Scientists Are Starting to Test Claims About “Microdosing”

By Sharon Begley

Dennis van der Meijden isn’t aiming to see the face of God, feel one with the cosmos, grasp the hidden reality of time and space, or embark on a sacred journey. What the Dutch graphic designer, producer, and rapper (under the professional name Terilekst) wants—and gets—from his twice-weekly “microdoses” of psilocybin is more modest.

“It sharpens all the senses, as if the frequencies of all of your atoms and energy field are raised a little bit and are being slightly more conscious,” said van der Meijden, 39, who told STAT he first microdosed psilocybin—the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms”—three years ago. It makes him energetic enough to skip coffee, “as if I’m kicked in some sort of orbit for that day.” If he becomes distracted, “I’m very much aware of that, as if seeing myself from a bird’s eye view, so I can correct myself very fast.” But van der Meijden says he’s careful not to exceed about 0.4 grams, because 0.5 made him “a bit too joyful and a bit too philosophical,” which wasn’t always appropriate.

Microdosing involves taking roughly one-tenth the “trip” dose of a psychedelic drug, an amount too little to trigger hallucinations but enough, its proponents say, to sharpen the mind. Psilocybin microdosers (including hundreds on Reddit) report that the mushrooms can increase creativity, calm anxiety, decrease the need for caffeine, and reduce depression. There is enough evidence that trip doses might have the latter effect that, on Wednesday, London-based Compass Pathways received Food and Drug Administration approval for a Phase 2B clinical trial of psilocybin (in larger-than-microdoses) for treatment-resistant depression. But research into microdosing is minimal.

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