The Essential Guide To

LSD Microdosing

Disclaimer: LSD is a potentially illegal substance, and we do not encourage or condone the use of this substance where it is against the law. This guide is designed to ensure the safety of those who decide to use the substance legally.

1. What Is LSD Microdosing?

Microdosing is the act of consuming sub-perceptual amounts of psychedelics, like LSD or Psilocybin Mushrooms.

Sub-perceptual means the effects are subtle, but can have a noticeable influence on your life.

Typically, individuals integrate sub-perceptual doses into their weekly routine. Microdosers often report higher levels of creativity, more energy, increased focus, and improved relational skills.

Many people microdose in order to treat depression or anxiety, with often remarkable results.

Some enthusiasts also report microdosing helps to heighten spiritual awareness and enhance all five senses.

The History of Microdosing

While the modern history of psychedelics reaches back to the 1950s, interest in microdosing saw a major revitalization with the publishing of Dr. James Fadiman’s The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys in 2011.

Dr. Fadiman’s book explores microdosing as a subculture of psychedelic use. While a number of indigenous cultures as well as modern professionals have utilized microdosing as a way to unlock a host of benefits, Dr. Fadiman’s book formally introduced the term “microdosing” into the psychedelic mainstream.

But Dr. Fadiman’s book didn’t just contribute a piece of terminology; it awakened the curiosity and imaginations of millions of people fascinated by the reports of experienced microdosers. It also provided a host of practical information for anyone that wanted to give it a try, much of which has been integrated into this course.

Dr. Fadiman’s ongoing research into microdosing serves as one of the few modern studies into the effects of microdosing specifically (most other research deals with larger doses for specific therapeutic outcomes).

Following the publication of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, the next major boost in the public’s awareness of microdosing came from a podcast interview Dr. Fadiman gave with Tim Ferriss in March of 2015.

Ferriss, who rose to fame after authoring the bestseller “The Four Hour Work Week,” has an enormous audience of individuals interested in entrepreneurship, “biohacking,” self-experimentation, psychology, spirituality, and an array of additional subject matters that would predispose them to an interest in the benefits of microdosing.

His podcast interview with Dr. Fadiman blasted the core messages about microdosing contained in The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide from a soapbox loud enough to significantly increase a basic awareness of the concept.

Soon after its air date, listeners of Ferriss’ podcast were not only starting to experiment with microdosing on their own; they were discussing it and sharing their curiosity with their own personal networks. Consequently, journalists began writing articles about microdosing, leading to even greater awareness and interest.

The most recent source of interest in microdosing came from Ayelet Waldman’s book “A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in my Mood, My Marriage, and My Life,” published in February of 2016.

Waldman’s book discusses her 30 day protocol of microdosing with LSD to address a variety of psychological symptoms primarily caused by hormonal changes related to menopause.

Prior to microdosing, Waldman’s mood swings had become so severe as to put her marriage and relationship with her children at risk.

Afterwards, in an interview with The Third Wave, she said, “This month changed my life, and I am sad every day that I can’t keep doing it legally.”

Now, tens of thousands of people around the globe are being turned on to microdosing – whether it’s for treating mental health problems, boosting creativity, or giving entrepreneurs new directions.

2. The Science of LSD Microdosing

While psychedelic substances have been illegal and prohibited from study in the vast majority of countries up until the past few years, many of the world’s top experts have made incredible strides picking up on research started in the 1950s and 60s.

Although almost no research has been done on microdosing specifically, we know something about what large doses of psychedelics do to the brain.

Much of what we understand about how psychedelics work involves serotonin, a chemical that keeps our brains ticking. It is one of the most important neurotransmitters in the brain, and affects nearly everything we do, from how we feel to how we process information.

Classic psychedelics such as LSD and Psilocybin share a similar structure to serotonin, and work along a similar pathway…

Many antidepressants (called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs) try to make serotonin more plentiful in the brain to make you feel better.

Psychedelics work more directly, by mimicking serotonin. This means that one of their main effects is to stimulate a serotonin receptor, located in the prefrontal cortex, called “5-HT2A.”

The stimulation of the 5-HT2A receptor leads to two very important results:

  • The production of “Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor” (BDNF). BDNF is “like Miracle-Gro for your brain. It stimulates growth, connections, and activity.” [1]


  • The increased transmission of “Glutamate.” Glutamate is the neurotransmitter most responsible for brain functions like cognition, learning, and memory. [2]

Glutamate and BDNF work together in ways we’re still understanding, but it’s become clear that having more of each leads to many of the benefits we all seek from microdosing. [3]

Another thing psychedelics do is to cause parts of the brain that might not usually communicate with one another… to communicate with one another!

