The idea of taking small doses of psychedelic drugs has gained cachet in recent years, especially in the world of tech startups, where practitioners believe it can enhance creativity and fight depression.
Now, new research shows that microdosing DMT — taking doses of the drug that are too low to cause hallucinations — could indeed reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, according to The Atlantic — and though data is still scarce, the work could pave the way to new mental health treatments.
An important caveat to the new research, which was published Monday in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience: its subjects were rats, not people.
But David Olson, a chemist and neuroscientist at the University of California at Davis, thinks his team’s study is important nonetheless because it provides some of the first evidence that there are benefits to taking psychedelic drugs below a dosage threshold that would cause you to, well, trip.
“I really wanted to answer the question as to whether or not the hallucinogenic effects of these compounds were necessary for the therapeutic effects,” he told The Atlantic.
Still, before you start microdosing DMT at work, it’s probably worth waiting for more data. In some rats, Olson’s team found, the DMT appeared to have “cytotoxic effects” that killed brain cells. At the very least, more research is needed.
“There’s that saying,” Olson told The Atlantic, “that the difference between a medicine and a poison is the dose.”