Psychedelic microdosing reduced fear and depression in lab rats

Rats microdosed with DMT, the active ingredient in the psychedelic substance ayahuasca, were able to overcome a fear response faster than rats who didn't receive the drug, according to a new study. Unlike select past research on psychedelics, this latest study looked specifically at microdosing, a dosage protocol that involves taking very small doses of a psychedelic.READ: Bad 'magic mushroom' trips may still be beneficial

The act of microdosing psychedelics, including psilocybin and LSD, is popular among a small group who largely share their results online. Due to a lack of research on the subject, however, most information about microdosing is anecdotal. This new study helps address that, specifically the potential impact of microdosing the psychedelic N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT).

In this study, rats were given 1/10th of a hallucinogenic dose, which means they (likely) didn't experience any psychedelic effects from the substance. Doses were administered every three days over the course of two months. This arrangement was designed to imitate the schedule many people follow when undertaking their own microdosing regimen.

After two weeks of dosing, the researchers subjected the rats to behavioral tests related to their cognitive functioning, mood, and anxiety. Rats that had received DMT microdoses were found to be better equipped at overcoming a 'fear response' during a test that models PTSD and anxiety in humans. The rats also experienced decreased immobility, which is associated with an antidepressant effect.

In addition to the positive effects on fear response and depression, the study found that the rats didn't have any obvious signs of changes related to sociability and cognitive function. The results weren't entirely positive, however. One surprising finding was neuronal atrophy specifically in female rats, as well as increased body weight in male rats. The neuronal atrophy at low doses is in contrast with the neuronal growth in rats associated with a single high dose.