CAN taking very small doses of psychedelic drugs such as LSD or magic mushrooms help you work better?
That is the starting point of a trend known as & # 39; microdosing & # 39; and which has become especially popular in places like Silicon Valley, where lawyers claim that it can help stimulate creativity, focus and productivity at work.
It may sound like a doubtful excuse to take mind-expanding medicines into your daily job, but the trend has some interesting proponents. Some have used the technique for taking medicines to successfully treat depression and mental illness.
Despite the growing popularity, the supposed benefits have so far been purely anecdotal – but that is about to change. A new scientific study is being set up to conduct patient tests to see if there are real cognitive benefits in taking small but regular hits from LSD.
MORE: How psychedelic drugs deal with mental illnesses
Today the British think tank The Beckley Foundation, which was set up to investigate substances that change the mind, will launch Imperial College London which is described as the first ever placebo-controlled trial with microdosing.
HOW DOES MICRODOSING WORK?
Users usually take about a tenth to a fifteenth of a normal dose, which means they avoid hallucinations, while still getting some of the effects of the drug.
The Australian Steve McDonald, founder of the non-profit group Psychedelic Research in Science & Medicine, believes that employees can really benefit from the practice.
"Research shows that classical psychedelics tend to shut down or minimize activity in some parts of the brain related to controlling sensory input, and as you can imagine, a huge amount of sensory input within, "he told news.com.au.
"If we were aware of this and would try to process it, we would be overwhelmed, but at a very low level psychedelics increase your attention and the ability to process information, and therefore they are useful for stimulating creativity and work performance. . "
WHERE DOES MICRODOSING COME FROM?
The idea was first developed by the father of LSD, the Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann. He originally developed the drug as a medication with positive health benefits and saw microdosing as a way to achieve this.
Microdosing has gained more grip in recent years through the promotion of researcher Dr. ir. James Fadiman, who has been studying the effects of psychedelics on creative problem solving since the 1960s.
Since then, the idea has gradually grown in popularity. According to Rolling stone, Dr. Fadiman receives a "steady, consistent flow" of feedback from professionals in the San Francisco area, mostly from "ubersmart 20-something" looking for ways to become more innovative.
"Microdosing has helped me come up with some new designs to discover and new ways of thinking," a technician told the magazine in 2015 in the mid-1920s.
"You would be surprised how many people actually do it."
THE NEW STUDY
Because of the illegality of LSD, a conventional study is too difficult to implement. So study leader Balázs Szigeti said that the patients involved in what he called a "self-blind" study.
Speak with The Guardian, he said that participants are made up of people who already participate in microdosing during work. The researchers – who admitted that the study was "unusual" – would like to know how many of the reported benefits are due to a possible placebo effect.
"The people who are currently microdose are not an average random group of people on the streets, they have probably used psychedelics before and have prejudices about it," Szigeti said.
"You are doing something new and exciting and what you believe in – and you know you are doing it – it is no surprise that you get a positive effect."
Participants in the study will instead take what they usually use in a capsule or an identical dummy capsule without knowing which ones they have taken.
During the study they complete questionnaires and tests and play cognitive games online. Only at the end do they learn what they are doing.
The study is small and will be based on the fact that participants do not take doses outside the trial period, but researchers hope that if the findings turn out to be interesting, this paves the way for larger and more conventional psychedelic microdosing studies.