An Analysis of Microdosing Psychedelics

During The PSYCH Symposium in November 2020, a panel of leading scientists discussed their work in the field of psychedelic medicines as well as the research they had conducted on microdosing and the impact it has on the human body. Does it increase creativity? Improve focus or nothing more than a silicon valley fad?

Find out whilst enjoying access to the full panel discussion between:

The panel featured:

David Luke, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Greenwich University
David Erritzoe, Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry, Imperial College London
Sophia Korb, Director of Research, Fadiman Group
Michelle Janikain, Journalist


 

 

Michelle Janikian  00:18

Hi, everyone and welcome to the micro dosing panel. I want to start by thanking prohibition partners for inviting us all. I’m Michele Janikian. I’m a journalist, mostly focused on psychedelics and the author of Your Psilocybin Mushroom Companion. And I would like to introduce you to our panelists for today. First, there is Sophia Korb, can you quickly introduce yourself.

Sophia Korb  00:41

Sure, I’m the Director of Research at the Fadiman group. I do large scale longitudinal research on people who are micro dosing.

Michelle Janikian  00:48

Wow, cool. And David Luke, could you please introduce yourself?

David Luke  00:52

Yes, sure. I’m an associate professor of psychology at the University of Greenwich, and also honorary senior lecturer at Imperial College at the Center for psychedelic studies. I’m also a lecturer for the lF trust in Masters in consciousness, spirituality, and transpersonal psychology. I also do research on psychedelics.

Michelle Janikian  01:13

Very cool, so excited to have you here. And also David Erritzoe, could you please introduce yourself?

David Erritzoe  01:19

Yes, hi, I’m a clinical psychiatrist, and also a senior clinical lecturer at Imperial College in the Neuro Psychopharmacology at the Center for Psychedelic Research. I also conduct academic research, including micro dosing. 

Michelle Janikian  01:37

So exciting and it’s such an honor to be here with all of you today. You all are doing such interesting work and I’m really excited to dive in. And so I thought we could start generally by defining what a micro dose is? What does sub perceptual mean, and how the micro dose experience differs from a full dose psychedelic experience? Does anyone want to take that one?

Sophia Korb  02:03

I can jump in because the sub perceptual thing is our fault. Jim Fadiman heard about micro dosing from a student of Albert Hoffman. And what we meant to write is that it’s below visual perception, not that you can’t tell that you have taken a micro dose, but it doesn’t change anything in your sensory perceptions. And that has been really confusing, but we have been trying to explain what’s meant by that. So micro dosing in general is taking a substance under what a regular dose would be, to create a different effect. So there is micro dosing of hormones as well, where people take a very small dose, and it has a different effect than taking a larger dose of that hormone or say ultra-lose dose of Naltrexone, which has a different effect than a regular dose of Naltrexone. So that’s basically what micro dosing is what people report. And so Albert Hoffman thought it would be around a third or a quarter of a regular dose of LSD that would have beneficial health properties. And so what it turns out is that much lower doses like one 10th, or one 20th of the regular dose seems to increase in creativity or decrease in procrastination and it helps with mood with depression, but it seems to increase anxiety slightly. And so there is a host of different positive effects that people report.

Michelle Janikian  03:29

Thank you, that’s super interesting. In most clinical research and psychedelics, we talk a lot about context about set and setting. And I don’t really hear anything about micro dosing, but I was wondering if there is some importance to set and setting with micro dosing? David, do you want to take that one?

David Erritzoe  03:53

Oh, good question. I think everybody who works in or has experience from real life, pays a lot of attention to the context with micro dose which is  a bit different also because people are taking it very regularly, typically when they go to work. If you work in Google and want to be very creative and develop a new Smart App, then you just go to work and do your thing. So therefore, naturally it is a bit difficult to pay the same degree of tension to the setting. But I think the stimulation of this receptor that the psychedelic stimulate is increasing influence and sensitivity to the context and to what’s around you and what context you are in. So in a way it is important, but context is also important for the action of normal antidepressant drugs like SSRIs. But it’s easier if you want to manipulate the environment, you can probably more safely experiment with it in a scientific setting. If you want to examine the meaning and the influence and the importance of context and setting, that will be probably safer and smarter to do in micro dosing than full doses, because that would be proper risk most likely.