Psychedelics allow these unique connections to be formed by dampening the activity of an often over-used part of our brain called the “Default Mode Network” (DMN). [4]

The Default Mode Network is area of brain used for an array of different mental activities, including day-dreaming, self-reflection, and thinking about the past or the future. Some studies suggest that depression is linked to an overactive DMN. [5] It’s possible that a highly active DMN causes us to ruminate, over-analyze ourselves, and step out of the present moment to constantly question the past and the future.

This helps explain why these substances could be used to combat depression and anxiety, and also lead to insights and creative perspectives that otherwise remain inaccessible to us.

Flow States

All of us, at some point in our lives, have experienced a flow state. The surfer effortlessly riding a big wave, the therapist perfectly in-sync with her client, the salesman working the room in an out of body experience… all are examples of people performing at their best while in flow.

Simply put, flow is truly one of the great experiences of being human.

We have no specific, non-anecdotal evidence to suggest that microdoses of psychedelics can induce flow states – but we know that moderate doses can change the function of the brain in a way very similar to that seen in flow states.

Studies show that moderate doses of psychedelics cause brain waves to shift more towards alpha oscillations, which is also seen in the transition to a flow state. [6]

Psychedelics imitate the neurotransmitter serotonin when they enter the brain – and we know that serotonin is found in higher levels in flow states. Similarly, psychedelics increase the levels of dopamine in the brain, [7] another neurotransmitter which is found in higher levels in flow states.

Perhaps most importantly, psychedelics’ ability to dampen down the DMN can allow our brains to make unique connections between areas that don’t usually communicate. [4] This is crucial for allowing flow states to occur.

Since we know that moderate doses of psychedelics can induce similar effects to a flow state in the brain, it seems likely that a regular microdosing regimen will start to shift our awareness in the direction of flow.

3. How Do You Microdose With LSD?

Microdosing is the act of taking ‘sub-perceptual’ doses of psychedelics, meaning the dose level is not high enough to cause substantial deviations from reality.

Ideally, a microdose will not cause a substantial change in mood, disposition, or mindset. Instead, its effect will be subtle but present.

For LSD, a microdose is typically between 6 and 20 micrograms. This amount equates to between 1/16th and 1/5th of a single tab.

When microdosing with LSD on blotter paper, there are two methods to prepare a microdose: cutting or volumetric.

The cutting method is exactly what it sounds like: cutting the blotter paper with an Exacto knife or scissors.

The drawback to this method is a lack of precision. Your microdoses may be quite variable if you cut up your tabs, since LSD blotter paper doses can be laid unevenly. When LSD is ‘laid’ it means a crystal of LSD is melted into a liquid form, then spread across a piece of blotter paper. Sometimes, the liquid can distribute unevenly on the blotter paper. An uneven lay causes variation in the amount of LSD you may consume in any given microdose.

The volumetric method helps you get around any variation in how a tab is laid or cut. It involves submerging a full tab into distilled water and taking small, measured quantities of the water to microdose.

This process requires a couple of small measurements, but will give you a more accurate, consistent dose. Read our full guide on volumetric microdosing to learn more.

To describe it briefly, all you need to do is drop a 100ug tab into 10ml of distilled water or alcohol. Leave it for a day or so, in the dark. Then, 1ml of the liquid will contain 10ug of LSD, and will provide you with a consistent microdose. You can store your liquid in the fridge and it should last for months.

What schedule should I follow?

Dr. James Fadiman, the author of the Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, recommends taking a microdose once every three days.

Take a microdose on Day 1. Then do NOT take a microdose on Day 2 or Day 3.

Then, take another microdose on Day 4.

Observe the effects throughout this process by taking notes in a journal every day.

Continue the process of microdosing two times per week for several weeks. Take notes throughout the entire process on both short-term, in-the-moment effects, and long-term changes in your mood, energy, and social behavior.

Follow your usual routine while microdosing. You should not change what you do. The purpose is to enhance your day-to-day existence by integrating microdoses into your routine.

When you try microdosing for the first time, take a day off from work and social commitments. It will give you a chance to observe and notice any unusual effects before microdosing in a more public situation.

Be vigilant in observing the effects of microdosing on the two days between microdoses. Many people perceive increased feelings of flow, creativity, and energy the day after they microdose, as well as the day of microdosing.

Microdosing LSD every day is not recommended. Psychedelics like LSD produce a tolerance, even with microdoses, so you might see diminishing returns after a few days. This is why Dr. Fadiman suggested leaving a couple of days between each dose.

Concern for your health is another reason to avoid microdosing every day. There is a potential heart risk of taking too many psychedelics over a long period of time. Although we don’t know how this translates when it comes to microdosing, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution, and avoid microdosing too frequently, or for longer than a few months at a time.

One other downside to microdosing every day is normalizing a very potent substance. You can compare it to the use of coffee for productivity purposes. When you drink coffee every day, over time you need to increase the dose to get the same effect. One cup of coffee turns into two or three or four cups of coffee within 2-3 months.

