Scientists Microdosed Rats With DMT, and It Was Both Good and "Concerning"

Scientists Microdosed Rats With DMT, and It Was Both Good and "Concerning"

March 23, 2019


People who experiment with microdosing claim that it can help a person to think more creatively, feel less anxious, and sharpen focus. But despite plenty of anecdotal evidence and Silicon Valley’s ample claims that these positive effects are real, scientists still can’t definitively say that microdosing — consistently taking low doses of psychedelic drugs — actually works. Bringing us closer to a clear answer is a new study showing that microdosing can indeed have beneficial effects — but not without potential downsides.

This ACS Chemical Neuroscience study, published Monday, is one of the first to test how psychedelic microdosing effects animal behavior. The scientists, led by University of California, Davis assistant professor David Olson, Ph.D., microdosed male and female rats with N,N-dimethyltryptamine, the chemical substance better known as DMT and the principal psychoactive component in the hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca. Previous studies established that DMT affects rodents much like it does people, impacting behaviors relevant to mood, cognitive function, and anxiety.

Olson tells Inverse that his team used DMT because they wanted to experiment with a drug that “was going to be the most applicable to the broadest range of psychedelic compounds.” What he means is that, when the popular psychedelics LSD or psilocybin are broken down into their psychedelic elements at the molecular level, you’re pretty much left with DMT. Because of this shared pharmacology, it’s fair to say that tests on DMT can be translated to other psychedelic drugs.


Scientists already knew that DMT affected rats, but they didn’t know how a microdose of DMT would make them behave. And since there’s no well-established definition of what constitutes a “microdose,” the scientists gave them the rat equivalent of what humans typically use: one-tenth of a hallucinogenic dose. Furthermore, since young adults appear to be the most likely to microdose, they also used rats of equivalent age.

For two months, the young rats were microdosed every three days, and the researchers began the behavioral tests two weeks in. Importantly, the behavioral tests occurred on the days when the rats were not given drugs — the idea being that any behavioral changes would then have been truly caused by adaptations in the brain.

The behavioral tests were designed to measure how the rats responded to anxiety and fear-inducing situations as well as to examine how microdosing affected their sociability and aspects of cognitive function. It didn’t appear to change aspects of the mice’s memory or their ability to socialize, but two of the tests revealed how the drug regime changed their reaction to anxiety and fear.


Read the full article here: iNVERSE

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