The study was conducted by the University of British Columbia (UBC) Okanagan’s Dr. Zach Walsh and doctoral student Joseph Rootman, and published by scientific journal, Nature.
1,113 people took part in the study with 953 people taking regular, small amounts of psilocybin, a chemical found in magic mushrooms. A second, control group of 180 people who did not microdose, were also tracked.
The microdosing involved regular self-administration of small doses of dried mushrooms, three to five times per week.
Magic mushrooms and LSD are the most common substances used by microdosers.
Participants in the 30-day long study were asked to complete daily assessments to evaluate their mental health, mood and measures of cognition, such as a finger tap test which can be used as a marker for neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson’s disease.
The research found that participants noted an overall improvement in mood, mental health and psychomotor ability over a one-month period.
Participants reported improvements in anxiety, depression and stress levels.
Reductions in depression were stronger in female participants than in males.
Researcher Dr Zach Walsh said the findings are promising but more research is needed “to firmly establish the nature of the relationship between microdosing, mood and mental health, and the extent to which these effects are directly attributable to psilocybin rather than participant expectancies about the substance.
“This is the largest longitudinal study of this kind to date of microdosing psilocybin and one of the few studies to engage a control group.”
Dr Rootman added: “Considering the tremendous health costs and ubiquity of depression and anxiety, as well as the sizable proportion of patients who do not respond to existing treatments, the potential for another approach to addressing these disorders warrants substantial consideration.
“Our findings of improved mood and reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress add to the growing conversation about the therapeutic potential of microdosing.”