26 October 2020

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Drugs Mental Health The Back Page

There is a tale from the Swinging Sixties, probably apocryphal, that Beatle John Lennon once took so much LSD over so many days he washed all the colour out of his vision.

Whether that’s true or not, the tale’s existence does somewhat support the view of many unreconstructed hippies of the era: that dosage and context are key when it comes to ingesting lysergic acid diethylamide.

Which brings us neatly to a study published last week in the journal, European Neuropsychopharmacology, which looked into the concept of microdosing LSD and the impact that might have on the ability to pay attention and process information.

In an admittedly small study, scientists from Switzerland’s University of Basel and The Netherlands’ Maastricht University gave 24 volunteers either five, 10, or 20 micrograms of LSD, or a placebo, then measured their ability to perform cognitive tasks.

A typical LSD dose for a recreational “trip” is about 100mg, and the volunteers were not naïve – they all had previously taken LSD more than once in other circumstances.

What the boffins found was the volunteers given a 5mg dose were better able to focus and pay attention and felt friendlier, according to the study.

At 10mg, participants started to feel a heightened sense of consciousness, an effect that carried over into the 20mg group. The most significant effects happened at the 20mg dose, at which participants had the most notable improvement to their mood but also felt the most confused.

The researchers reckon the study helps establish the differences between LSD dose levels and delineate where the drug starts, and stops, being helpful.

Which we presume means that if your spreadsheet starts sprouting rocking horse people eating marshmallow pies then you’ve gone too far towards the Lennon end of the consumption spectrum.

If you see something stupid, say something stupid … send your brown acid to felicity@medicalrepublic.com.au.

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