Psychedelics. The word has often evoked imagery of bright colors, flower children, and the surreal. However, current findings, as well as millennia of anecdotal evidence, suggest that psychedelics may have larger potential health benefits, particularly when microdosing. Microdosing psychedelics such as psilocybin, LSD, MDMA may actually provide health advantages.
In this blog post, we will dive into the ins and outs of microdosing, from what microdosing psychedelics actually entails, to the potential health benefits of microdosing, and what the research has to say on it.
THE LOW DOWN ON MICRODOSING
What is microdosing?
Microdosing is the practice of taking a small amount of a psychedelic substance, often LSD or psilocybin (psychedelic mushrooms,) on a regular basis. A microdose is often defined as 1/10 or 1/20 of a ‘normal recreational’ dose by researchers. Ideally, this is a very low dose, insufficient to cause a ‘trip’ or the hallucinations commonly associated with psychedelics.
Microdosing supporters claim that the goal of engaging in this practice is boosting your well-being and enhancing cognitive and emotional functions. Ketamine, another substance that can create hallucinations, is a comparable example. Ketamine began as a ‘recreational’ drug as well. However, the FDA recently authorized a version of the medicine for those suffering from treatment-resistant depression.
IS MICRODOSING A TRIP?
Microdosing psychedelics, according to research and user experience, doesn’t feel like anything – which is ultimately the objective.
On your ‘off days,’ which are days 2 and 3 when you aren’t taking a microdose, you may feel more focused and productive.
LSD and psilocybin are two of the most common psychedelics when it comes to microdosing.
Others may use other psychedelics, such as DMT or peyote, to microdose, however these appear to be less common and may be more difficult to acquire.
Other forms of microdosing making their transition to the mainstream are ketamine and MDMA. However, classic hallucinogens, such as LSD and psilocybin, are the most widely used and well-studied possibilities.
Microdosing psychedelics every third day for 30 days is the most popular method according to studies. This practice, sometimes referred to as the Fadiman procedure, involves taking a dosage in the morning on day one, nothing on days two and three, and then a microdose on day four.
The Stamets protocol, named after the eminent mycologist Paul Stamets, is another approach which involves microdosing four days in a row, then taking three days off. For example, microdose Monday through Thursday, then take a break Friday through Sunday.
BENEFITS OF MICRODOSING
What does the research say on the benefits of microdosing?
Another concern is that much of the research surrounding microdosing has depended on self-reporting. This strategy frequently entails surveying individuals who have been microdosing or are interested in it. Since these results are largely subjective in nature, there may be some bias in these findings, as users may expect to have a positive experience while microdosing.
Research published in the Harm Reduction Journal classified various potential advantages from microdosing reports, including:
enhanced attention, focus, and awareness
increased energy, alertness, and stimulation
cognitive advantages, such as improved problem-solving
decreased worry and increased creativity
decreased symptoms such as stress
better attitude, happiness, and enjoyment for life
greater self-efficacy in physical functioning, including increased ambition, productivity, and motivation
People also mentioned the capacity to adjust the dose and the overall lack of side effects as advantages and enjoyments of microdosing. Microdosing advocates argue that taking these psychedelics in small, regulated dosages enhances the mind by allowing users to think more clearly or feel more open throughout the day.
According to a 2020 research study, of LSD or psilocybin can boost cognitive functions such as:
convergent reasoning (problem solving)
diverging thought (creative thinking)
decreased rumination (repetitive thinking)
Anecdotal data accumulated from a subreddit on self-reported experience with microdosing psychedelics cites the following comparable advantages:
increased creativity decreased anxiety and sadness
better self-awareness improved mindfulness improved mood and outlook on life improved habits
enhanced healthy behaviors
social interactions and connections enhanced
Additional reports note that long-term advantages of a 30-day microdosing technique may include:
less stress and less “mind wandering”
improved creative and sensory experience absorption
MICRODOSING FOR MENTAL HEALTH
With all the aforementioned anecdotal evidence, it is safe to assume that the primary benefits of microdosing psychedelics are related to mental health. Many of the reasons individuals microdose include mental health issues, such as lowering stress and anxiety or treating depression symptoms.
In a study published in Psychopharmacology, researchers asked participants about their reasons for microdosing. Of the participants, 21% noted that they primarily used microdosing as a treatment for depression, while 7% said they used it to treat anxiety symptoms. Microdosing was utilized by about 9% of those who responded to treatment with other mental health conditions. Overall, 44% of those who responded felt that microdosing had improved their mental health significantly.
Another study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry utilized an online questionnaire to compare the effects of microdosing to those of conventional therapies for symptoms such as depression and anxiety. According to the responses, participants found microdosing to be more beneficial than other kinds of treatment.
In an interview with Psych Central, Peter H. Addy, PhD, LPC, LMHC, an Oregon-based psychotherapist and co-founder of Yale Psychedelic Science Group, who specializes in psychedelic harm reduction and integration work, articulated about how microdosing might affect your mental health.
BOOST YOUR BRAIN WITH MICRODOSING
Further evidence suggests that some individuals believe that microdosing psychedelics improves brain function by allowing the brain to operate at its maximum capacity or by making them more open to new ideas.
Research published in PLOS ONE discovered that while microdosing improves brain function on dosing days, the results do not carry over to other days when the individual does not microdose.
Here are some other potential benefits that may arise as a result of microdosing:
Creativity is a more difficult topic to quantify and evaluate, although many people who microdose claim to do so to improve their creative abilities. This advantage, however, may result from a combination of other causes, such as stress reduction or enhanced attention.
Microdosing may also aid with temporary attention, improving concentration. According to one study, microdosing psychedelics also reduced distractibility.
Giving up other habits
Another argument is that microdosing aids in the cessation of other behaviors, such as smoking or consuming alcohol. When individuals microdose, they may feel as though they don’t need to utilize basic stimulants like coffee.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE MICRODOSING
On the other hand, there can always be a downside to everything. Although studies suggest that microdosing psychedelics is often easily tolerated and has no-to-minimal impact on your body, there are still certain considerations to think about before attempting microdosing.
A research study found that some subjects suffered unfavorable side effects such as increased anxiety and a “cycling pattern” between melancholy and high feelings.
As a precaution, if you’ve never attempted microdosing psychedelics previously, consider following safety and harm reduction methods.
It’s against the law (in the U.S.)
The primary concern is that psychedelics are unlawful to possess and use, despite the fact that it has a limited potential for misuse and is now recognized for medicinal usage.
Difficulties with dosing
It is critical to be mindful of your set, setting, and dose. We recommend seeking professional assistance if you decide to go this route.
In terms of potential negative side effects of microdosing, users have reported the following:
physical pain prolonged visual distortions (mainly among people with colorblindness)
the requirement for a greater dosage in order to get the advantages (mainly among people with autism spectrum disorder)
While this continues to be a space where research is ongoing and evolving, studies indicate that microdosing psychedelics like psilocybin may assist enhance mental health and treat some mental health issues such as anxiety and sadness.
Microdosing typically involves taking a very small amount of psychedelics, such as LSD or psilocybin.
It’s vital to note that psychedelics are still illegal in the United States, even in states where the substance has been decriminalized.
If you’re thinking about microdosing psychedelics, consult with a practitioner about whether microdosing or psychedelic treatment is suitable for you.