Disclaimer: We do not condone the use of illegal psychedelic drugs where substances are deemed so. This article is written solely for educational and informational purposes.
Microdosing is popular among Silicon Valley executives, psychonauts, and moms trying to stay calm after a long day of caring. If you’re a seasoned macrodoser, you may be curious about sub-perceptual doses. You may be fresh to psychedelic exploration and want to test the waters and reap the advantages. First, it is important to analyze whether or not you personally would be someone that could benefit from microdosing psychedelics and what traits could potentially make you a good or bad candidate.
The growing interest in psychedelic substances, particularly from the medical community, is an undeniable phenomenon. These drugs are increasingly recognized for their potential in bringing about significant, lasting improvements in mental health, particularly in patients dealing with treatment-resistant depression. Microdosing, a practice involving the consumption of a small fraction of a typical psychedelic dose, has become a focus of interest.
The idea behind microdosing is that, by consuming such a tiny, subperceptual dose, one doesn’t experience a full-blown “trip” or hallucination. Instead, many users report subtle enhancements in mood, creativity, focus, productivity, and empathy. However, it’s worth questioning whether this is truly the effect of the substance or an “expectancy effect.” The expectancy effect suggests that if a person believes strongly that a daily pill will make them happier and smarter, they may feel just that, regardless of what the pill actually contains.
So, what exactly is microdosing?
Unfortunately, there’s no universally accepted definition for microdosing with psychedelic substances. This lack of standardization poses a challenge for conducting consistent research. However, a generally accepted understanding is that a microdose is around 1/5th to 1/20th of a recreational dose. This estimation aligns with anecdotal reports where a medium-strength dose of psilocybin is about 2 to 3 grams of dried mushrooms, and a typical microdose hovers around 0.3 grams.
One stumbling block is the highly variable potency of mushrooms, which aren’t regulated outside clinical trials. Therefore, it’s tough to nail down an exact science of dosage. Similarly, LSD, an odorless, colorless, and tasteless substance, is usually found in liquid form or infused in a tiny piece of paper intended for sublingual use.
Given the current illegal status and absence of regulatory standards, it’s challenging to know the exact dosage you’re consuming unless you have an exceptionally trustworthy source. LSD is potent and long-lasting; taking more than intended can have significant consequences. Moreover, psychedelic substances like psilocybin and LSD can lead to physiological tolerance, implying that the benefits of microdosing may diminish over time if one continues at the same dosage.
Is the legalization of psychedelics a pathway to safety?
Expert voices in the field predict that certain psychedelics, specifically psilocybin and MDMA (popularly known as ecstasy), might see full legalization for supervised medical use in the coming years. Some policymakers and public health specialists postulate that the safety profile of these substances could improve with decriminalization, coupled with regulated cultivation and production. Several places, like the state of Oregon and numerous cities nationwide, have already decriminalized psychedelics at a local level.
Decriminalization advocates foresee safer product quality and broader access, including the potential to use psychedelics without requiring a prescription or medical supervision. However, skeptics voice concerns that unrestricted access to these drugs could negatively impact individuals with mental health disorders, or even trigger mental illnesses such as psychosis in susceptible individuals.
It is crucial to highlight that the use of all psychedelic drugs must be approached with extreme caution, especially in patients with major mental health disorders like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. For safety considerations, these patients are often excluded from psychedelic drug studies.
The evidence concerning psychedelic microdosing is diverse Is microdosing effective? The answer remains uncertain. Some research points towards substantial benefits from microdosing, while other studies show little or no benefit. A recent study employing a naturalistic, observational design compared 953 psilocybin microdosers to 180 non-dosing participants over 30 days. The researchers observed “small to medium-sized improvements in mood and mental health” across different gender, age, and mental health demographics. This study, along with others like it, seems to validate the anecdotal claims of microdosing benefits.
However, other studies on microdosing present less promising results. For instance, a randomized controlled study – the most robust form of evidence due to its ability to filter out placebo effects – showed somewhat inconclusive results. The researchers assigned 34 patients randomly, with half receiving psilocybin and the other half a placebo. While there were some subjective effects (participants felt happier and more creative), and changes in brain waves detected via EEG, they concluded that low-dose psilocybin did not demonstrate objective evidence of improvements in creativity, wellbeing, and cognitive function. Such studies suggest that the perceived benefits from microdosing psychedelics may mostly be an expectancy effect, and a higher dose might be required to achieve therapeutic benefits.
The choice to microdose or not As with any health-related or lifestyle decision, it’s an individual’s choice (provided they aren’t causing harm to others). However, it’s strongly recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before deciding to use psychedelics. It’s vital to consider the legality and quality of your product – avoiding legal issues and potentially harmful substances is paramount.
