For the 30-day study, participants were asked to complete several assessments that tap into mental health symptomology, mood, and measures of cognition. For example, a smartphone finger tap test was integrated into the study to measure psychomotor ability, which can be used as a marker for neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s disease.
That micro-dosing demonstrated more significant improvements in mood, mental health, and psychomotor ability over one month compared to non-micro-dosing peers who completed the same assessments.
“This is the largest longitudinal study of this kind to date of micro-dosing psilocybin and one of the few studies to engage a control group,” says Dr. Walsh, who teaches in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. “Our findings of improved mood and reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress add to the growing conversation about the therapeutic potential of micro-dosing.”
Dr. Walsh explains that large doses of psychedelic psilocybin mushrooms have a long history of use among some Indigenous peoples and are prized in western culture for their psychedelic effects. They were also labeled an illicit substance during the American-led “war on drugs.” But recent interest has expanded from extensive dose psychedelic useknown for creating dramatic alterations in mood and consciousnessto the potential therapeutic application of smaller micro-doses. Amounts so small they minimally interfere with daily functioning.
The Microdose.me project is conducted by an international team including Dr. Pam Kryskow from UBC Vancouver, Maggie Kiraga and Dr. Kim Kuypers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, American mycologist Paul Stamets, and Kalin Harvey and Eesmyal Santos-Brault of the Quantified Citizen health research platform.
What is Micro-dosing?
Micro-dosing involves regular self-administration in doses small enough not to impair normal cognitive functioning. The amounts can be as small as 0.1 to 0.3 grams of dried mushrooms and can be taken three to five times a week.
The most widely reported substances used for micro-dosing are psilocybin mushrooms and LSD. Psilocybin mushrooms are considered non-addictive and relatively non-toxicespecially when compared to tobacco, opioids, and alcohol.
“Our findings of mood and mental health improvements associated with psilocybin micro-dosing align with previous studies of psychedelic micro-dosing and add to them through the use of a longitudinal study design and large sample that allowed us to examine the consistency of effects across age, gender, and their mental health,” says Rootman.
He explains that the comparison of micro-dosers to non-microdosers over the one-month period of the study indicated greater improvements among micro-dosers when asked about their mood, depression, anxiety and stress.
Analyses of the finger tap test showed that micro-dosers demonstrated a more positive change in performance than non-micro-dosers, particularly among people over 55.
“Despite the promising nature of these findings, there is a need for further research to more firmly establish the nature of the relationship between micro-dosing, mood, and mental health, and the extent to which these effects are directly attributable to psilocybin rather than participant expectancies about the substance,” says Dr. Walsh.
The study was not designed to investigate the potential influence of participant expectancy on micro0dose outcomes, but the authors note this is a necessary advancement in the field.
“Considering the tremendous health costs and ubiquity of depression and anxiety, as well as the sizable proportion of patients who do not respond to existing treatments, the potential for another approach to addressing these disorders warrants substantial consideration,” says Rootman.