Dr. James Fadiman, PhD is often referred to as the initiator of scientific research on microdosing. Since 2010, he has been collecting reports from thousands of people who experimented with microdosing following a schedule (his suggested one day on, two days off protocol is now known as the Fadiman protocol). Many of them shared how they overcame their insecurities, anxiety, depression and stress, but also migraines, cluster headaches and menstrual complaints. Seven years later, Dr. Fadiman is convinced that microdosing can have enormous medical benefits, and hardly any risks. But will the established scientific order also take these findings from citizen science seriously?
This particular man doesn’t really need an introduction. The author of several books on psychedelics and transpersonal psychology, founder of Microdosing Psychedelics movement has become a friend and advisor to the Microdosing Institute team. We are honored that James Fadiman has supported our platform since the beginning of our mission, and continues to advise and collaborate with us. Through weekly email contact, we inform each other about the latest findings, risks and other relevant microdosing news.
In 1966, Fadiman published a study, which is still considered to be a milestone in research into hallucinogenic drugs. The research is called ‘Psychedelics in problem-solving experiment’ and it focuses on the positive influence of LSD on creativity. You probably knew about it if you’ve ever read an article about microdosing, as James Fadiman is quoted in almost each of them.
Dr. Fadiman also early recognized the benefits of psychedelic experiences, provided that they are experienced in a safe manner and in an optimal environment. He wrote the successful book “The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys” (2011). In this book he devoted a chapter to microdosing. This was the first publication on this subject. Fadiman is a strong proponent of “set & setting” when it comes to a psychedelic experience. The advantage of microdosing is that you don’t need set & setting, but can just use it, without a risk, during your daily routine. It caught the attention of psychonauts and other curious people, including many IT-ers and influential Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
We interviewed James Fadiman for our 2019 Microdosing Seminar. It was a very interesting conversation where a lot of ambiguities about microdosing were removed. The podcast consists of 2 parts.
The First Use Protocol for Microdosers
Dr. Fadiman has developed a standard protocol for microdosing, so that people who could get LSD or psilocybin themselves could experiment responsibly and purposefully. Fadiman was being approached more and more often and kept on sending the protocol to anyone who was interested. Since then, he’s been receiving emails, reports and even diaries full of findings from all of those inner explorers.
To read about Fadiman’s protocol check: Microdosing protocols
In addition to the protocol, it is essential to keep a diary. “Write a few notes every day about how your day was. Take into account how much work you’ve done, how productive or creative you were, and how comfortable or uncomfortable you felt about it. Write down every change you feel in relation to other people. Note any change in your mood, eating behaviour, physical strength, or symptoms of ailments.” You become more aware of the effects on your daily functioning, both in the short (the day itself) and in the long term. That will provide you guidance to integrate the subtle insights you’ve gained through microdosing.
How Does Microdosing Work According to Dr. Fadiman?
At Psychedelic Science 2017, and several conferences that followed, James Fadiman and Sophia Korb presented more and more results of their long-running microdosing research. They’ve analysed experience stories of more than 1850 people from 30 countries, between 18 and 77 years old.
People, who followed the protocol, closely reported to Fadiman that they feel stronger, less depressed and are sometimes even able to overcome chronic mental problems. They are also shifting to a healthier lifestyle: they eat better, sleep better, pay more attention to their partner and children, meditate or exercise more regularly.
There are theories from neuroscience on how microdosing works on the brain and body-mind system, however no research has been done on this yet. “It’s like information is better able to travel through their bodies” Fadiman says. “It seems like it’s putting the wrong connections back in the right place” he continues, “Maybe it’s in your central nervous system, in your brain stem, or maybe it improves the function of mitochondria. We have no idea how it really works so far.”
What microdosing seems to do is rebalancing people. They improve their relationships with their bodies and become more attuned to their real needs. For example, people say they create better patterns, such as sleeping better, eating healthier and quitting addictions. “They have improved their relationship with their bodies – or their bodies have improved their relationship with them” explains Dr. Fadiman, adding that with the limitations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administrationthere there’s a lack of further research today. Although scientists recently did a brain scan during a higher dose of LSD (75 micrograms, which is still not a full trip dose) and after comparing it with a placebo, it showed that different brain regions work better together after taking LSD.
To know what effect microdosing has on users, field research is much better than clinical trials. “You’re dealing with people who are in the context of their daily lives. They have no interest in a particular scientific outcome and can therefore focus purely on the benefits it brings to them. Clinical trials are useful if you want to make this medically accessible”.
Fadiman believes his field research provides strong evidence. For him, more than 1850 reports of individual experiences from around the world are proof that there is more to it than just a placebo effect. He also indicates that it is time for other researchers to start working on microdosing. It is time to test microdosing in the traditional clinical setting, with double-blind trials and placebos. That would bring this technique one step closer to the approval for treating various conditions.
Here you can see the presentation where James Fadiman presents his research results. It is nice to mention that in this presentation he has named the first research we have organised with PSN and the University of Leiden.
Learn more about Fadiman’s work and the current state of microdosing via these two podcasts: