In Silicon Valley they say taking tiny amounts of the hallucinogenic drug increases creativity and productivity, but is it all in the mind?
Silicon Valley geeks say it sharpens their thinking and enhances creativity. Other people say it lifts the fog of depression. A novel experiment launching 3 September 2018 will investigate whether microdosing with LSD really does have benefits – or whether it’s all in the mind.
Microdosing using psychedelic drugs – either LSD or magic mushrooms – is said to have become very popular, especially with people working in the Californian digital tech world, some of whom are said to take a tiny amount one or more days a week as part of their routine before heading to work. It’s not for a psychedelic high, though – it’s to make them more focused.
Microdosers tend to use either tiny amounts of LSD – as little as one-fifteenth of a tab – or of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. The study is recruiting just those who use LSD, because of the difficulty in disguising even ground-up mushrooms in a capsule.
But it’s illegal. So how many people are microdosing is unknown and there is only anecdotal evidence of the effects and any downsides. In a bid to learn more, the Beckley Foundation, which was set up to pioneer research into mind-altering substances, and the unit it funds at Imperial College London, will launch the first ever placebo-controlled trial of microdosing on Monday, 3 September 2018.
It will be unique, says Balázs Szigeti, the study leader. The cost and the illegality of LSD would make a conventional study prohibitively expensive. So he has hit on a way of running it by inviting those who already microdose to join a “self-blinded” study. They will take either what they usually use in a capsule or an identical dummy capsule instead, without knowing which is which. They will complete questionnaires and tests and play cognitive games online, and only at the end will they learn whether they were happy and focused because of LSD or because they thought they were using LSD.