New Houston app enables microdosers to set intentions and track experiences


In 2018, Brandon Goode was trying to ride a bike in the rain. Every time he pulled up his hood, the wind pushed her away. At first, Goode, a former professional football player, was wet and annoyed. Then he noticed something: the rain really brought out the scent of the trees and flowers. It was nice.

It was Goode’s first day microdosing, the practice of regularly taking a small amount of a psychedelic substance (in her case, psilocybin, aka magic mushrooms) – well, much less than the amount that would induce a “trip.” So little, in fact, that a person is supposed to be able to go about his daily business. People typically microdose not to get high, but to improve mood, creativity, productivity, and other goals.

“It was like a very subtle push to be more present and enjoy the things around me,” Goode said of how the microdosing made him feel that first day.

Microdosing and psychedelics have become a more important part of Goode’s life and career, after a rainy day on his bike. He then designed psychedelic-focused research studies with Imperial College London and became the first full-time employee of a therapeutic ketamine clinic. Field trip health. On Wednesday, Goode launched an app called Houston, which his company describes as the first user-oriented microdosing companion app.

There are other psychedelic oriented apps. But the other two applications specific to microdosing, microdose.me and Mydelica (which can also be used with larger doses), both come from academia and were created for the purpose of collecting data and doing research. Houston is purely a service for users. It’s free, although Goode is considering a premium subscription version down the road.

Houston will allow users to track which days they do and don’t microdose, record what and how much they take, chart their daily mood, set intentions, and reflect on how the day went. unrolled. There are also learning modules, music suggestions (called “dose day radio”), a community feed, and a personal dashboard.

Why the name “Houston”? Because it is “your guide to interior space, “Goode said.” This is who you can check in with on your trip. “

When you sign up in Houston, you’ll share your microdosing habits, experience, and goals.
Credit: Houston

The practice of microdosing has gained popularity over the past decade – and in particular during the pandemic – in people who self-medicate for mental health, with Silicon Valley workers seek to optimize their bodies with “biohacking” and for people with many reasons in between. Devotees say microdosing can reduce depression and anxiety, and increase mindfulness, empathy, and focus.

Despite increasing use in the Western world and a long historical practice of microdosing in indigenous societies, the scientific evidence for the reported effects of microdosing is largely anecdotal. The have summer Three double-blind, placebo-controlled microdosing studies, none of which fully confirm the reported effects – unlike a growing number of studies finding lasting positive effects from full doses of psychedelics like LSD. But when it comes to microdosing, a a recent study suggests positive results could be due to the placebo effect, or the expectation that even an indistinguishable dose of mushroom or LSD can make you feel good. In addition, psychedelics are also still largely illegal in North America, although their status is changing. Canada and several American cities.

“We’re definitely a little further than a few years ago, when there was next to nothing on the subject,” said Joseph Rootman, doctoral student in clinical psychology at the University of British Columbia, who recently co-wrote a study published in Nature of more than 4,000 micro-dosers, said. “But we still have a long way to go before we really understand this drug.”

Screenshots from the Houston app show the process of recording a microdosing experience.

Choose your microdosing substance of choice by picture.
Credit: Houston

While people who take psychedelics may still have a loose, “relax, man” reputation, the best way to describe microdosers is regulated and scientific. On reddit forums like r / microdosing and r / psychedelics, there are comprehensive reviews, spreadsheets, debates and guides. Users discuss what substances to take and in what doses, the benefits of monitoring other parameters like sleep and diet, catalogs of demanding moods and other subjective qualities like productivity, and overall, an active and dedicated community.

Goode actually used these forums as a resource to build Houston, engaging with users to see what would be useful and what types of things they like to follow. Houston is essentially a way for tracking-focused microdosers to do what they’re already doing, in a digital content space that also happens to be pretty. Goode brought in a Headspace designer to design Houston, and aesthetically the influence is noticeable. The interactive nature of an app was also important to the creation of Houston: Goode said he tracked microdosing with a laptop that he ended up largely ignoring.

“Having something that is fairly non-invasive and already integrated into our lives as an app is just a simple, user-friendly way for people to responsibly track their experiences and provide a bit of conservation for the whole and the tuning, whether it’s a recommended item or a community hookup, or a notification to check on how you’re feeling, ”Goode said.

When you open Houston, you create a profile and answer a few questions about your microdosing practice (or lack thereof) and your motivations. Once logged in, you’ll answer a few questions about how you’re feeling that day, choosing an emoji from an array of sad and happy faces. Then you will delve into the details of that emotion a bit later.

You will also notice if it is a microdosing day. When you do, immediately, a screen appears asking, “What is your intention today?” You can easily tap options like “Be more present” or “Focus on my work”. Then you’ll respond to what you’re dosing, choosing between illustrations of a mushroom, LSD pill, marijuana leaf, or flower (intended to represent an herb). You will also mark the dose. After entering your data, you will get a screen with a suggested radio for the day of the dose according to your intention and the option to register at any time. The app will also send you notifications to ask you how you are feeling intermittently. You can view all of this data on a personal dashboard.

Rootman agrees that an application makes sense for microdosers, as long as all data evaluations are explained clearly and accurately. He and his co-authors actually used an app, microdose.me created by Quantified citizen, for the collection of data for their study.

“What we’re finding out by the fact that, you know, we were able to get 4,000 people to participate in a study just because they are passionate about science, is that psychedelic users are a motivated group who are cares about their well-being, “said Rootman. “There is a scientific and experimental advantage in them that causes psychedelic users to be a little more quantitative in their own well-being, in their own medical decisions. So I think an app is great, and it makes sense. that she came from the psychedelic movement. “

While data from Rootman’s app was collected for the purpose of the study, he also believes that logging in general is beneficial for people. There is still a lot about microdosing that is unproven and unknown. But for those curious about their well-being, the practice of tracking mood and other signifiers of mental health can be beneficial whether or not psychedelics are involved.

“The best way to figure out how you’re doing is to write it down and look back,” Rootman said.

UPDATE: December 20, 2021, 11:44 a.m. EST An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Imperial College London as the former university of Brandon Goode studies. Goode attended Quinnipiac University for his undergraduate studies and obtained his MSc from Durham University in the UK.

About Shirley A. Tamayo

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