The hippies were right: LSD really does free your head


The hippies were right: LSD really does free your head

Feeling dull, depressed and anxious? Take a tiny dose of hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms

Tymon Smith

Over the past few years you may have seen an increasing number of articles describing the phenomenon of microdosing. Originally championed by Silicon Valley techies, the practice involves taking tiny daily doses of hallucinogens such as LSD and psychedelic mushrooms to improve creativity and overcome anxiety and depression.
A recent study by Canadian scientists has shown that microdosing may not just be a trendy pastime for tech billionaires. It might also have tangible benefits including increasing wisdom, open-mindedness and creativity while reducing negative traits “such as dysfunctional attitudes and negative emotionality”.
Thomas Anderson of the University of Toronto and Rotem Petranker of the University of York compared a sample of people who microdose with a group who don’t and have deemed the results of their study “very promising”.
Wisdom may seem a bit of a nebulous idea to measure scientifically. But according to a recent article in Alternet, the scientists defined the trait “as implying considering multiple perspectives, learning from mistakes, being in tune with emotions and other people, and feeling a sense of connection”. All familiar experiences to those who have ever had a good trip, and ones which microdosers demonstrated more of than their non-dosing counterparts.
To measure creativity, subjects were given two common items – a brick and a knife – and asked to find unusual uses for them. According to the study, microdosers came up with more interesting and unusually useful uses for the objects than non-dosers.
Microdosing uses extremely low doses of LSD – between five and 20 micrograms – and so it is not as if users are walking around hallucinating off their heads. Neither can they even notice any significant physical effects that might impair their ability to enjoy their funky off-the-wall Silicon Valley work spaces.
While the trend has caught on and inspired books, there has been little scientific investigation into the measurable effects. And if you are a microdoser who’s buoyed by the Canadian research, don’t get your hopes up just yet. Anderson and Petranker have been careful to point out that their study should not be seen as any kind of strict scientific evaluation of microdosing but rather a study that has generated some hypotheses about the trend. As they write in their findings, the study has generated promising results but, “as promising as they seem, we don’t know whether microdosing actually caused any of these differences”.

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