Lastly, it’s important to note that there isn’t concrete evidence that microdosing is definitively beneficial or even long-term safe. With this in mind, psychedelic drugs, while better understood and experiencing a resurgence in research and acceptance, should still be approached with caution.
What the Experts Are Saying
In the book, The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, psychedelics enthusiast and writer James Fadiman, Ph.D. defined microdosing as consuming between one-tenth and one-twentieth of a recreational dose. Microdosers follow a protocol, like one of the two below, for six to ten weeks to observe the effects on their mental health and cognitive. A microdose is a “sub-perceptual” or “sub-threshold” dose, meaning you shouldn’t trip or feel euphoric.
Even without the trip, early evidence suggests microdosing may have favorable effects—and we still have much to learn. In a 2019 Harm Reduction Journal study of 278 microdosers, mood, focus, creativity, and “self-efficacy”—motivation, confidence, and agency—were the top four advantages. In another study by the same researchers, microdosers scored higher on wisdom, open-mindedness, and creativity and lower on dysfunctional attitudes and negative emotionality. This preliminary research seems promising, but the field is young and the results are from user surveys, not clinical trials. However, microdosing is becoming more popular for improving work, creative, and personal mindsets.
Some benefit from both. Sherri Tutkus, RN, a cannabis and psychedelics nurse and founder of the Green Nurse, says, “Microdosing psychedelics has helped me to process emotions from a different perspective outside of the ‘trauma story.’…It has also helped me realize that self-care is essential for good health and kept me responsible to my goals.
Julie Freeman, a certified dietician, functional and mind-body health specialist, and founder of Mindful Wellness, says microdosing causes “an almost imperceptible change in brain chemistry, offering an increase in chemicals that support neuroplasticity.” “By increasing the connections in the brain, helping one to be more creative and expansive in thinking rather than tunnel-visioned and feeling at a dead end,” Freeman adds, BDNF may alleviate anxiety, sadness, and inflammation. Microdosing boosts her clients’ resilience without decreasing effect like SSRIs. She tells DoubleBlind, “It may support dampening ADD and OCD-like tendencies, and it shows great promise in addiction treatment to cigarettes, alcohol, and food.”
Potential Microdosing Hazards
Facts first: Microdosing requires care. Psychedelics’ hazards and adverse effects, especially long-term microdosing, are unknown as we mentjnioned earlier.. Anecdotes and early studies illuminate some potential issues. Fadiman recommends against microdosing psychedelics for people with colorblindness, psychotic illnesses, or autism. Psychedelics—even little amounts—may worsen psychotic conditions and cause persistent visual abnormalities in colorblind people.
In the 2019 observational study, microdosing’s main drawback was its illegality in most regions, followed by physiological discomfort, reduced focus, and lower energy.
Microdosing can cause anxiety in 10% of people, according to neuroscientist, author, and Infused Health creator Michele Ross, PhD. To ensure your microdosing regimen is helping, keep a log of how you feel. “Other side effects may include headaches, agitation, or mild blood pressure increases,” she informs DoubleBlind.
“The daily nature of many protocols, and the reality that many microdosers also occasionally macrodose, means that mixing SSRIs, MAOIs, and other prescription antidepressants with microdosing psychedelics is unsafe without talking to a healthcare professional first,” Ross warns. Serotonin syndrome—a dangerously high concentration of the feel-good neurotransmitter—is rare with microdosing. (You can discover a list of medications that Fadiman’s research participants used while microdosing here, but this does not imply safety.) This article’s clinicians prefer to assess a patient’s full health history and order particular lab tests before advising microdosing. Psilocybin and other psychedelics may affect heart 5HT2B receptors and cause long-term problems for people with cardiac or pulmonary valve disorders.
Getting Started – Best Practices to Follow
Psychedelic plant and fungal use is currently legal in several US cities. DC, Detroit, and Oregon decriminalize psilocybin. Oregon allows psilocybin treatment clinics. Thus, more people than ever are slowly gaining safe access to many naturally occurring entheogens. Thus, microdosing safety and best practices discussions are growing in importance.
Start low and go slow with all psychedelics. “Everyone’s sweet spot is a little different when both microdosing and macrodosing,” Tutkus tells DoubleBlind. Calculate your dose carefully and record your experience in a journal to calibrate your optimal microdose. Tutkus advises having a support system even if microdosing is more subtle than a full trip. Take a class or consult with a trusted guide or psychedelics practitioner if you’re unclear how to start microdosing.
1. Understand Your Substance
Psilocybin and LSD, the most regularly used psychedelics, are also the most commonly microdosed. James Fadiman’s work concentrates on these two chemicals, although psychedelic forums are full of anecdotes about microdosing ayahuasca, DMT, ibogaine, ketamine, mescaline, MDMA, and LSD analogs.
Because it “shows us the interconnectedness of the plant and human worlds,” Freeman recommends microdosing with psilocybin. She says we need this reminder and experience to heal our globe from political, economic, and environmental issues.
Also, legality and accessibility. Dr. Ross notes that LSD and psilocybin are the most accessible psychedelics. LSD and MDMA are still illegal in most places. At the time of writing, most psychedelic decriminalization campaigns apply only to naturally occurring psychedelic chemicals from plants and fungus.
Dr. Ross says mushrooms are easier for beginners: “With mushrooms, taking slightly more than you should might result in slightly brighter colors or feelings, but not vivid hallucinations.” After a quick at-home course, growing mushrooms is easy and empowering.
Dr. Ross suggests microdosing mushrooms because of the “entourage effect”—similar to cannabis. She adds different mushroom strains “may impact your experience differently.”
Ketamine, which is lawful and can be used by people with bipolar illness and schizophrenia, is another serotonergic drug Freeman uses in her clinic.
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Though some people benefit from microdosing MDMA, it is an amphetamine, not a psychedelic, and too much of it can be harmful. Like psilocybin, it may cause heart valve difficulties due to its effect on heart 5HT2B receptors. Microdosing MDMA can also cause weariness and antisocial behavior.
Due to brain neurochemistry, Tutkus advises microdosing only one psychedelic. In her clinical experience, CBD and psychedelics reduce discomfort before, during, and after microdoses.
2. Join a Class, Guide, or Group.
Don’t take this trip alone. Especially if you have little experience in the field. If you know why you want to microdose but not what, when, or how, take a course. Experienced advisers can help you microdose and start the process safely. Working with a trustworthy therapist, coach, or other expert can help you manage these intense and new substances safely. If courses and coaching are unavailable, local microdosing support groups may be cheaper.
3. Find Your Protocol – Stick to it.
Microdosing protocols set microdosing frequency. Find your thing and stick to it. The Fadiman technique entails microdosing psilocybin or LSD every fourth day. Microdosers sometimes report the greatest benefit on the second day after the microdose, with a third day to reset the system and avoid tolerance.
The Stamets Stack, a four-day-on, three-day-off microdosing strategy, uses psilocybin, Lion’s Mane, and niacin. The stack’s two non-psychedelic components are supposed to boost psilocybin’s neuron growth by raising BDNF, however this has not been tested clinically.
Others microdose every other day or only on weekends to combine the physiological and psychological impacts. Freeman calls the protocols “guidelines that help people safely begin microdosing” because they are based on anecdotal evidence from numerous persons utilizing these substances over time. She notes that if a microdoser gets used to it, “listening to one’s intuition about how frequently to microdose is empowering,” but she advises against microdosing daily.
4. Measure Dose – Stay Accurate
To find your ideal microdose, which is between one-tenth and one-twentieth of a therapeutic or “recreational” dosage, take careful records and experiment. A microdose of dried psilocybe cubensis, the most common magic mushroom, is 0.05 to 0.5 grams. Mushroom potency will vary each batch because they are organic. Be aware that cubensis magic mushrooms are stronger than psilocybin truffles.
LSD, however, is measured in micrograms (μ). Soaking a single tab of LSD in distilled water or grain alcohol for 24 hours and measuring out one-tenth to one-twentieth of the liquid per microdose yields 5-20μ. Only Oregon decriminalizes LSD and other drug possession in tiny amounts.
Finally, because microdosing can be mentally and physically stimulating regardless of the substance, it’s best to take it early in the day to avoid sleep disruption.
Microdosing vs. Macrodosing
Remember this while starting microdosing: Microdosing has different benefits than macrodosing. “Macrodosing drastically alters perception and may offer ego dissolution and mystical experiences,” adds Tutkus. Microdosing doesn’t.
“Microdosing is not intended for the big ah-ha moments, or for catalyzing major life transformations,” Freeman says. Consider it a nuanced intervention that may improve your mental health or assist you in transitioning to a higher dose. However, understanding proper dosages and erring on the side of less is more important because accidentally ingesting a larger dose can cause a trip when you’re not ready.
Microdosing is unique to each person; from the overall experience, perceived mental health effects, and journey to self betterment, to the length of time one walks the path of fungal wellness. When considering whether or not you can benefit from microdosing, keep in mind that it is not intended to change the game or perform instantaneous miracles. “Small steps to big results”. Instead of viewing it as just another pill, why not view it as a subtle intervention that could enhance your mental health and overall wellbeing? It may even assist you in increasing your ability to overcome the hurdles that can plague us in life! Psychedelic dosing necessitates caution. Overpacking may result in unanticipated and unnecessary travel turbulence. Consider that less is more! Safe travels!