what is microdosing

What is microdosing?

Microdosing psychedelics became known worldwide in 2015 as “the new way of taking drugs”. This means: you don’t take a regular amount or triple dose, but only about 1/10th of it. According to the common view on psychedelic substances, a microdose has hardly any (noticeable) effect. You don’t experience a classic “psychedelic trip”, not even a little bit. At the same time, people who take microdoses often do perceive subtle effects. It is believed that it works on a sub-perceptual level, so the microdose should not cause classic psychedelic effects, including the visual disturbances.

What Kind of Effects Are Reported?

The subtle effects that are most often mentioned are:

  • More energy
  • Clearer thinking, increased problem solving ability
  • More creativity
  • Improved focus
  • Positive mood
  • Emotional connection with people around you
  • Being more conscious of yourself
  • Being more present

This largely corresponds to the results of an American experiment from 1966. In Menlo Park, California, a team of scientists including James Fadiman, studied the influence of psychedelics on the problem-solving abilities. They’ve tested 27 people working in creative professions such as engineers, architects, scientists and designers. They were given 200 mg mescaline sulfate (comparable to 100 mcg LSD, so not a micro dose!). After that, each of them worked for a few hours on an assignment or problem they had taken from their work. It worked out very well. The participants came up with technologically advanced project proposals, products and solutions which have been mostly accepted by their clients.

Participants reported various forms of increased performance:

  • Less burden of inhibitions and fears
  • The ability to see a problem in the right context
  • Increased idea generation
  • Better ability to visualize and use fantasy
  • Better concentration
  • Increased empathy for external processes and issues
  • Increased empathy for people
  • Access to unconscious information
  • Increased motivation to complete a project
  • Visualizing solutions

Read more about “Psychedelics in problem-solving experiment“.

Shortly after this experiment, the FDA banned all scientific research on psychedelics. The influence of psychedelics on our creativity and problem-solving ability could not be investigated further for decades.

James Fadiman is now focusing on this again. Since 2010 he has been collecting reports from people who experiment with microdosing themselves. The vast majority report very positive experiences.

Read more about Fadiman’s recent research into psychedelics and microdosing.

What Kind of Effects Are Reported?

Almost every psychedelic substance can be used for microdosing. Although they differ from each other. What they do have in common is that in higher doses they induce a trip experience. These drugs are not addictive and in low doses they pose hardly any health risks in healthy people.

Psychedelic means “that which makes the mind visible”. Psychologists and psychiatrists believed that the drugs they studied in the fifties and sixties (especially LSD, psilocybin and mescaline) brought parts of the subconscious to the conscious. In this way one could, for example, see and process repressed feelings and memories.

Psychedelic Substances Suitable for Microdosing:
  • LSD
  • Psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic truffles and magic mushrooms)
  • Mescaline (the active ingredient in the Peyote and San Pedro cactus)
  • Iboga or ibogaine
  • Research Chemicals 1cP-LSD and 1P-LSD
Other Psychedelics Sometimes Also Used for Microdosing:

The psychedelics mentioned below are used by people for microdosing, but not much is known yet about how much, in what form, and with what result. If you have experience with these substances, please let us know. We would like to map this out further.

  • Cannabis or weed oil
  • LSA (the active ingredient in Morning glory seeds and Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds)
  • Salvia divinorum
Non-psychedelic Drugs

Non-psychedelic drugs are often toxic and in many cases it is certain that they would have no noticeable effect in sub-perceptual doses.

  • Modafinil
  • MDMA
  • Amphetamine
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol

Are you curious about our readers’ experiences with microdosing? You can read them here. Do you have your own experience with microdosing and would you like to share it with others? Please contact us.

How Does Microdosing Work?

What happens in our brain after taking a microdose? The Nootropix website comes with a greatly simplified neuroscientific explanation of how microdosing works:

Psychedelic substances in microdose are effective on the serotonin receptors (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT). You must first know that this system regulates our thinking and the way we learn. There are many unique serotonin receptors in our nervous system, which collectively regulate all kinds of functions, ranging from our mood to our bowel movements. The receptors mainly responsible for our learning, memory and thinking abilities are the 5-HT1A, 5-HT2A, 5-HT3, 5-HT4, 5-HT6, and 5-HT7 receptors, and 5-HT2 is the one on which psychedelics act most. This explains the cognitive boost caused by the micro dosage of psychedelics.

Source: Serotonin Receptors in Cognitive Behaviors [Source: Serotonin Receptors in Cognitive Behaviors (1997)].

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