Science Trends Illustrates Problems Defining and Describing Microdosing

Microdosing Described by Alex Bolano of Science Trends

On October 29th, Science Trends published an article by Alex Bolano about how microdosing psychedelic mushrooms could stimulate creative thought.

At a very high level, Alex Bolano is probably correct.  Microdosing psilocybin probably has the potential to improve creativity — when the correct drug is administered in the correct amount.

Mr. Bolano also points out that there is a “distinct lack of quantitative experimental data” regarding the benefits of microdosing.  Yes.  Below we discuss one of the reasons for that lack of data.

Lack of Precision Describing the Identity and Amount of the Drugs Administered

One of the biggest hurdles to studying microdosing is the imprecise and informal way that people discuss and document microdosing studies.  Mr. Bolano’s article provides several excellent examples of the lack of precision that is presently holding back progress in the microdosing space.

In the first line of the article, Mr. Bolano explains that microdosing means “taking fractional doses of psychoactive compounds.”  But what does this mean?  A fraction of what?  What is a dose?  Is the “dose” one pure compound?  Or is the “dose” a mixture of compounds?

To be clear, studying the effects of particular drugs requires taking a known amount of known molecules.  Lack of precision regarding the dose or the identity of the drug make the “study” far less useful to future researchers.

Importance of Knowing the Amount of the Drug(s) Administered.

Mr. Bolano later explains that the work “fractional” means small, such that “microdosing” means “taking small doses of psychedelic substances.”  OK. But then we are left with imprecision regarding what “small” means.  This is important because the effective dose of different psychedelic substances varies considerably.  In other words, different drugs influence the human body differently.  0.37 g of psilocybin is very different from 0.37 g of mushrooms, which is very different from 0.37 g of LSD.  These are all different drugs.

Importance of Knowing the Identity of the Drug(s) Administered.

Mr. Bolano later explains a specific study, where “the researchers investigated the cognitive effects of psilocybin…. They found that taking small doses of mushrooms (~0.37 grams) improved the subject’s convergent and divergent thinking….”

No.  The researchers were not studying the effects of psilocybin.  Apparently, they were trying to study the effects of mushrooms.  Magic mushrooms are very different from pure psilocybin.  See Taking Pure Psilocybin is Different from Eating Magic Mushrooms.  Magic mushrooms contain multiple active ingredients.  And, those ingredients can varying substantially in both absolute and relative concentration.

Further down in the article, Mr. Bolano explains that the subjects “ingested about 0.37 g of psychedelic truffles.”  Again, this is an important point.  Magic mushrooms are different from psychedelic truffles, which are different from pure psilocybin.

Science Requires Knowing the Drug and Amount Consumed

The Science Trends article by Alex Bolano illustrates an unmet need in the psychedelic space.  Namely, the community would benefit from precisely defining the substances and amounts subject to discussion.  Mr. Bolano  eventually describes the amount of material (psychedelic truffles; not mushrooms; not psilocybin) to the 1/100th of a gram (i.e. 0.37 g of psychedelic truffles).  The next step would be extending that precision to the amount of the active molecules taken.  (“Molecules” because naturally occurring fungi contain more than one psilocybin derivative).  Here, the 0.37 g of truffles studied could describe a wild range of molecules and amounts.

Overall, the psilocybin community would benefit from treating drugs like drugs.  In other words, eliminate the lack of precision when discussing the identity and amount of psychoactive molecules correlated with a particular clinical response.  See Psilocybin Chemistry.

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