Dr. Suresh Muthukumaraswamy — LSD Microdosing, Classical Psychedelics vs. Ketamine, Science and Speed in New Zealand, Placebo Options, and The Infinite Possibilities of Studying Mind-Altering Compounds (#619)

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“At the 24-hour time point, there’s really no ketamine left in the body at all. The ketamine’s gone, they haven’t been high for 20, 22 hours . . . but they’re still not depressed. What that shows is that the ketamine has changed something in their brain.”

Dr. Suresh Muthukumaraswamy

Dr. Suresh Muthukumaraswamy completed his PhD in Psychology at the University of Auckland in 2005, after which he joined the newly established Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre as a postdoctoral fellow. While at Cardiff, he started research work with psychedelics in 2011 in collaboration with Professor David Nutt and Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, investigating the neuroimaging correlates of the psychedelic drugs psilocybin and LSD. In 2014, Suresh received a prestigious Rutherford Discovery Fellowship and returned to the University of Auckland where he works in the School of Pharmacy at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences and leads the Auckland Neuropsychopharmacology Research Group.

Suresh’s main research interests are in understanding how therapies alter brain function and behavior and in testing methodologies to measure these changes in both healthy individuals and patient groups—particularly in depressed patients.

At the University of Auckland, he has conducted clinical trials in depressed patients involving ketamine, scopolamine, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. He has received several Health Research Council of New Zealand research grants to support this work, including a grant to investigate the effects of microdoses of LSD on brain and cognitive function. Suresh has published 117 papers, with his work receiving 8000+ citations.

This special episode of the podcast is a live recording from an event hosted by the Edmund Hillary Fellowship (EHF). EHF began in 2016 as a pilot immigration program and has matured into a fellowship of more than 500 technologists, creatives, investors, entrepreneurs, educators, and systems designers, committed to New Zealand as a base camp for global impact. From more than 50 different nationalities, including New Zealand, fellows span a range of high-value sectors: media, education, cleantech, venture capital, and mental health initiatives/research just to name a few.

EHF and its fellows aim to make a meaningful impact in New Zealand/Aotearoa with projects that often have global applications.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform.

The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#619: Dr. Suresh Muthukumaraswamy — LSD Microdosing, Classical Psychedelics vs. Ketamine, Science and Speed in New Zealand, Placebo Options, and The Infinite Possibilities of Studying Mind-Altering Compounds

Want to hear an episode that further explores psychoactive substances? Have a listen to this conversation between Hamilton Morris and Dr. Mark Plotkin, in which they discuss microdosing, 5-MeO-DMT, the “Drunken Monkey” hypothesis, Timothy Leary’s legacy, synthetic versus natural compounds, the history of psychoactive substances, and much more.

#605: Hamilton Morris and Dr. Mark Plotkin — Exploring the History of Psychoactive Substances, Synthetic vs. Natural Options, Microdosing, 5-MeO-DMT, The “Drunken Monkey” Hypothesis, Timothy Leary’s Legacy, and More


  • Connect with Dr. Suresh Muthukumaraswamy:

University of Auckland


  • [03:44] Current mental health and addiction trend lines in New Zealand.
  • [05:37] Compounds Suresh has researched.
  • [07:13] Does scopolamine have potential as an antidepressant?
  • [09:55] How ketamine differs from other psychedelics.
  • [16:20] The durability of antidepressant effects.
  • [21:45] How Suresh picks the focus of his research (example: LSD microdosing).
  • [24:43] Why New Zealand is unique for fostering psychedelic innovation.
  • [31:01] How could New Zealand improve the impact of scientific research?
  • [35:13] Inspiring research currently underway in New Zealand.
  • [37:40] Obstacles to getting ketamine labeled as an antidepressant.
  • [40:39] Ketamine research by University of Otago’s Professor Paul Glue.
  • [41:48] Future studies Suresh would like to see (and their challenges).
  • [47:25] The difficulty of applying placebo controls to psychedelic research.
  • [54:49] Getting the public to benefit from this research in a timely manner.
  • [58:17] Risks of microdosing and relying on unregulated supplies.
  • [1:02:21] Open science replication crises.
  • [1:03:56] Training clinical personnel in new science as it becomes available.
  • [1:07:20] Where can New Zealanders access psychedelic therapy now?
  • [1:08:25] Avoiding another 50 years of psychedelic research darkness.
  • [1:13:08] Is any of Suresh’s research focused on addiction recovery?
  • [1:14:08] Why women haven’t been as widely included in these studies as men.
  • [1:15:56] Where aspiring psychedelic researchers should focus their education.
  • [1:17:02] Red flags in the private sector.
  • [1:20:14] Parting thoughts.


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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4 Replies to “Dr. Suresh Muthukumaraswamy — LSD Microdosing, Classical Psychedelics vs. Ketamine, Science and Speed in New Zealand, Placebo Options, and The Infinite Possibilities of Studying Mind-Altering Compounds (#619)”

  1. Great stuff as always. Going to bookmark this for later as I’m interested in some of the discussed treatments.
    All the best to you! Hope everything works out.

  2. Hey Tim – perhaps the wrong place to mention this but the quote

    “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
    ​— From Coraline by Neil Gaiman

    Is actually a paraphrase of G.K. Chesterton From The Red Angel by published in Tremendous Trifles, 1909.

    I’m taken the time to point it out because Chesterton is a phenomenal author worth checking out. Not the easiest read (for me anyway) because of the historical distance, but a heavy weight of old. One of CS Lewis’ fav authors.

    Appreciate your work. Thank you and keep it coming. Cheers.

    1. Hi, Gavin.

      Thank you for your comment regarding the quote in the most recent “5-Bullet Friday” newsletter. Tim was aware of the G.K. Chesterton quote at time of writing and so referred to Neil Gaiman’s words to help him make his decision about attribution (N.G.’s original post on the topic can be found at https://neil-gaiman.tumblr.com/post/42909304300/my-moms-a-librarian-and-planning-to-put-literary): “It’s my fault. When I started writing Coraline, I wrote my version of the quote in Tremendous Trifles, meaning to go back later and find the actual quote, as I didn’t own the book, and this was before the Internet. And then ten years went by before I finished the book, and in the meantime I had completely forgotten that the Chesterton quote was mine and not his.

      “I’m perfectly happy for anyone to attribute it to either of us. The sentiment is his, the phrasing is mine.”

      Thank you again for your writing in and for the opportunity to credit the original inspiration. That and other wonderful G. K. Chesterton quotes can be found at https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/G._K._Chesterton.

      Team Tim Ferriss

  3. One of the most alarming failures of science in the last century and one that needs to be corrected is the failure of the scientific community, particularly neuroscientists, to protest this effective censorship of research on these drugs that could offer so many insights into human brain function and such great opportunities for new treatments. How are we going to accomplish this?