Microdosing: Big Steps in Small Doses

“In the 60s, I used LSD on a regular basis, like a psychovitamin, to enhance work, creativity and self-discovery and to get a new and more profound insight into psychology, physiology and the science of consciousness. This period of my life fundamentally influenced my future endeavours. 50 years later we did the first brain imaging study with full dose LSD, and now I am working on a network of lab-based studies investigating the effects of microdosing.” The Beckley Foundation Research Programme, led by Amanda Feilding, includes microdosing studies investigating the effects on mood, cognition and wellbeing. The Beckley/Imperial naturalistic microdosing study uses a novel self-blinding procedure to gather placebo-controlled data. The Beckley/Maastricht Research Programme is conducting a series of lab-based studies of repeated dosing. Amanda will discuss the preliminary results of these and also studies from the Beckley/Brazil Programme investigating LSD and neuroplasticity, before looking at the future of psychedelic research.

Amanda Feilding is the founder and executive director of the Beckley Foundation, and is widely recognised as one of the driving forces behind the current psychedelic research renaissance. By establishing key research collaborations with some of the world’s most prestigious universities, she has propelled the field forward over the last 20 years, conducting several landmark studies, such as the world’s first LSD brain imaging study [1].

Amanda set up the Beckley Foundation in 1998 with two main aims: firstly, to investigate consciousness and its changing states and secondly, to reform global drug policy by developing evidence-based, health-oriented, harm-reducing, cost-effective drug policies which respect human rights.

In order to carry out the scientific research, Amanda has developed partnerships with leading scientists and institutions around the world, such as Imperial College, UCL, Johns Hopkins, Maastricht, among others, with whom she collaborates on a wide range of projects investigating the neurophysiology, pharmacology and phenomenology of psychoactive substances such as cannabis, psilocybin, MDMA, LSD, Ayahuasca, DMT and new psychoactive substances (NPS) [2]. Her research work elucidates the neuroscientific underpinnings of consciousness and its altered states, investigates how psychoactive substances work and explores their potential therapeutic applications.

In 2014 the Beckley/Imperial Research Programme overturned a fifty-year ban on LSD research, and began their pioneering brain-imaging study with LSD, a world first. The study has revealed the enormous impact that LSD has on brain function. Following up on this success, Amanda is currently developing an extended LSD research programme to explore its various therapeutic applications and underlying mechanisms of actions, with a particular focus on microdosing. In collaboration with several research institutes, she is conducting a series of placebo-controlled microdosing studies to investigate in great detail this increasingly popular practice, and its potential therapeutic applications. Results from these studies will provide robust scientific data to a worldwide conversation currently dominated by speculation and anecdote, and pave the way to larger clinical trials.

Since its inception, the Beckley Foundation has been at the forefront of the development of evidence-based drug policy. Through a series of pivotal international seminars at the House of Lords, over 50 much-cited reports and numerous meetings with thought-leaders, academics, policy-makers and the public, Amanda has ensured that the Beckley Foundation is a leader in the movement for drug policy reform. The seminal reports of the Beckley Foundation include Cannabis Policy: Moving Beyond Stalemate [3], Roadmaps to Reforming the UN Drug Conventions [4], Licensing and Regulation of the Cannabis Market in England and Wales: Towards a Cost-Benefit Analysis [5], and Roadmaps to Regulation: New Psychoactive Substances [6].

Through her work with the Beckley Foundation, Amanda is bridging the gap between science and policy, allowing them to complement and inform one another, ultimately harnessing our knowledge of the benefits of many prohibited substances to maximise human potential.