Cancer patients to take part in LSD micro-dosing trials in New Zealand

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Scientists in New Zealand are planning to run a Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) micro-dosing trial with late-stage cancer patients to see if the drug improves their quality of life.

Dr. Lisa Reynolds, the Director of the Postgraduate Diploma in Health Psychology at the University of Auckland, will lead the trial.

“The research I’ve seen so far suggests that psychedelics such as LSD might have the potential to improve quality of life, reduce fear of death, reduce anxiety and depression, increase spirituality,” Dr. Reynolds told Radio New Zealand. “There’s a whole lot of early-stage findings that are pretty compelling.”

The University first announced the trial in May. The study seeks to understand if micro-dosing LSD holds similar benefits to large doses, which have shown to significantly reduce psychological distress in advanced patients, but can also lead to ‘bad trips.’

The micro-doses will not lead to altered perceptions and may hold similar benefits in reducing anxiety, depression and existential distress.

Participants in the trial will self-administer LSD every three days, taking a micro-dose that induces effects at a “sub-perceptual level.”

“People certainly won’t be tripping,” Dr. Reynolds said. “They might or they might not have an experience or sensations of feeling they can think more clearly, maybe they might feel more creative. Maybe their mood might feel a little improved. But it’s going to be a little bit hard to tell.”

Some participants in the trial will take a placebo instead of LSD.

“This is what makes it an interesting piece of research because some of those kinds of effects can be easily generated on a placebo as well, so it will be really interesting to see whether or not the LSD micro-doses generate any additional effects over and above what we expect from a placebo effect,” Dr. Reynolds said.

According to the University, the findings will inform the development of a larger trial and provide an initial indication of the potential benefits of psychedelic micro-dosing in advanced cancer.

In May, Toronto-based Mind Medicine Inc., announced a new study focused on LSD in the treatment of pain, dubbed Project Angie.

“Evidence dating back to the 1950s suggests that LSD and other psychedelics may have analgesic effects, but this treatment area remains largely untapped by companies studying psychedelics, with the majority of research focusing solely on psychiatric indication,” said Rob Barrow, MindMed’s chief development officer.

MindMed is also conducting a study on the benefits of micro-dosing LSD in collaboration with Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

The study, announced in January, will take into account daytime and evening administration of low doses of LSD and its impact on “cognitive performance, sleep quality, mood, neuroplasticity markers, emotion regulation, quality of life and immune system response.”

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