Michelle Janikian  05:10

Yeah that’s really interesting. I appreciate you going into that. So a lot of the hysteria around psychedelics originated in previous decades and it’s still commonplace in many communities when you start talking about psychedelics and you get that look! And I was wondering what steps can the psychedelic science community take to improve the public perception of micro dosing? David Luke, do you want to take that one? 

David Luke  05:41

Yes, first of all, we produce better science, and it has to go hand in hand with better education as well. So we need to learn more about these substances and the kind of the safest context for their use. There is pretty good evidence to suggest that they are physiologically very safe, relative to many other drugs out there. And it’s about education, not just of the mass population, but also of users as well, so that people experimenting with these on actually get themselves harmed and tarnishes the fantastic reputation that we have established for these substances in the last decade. So I think those are really important things. But I think we are seeing a kind of a massive change in public perceptions around these things. But there are some prejudices, of course, the big legacy in the 60s. 

David Erritzoe  06:35

I also have a comment here about the first thing that Luke said about that good science, because if it’s about calming down and promoting something that is safe, and beneficial, that only makes sense if we know that it is beneficial, if they are fixed, and that it is safe. So therefore, without having prophesized the real studies to do it, because there are a lot of evidence, but that evidence is pretty weak at this point. Therefore, you need more evidence before it even makes sense to go out and try to change anybody’s opinion. I think this it is a bit early days for micro dosing. That’s for psychedelics but for different use of it in full dose, it is one new phenomenon that we know less about, whether it does anything and pop up beyond placebo.

David Luke  07:35

David’s words here for sure are my stance on it as well.

Michelle Janikian  07:39

Yes I agree. And as someone who is well versed in the research, I do feel a lot of it is anecdotal self reports. I wanted to ask each of you, what is a study or some studies that you would like to see about micro dosing in the next few years? What is your dream study on micro dosing? Maybe we can start with you,

Sophia Korb  08:03

I lost you for a second and I wanted to jump in the last question. I’m not sure what you just asked. 

Michelle Janikian  08:09

Why don’t you jump on the last question? I can ask you again and it’s no problem. 

Sophia Korb  08:12

I think having better science education in general is really a key to this. People ask for randomized double blind studies, but they don’t know why. And they don’t know how to contextualize having anecdotal evidence and in the ways that isn’t randomized what that data can be used for. So for example, we are collecting evidence about micro dosing and we put out information, but we have never encouraged people who have had a bad experience on LSD or psilocybin to take micro doses. So we are naturally excluding all of those people who might be really inclined to have a bad experience. So it’s really important to contextualize the cause and we have a lot of stories from people who like micro dosing, but that’s a really specific part of the population. And they are already prone to have positive ideas about micro dosing, because they are the people who contacted those micro dosing researchers. So contextualizing that and not just throwing out that evidence, but understanding what it can be used for and how that can inform clinical studies, I think is really important.

Michelle Janikian  09:15

Yes, that’s a great point. I appreciate you making that. So what I wanted to ask next to each of you like what is a micro dosing clinical study that you would like to see in the near future? We can start with you, Sophia. She would like to chime in.

Sophia Korb  09:30

So I don’t do clinical research, I do preclinical research. I collect all these anecdotes and then I talk to clinical researchers and we look at the evidence base. And so we have a bunch of things that clinical researchers have indicated they want to follow up on. We have six stories of people who had paralysis in some way and when they were micro dosing they started having muscle movement in those paralyzed parts of their bodies. So that’s very interesting but it’s not something that I research on, that is something I hand over to the clinical researchers. And we have not done any research on people with autism spectrum disorders. Because we were advised that parents who have children with autism spectrum disorders are so desperate that if there was any evidence that there could be help, they would give their kids psychedelics. So we were concerned about the risk of harm there. And some adults have written to us and said that LSD has been very helpful for them but we have to do that in a very safe way. And there are a number of women who had menstrual disorders of different kinds and they have said that micro dosing has been very helpful for them. One person I know had to go to the hospital every month to have blood transfusions; she was losing so much blood during her amenities, she micro dosed two micrograms a month and now she is not having that problem that she needed to go to the hospital for before. So those are many different sort of medical groups that we would be interested to see follow ups on.

Michelle Janikian  11:02

Yes, that’s all fascinating. I would love to see folks on that as well. David Luke, is there any study that you would like to see not necessarily that you would like to conduct but just like to see? I would love to hear.

David Luke  11:15

I’m slightly a fraud here because I have been involved in micro dosing but I am more of a macro dose researcher. It doesn’t mean that micro dosing doesn’t have an interest. I really salute Sophia who is working from the bottom up to the kind of things people report that have benefits and another classic things, creativity, enhanced focus, all the rest of it. And also, people report reductions in depression and anxiety as well. So all of those things really need to be thoroughly investigated and all the other interesting stuff that Sophie pointed out. For me personally, because I am of quirky interest in this area of in psychology, I think it’ would be interesting to see if and when these come through with a well controlled RCTs and we are finding some effects but maybe not as impressive as people self reports, and it would be worthwhile investigating the power it has on accelerating the placebo in some way if that is genuine, as we know from LSD that it increases suggestibility. Is that even possible as well in micro dose?

Michelle Janikian  12:31

Super interesting and David Erritzoe would you like to come in?

David Erritzoe  12:35

So I was at Luke’s wonderful conference in London Breaking convention. I actually did my first micro dosing talk where I promoted that we soon would come with our results from a randomized, blinded, placebo controlled trial. So we have the data and it’s under review and it has been submitted for publication. So I sit here with a lot of results in my head. So basically, it’s the biggest study in modern era of any psychedelic in a randomized, placebo controlled setting. But it’s a very strange design developed together with a wonderful colleague called Bella Szigeti, who came up with an idea that we could basically exploit this phenomenon going on, people are micro dosing on their own in a negative way and using their own drugs for a lot of different purposes. And what we then offered was a manual that was also made into a YouTube video that people signed up and consented before they did the micro dosing regimen. They basically followed the manual and thereby blinded themselves following a quite complex manual, where we basically made it possible for people to create a four week regime with a plant micro dose with a couple of times to three times a week, as they were planning to anyway. But if they followed the manual, they would make a mirrored version of the four weeks with a placebo version of it. And then each envelope represented one week, was then mixed up in a certain way. And in each envelope had QR codes, and then on an app on their phone, they can scan what was in their envelope. We knew that from the beginning, because we piloted it with three groups, one that we microdosing properly for four weeks and one group that would take the signal for the entire period and one group that micro dosed one week placebo one week micro dose. Before starting, we had a lot of measures of finding out about them and why did they do it? What would their expectations, mental health, physical health history, what drop were they using, what dose and during the four weeks and follow up in the end, four weeks later or so after a month after they stopped. We did a lot of assessments online and cognitive testing and a lot of things. So I’m not saying that that’s the study that I would want to do, because we have already done it. So we would like to basically do more expensive and complicated things, which we would be a proper trial where we have full control of the dose, all these things that you can attack in terms of science on this kind of trial, then we would close all these gaps. But that’s very expensive and very difficult to do on a micro dosing trial. One of the reasons is that one thing is giving people a full dose psychedelic and we do that in a number of lab based trials. But that’s a one of, or two doses. If you want to do a micro dose many times, the only feasible thing would be to give people the dose to take home. And they recently got acceptance for doing that in New Zealand. But that is tricky to get approvals for. And otherwise, if you have people to come into a lab to take a micro dose and sit there instead of going to work in a boring lab, three times a week for four, six weeks, that’s a lot of waste of time and resources. And you need a lot of staff and it is very invasive for the participants and you actually are pulling them out of the naturalistic setting. So it’s tricky. So that’s why we came up with this middle homemade, novel methodology where people basically applied themselves.

Michelle Janikian  16:18

That’s so fascinating, so excited to read that when it comes out. And that was going to be my question if people would take it home? Would they take it in the lab? I can’t wait to see where this is going. Really appreciate that.

Sophia Korb  16:30

And the University of Toronto is doing a lab based one right now, it is an artificial environment.

David Erritzoe  16:38

But that’s deeply interesting what these trials will show. And also I will say one thing, maybe it’s for the people looking at this panel discussion, I think it’s important to think about the different levels of evidence because one thing we have is an anecdote and that’s pretty low evidence, because if you do it retrospectively, that’s quite lower. If you ask, “how were the two micro doses and what did you get out of it?” That’s biased at how you look at it backwards. So it’s a bit stronger to do a prospective thing where you actually assess stuff before people start doing it. The problem with that is that it still could all be one big placebo. If people are expecting this to work, even if you follow them from before to after, it could show great evidence. And a lot of the studies so far show that evidence, but its weak evidence. It shows that it improves all these things several things that you already talked about. And whether it does that beyond placebo and in this trial at least, I don’t know if I should I reveal it? Or we can also hear what other people have to say.

Sofia Korb  17:53

One thing to note is that when we talk about the placebo effect, there are multiple different placebo effects to get through added together. So one thing I like about the design the envelopes is that it reduces the part of the placebo effect that is the relationship of the investigator and the participants where they feel cared for. Many trials have that as a component where someone is giving them the substance to the feelings of professionalism, being cared for by the researchers creates more of an additional part of the placebo effect. 

Michelle Janikian  18:27

Because they want to please the person who is giving them the medicine, is that correct? 

Sophia Korb  18:31

No, because maybe they feel cared for, so that in itself is helpful to people. So placebo effect is like all the things that make someone feel better. So feeling cared for is part of that and feeling like you’re talking to an expert is part of that.

David Erritzoe  18:49

I think the whole idea with an RCT randomized double blind placebo trial is to get rid of that, because you try them to have people getting exactly the same package, getting the same sort of placebo tablet under the same conditions so that you try to control for that by that design. But in this study, there wasn’t much at all involvement. We never met the participants physically; we only had email links to them. And then it was all done remotely. People could participate from poor desirous or wherever they were, and for whatever reason, we just collected tons of online knowledge about them.

David Luke  19:30

Brilliant David, It’s amazing. I would like to work out what you are saying there as well. And certainly the RTT that I was involved in had people in four day periods. It’s very difficult to study these obviously and it’s very expensive, labor intensive. But we clinical trials center in a hospital and we didn’t get very good results. In terms of changes to cognitive function, there was no significant effects at all and I am thinking now in relation to what you have been saying, it could well be that because it didn’t have prolonged period of time. It was only for a few days at a time. And there was a washout periods as they move around the different groups and doses and the other factor is that there are over 55. But on the limited cognitive battery we gave, there were no improvements.

Sophia Korb  20:23

I gave a (inaudible) to some volunteers who were micro dosing and they reported that they were feeling smarter, and getting more work done. And I did not see any change.

Sophia Korb  20:47

Yes, so I gave tested volunteers to a micro dosing. And I did not see any cognitive change even though they were reporting that they were doing better at work. So it’s possible that the instrument I was using didn’t capture what was happening. And because people are saying they are not procrastinating which is either high level or low level task. But yes there was no change in digit span, and no change in a bunch of cognitive assessments.

