Citizen self-blinding microdosing research

Thank you to everyone who participated! The results of this study are available here, and are discussed in this blog.

We have closed phase 1 of the study and are not currently accepting further participants, but hope to raise further funds in order to launch v2.0 later this year.

The Beckley/Imperial Psychedelic Research Programme launched a collaborative study on psychedelic microdosing. The Naturalistic Self-Blinding Microdose Study is designed and led by Dr. Balázs Szigeti and Dr. David Erritzoe MRCPsych of Imperial College London, in partnership with Amanda Feilding of the Beckley Foundation.

Psychedelic microdosing is a growing phenomenon, with tens of thousands of personal stories existing online. These range from entrepreneurs trying to improve workplace efficiency, to individuals struggling with mental health issues. Despite the growing popularity of microdosing, there is only anecdotal evidence for many of its apparent benefits. The Beckley/Imperial Psychedelic Research Programme, which in 2016 produced the world’s first fMRI images of the human brain on LSD, undertook the first placebo-controlled naturalistic study into psychedelic microdosing.

This study was unique in our use of an entirely novel self-blinding protocol. Voluntary participants who were currently, or were planning to start microdosing tracked their progress on their own initiative – but in a development from other microdosing surveys, the participants set up their own placebo control. This ‘self-blinding’ design allowed us to investigate for the first time whether the purported benefits of microdosing are due to the placebo effect, or the pharmacological action of the psychedelic.

The placebo control was implemented by placing both microdoses and empty capsules into sealed envelopes, which were labelled (with QR codes) and then distributed according to a particular schedule. Participants didn’t know whether their capsules contained a microdose or an empty placebo until the end of the study.

The central hypothesis of our study was that psychedelic microdosing can increase psychological well-being and may also enhance certain cognitive functions. Throughout the experiment, participants were required to complete computer-based tasks designed to measure cognitive performance (e.g. attention, memory, reasoning). Participants also filled out questionnaires designed to assess their emotional state.

By collecting data from a naturalistic environment, with the support of hundreds of self-blinded participants from within the microdosing community, this design enabled us to identify the effects of psychedelic microdosing, and understand what role the placebo effect plays.

Dr. Szigeti and Dr. Erritzoe worked together with Amanda Feilding and the Beckley Foundation on this study, and we hope that together we will pave the way for establishing whether microdosing has therapeutic benefits. Significantly more rigorous than previous, anecdotal evidence, this study provided valuable information in advance of the Beckley/Imperial LSD microdosing study led by Amanda Feilding, which will be carried out within a controlled laboratory setting later this year.

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This observational study was only eligible for people microdosing on their own initiative with their own existing supply of blotter-based psychedelics. Please do not contact us asking to provide you with psychedelic drugs or other materials.