It's a bit of an open secret that psychedelic drugs have been used for both inspiration and relaxation in Silicon Valley and other corners of the entrepreneurial universe. But now new scientific research is proving out some of the positive benefits of a more recent mind-alteration trend: microdosing.

Many in business and other fields swear by taking just small amounts or "microdoses" of psychedelics to boost productivity and stimulate creativity without the risk of a "bad trip" that comes a long with higher doses.

Such claims have so far been supported largely by anecdotes and informal polls at Burning Man, but a new study in the journal Psychopharmacology finally backs up the concept with actual science. 

Luisa Prochazkova of Leiden University in The Netherlands led a team of researchers in investigating the effects of taking a small amount of magic mushrooms (technically they were dried psychedelic truffles) on the problem solving abilities of 36 participants.

It should be pointed out that this is certainly a small sample size, but this was the first study of its kind and baby steps seem appropriate here rather than sending thousands of people into a new headspace and asking them to report back. (Again, we already have plenty of Burning Man anecdotes.)

After microdosing, participants reported improved creative problem solving abilities.

"Our results suggest that consuming a microdose of truffles allowed participants to create more out-of-the-box alternative solutions for a problem, thus providing preliminary support for the assumption that microdosing improves divergent thinking," explains Prochazkova. "Moreover, we also observed an improvement in convergent thinking, that is, increased performance on a task that requires the convergence on one single correct or best solution."

Prochazkova is also hopeful that future research into the benefits of microdosing might lead to potential new therapeutic uses for treating people suffering from things like depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder. 

Published on: Nov 2, 2018