Michelle Janikian  21:19

Really interesting and I would like to go into that a little bit. The idea that micro dosing helps people be more productive and focused and get more work done, I wanted to ask you all if there are any theories of how this is working, how it’s increasing concentration and focus. You hear the word flow and tossed out a lot when people are talking about this, but could one of you or all of you explain what you think is really happening? How is this working?

David Erritzoe  22:03

So it’s interesting to think about how it would work theoretically. But before we even start thinking about that, it would be nice to see whether it does work beyond placebo, because otherwise we might as well talk about how does placebo make you concentrate?

Michelle Janikian  22:18

I will take anything.

Sofia Korb  22:19

Peter Gasser of Switzerland studied on LSD in 2017 and people’s anxiety around death. So he pointed to three cognitive changes that were changing people’s anxiety. And we see similar things with micro dosing. So I’m looking at hierarchies differently. And you’re taking a step back looking at relationships differently, and flow states. So it’s possible that those are always the things that people point to if there has been a change, and whether or not they take drugs. So it’s possible if there is a big change in how you see things, it is always because you took a step back from looking at the hierarchy in the same way and revealing something about the relationships with yourself and other team members. We don’t know if it works, but however it works, it might be the same cognitive processes in humans that allow us to solve problems better. 

Michelle Janikian  23:19

Interesting and I look forward to more research on it, for sure. And then so the other big group that folks talk about receiving benefit from micro dosing is those with depression. And I feel like I read in some of your and James Patterson’s work, Sophia, that you are receiving most self reports from folks with depression, is that still true? 

Sophia Korb  23:44

So it’s a little complicated. We ask people what their expectations are before they micro dose. And we give them an inventory of emotional assessment. So people said that they were depressed, and wanted to micro dose to relieve that. And some people who said they wanted to micro dose because they wanted to be better at work also tested like they had depression. Yet, around the same number of people who said they were having a problem with their mood, and people who didn’t say they are having a problem with mood also tested like they had depression. So that becomes a very large group.

Michelle Janikian  24:21

Yea and I wanted to ask and I guess there might not be an answer for this. But any ideas on why this group received so much benefit from micro dosing?

Sofia Korb  24:31

So all the things we were talking about before, this is a self selecting population of people who have usually had a positive experience with psychedelics in the past and they are communicating with James Fadiman, who’s an expert in the field for 40 years. So all these things will increase the placebo effect and have to do self selection of the group and it’s possible that there is an improvement of mood of people who have micro dosing.

Michelle Janikian  24:57

Yes, David Luke, did you want to add to that?

David Luke  25:04

Well, again as David says, we can’t be certain it’s not placebo, it’s that we have better RCTs. And we have done very little. It’s been two or three RCTs and haven’t really produced very much as once came out last month. What we do now is that the micro dosing enhances neurogenesis. So there’s for sure, some physiological effects going on and there is going to be some activity even at those low doses, even if it’s so perceptual. And so that should have some effect and we found dilation in time perception, even in the absence of any subjective experience, so it’s having some cognitive effects. People are going to feel more spacious perhaps but not enough that they can perceive it necessarily.

Michelle Janikian  26:08

Really interesting and I was rereading that study recently on the LSD for time perception. And it reminded me of the productivity in the flow state that if things are a little bit slower down, people are just able to focus a little better. So I get a lot of emails personally about folks who want to know if it’s safe to micro dose while they are still on some kind of antidepressant like an SSRI or an SNRI, anti depressant medication, is it safe to be mixing a micro dose of psilocybin or LSD with these medications?

Sofia Korb  26:46

So on our website, we have a list of all of the medications that people have micro dosed with and have not had a adverse effect and the medications that people have micro dose with and had an adverse effect. That’s the biggest thing that we have got right now, the randomized controlled trials unit who are on other medications.

Michelle Janikian  27:13

You just lagged a little, just continue. We just couldn’t hear you for some time.

Sofia Korb  27:17

Sorry. Yes, we have a list of medications people have used successfully with micro dosing, and ones that people have had adverse effects like lithium. And so that’s one source of data and it’s not a huge amount. We do know that SSRIs effect macro dosing, and reduce the effect of LSD. David can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the randomized control trials are excluding people who are on other medications.

