Advocates of microdosing claim that taking teeny doses of magic mushrooms and other psychedelic substances can inspire creative thought, boost your mood, and even enhance your cognitive function, all without the risk of a so-called "bad trip".
But aside from loose anecdotal evidence from Silicon Valley bros, what does the science say? A team of researchers from Leiden University in the Netherlands decided to find out.
While a small handful of trials have looked into microdosing LSD, the new small-scale study is the first of its kind to experimentally investigate microdosing of magic mushrooms and its cognitive-enhancing effects within a natural setting.
Reporting in the journal Psychopharmacology, the researchers looked into how a microdose of magic mushrooms, aka psilocybin or truffles, affected the cognitive brain function of 36 people at an event organized by the Psychedelic Society of the Netherlands. The participants were given a one-off dose of 0.37 grams (0.01 ounces) of dried truffles and asked to solve three puzzles. It’s worth noting that microdosing usually involves taking regular small doses in the hopes of obtaining an accumulative effect. Nevertheless, the researchers claim that they observed some subtly profound changes to their guinea pigs.
People appeared to be drifting through the puzzle-solving tasks with great ease while creating solutions that were notably more original and flexible than what they came up with before they microdosed. This is what the study authors called “changes in fluid intelligence”.
“Our results suggest that consuming a microdose of truffles allowed participants to create more out-of-the-box alternative solutions for a problem, thus providing preliminary support for the assumption that microdosing improves divergent thinking," lead author Luisa Prochazkova of Leiden University in the Netherlands explained in a statement.
"Moreover, we also observed an improvement in convergent thinking, that is, increased performance on a task that requires the convergence on one single correct or best solution."
In sum, the findings of this small study are pretty much what the anecdotal evidence has been hinting at for years.
The doors of scientific research into psychedelics have only just been opened, but there’s also been a wealth of studies looking into their potential benefits. Some of the most promising findings so far have come from studies looking at the potential to use the active ingredients of magic mushrooms to ease depression and other mental health problems. Their pros and cons are not yet crystal clear, however, many researchers are welcoming the fact that this intriguing subject is at least now out for critique and investigation.
"Apart from its benefits as a potential cognitive enhancement technique, microdosing could be further investigated for its therapeutic efficacy to help individuals who suffer from rigid thought patterns or behavior such as individuals with depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder," Prochazkova explained.