What is Microdosing and How Does It Work?

What is Microdosing and How Does It Work?

September 22, 2021

Microdosing is a common term that has become a part of the cultural vernacular. It is the practice of ingesting a very low dose of a psychedelic substance. A microdose is small enough that it does not impair “normal” functioning, but still has an effect. This is unlike macrodoses used in recreation or in psychedelic therapy.

Microdose doesn't yet have an agreed upon scientific definition. Researchers typically use the term for one-fifth to one-twentieth of a recreational dose. Two microdose studies of pure psilocin (the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms) considered a microdose to be less than 1 milligram. This is compared to a 15 milligram “medium dose” as defined in those studies.

Why Microdose?

If a microdose is so small, why take it at all? People choose to microdose for different effects than what they would get out of a recreational or therapeutic dose. Here are some examples:

Microdose vs. Macrodose

By contrast, one of the main purposes of a macrodose is ego dissolution. This helps the user to look beyond everyday concerns, understand their fears and traumas, and ultimately get beyond them.

A macrodose is often about 150% or more of a standard dose. For example, if 3.5 grams is a standard dose of magic mushrooms, the macrodose or “heroic dose” is 5 grams or more, as advocated by psychedelic researcher, Terence McKenna.

With microdosing, the sense of self remains very much intact. It adjusts the user’s everyday experience, but does not plunge them into a highly altered state.

What’s Unknown

Currently, microdosing is an active area of research in its early stages. There are more questions than answers.

There are self-reported studies of microdosing with LSD, psilocybin, ketamine, and DMT, but there are only a few controlled studies. Ketamine microdose research is still in animal stages. The most rigorous study of LSD microdosing found the effects were small – and could be mostly attributed to the positive placebo effect.

Is Microdosing For You?

Currently in the United States, there are no legal protocols outside academic studies that prescribe microdoses of psychedelics. If you are in a country where psychedelics are legal or certain states where psychedelics are decriminalized, the question of whether to microdose is a question of risk acceptance.

If you have a history of psychosis, schizophrenia, mania or paranoia, you may want to avoid microdosing. Some anecdotal evidence has pointed towards hallucinogens triggering a psychotic response.

On the other hand, there is widespread anecdotal evidence that microdosing can improve mood and attention. The scientific evidence to date is only preliminary. The larger doses used in psychedelic therapy have better known effects. Microdosing remains mostly a mystery.

If you are considering microdosing, it might be worthwhile to read James Fadiman’s "The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide". Or Ayelett Waldman’s "A Really Good Day".

Disclaimer: Nushama only offers legal ketamine services and many of the substances mentioned are in various states of legalization, decriminalization, and scientific study.

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