It is best to leverage microdosing as an occasional advantage, rather than a consistent go-to like coffee.

For an extensive guide on how to get started with microdosing, and create a protocol that gets the most out of your experience, sign up to our Microdosing Course now!

4. Benefits and Risks

While it’s certainly an oversimplification, people generally microdose for two different reasons: to decrease the frequency and intensity of undesirable mental states or to improve the frequency and intensity of desirable mental states.

1: To reduce the frequency and intensity of undesirable states caused by various forms of “mental illness”, including:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety (i.e. Generalized or Social)

  • ADD/ADHD

  • Mood disorders

  • PTSD

  • Addiction

2: To increase the frequency and intensity of desirable states/outcomes:

  • Creativity

  • Energy

  • Flow states

  • Productivity/focus

  • Improved relationships/increased empathy

  • Athletic coordination

  • Leadership development

Undesirable States

We’re not fond of the term “Mental Illness” because it pathologizes what is often a part of one’s natural progression towards a more coherent, actualized self.

But for those struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADD/ADHD, mood disorders and/or addiction (to name a few), microdosing can create a number of positive changes.

Clinical research has shown that larger doses of psychedelics are effective at treating depression, anxiety and addiction. Anecdotal evidence backs up the idea that a regular microdosing regimen can also have healing benefits for sufferers of various mental health conditions:

 

“Microdosing doesn’t allow me to be anywhere else but in the present moment. This has helped me tremendously with my anxiety and depression. I am incapable of worrying about what’s going to happen next week, tomorrow, or even five minutes from now. I can function without anxiety for the first time in years. I feel that my attention span is greater, I’m concentrating like never before. When I was suffering with pain I was given a lot of prescription pain pills and was quickly becoming addicted to them. Microdosing instantly helped me stop taking the several pills a day I was taking just so I could get out of bed, and I haven’t touched them since.”

– Third Wave Survey Respondent

 

“I have fought depression for some 6-7 years since adolescence, microdosing has, so far, consistently helped me get on with my day-to-day, just as much on no MD days as MD days. This also applies to Social & General Anxiety which has been less severe but experienced for the same period.”

– Third Wave Survey Respondent

 

“I overcame my depression with microdosing because I can consistently be productive and happy with it as a creative booster. It also eliminates any anxiety I get because I never used to raise my hand in class. I smoke a lot of cannabis and it’s unhealthy to overindulge. I found microdosing to make me feel the need to be productive so I smoke much less when I microdose and don’t indulge just to smoke.”

– Third Wave Survey Respondent

For more guidance on how to use microdosing to treat mental health conditions, join our extensive Microdosing Course and become part of a helpful and compassionate community!

Desirable States

Many people are microdosing in an effort of self-improvement or personal development. Reports suggest that microdosing can improve creativity, productivity and energy, which can be used at work or in other pursuits.

The creative benefits of microdosing are highly linked to the enhancement of flow states. Since microdosing allows you to enter into a flow state with greater ease, this allows people to explore new and exciting forms of consciousness.

Click here to listen to our interview with entrepreneur Janet Chang, and hear how she microdosed to improve creativity and work performance.

Countless people microdose to help them solve work-related problems, create new concepts, or simply to reduce procrastination.

Microdosing can also help you outside of the work environment, by improving your social interaction skills, athletic performance and spiritual awareness.

 

“Since microdosing I have come out of my shell. I have become more confident around other people and have formed an intimate relationship with another person where I have had difficulty in the past.”

– Third Wave Survey Respondent

 

“Microdosing LSD has been a very positive experience – it keeps me very present, focused, creative, and overall induces a deep sense of contentment! I found that taking it before going to my parents place made the family dynamic so much more enjoyable. It also has been great in terms of connecting with my partner.”

– Third Wave Survey Respondent

Getting the most out of microdosing is really important – and depending on the reason you’re microdosing, you’ll need to prepare and integrate appropriately. Our extensive microdosing course will guide you through the various protocols for getting the most out of microdosing, specific to your needs.

Risks

By far, the riskiest thing about microdosing is the law. It’s crucial to check your local laws before microdosing, as the penalties for LSD possession are still harsh in most countries. It’s still possible to microdose LSD legally, and we never condone illegal activities.

Aside from the legal risks, one can consider microdosing to be a safe, non-threatening introduction to the benefits of psychedelics.

Given the tremendous safety records of LSD, combined with the small dose amounts, microdosing appears to be a safe, measureable way to explore the incredible possibilities that psychedelics have to offer.

As can be seen by the chart below, comparing the relative harms of common substances, LSD is one of the safest substances you can find, biochemically and socially speaking. It’s much safer than alcohol!

