The World's First LSD Microdosing Study Officially Begins
The University of Auckland’s experiment will assess whether microdosing LSD can actually improve mood, focus, or problem-solving abilities.
Published on December 2, 2019

Microdosing LSD may finally get some solid scientific evidence that it works. Or, the entire practice may get debunked. Researchers at the University of Auckland just received final approvals from the New Zealand government to go ahead with their microdosing study, which will be the first of its kind. 

What is microdosing? Someone microdoses a substance when they take a small amount — much smaller than needed for a full-blown trip or high — to experience some of that drug’s benefits and none of its drawbacks. With LSD microdosing, which exploded in popularity among Silicon Valley’s tech execs and whiz kids in recent years, users claim that they experience heightened senses, enhanced awareness, and an amplified ability to solve complex problems. The only problem with these claims is they've never been scientifically verified due to LSD's outlaw status in most countries.

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"Users report improvements in mood, wellbeing, improved attention and cognition, so those are the things we will be measuring," the study’s lead researcher, Suresh Muthukumaraswamy, told Newshub. "We'll be giving microdoses on very tightly controlled prescriptions to take at home — it'll be a more realistic assessment of what microdosing actually does.” 

Letting experimental subjects take a controlled psychedelic such as LSD at home is practically unheard of. Most studies involving LSD require that the subjects remain in a supervised setting while the drug takes effect. LSD-assisted psychotherapy in the US and Europe follows a similar procedure, where patients consume the drug and ride out its trip while at a clinic. But since microdosing LSD shouldn’t impede on day-to-day function, and the entire point of taking it in tiny amounts is to enhance the minutiae of daily existence, it makes sense to let the subjects dose themselves on their own at home.

The study itself will only include 40 male subjects. According to Muthukumaraswamy, this decision to only include male subjects isn’t because the researchers are “sexist pigs,” but rather because female subjects’ menstrual cycles could adversely affect the study’s mood, attention, and cognition data when combined with male subjects’ data. Muthukumaraswamy noted that if this study shows positive results for LSD microdosing, then the following study will include female subjects.

Of course, that means if microdosing LSD doesn’t work in men during this first trial, then the University of Auckland may never follow up with an additional study to see if microdosing LSD works differently in women. 

Furthermore, due to government restrictions on drug research in New Zealand, the University of Auckland is depending on donations and crowdfunding to support the study. 

"Universities have always taken donations and philanthropy has always funded universities - it's just a slightly different way of doing it," Muthukumaraswamy explained. "It costs money to buy drugs, and it costs money to run all the procedures and processes."

If you’re interested in supporting the sciences, the psychedelics movement, or you just think it’d be cool to say you helped fund an acid study, you can donate to the LSD microdosing research group at Everyday Hero. Donations, however, will not get you into the study itself. 

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Randy Robinson
Based in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljay
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