LSD: new scientific study shows microdosing elevates mood and cognition

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/10/20/lsd-new-scientific-study-shows-microdosing-elevates-mood-and-cognition.html

Do I read this right? 5 and 20 have effects, but 10 doesn’t?!

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I’m a huge fan of LSD in all amounts. Microdosing is a safe way to use it as a therapeutic - but it’s a tough call with me, my problems are anxiety and depression, and SSRIs are much more targeted and controllable for both categories. And if you’re on an SSRI, a microdose isn’t going to work very effectively as the seratonin is a key component in both, and they offset. Modern antidepressants are lifesavers and should be considered prior to self-medication. But heck, acid is wonderful, too.

I prefer have a strong well-planned acid trip once a year or so, instead. I think microdosing is useful, but it’s nothing like the mind surgery possible from a strong 2-3 tab dose once a year. My advice on strong trips is to plan them like a vacation. Write down what you are troubled with PRIOR to the trip, too. If mood and cognition are the issues, just write “mood and cognition” as a referable sheet for the trip as you’re going through the night. Keep on asking yourself about your mood and cognition throughout. Around 3am you might find the problem solved, and I’m not even joking. This isn’t possible with microdosing; I wonder if people who ONLY microdose avoid the larger benefits of solid tripping. Shallow swimming compared to an ocean dive, and all that.

But if you’ve tripped before, even at a single tab’s dose, microdosing is immeasurable pleasant. I think for full benefits you need to have introduced your mind to a full acid trip prior, however.

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I have always been fascinated with the possible cognitive benefits of LSD, but I’ve also been terrified by bad-trip horror stories. Some of them bring to mind that Stephen King short story The Jaunt. Longer than you think, indeed. I’m probably overthinking it. Which is what I’m hoping acid might help with, come to think of it.

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From friends of mine that have had good and bad trips there are definitely things you can do to set yourself up for success. Tripping for the sake of it, or accidentally taking too much and tripping hard when you didn’t mean to, or being in a weird situation where suddenly you find yourself tripping can lead to bad trips. Being with someone there to supervise and guide your trip is from what i hear one of the best ways to do it, i’d like to try some day but so far the opportunity hasn’t presented itself.

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According to the data, the effect starts at 5mcg and continues to hold for up to 20mcg. 10mcg was similar to both 5 and 20.

They found some of the positive effects at 10mcg, but not all. That’s just random noise in the data though, it just looks like some of the effects were barely within significance levels for 5 and 20, and just outside of sig for 10.

Some criticisms of this story:

  • N=24. That’s not many participants. You’re not going to see much effect there.
  • The effects they found were a low-level of correlation, although still statistically significant.

Personally I have no doubt that the effects they’re seeing are real here, but we still need much larger studies.

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This.

Take a single tab the first time, with acid someone else has tried and can verify is clean. Have a companion with you if you’re concerned to be a guide. Have a 1mg xanax if needed to stop the trip, but not if you’ve been drinking. Xanax and any alcohol and LSD will make you very sick. Do not do. (But Xanax with LSD without alcohol works very well to calm a sudden spike of fear, it just kills off the trip, surviving a bad trip through introspection is really the best option, and you can grow from it)

Acid is actually very clear-headed compared to mushrooms or peyote. Just don’t mix it with other intoxicants, though it pairs really nicely with beer - though that will dull the trip.

But bad trips are very uncommon, especially in low dosages. Don’t smoke pot the first time you trip, too, as that’s the most common multiplier for whatever LSD has in store for you. DO take pot the next few times, but only after you’ve peaked. Then have a great second wave with pot through the morning.

LSD is a euphoric experience. The only kind that makes your mind SHARPER the more hallucinatory you become. It’s why I consider a strong trip helpful for microdosing. You need to FIRST crack your skull open, slightly. Once you trip in a bright way you’ll recognize the small affects with microdosing: example, I taste a slight alkaline in my tongue when acid hits, I get that with microdosing too, but I wouldn’t know that without a strong hit already experienced. There’s a membrane in the head that gets cracked by acid. It’s why people who share acid experiences have a common wink in their eyes. The danger stories of bad trips are from people treating it like a party drug. “Let’s drop acid and go to the movies” is plain stupid. Allow acid to be the unpredictable component of the night and make everything else structured, simple, well-lit, and safe. Plan ahead, do it quietly in a trusted space and don’t go outdoors the first few times. Enjoy the decades that follow where you suddenly connect with the world in ways you didn’t previous.

All that said, I am not a doctor, and if there’s mental illness in your past you might be better off with something similarly euphoric but less cognitive, like MDMA.

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My hunch is that this is basically a preliminary study to prove that they could safely do controlled tests and that they or another team should be able to scale up. Getting approval to do a larger scale study on LSD microdosing might be tough so they’d have to ease into it any way they can.