Having said that, psychedelics are powerful substances, and even microdoses have a risk potential.

Emotional turbulence or anxiety is possible while microdosing, largely due to psychedelics’ ‘amplifying effect’. LSD tends to amplify your current mood, rather than act as a stimulant or numbing agent. For this reason, it is important to assess your mindset before consuming a microdose.

Since LSD has the potential to amplify your current mind state, we recommend discussing the risks with your physician if you suffer from psychosis, schizophrenia or severe anxiety, before you decide to begin microdosing. When overdone, microdosing can lead to manic states, which could exacerbate underlying conditions.

Since there is no clinical research on the safety of microdosing, it’s best to avoid microdosing for extended periods of time (longer than a few months). There is a potential heart risk of taking too many large doses of psychedelics over a long period of time – although we don’t know how this translates to microdosing.

5. How Do I Acquire LSD For Microdosing?

Since LSD is illegal almost everywhere, we don’t recommend breaking any laws to obtain LSD for microdosing.

Your main legal alternative is to purchase research chemicals such as 1P-LSD. Click here to read our full article on the legality of various research chemicals that you could use for microdosing.

If you want to learn more about how to get started microdosing with LSD, you can gain access to our free guide on what’s legal and what’s not.

6. FAQ

Can LSD be detected in a drug test?

The short answer is yes, but there are a few caveats.

Excretion through urine reaches a peak about 4 to 6 hours after administering a dose in humans, but even then, the amounts are quite small. There are four known major metabolites of LSD in humans that are excreted and can be detected in urine for up to 4 to 5 days after ingestion, with observed inter-individual variation.

There are several criteria that determine how long LSD can be detected in the body:

  • the test being used;
  • the detection limit placed on the test;
  • the point of collection;
  • the type of sample fluid;
  • the amount that was ingested.

The average time LSD can be detected in blood is 6-12 hours and in urine is 2-4 days. However, one metabolite (2-oxo-3-hydroxy-LSD) is typically present in higher concentrations and can be detected for longer periods of time in urine.

Tests for LSD (but not its metabolites) in hair samples are also available and they’re good for detecting both low doses and single uses, apparently for an underdetermined but long period of time after dosing.

However, for now, it is not typically included in standard drug screens.

Do I have real LSD?

Depending on the dose and route of ingestion, LSD should take 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to kick in. The experience can last 12-16 hours. Click here to see a full list of the effects.

If you feel any other effects, or your experience lasts considerably longer than 16 hours, you may not have taken LSD. If your blotter paper had a bitter taste, or numbed your tongue, it may have contained NBOMe or DOx.

It’s safest to be sure about what you’re taking (see the 6S’s), so if possible, get your drugs tested. Kits for home testing can be found online, or you can send your substance to a lab for testing.

Where Can I get LSD?

Is microdosing illegal?

Microdosing is not necessarily illegal. Several countries allow the cultivation of Psilocybin Mushrooms, the purchase of Psilocybin truffles, or the purchase of LSD analogues. We do not condone microdosing where it is against the law, as penalties can be severe. Instead, find out what your best option is for microdosing without breaking the law.

Is microdosing safe?

The riskiest thing about microdosing is its potentially illegal nature. Always be aware of your local laws and don’t undertake any illegal activities.

There are no clinical research studies on microdosing in humans. However, clinical studies of larger doses of LSD and psilocybin mushrooms have shown that these substances are extremely safe.

What remains an unknown is what effects frequent microdosing could have on the body. This is why we recommend microdosing for no longer than a few months at a time.

One thing is for certain – with microdosing, there is no risk of having a “bad trip” or experiencing intense psychedelic effects. Taking a microdose is the ideal way to be introduced to psychedelics safely and comfortably.

How do I get started with microdosing?

There are lots of things to cover before you get started with microdosing – depending on the reasons you’re interested in the first place!

Sign up to our extensive microdosing course to gain access to curated materials that will help you design the ideal microdosing regimen for your needs. You’ll also gain access to an exclusive community of enthusiastic, helpful microdosers!

7. Footnotes

[1] Ayelet Waldman (2016) “A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My life”

[2] Riedel, Platt & Micheau (2003) doi:10.1016/S0166-4328(02)00272-3

[3] Vollenweider & Kometer (2010) doi:10.1038/nrn2884

[4] Carhart-Harris et al. (2016) doi:10.1073/pnas.1518377113

[5] Sambataro et al. (2014) doi:10.1017/S0033291713002596

[6] Kometer et al (2013) doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3007-12.2013

[7] Nichols (2016) doi:10.1124/pr.115.011478

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Our mission is to support educated and informed discourse on the topic of psychedelics, including psychedelic community, microdosing, psychedelic identity, and various other topics relevant to our mission. The Third Wave does not encourage illegal activities. Any information we provide is for education and information only. This site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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