Research published in Neuroscience Applied in October 2022 suggests that microdosing may improve symptoms in adults with ADHD. The study was led by Eline C.H.M.Haijen et al. at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
This study provides the first scientific evidence that microdosing may have therapeutic value in adults diagnosed with ADHD or experiencing severe ADHD complaints.
The researchers offer the following conclusion, “The decrease in ADHD symptoms after MD was in line with earlier findings showing that MD as self-medication used by people diagnosed with ADHD was rated as being more effective than conventional treatments and increasing their quality of life (Hutten et al., 2019a). Also, the findings were in line with anecdotes of individuals who microdosed to self-treat their ADHD (Andersson and Kjellgren, 2019).”
The study involved measuring symptoms of ADHD using the Conner’s Adult ADHD Rating Scale, well-being using the World Health Organisation-Five Well-Being Index (WHO-5), and time perception using an auditory time reproduction task (TRT) on participants at three moments in time: at baseline (before microdosing), after 2 weeks of microdosing, and after 4 weeks of microdosing.
Participants were microdosing on their initiative to relieve symptoms of ADHD. After removing a few data points for various inconsistencies, the study analyzed the results of 233 microdosers.
The study also segmented microdosers into two groups – those who were microdosing alongside the use of traditional pharmaceutical medications for ADHD and those who microdosing without the use of any traditional pharmaceutical medications. It was also investigated if having other diagnoses (comorbidities) alongside ADHD impacted the effect of microdosing.
Psilocybin was most often used, by 78% of the participants who completed the daily diary entries. Novel lysergamides (such as 1P-LSD or ALD-52) were used by 12% and 10% used LSD. The average dose of psilocybin-containing mushrooms/truffles was 722 milligrams. It was not asked if this was dried or fresh material. The average dose of novel lysergamides was 17.5 micrograms and for LSD this was 12 micrograms.
Study results: decreased symptoms of ADHD, increased wellbeing
Results showed that after 2 and 4 weeks, microdosers in both groups (those microdosing alone and those microdosing while taking medications) showed statistically significant improvements in both scales used to measure ADHD symptoms and well-being. No significant results were seen in measurements of time perception.
Results also suggest that while those microdosing alongside the use of traditional medications had improvements in both a reduction of ADHD symptoms and improved well-being, that it took longer to see the beneficial results than those who were microdosing alone.
Let’s look at the ADHD symptoms in more detail. What exactly do we mean by ADHD symptoms and by how much did they decrease?
ADHD symptoms were measured using a questionnaire that is often used in research as well as clinics to measure the severity of ADHD symptoms. This questionnaire measure the main problems associated with ADHD such as problems with attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. These are symptoms that are measured to assess if someone has an ADHD diagnosis. The study used the combination of the inattention and hyperactivity part of the questionnaire as main outcome to measure if participants improved in their ADHD symptoms after microdosing. Scores equal or higher than 65 can indicate severe clinical ADHD symptoms. On average, the sample scored 77.6 at baseline, 67.3 after two weeks and 62.3 after four weeks of microdosing, this was a drop in ADHD symptom scores of 8.7% and 7.4%.
Let’s take a closer look at wellbeing too.
Wellbeing can be seen as a degree of feeling happy, calm, relaxed, active, and involves having things in life that interest you or you enjoy doing. Considering that the average wellbeing of other West-European countries was measured to be around 60, the participants scored on average lower on wellbeing at baseline with a score of 42.3, but increased in wellbeing towards more normal levels of wellbeing after microdosing, with a score of 59 after two weeks and 60 after four weeks of microdosing. Compared to baseline, participants improved in wellbeing scores with 39.5%. The decrease in ADHD symptoms and the increase in wellbeing were associated with each other; so the larger the decrease in symptoms, the larger the increase in wellbeing.
Microdosing as an alternative to ADHD medication
Common ADHD treatments in adults mainly include the use of stimulants, such as methylphenidate and amphetamine, and some non-stimulants, such as atomoxetine (Cortese et al., 2018).
Overall, it is determined that these medications can be effective for treating the symptoms of ADHD; however it is common for patients to stop using traditional ADHD medications after several months, many citing that the side-effects of these medications over shadow the benefits. There is also a segment of adults with ADHD who do not experience any beneficial effects of the conventional ADHD medication at all.
In this study, the researchers checked if using standard ADHD medication influenced the change in ADHD symptoms and wellbeing after microdosing and saw that after two weeks of microdosing, individuals who did not use standard medication alongside their microdoses showed a larger decrease in ADHD symptoms compared to participants who used standard medication alongside microdosing. However, after four weeks of microdosing, there was no difference between these individuals; all seemed to have decreased in ADHD symptoms to the same extent.
For wellbeing there was no influence of standard medication at all.
The study has limitations including the fact that participants were self-selected and had to source and measure their own microdose; additionally a placebo-control was not utilized. However, results of the study do warrant further research on the potential of microdosing to be a supportive tool for helping adults manage or relieve symptoms of ADHD and suggest that anecdotal reports may be substantiated.
Have you microdosed to support symptoms of ADHD? Your story can be of great value to others. Join our community on Discord or Facebook and share your story!
This study shows how scientific research and the people who directly benefit from it, can support one another. Many of our community members with ADHD have participated in the experiment. In the name of science, a big thanks to everyone who has participated.