With no intention of tripping balls, consummate professionals are taking micro-doses of LSD to stimulate their creative processes. Results are tough to aggregate as the research is against the law, but this is a real thing.
In a recent article in GQ, Josh Dean describes his foray into the dark art of micro-dosing LSD, but he’s not alone. In fact, he’s doing exactly what biohackers do. They test theories on themselves to see how their bodies respond. It’s anecdotal, sure, but real-time data.
The bigger question is, why for reals?
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of taking psychedelics, shrooms or acid (LSD), then you can attest to water cascading down walls and cities of cars traversing the grout in your bathroom.
It’s fun when it works, lame when it doesn’t, but annoying when you want to get off the ride. A trip can last six hours or more, depending on how heavy a dose you take. Dunno ’bout you, but after a couple hours of anything, my brain gets bored.
This is not the point of micro-dosing. The amount in a micro amount (10%) too little to ignite a full trip, unless you take more than one dose. Proponents of the practice cite a list of undisputable benefits, less anxiety, but also a decreased reliance on other drugs like nicotine and coffee.
This writer, however, sees a few holes in the logic behind nootropic biohacking arguments.
Confession time: I’m not only a recovering addict (I prefer “abuser”), I have years of experience selling and taking supplements from many different companies.
Since the cards are on the table, I maintain a daily habit of 2-3 cups of coffee in the morning, so I do see the draw to enhancement. That said, the coffee thing is more than getting amped up. Coffee tastes good.
For the record, I have nothing against Josh Dean. He seems like my kind of human.
His account of microdosing is entertaining, but even Dean admits that he experienced little more than enhanced dreams from his experiment.
Regarding he dreams, he says, “I woke up nearly every day recalling them. In two cases, I remembered dreams in which I was working my way through problems with stories I was writing.”
By the time he got to work the revelations in those dreams faded. He does report, however, that he “required less coffee and felt more alert, but that could have been a placebo effect.” This is all anecdote, of course.
Despite the limited effects, Dean ends the piece admitting that he will re-up his dwindling supply in time. For this former abuser, this triggers my spidey sense.
The thing they nail you with in recovery is, why would you do the same thing over and over expecting different results. Then they call you crazy.
Dean is no abuser, nor is he crazy. But, it should raise at least one eyebrow when we make these kinds of statements. If we’re really biohacking, it seems the experiment is over when it fails to deliver the anticipated results.
Dean’s article discusses what happens to some micro-doses. In their search to feel something, they increase their dose until they are finally tripping balls. Whoops.
This is where nootropics get messy. Go toe to toe with anyone in the nootropics (can we call them sups?) field if you want to provoke a hailstorm of data. Dean found this out when he questioned efficacy with one popular nootropic company.
As far as LSD goes, there is no clinical research to support taking acid to improve your work output. The legit research ended in the ‘60s. As far as we know, it may help the brain operate in a less constrained manner than normal, less constrained, but less organized too.
There are plenty of studies to back up every micronutrient that ever hit the shelf.
Back in the 90s, Pyruvate was going to solve our fat problem. The science, backed by the Krebs cycle (our digestive process), was legit. By supplementing Pyruvate, a super-expensive supplement, the body would calorie-waste, increasing your daily expenditure, cutting your fat over time.
Guess what? It was all horse-poo, like every non-stimulant fat loss product that came down the pipe with stacks of peer-reviewed research behind it.
If you’re weighing the research as part of your decision to bio-hack via sups, consider that research lightly compared to your actual results. Peer-reviewed in-vivo research across tens of thousands of participants is worth a hill of Shinola when your personal results are zero.
One should only run into the wall next to the doorway a couple of times before adjusting his course.
There are effective supplements for biohacking the body. We’ve seen some consistent results from creatine when the source and delivery systems are quality.
We’ve found undeniable benefits for branched chain amino acids as a means stave off catabolization. Shoot, even some of the steroid analogs help build muscle, at a toxic cost to your body, but they work.
The problem is that we have no governing body, like the FDA. That organization only gets involved with sups when there’s a lawsuit.
There’s no money in unbiased research, not for the companies that sell supplements. What we need is more research, more open dialogue.
We could even benefit from a biohacker database of experiences, which compiles metadata. The best we have today is Reddit. There’s also Erowid, but that site is thin on nootropic data, plus nobody compiles these experiences.
It’s unlikely that any Silicon Valley smarty pants would read this and decide not to try microdosing LSD. There is a younger version of me out there who wouldn’t listen to this aging-me either.
That said, other than the illegal aspects of the drug, the risk is small.
If you decide to try this anyway, know some things. Some people report increases in anxiety from LSD, but it will likely pass if you get a bad batch or take too much. Keep a level head about your anecdotal results… or don’t.
Who am I to tell you? You’re gonna do what you want anyway. That’s what biohackers do.