoactive truffle on 36 subjects. (They later did a chemical composition analysis of the truffles to make sure psilocybin was evenly distributed throughout the truffles.) They investigated three types of thinking by presenting the subjects with different three tasks—developed by psychologists to test cognition—which were performed both before and after ingesting the drug. The scientists studied subjects’ convergent thought, which involves identifying a single solution for a single problem; their fluid intelligence, or reasoning and problem-solving; and their divergent thinking, the ability to recognize many solutions.
After microdosing, participants’ convergent thinking improved based on these cognition tests. Subjects generated more ideas, and their possible solutions were more “fluent, flexible and original,” according to the study. Microdosing with psychedelic substances therefore improved both the divergent and convergent thinking of participants. But the subjects’ ability to reason wasn’t affected by the microdoses. This, researchers say, indicates that mushrooms, taken in very small amounts, boost creativity without harming fluid intelligence.
Nonetheless, based on these preliminary findings, the researchers believe that microdosing could be beneficial for more than just improved creativity and more flexible thinking. “Apart from its benefits as a potential cognitive enhancement technique, microdosing could be further investigated for its therapeutic efficacy to help individuals who suffer from rigid thought patterns or behavior, such as individuals with depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder,” suggests cognitive psychologist and lead researcher Luisa Prochazkova in a statement.