Scientists Are Having a Hard Time Researching the Effects of Microdosing

It's not clear what the best way to quantify its effects is

There are logistical challenges to researching the effects of microdosing.
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Do enough reading on recent trends in mental health and you’re likely to reach one conclusion: microdosing psychedelics appears to be on the rise. It’s been the subject of trend pieces and how-to guides, and it even became the center of a recurring SNL gag. There’s even been an effort underway in some states and municipalities to legalize or decriminalize psychedelics.

Anecdotal evidence on microdosing, whether quotes from enthusiasts in articles or entire books on the subject, have done plenty to raise microdosing’s profile and popularity. As a recent Washington Post article by Jane C. Hu points out, however, barriers remain to the kind of large-scale scientific research that could, in turn, lead to wider acceptance for microdosing psychedelics.

Hu points out that most research studies on psychedelics have involved larger doses than microdosing entails — meaning that there isn’t a lot of scientific documentation to attest to the benefits of microdosing. That said, there are also questions about just what a scientific study of microdosing would even look like, from the participants to the different metrics available to researchers.

One of the studies cited in the article suggests that, based on expectancy effects, microdosing might have less of an effect on those who engage in it than they think it does. Another study, which utilized neuroimaging, found more evidence of microdosing’s effectiveness.

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The entire article is well worth checking out. It gets at some big questions for psychedelics and those who might be considering their therapeutic applications. And, for those curious to see if psychedelics can transform from an underground movement into something higher-profile, it brings up many of the questions that enthusiasts and medical professionals will need to reckon with in the years to come.

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