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This could come in handy if Trump wins.

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Don’t even joke about that! This will be essential if he wins.

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Concur with everything here. Would add this, though:

You’ve heard of carbo-loadiyng before a race? Spend the week before The Big Silliness getting plenty of all the popular vitamins and minerals, plus reasonable amounts of the various overpriced supplements you might have in your medicine cabinet, as you’ll need all those precursors to restock the neurotransmitters you’ll be burning through on Friday night. Don’t forget water and electrolytes, too; it isn’t universal, or even seemingly all that dose-dependent, but elevated body temperature is very normal.

And I don’t know nothin’ ’bout no xanax, but a bit of melatonin will power down the merry go round without kicking you out of the park.

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All great points, @bryan! Good to meet a fellow Silliness Compadre, ha.

Yeah was only bringing up Xanax because of the talk about bad trips, fear, etc. Just mentioning there is a handbrake on the car — but why spoil it for yourself, too. Hadn’t tried melatonin and that’s interesting! Really, just the classical music station on the radio and a picture of Rita Hayworth is all that’s needed to calm your mind when a bad trip hovers in. I don’t recommend Xanax, at all. Instead, watch Xanadu!

TOTALLY agree on vitamins. Sunny Delight on the night of, too. Vitamin C might be a myth but dang if I don’t believe in that one. So much so that when I drink Sunny Delight now it makes me think of great trips.

Yeah, the healthier you approach your “Big Silliness” with vitamins, nutrition, sleep, peaceful intentions, the more you can make the evening a high-voltage amplified skull splitter full of cake, sugar, flying cows and fluent conversations with aliens, all included.

Wheatgrass shot in the morning and some Cat Stevens on the turntable isn’t a bad way to wake up (or go to sleep in the morning), too.

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So…
I’ve been recently diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy. These seizures are nothing like the Grand Mal you’re probably familiar with, and in most cases the people around me have no idea that I’m in one unless I tell them as it’s happening.

Now in my mid 60s, I had years and years of intense tripping. I started when I was 14, and gave it up for 20 years or so to become a full time stay at home dad.

Last year however, I sorta accidentally fell in with a crowd of geriatric one time Deadheads who in their retirement had once again found joy and growth in imbibing.

Offered a quantity I gladly accepted.

Here’s the rub. Taking that first trip back it felt like old home week. I was immediately in a place I knew intimately. And here’s the thing, not merely because it was so like my LSD experiences of the past, but for the now and the seizures and after experiences I have presently.

I did a bit of my online research and read where there was study done where a group of folks with temporal lobe epilepsy were given a dose of LSD, while giving the other half of the group magic mushies. The half taking the mushies became morose and withdrawn, while the half using LSD were joyous and buoyant.

I also have figured now that much of my psychological issues through the years has in fact been epileptic activity.

I suspect that like me, we with temporal lobe epilepsy are already living in a somewhat psychedelic landscape, and the fruit of Albert Hoffman’s labors only carries us to a place where we are at home, and for some of us, ‘normal’.

As an aside, I’ve always loved the underground comic character ‘The 40 Year Old Hippie’ whose motto was “Two hundred trips and they’ve all been bummers! But I ain’t givin’ up!”

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Like, 500 doses at once? https://www.vice.com/en/article/pkeqd8/what-happens-lsd-overdose

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As someone who took up tripping again after a 30-year hiatus, I love hearing this. For me, home-grown mushrooms. Great stuff. Intense if I take a lot, not if I don’t. None of the crazy “I’m solving the world’s problems” like when I was In my 20s. Sometimes it’s 1.5 grams and a 3-hour kayaking paddle down the river.

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I am curious about guided/supervised stuff too. I would be keen to explore the effects of a stronger dose, but I am at a point in my life where I don’t want to use my friends as babysitters.
Any links/pointers would be welcome.

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If I remember correctly, at Woodstock, they used some form of niacin, (niacinamide or nicotinic acid) to immediately abort a bad trip.

Not reduce, but stop. Can anyone verify?

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Yep, that was my experience the one time I tried it. I won’t touch acid again.

This may have been the problem. I was 18 and dumb.

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I can’t remember.

There was definitely something said to be a “remedy” for a bad trip, but I don’t know if it really worked or people imagined. I’m sure it’s mentioned in “Steal this Book” but likely also in Peter Staffords Encyclopedia of Psychedelics. I don’t have either handy.

But what’s abad trip? Someone"freaking out", like tgat scene in Psych-out where Jack Nicholson talks a guy into putting down the power saw?

Or is it someone who is gone for hours in part because they don’t know how to get back, or don’t want to come back?

And it seems there should be a difference between taking acid for fun, and trying to find something. In the latter case, you may not like what you find, but tgat doesn’t make it bad.

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