Monday, February 27, 2017

Microdosing With LSD to Treat Depression?

There seems to be a lot interest these days in the possible use of hallucinogens for medical purposes. Last month I reported that in a clinical study, the hallucinogen found in "magic mushrooms" seemed to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety, specifically in cancer patients (see this blog, Jan. 9, 2017).  Now it appears that very small doses of another potent hallucinogen, lysergic acid (LSD), are being used by some people as a self-cure for more common forms of anxiety and depression.

It's called "microdosing".  The trend started with the publication of the 2011 book, The Psychedelic Explorer's guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys.  More recently, microdosing moved into the mainstream, more or less, with the publication of one woman's memoir, entitled A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life.

Wow, who wouldn't want a better mood, marriage, and life!?  To be fair, microdosing with halucinogens might actually have some positive effects.  But skeptics such as Richard Friedman would say that it's not a good idea to self-treat depression with psychogenic drugs just because someone wrote a self-help book about it.  Microdosing with hallucinogens is untested; it's not even in the preliminary clinical research stage.  Anyone trying it is taking unknown risks.

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