Microdosing on psychedelics such as LSD or magic mushrooms has become quite popular among busy professionals seeking to reap the psychological and mood-enhancing benefits of these drugs minus the heavy tripping involved at regular doses. Some of these positive side effects include improved mood and productivity, as well as reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, although the first placebo-controlled, double-blind study on microdosing came to more limited conclusions.
It seems like another benefit of microdosing LSD is pain relief, according to a new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacy.
Microdosing psychedelics involves ingesting a very small amount of a drug in order to experience some positive side effects while staying below the dosage threshold that would cause you to trip (i.e. hallucinate).
For their study, researchers led by Johannes Ramaekers, from the Department of Neuropsychology & Psychopharmacology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, gave 24 healthy volunteers single doses of 5, 10 and 20 µg LSD as well as placebo on separate occasions.
Each participant then went through a Cold Pressor Test one and a half hours and five hours after they received the LSD or placebo to assess pain tolerance.
According to the results, the 20 µg dose of LSD allowed the participants to significantly extend the time that they could tolerate exposure to cold water (3°C) and decreased their subjective levels of experienced pain and overall unpleasantness.
“The present study provides evidence of a protracted analgesic effect of LSD at a dose that is low enough to avoid a psychedelic experience. The present data warrant further research into the analgesic effects of low doses of LSD in patient populations,” the authors wrote.
The therapeutic effects of LSD and its implications in the management of pain have been known since the 1960s, just before research on psychedelics came to a grinding halt due to stringent drug enforcement laws. One such study, published in 1964, found evidence of pain relief at full doses given to 300 terminally ill cancer patients.
“Results are both encouraging and puzzling. Encouraging—because LSD relieves pain much longer than other drugs; puzzling—because many of the patients declined a second administration,” the researchers wrote.
Indeed, LSD isn’t quite the same as ibuprofen, something that you can use anytime you have a headache. Microdosing, however, shouldn’t trip anyone, which is why these results are so exciting. More research is warranted, however, preferably on a larger sample size in order to confirm these findings.