The World’s First LSD Microdosing Study Officially Begins at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.
Given the go ahead by the Ministry of Health of the New Zealand government, the University of Auckland’s experiment will assess whether microdosing LSD can actually improve mood, focus, or problem-solving abilities.
The FDA (Food & Drug Administration of America) and the NIH (National Institute of Health) have acknowledged the therapeutic potential of LSD and other psychedelic drugs. Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz had inquired to the U.S government whether they had plans to research the drugs for medical use. Schatz documented that:
“Studies have found the benefits of the controlled use of psychedelics in psychotherapy programs, including the benefits of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) to reduce anxiety for patients with life-threatening diseases, and the safety and efficacy of ketamine, MDMA, psilocybin, LSD, and ibogaine in clinical trials.”
A Psychedelic Renaissance
If the research at the University of Auckland proves to be successful, the later stage could see LSD moving into medicinal/pharmaceutical territory.
The man responsible conducting the research is neuropsychopharmacologist Dr Suresh Muthukumaraswamy. According to RNZ, Muthukumaraswamy and his team have backed up the evidence on why this experiment is important: “We’ve written about 40 pages of documentation justifying the science and the design… I think there’s a strong case that the research should be done.”
The experiment will take in a sample group of forty single men. On the reasoning why the group is strictly male is because the effect of the drug intake could alter the variabilities in mood and attention that could accompany a woman’s menstrual cycle and thus effect the cognitional data in the experiment.
Muthukumaraswamy said, “the study will involve gathering healthy men and giving them either a dose of LSD, or a placebo. They will undergo tests after the first dose, and then will be sent home with a six-week course of acid.” This means that the clinical study sounds more beneficial, instead of being monitored in a lab like a guinea pig, the test subjects are monitored daily in normal living conditions.
In spite of it being approved, the University of Auckland still has to work around the New Zealand government’s drug policy. That’s why the study is relying on donations and crowdfunding to support it.
“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.”
History of LSD and the recent boom in microdosing
The pyschedlic drug LSD known as Lysergic Acid Diethylamide was first discovered by Swedish scientist Albert Hofmann in 1938. Hofmann may be the key individual in dedicating most of his study in discovering the purpose for psychedelics with human interaction. He continued to take micro dosages of LSD throughout his life. Hofmann recounts “I see the true importance of LSD in the possibility of providing material aid to meditation aimed at the mystical experience of a deeper, comprehensive reality.”
What is microdosing you ask? Microdosing is where someone takes a substance in a small controlled amount to experience the drug’s benefits and none of its drawbacks.
A microdose is about a tenth of the normal dose – around 10 micrograms of LSD, or 0.2-0.5 grams of mushrooms. Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, asserts “to feel a little bit of energy lift, a little bit of insight, but not so much that you are tripping.”
Microdosing LSD isn’t something that has been unheard of lately. What made Microdosing become known into the mainstream is to thank Silicon Valley executives who microdose LSD to boost their work productivity.
In a small case study by Rolling Stone magazine, Rolling Stone interviewed a tech start-up wizard going by the name of Ken.
Ken is one of a growing number of professionals who enjoy taking “microdoses” of psychedelics – in his free time and, occasionally, at the office. “I had an epic time,” he says at the end of one such day. “I was making a lot of sales, talking to a lot of people, finding solutions to their technical problems.”
If microdosing becomes integrated in mainstream society, how will governments come to terms with it? One could say microdosing psychedelics and enhancers prove to be beneficial to propagate capitalism by promoting longer work days and boost greater productivity while others like Dr Suresh Muthukumaraswamy and his team are hoping it can also help our understandings of mental health.
LSD use has experienced mixed reputation in pop culture over the last century
In the 1950’s, LSD was taken into investigation by the CIA who believed that the drug can be useful as a weapon for mind control. This resulted in Project MK Ultra where the CIA undergoed human experiments and testing of the drug to see if it proved to alter patterns of the mind and be beneficial in the use of interrogation and mind control.
LSD has been well documented during the 1960’s and 1970’s, being a vice for counter-culture and experimenting different modes of existential thinking. A major proponent that springs around in this period echoes the whole Timothy Leary ideology, “turn on, tune in, drop out” and as a recreational drug many adherents of the hippy culture abused it for hedonistic pleasure. We just think of Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas who Thompson himself derails Leary’s LSD conception of the Acid Culture as an illusionary experience of a peace and love movement that was doomed to fail.
Dr Suresh Muthukumaraswamy’s experiment at the University of Auckland is not to recreate another hippy culture. His plan is to see whether microdosing does improve mental performance and aid in mental functionality and mood.
It is the first official microdosing trial in New Zealand because they’re not concerned with whether microdosing possesses medical efficacy, but rather whether microdosing generates real psychoactive effects or if it’s just placebo.
According to Muthukumaraswamy, “Drug tests in pharmaceutical companies usually involve hundreds of people in each study across multiple studies and multiple centers in order the get the data that you need to say it works, that we have a really good side-effect profile, and we know how to do this in the safest possible manner. We’re just not even close to there yet.”
It’s about time that there is an official attempt of good research going into the benefits of microdosing psychedelics and hopefully the data proves to be beneficial towards tackling the reputation the drug has received and tackling issues surrounding mental health.
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