The middle class woman who took LSD to cope with the menopause: controversial book claims hallucinating drug can help older women in tiny doses
By Abbie Gordon For The Mail On Sunday
7 January 2017
There are many ways to beat the New Year blues – a new yoga regime or a diet of superfoods, perhaps. But I have found a more radical way forward, one that would disconcert my friends – if they knew – and will no doubt shock.
For I have just completed a month-long experiment of ‘microdosing’ not with vitamins or even prescription medicine, but with the psychedelic drug LSD.
And I am not alone.
This week sees the publication of a new book, A Really Good Day, by a former lawyer and mother-of-four called Ayelet Waldman, who explains how taking tiny amounts of the drug transformed her life after a long-term struggle with depression and serious mood swings that affected her marriage and her ability as a parent.
The book is set to create quite a stir. Indeed, microdosing is already a good deal more common than you might think.
There is a growing body of literature about its benefits and I certainly found plenty of people ready to advise me.
Taking a Class A drug is, of course, illegal, which is why this article must be written under a pseudonym, and I would caution against self-medication, particularly when the source of drugs is so often unclear.
So why, you might ask, would I bother? I lead a perfectly normal life as an academic. I’m very careful about what I eat and drink, and what little free time I have is spent on wholesome pursuits such as sewing and walking the dog.
Foolish as drug-taking might seem, though – and it is certainly illegal – I’ve done it for good reasons. I am midway through an early menopause and it is imperative that I look after myself in order to moderate my moods, both for my sake and for those around me.
And I can confidently say that the tiny doses of LSD improved my state of mind, my ability to focus, and my general health without any of the weird and wonderful visual effects that people might imagine.
I did my research. For a start, I learned that psychedelics such as LSD are much less toxic than other drugs, including alcohol and antidepressants. They won’t give you a hangover, cancer, or liver disease, and they are not addictive.
The low cost of producing them means there is no logical reason for dealers to substitute it with something else, so purity and contamination are not an issue.
A study recently published in medical journal The Lancet reported markedly reduced symptoms in patients with severe depression and anxiety after treatment with psychedelics – an improvement that was sustained three months after receiving only two doses, one week apart.
So, with this in mind, I procured a small ‘tab’ of LSD from an acquaintance (no charge), and with my dressmaking scissors I cut it into ten tiny pieces. I put one on my tongue, placed the others in a square of foil in the freezer, and headed out to my yoga class.
That first day, I returned feeling energised and happy and – out of habit – I made myself a coffee before sitting down at my desk.
That, it turned out, was not the best idea and I was uncomfortably jittery for a couple of hours.
Yet once the caffeine had worn off, I had the ‘really good day’ I’d read about. I organised my notes, drafted a conference proposal, sent some emails I’d been putting off and constructed a fresh to-do list.
In the evening I took the dog for a walk and called in to see a friend. It turned out I was much more affectionate towards her than normal. I decided to press ahead with my programme – and the benefits duly followed.
As the days went by, I found myself responding more positively to the stupid things we all do. When I was rushing to fix my lunch and knocked a large bag of chilli flakes everywhere I would have normally have been angry with myself, but now I just laughed.
I became more interested in other people, which made socialising a lot more enjoyable. I found I could happily play with my niece and nephews for hours. My sister-in-law’s relief was palpable.
The microdosing method I decided to follow dictates that you microdose only every third day. The rest days re-acquaint the brain with ‘business as usual’ and allow it to rebalance chemically. While research continues into exactly how LSD acts on the brain, we know that it binds to serotonin receptors, and that this may help to explain the mood-stabilising effects that have been reported in microdosing.
And contrary to its reputation as a 1970s drug for drop-outs, its renewed popularity initially took off among some of the most successful people on the planet – Silicon Valley entrepreneurs seeking ways to feel more productive and less stressed. It seems the effects were so good, they couldn’t keep it to themselves.
One of the most commonly reported effects of microdosing is that people find themselves making healthier choices, such as exercising, eating better and drinking more water. This was certainly the case with me.
I rediscovered an enthusiasm for leaving the office at lunchtime and going for a run along the river. It sounds strange, but I feel more affectionate towards my body and my mind. I no longer feel like we’re fighting one another.
I’m aware that drugs can ruin lives and I wouldn’t want others to copy my example.
But I’ve not been afraid to tell people about the experiment, including my boss at work, and I hope that one day this sort of treatment could be available as properly regulated medicine.
My boss tells me that I’ve changed, that I seem happier and more confident. It certainly feels that way.’
'DANGEROUS AND ILLEGAL': WHAT THE MAIL ON SUNDAY’S DR ELLIE CANNON SAYS
I would urge women to avoid any kind of experimentation with drugs. Never mind the fact that LSD is illegal, so much of this account makes no medical sense.
Phrases such as allowing the brain to ‘rebalance chemically’ (a spurious non-medical notion) should alert people to the idea that this experiment has been taken without the due diligence and safety provided by medical trials and genuine medical experience.
When drugs come to market for prescription, they are tested on vast numbers of patients: for example, trials on conventional HRT were done on 1 million women.
To me, this is an account from a woman who wanted something to happen from the treatment she tried, and felt a placebo effect.
See: Cannon, Ellie Negative Qualifier