what is microdosing

What is microdosing?

Microdosing is best described as the practice of regularly consuming a very small amount of a psychedelic substance, usually 5–10% of a regular dose, with the intention of improving one’s quality of life.

Microdosing does not cause classic psychedelic effects such as visual disturbances; instead, microdosers experience more subtle, “sub-hallucinogenic”, effects from the practice. Microdosing is a practice that yields best results when it’s done over an extended period of time following a dosing scheme, or protocol. The exact effects and results of this practice depend greatly on the person, the substance, the dosage and many other personal factors such as their intention, their expectations and mindset. 

The subtle effects of microdosing most often mentioned:

  • More energy
  • More creativity
  • Clearer thinking 
  • Increased problem-solving ability
  • Increased focus
  • Increased awareness
  • Positive mood
  • Greater emotional connection with people around you
  • Being more present

Microdosing—Powerful substances in tiny amounts

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 subconscious parts of ourselves to the conscious mind. In this way, one could see and process repressed feelings and memories. What all psychedelic substances have in common is that they induce a classic trip experience at high doses, they’re not addictive, and especially when microdosing, they pose hardly any risks in healthy people.

Positive experiences with microdosing

Psychedelics, and microdosing in particular, still require a lot of scientific research to fully understand their workings. Although some claim microdosing is nothing more than a placebo effect, a large body of anecdotal evidence demonstrates that microdosing can lead to physical, mental, and emotional improvement. Since 2010, Dr. James Fadiman, an American transpersonal psychologist, has been collecting microdosing reports from people around the world. His findings with numerous positive experiences serve as the foundation for the scientific quest into the world of microdosing. It comes as no surprise that he’s often coined “The Father of Microdosing”.

How does microdosing work?

What we do know is that psychedelic substances act on the serotonin (5-HT) receptors in our brain. Serotonin receptors are found throughout our nervous system and govern many aspects of our being, including mood, thinking, and bowel movements. Psychedelics bind most effectively to the 5HT-2A receptor, which is one of the receptors involved in learning, memory, and cognition. As a result, when consuming only a microdose of a psychedelic substance and thus avoiding the “classical trip,” it is believed that the brain can focus solely on the cognitive boost caused by these receptors.

Psychedelic substances suitable for microdosing

Based on our own experience, the stories from our community, and the knowledge of our network of experts, we can verify that the following psychedelic substances can be safely and effectively used for microdosing:

Psychedelic substances likely suitable for microdosing

From the psychedelic substances below, we know people have used them for microdosing, but not much is known yet about the methods and results:

  • Cannabis (marijuana)
  • LSA (the active ingredient in morning glory seeds and Hawaiian baby Woodrose seeds)
  • Iboga(ine)
  • Salvia divinorum

If you have experience with microdosing these substances, please let us know, as we would like to map this out further.

What is microdosing not?

Microdosing is the practice of consuming a very small quantity of a psychedelic substance explicitly to increase health and wellbeing. Because the following non-psychedelic substances can be toxic, they won’t produce any beneficial effects associated with microdosing. Therefore, microdosing cannot be effectively and safely done with these non-psychedelic substances:

  • MDMA
  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol

Dive deeper

Now that you know what microdosing is; learn more about the history of microdosing, Dr. James Fadiman, the benefits and risks, and medical applications of microdosing. 

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Sources

  • Harvey J. A. (2003). Role of the serotonin 5-HT(2A) receptor in learning. Learning & memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.), 10(5), 355–362. https://doi.org/10.1101/lm.60803