Dr. James Fadiman is known as the “Father of Microdosing” for pioneering scientific studies on microdosing. He’s been collecting reports from thousands of people who have tried microdosing since 2010. Many of them followed his suggested microdosing routine of one day on, two days off—coined the Fadiman Protocol. Many of them shared how they overcame their insecurities, anxiety, depression, and stress, as well as migraines, cluster headaches, and menstrual complaints. Dr. James Fadiman is convinced that microdosing can have enormous psychological and health benefits while hardly having any risks.
The early explorer
In 1966, Dr. James Fadiman published a study, which is still considered to be a milestone in research into hallucinogenic drugs. The research is called ‘Psychedelics in the problem-solving experiment,’ and it focuses on the positive influence of LSD on creativity. He was one of the early explorers that recognized the benefits of psychedelic in high dosages and their induced experiences, provided that they’re done safely and in an optimal setting. Unfortunately, shortly after, the FDA banned all research into psychedelics.
Albert Hofmann (the inventor of LSD) used to microdose while taking walks in the woods and experienced great benefits. Robert Forte knew about Albert’s consumption of the tiny amounts of psychedelics and was made Fadiman aware of this practice. In 2011, Fadiman wrote the book “The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys,” in which he devoted an entire chapter to microdosing. Fadiman is a strong proponent of “set & setting” for a high-dose psychedelic experience. However, he believes the advantage of microdosing is that you don’t need a “set & setting” but can build in microdosing—without any risk— into your daily life. This was the first publication on this subject. It caught the attention of psychonauts and other curious people, including many IT-ers and influential Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
The first microdosing routine—the Fadiman Protocol
After the upsurge in interest, Fadiman was also the first to develop a standard protocol for microdosing so that people could experiment with microdosing safely, purposefully, and effectively. In addition to sticking to a routine, he believes it’s incredibly effective to keep a daily journal to reflect on your days, by taking your mood, productivity, creativity, and relationships into account. By becoming aware of the effect of microdosing on your daily functioning, it can provide you better guidance to integrate insights into your life.
Collecting microdosing reports
After Fadiman developed the microdosing protocol, people interested in experimenting with microdosing increasingly approached him. Since then, he’s been receiving emails, reports, and even diaries full of findings, experiences, and insights from all of those inner explorers. 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 analyzed experience stories of more than 1850 people from 30 countries, between 18 and 77 years old.
How does microdosing work, according to James Fadiman?
Fadiman has concluded from his observations and countless anecdotal reports that when microdosing, information seems to travel better through the body. It seems to put the wrong connections back in the right place. “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 (re-)balance people. They improve their relationships with their bodies and become more attuned to their needs. For example, people say they create better patterns, such as sleeping better, eating healthier, and quitting addictions.
What does research say about microdosing?
There are theories from neuroscience on how microdosing works, but until now, no clinical research has been done yet. However, Fadiman believes his field research provides strong evidence for the benefits of microdosing. For him, more than 1850 reports of individual experiences worldwide are proof that there is more to it than just a placebo effect. Although scientists recently did a brain scan during a higher dose of LSD (75 micrograms, which is still not a full trip dose). When they compared it with the scan of a placebo, it showed that different brain regions work better together after taking LSD.
He claims to know what effect microdosing, field research is much better than clinical trials because we’re dealing with people 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 them. However, he believes that clinical trials are helpful if you want to make this medically accessible. Testing microdosing in a traditional clinical setting, with double-blind trials and placebos, would bring microdosing one step closer to be approved to treat various medical conditions. Learn more about Fadiman’s work and the current state of microdosing via these podcasts:
James Fadiman and Microdosing Institute
James Fadiman has supported the Microdosing Institute platform from the beginning and continues to advise and collaborate with us. In 2019, we interviewed James Fadiman for our 2019 Microdosing Seminara. It was a fascinating conversation that eliminated a lot of ambiguities about microdosing. In addition, through weekly email contact, we inform each other about the latest findings, risks, and other relevant microdosing news.
Watch the latest microdosing podcast with Dr. James Fadiman.
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- Carhart-Harris, R. L., et al. (2016). Neural correlates of the LSD experience revealed by multimodal neuroimaging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(17), 4853-4858.
- Fadiman, J. (2011) The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys. Park Street Press.
- Harman, W. W., McKim, R. H., Mogar, R. E., Fadiman, J., & Stolaroff, M. J. (1966). Psychedelic Agents in Creative Problem-Solving: A Pilot Study. Psychological Reports, 19(1), 211–227. https://doi.org/10.2466/pr0.19188.8.131.52