David Erritzoe  27:47

So in some studies, we do wean people off SSRIs and other studies, we don’t. We are going to turn to a study in OCD patients where we probably won’t, because we don’t have any proper evidence that it’s dangerous for instance to be on an SSRI. SSRI is quite a lot of different drugs; we also have other kinds of antidepressants. So it depends a bit on exactly what we are talking about. And we don’t know enough yet. But it’s not that we have any strong suspicion that is massively dangerous to take an SSRI and taking a classic psychedelic.

However we were just starting products having inhibitors like the harmaline in that which could potentially be quite tricky, because you could get serotonin symptoms. At least theoretically, that is very tricky, but a more pure component like LSD is probably less problematic. But then there are other antidepressants which might be trickier to mix in, like the product which has serotonin to a blocking effects, then you will definitely block a lot of effects. So it depends a bit on what we are speaking about. We will find out more when proper studies have been done, where you test plasma levels and all side effects much more carefully in a very controlled manner. I think the big pharma companies who are developing these will have the interest and they will figure that out. I’m sure that will make total sense to investigate some of that along the way over the next few years. I’m sure they will do that. It will be interesting. And when it comes to the potential antidepressant effects, I think it’s important for them to stick with what they have learned in that clinical trials so far where there have been a placebo condition, they don’t show much. And it’s about also paying attention to what they don’t show effects of on. And also be aware that they are most often very few doses because of the complexity and the costs related to conducting a long term trial. So in a way, it’s a snapshot of micro dosing is not the real micro dosing where people are doing it for a sustained period of time.

Those studies as we already talked about are complicated to conduct, but in terms of whether it could have antidepressant effects. For instance, I think it’s important to mention that the doses that people are micro dosing and we know now from pet studies in Copenhagen and those doses actually are still to a level where they will have a significant impact on the serotonin to a psychedelic receptor where the full dose was worked through. So it’s not that they are only touching a couple of percent of receptors, they are actually up in 30 to 40% of receptor stimulation, which could theoretically be pharmacologically significant. And therefore, there is theoretical the opportunity and the possibility that they could have proper pharmacological effects in the micro dosing range, because psychedelic micro dosing range is not pharmacological micro dosing range, that would be much lower and   then we are down in much lower doses, then we typically only want to affect at 1% of receptors in order to speak about pharmacological micro dose.

So psychedelic micro dose are more in the range of what you can call mini dosing, if you speak about pharmacology. But whether it works or not, I will say that our study doesn’t look like it have any effects above and beyond placebo and it’s very driven by expectation. And no matter what we look at, whether we look at acute effects, accumulative effects, whether we look in a sub population of people who have baseline or have some depressive and anxiety symptoms, it is the same thing all over. The predictive value of what people think they are taking is 10 times higher than what they actually take in the study. So if you maintain a proper blinding, people really don’t know what they’re doing. But if you look at the micro dose in group alone in our trials, it totally confirms all these very positive, exciting and promising trials, where you have looked at surveys. So if you look at the micro dosing group alone, everything becomes better, everything!

Sofia Korb  32:04

I want to talk about anxiety. Yes, you should benefit for anxiety, because we were showing a negative that people who were micro dosing were reporting they were more anxious.

David Erritzoe  32:20

Yes you are right. It’s also about putting emphasis to the negative findings and studies or maybe an unpleasant effect. And trials report 20% of the participant, even in those trials, where you might have a selective bias of getting people who are quite pro micros into the studies; they still see 20% reporting quite negative stuff. There is also one study prospective showing increased in neuroticism, which is not a brilliant thing to have an increase in. And we didn’t see many negative things in our trial; we saw a lot of amazingly things, completely in agreement with the nicest results from other prospective trials.

But when we look at the placebo group, it shows the same data. And when we go into looking at their ability to break blind, and asking them what did they think they had today, we can see when people guess incorrectly when they thought they had a micro dose, but they have to see will they perform well on all measures and scales, if they thought they had micro dose it the other way around if they thought they had micro dose, but they actually had placebo. Now, if they actually had micro dose, but they thought they had placebo, they don’t do well. So what they think they get is 10 times more predictive of the outcomes than what they actually took, which is not extremely promising for the potential of micro dosing without saying that it does work at all in this study,

Michelle Janikian  33:55

So interesting, fascinating. I do want to go into a little bit about the potential risks, especially of like a chronic micro dosing, taking this every day or every third day. There are a lot of anecdotal reports on the positive stuff. But do you think future research should also focus on some potential risks in low doses? Is it really safe to be using a psychedelic, even at this dose for extended periods of time, David?

David Luke  34:31

I’m going to defer that to David because he is better trained medically. There are concerns about cardiac issues perhaps.

Michelle Janikian  34:41

Yes, that’s what I’m getting at. I have also heard of that from some researchers at Johns Hopkins, but I would love to hear what you have to say David.

David Erritzoe  34:57

Obviously in this trial that we have just conducted, it is absolutely impossible to assess. It’s a big global study that we don’t know. But there are previous medications that have been on the market that stimulate the receptor, which is another serotonin receptor. So that’s not where the key action of psychedelics through, but it’s another serotonin receptor that sits a lot in the periphery so out in the body, including the heart valves and, and studies that stimulate that receptor, they some of those have been put back to the market because they cause fibrosis on these heart valves. So they cause you know, significant problems to the heart. And the psychedelics, a lot of them have that same ability to stimulate that receptor. And when it comes to very few doses, even large doses, full psychedelic doses, it has been used for hundreds, if not 1000s of years, a lot of cultures. We don’t have any nasty cardiac thing coming from psychedelic communities. But the micro dosing is different because of the very repeated over much longer periods and much more doses and much more frequent. Is that a problem? I think the short answer is we don’t know. But that is something that should be possible in animal studies to really look into. And I’m sure somebody is doing it as we speak, I hope because it makes sense to be on the safe side and check that. It’s not that we say that it will cause fibrosis, but it should be ruled out.

Sofia Korb  36:27

And Dave Nicholas has created a Siberian variant that doesn’t affect to be but I’m not sure.

David Erritzoe  36:37

There are some new selective psychedelics, some of them are extremely selective to a receptor, but they are actually very dangerous. And so it’s a bit tricky to be honest. (cross talking) Sorry?

David Luke  36:56

Nature usually knows best.

David Erritzoe  36:58

Exactly, that’s a good point. And even though if you have a main compound which is the main drug that is very selective for the right receptor and it could be that it metabolizes in the body, and then you have a metabolite that stimulates one of the baddies, and then you might have the problem. So it’s not very simple. It’s not just looking at the main model compound and see whether that looks good in its profile, you also need to look at all the metabolites. So we know that the classic psychedelics are physiologically very safe, but whether they are safe when you frequently take them is another story because that’s what not what we are used to. That’s not what humans have done much, so we don’t know.

Michelle Janikian  37:41

Yes, very interesting. I have been hearing this from other researchers as well, so it’s something to keep an eye on for sure. We only have like less than 10 minutes, but there is one question I have been waiting to ask the researchers that LSD and psilocybin seem to be the two most popular substances to micro dose. I was wondering if anyone could speak to what the difference between micro dosing these two substances might be for an individual.

Sofia Korb  38:09

We don’t see any difference in our sample between people who micro dose psilocybin and people who micro dose LSD. 

David Erritzoe  38:15

Exactly the same was from out trial; we didn’t see any difference in any of the results for the two.

David Luke  38:19

There is placebo with psilocybin micro dosing.

