Video: Placebo effect or powerful antidepressant? Understanding the science of psychedelic microdosing

| January 28, 2020
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Image: Oliver Swinburne
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Individuals who microdose mushrooms, or those who microdose LSD, claim to experience an elevated mood, increased productivity, and a greater capacity for creativity – without suffering the hallucinogenic effects that many would consider debilitating during the normal course of a work day or a day of parenting.

There’s not just anecdotal evidence. Although more extensive studies are needed, some early research into the effects of microdosing on intelligence and creativity are demonstrating positive results, too.

On psychedelics, the brain’s synapses and neurons fire at a heightened rate. During this process, the brain forms new neurons and dendrites, creating newly formed pathways. In other words, psychedelics literally change the way you think, as they alter the structure of the brain’s synapses.

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In patients suffering from mental illnesses like depression or anxiety disorders, psychedelics’ ability to form new neurons, dendrites, and synapses could potentially repair areas of the brain which might be damaged. As a result, patients might be able to achieve a more desirable state of consciousness by creating a new pattern or structure of thought.

Only research and time will tell if the reported benefits of microdosing are genuine or simply a product of the placebo effect and the innate power of the mind.

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