Microdosing with psychedelic substances may have mental health benefits among some individuals and should be more rigorously studied. These findings were published in Scientific Reports.
Study volunteers were recruited via psychedelic media-related podcasts and online conference presentations between 2019 and 2020. Using an iPhone application, participants responded to questionnaires about microdosing and mental health for this cross-sectional study.
A total of 8,703 participants indicated they were current microdosers (n=4050) or non-microdosers (n=4653). Participants were located in 84 nations. Nationalities that were more than 1% of respondents were: the United States (62.2%), Canada (12.7%), Australia (4.2%), Great Britain (4.2%), Russia (1.4%), the Netherlands (1.3%), and Denmark (1%). Microdosers tended to be older (c2, 44.91; P <.01) and live in urban areas (c2, 26.27; P <.01).
Microdosers were more motivated by mental health or substance use concerns (c2, 26.89; P <.01), depression (c2, 6.95; P <.01), posttraumatic stress disorder or trauma (c2, 8.92; P <.01), and tobacco dependence (c2, 3.88; P <.05) and were more likely to never consume alcohol (P <.01), use cannabis ≥3 times per week (P <.01), and never use nicotine (P <.05) compared with non-microdosers.
Of these participants, 1651 reported a mental health condition (microdosers: n=863; non-microdosers: n=788). Microdosers had lower Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21) scores for anxiety (F[1,1649], 12.26; P <.01), depression (F[1,1649], 14.71; P <.01), and stress (F[1,1649], 6.00; P =.01).
Participants without a mental health concern were more likely to report their motivation for microdosing as enhancing learning (c2, 10.42; P <.01) and those with mental health concerns wanted to reduce anxiety (c2, 336.97; P <.01), decrease substance use (c2, 239.27; P <.01), and improve mood (c2, 130.69; P <.01).
Stratified by gender, women were more motivated by improving their mood (c2, 7.28; P <.01) and decreasing anxiety (c2, 55.45; P <.01) and men were more interested in enhancing learning (c2, 31.11; P <.01), increasing sociability (c2, 16.05; P <.01), and decreasing substance use (c2, 14.41; P <.01).
The microdose substances that were most reported were psilocybin (88.6%) and LSD (11%). Stratified by substance, psilocybin users were more likely to report high (P <.01) or medium (P <.01) doses and daily or near-daily use (P <.01).
This study was anonymous and could have had response bias, in which respondents likely had a favorable view about microdosing with psychedelics.
This study found that microdosers were motivated by therapeutic and wellness motivations. Among individuals with mental health concerns, microdosing was associated with significantly reduced anxiety, depression, and stress scores. Additional, longitudinal studies of microdosing are needed to better assess the effect microdosing has on mental health.
Disclosure: Multiple authors declared affiliations with industry. Please refer to the original article for a full list of disclosures.
Rootman JM, Kryskow P, Harvey K, et al. Adults who microdose psychedelics report health related motivations and lower levels of anxiety and depression compared to non‑microdosers.Sci Rep. Published online November 18, 2021. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-01811-4