Michelle Janikian  38:32

Well that’s what I was thinking maybe at least it was just the last year but thank you. I appreciate that. What else do I want to ask you guys? We have talked a little bit about obstacles to research mostly money because it is very expensive to have all the people involved and all the trip sitters and stuff involved in psychedelic trials. I was wondering, what are some other obstacles specifically to micro dosing research that you guys are up against? Or that exists in the science community?

Sofia Korb  39:12

Yeah, one problem has been the pharma companies and capitalism enters the psychedelic space, there’s been anti competitive action by some of those companies. So one company in particular has paid off pharmaceutical factories to not make GMP, which is the type of LLC that you can do research on humans where they paid off to other factories to not create any for other researchers, so that only this one company would be able to do psychedelic research. And so I spent a number of months talking to different firms from pharma companies in order to create another source of GMP, but that was a huge obstacle for a while. 

Michelle Janikian  39:55

Interesting and I haven’t heard of that. Were there any other obstacles?

David Erritzoe  40:00

I think the other companies, other people and academics are producing psilocybin, which is to the same standard. So I don’t think that’s a big issue. Of course, nobody wants anybody to have monopole on anything. I don’t think any companies really want it either. So I hope that’s not a big issue and this is not to be so totally self centered about our trial, but obviously, it’s not going to help much for raising funds in the future and probably investors, if we come up with the biggest placebo controlled trial in psychedelics in modern era, now with micro dosing, showing that it does not really do much beyond placebo. And also we can see that effect sizes, if we were to need to want to see like, if we were to have a significant separation between micro dosing and placebo based on our results, you would need to have 1500 people in each group which is not very promising for raising funds to do trials, because you need massive trials to show anything, and I don’t think investors would be that interested. However, investors are very interested in my closing so far and hopefully; I wouldn’t say we are wrong. I think there’s not much wrong with our trial but it could be that another trial comes out and shows that it is much more positive, and then I would start arguing in our questioning, have they taken into account their ability to break the blind? Because I think that would be very key, not just for actually psychedelic, but also to look more into normal farmer trials with this. So are people able to break blind or not, because sometimes that is ignored a little bit. We took that into account here because we took it really looks like it’s very much driven by expectation. So now I brought it back to our own trial. I think it will be possible to raise funds and I think there are more and more investors that are very eager to step into this market, because it’s a potentially massive market, it’s one of the biggest conditions on the planet, just depression alone, mental health in general is massive. So could it work, it would be amazing, it would help a lot of people. 30 to 40% don’t respond to normally but it would be incredible if it really had a face, it just doesn’t look very promising.

Sofia Korb  42:20

David says it is an excellent research and an obstacle (inaudible)

David Erritzoe  42:26

So we did the study in order to reduce some early evidence and then rose funding to do proper research. And now we have done the study. And so we basically show the methodology. But it’s science. It’s interesting, fascinating, when you get a bit surprised sometimes.

Sofia Korb  42:43

And it’s a good thing, if it’s not helping people, then maybe we shouldn’t get funding.

David Erritzoe  42:47

Yes, exactly.

Sophia Korb  42:49

Or not funding for these medical conditions that we weren’t expecting to see a benefit from.

David Luke  42:57

People think it’s helping them, which is valuable in itself. But is it worth the kind of potential risk of cardiac problems to publish, but the effects of are so small. It’s parallel to perhaps the effects of aspirin on cardiovascular disease; very small effect size it has but only when you have enormous groups, that probably isn’t good enough.

David Erritzoe  43:26

Also coming from a commercial question about how do we get the money, investors, funding bodies that are from government money? In order for it to make sense to really step into it and promote it and drive it towards a license, there needs to be some people who believe in that the effects are significant and big enough for it to make sense to develop and this could be that there are some people in companies in America trying to develop elasti marketers for ADHD and if that work will be great. If it shows in a double blind controlled trial, then go for it and then take that towards licensing and that would be great. So hopefully, there will be somewhere where it will work because it would be great if it worked for something and every new treatment is valuable and an extra tool in the toolbox in mental health.