Microdosing is the act of integrating sub-perceptual doses of psychedelics, such as LSD, DMT or Psilocybin Mushrooms, into your weekly routine for enhanced levels of creativity, energy, focus, and improved relational skills.
The practice was made popular in the psychedelic community by Dr. James Fadiman, author of the 2011 book The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide. Fadiman collected anecdotal reports of microdosing experiences from all over the world. He noted many similarities in these reports from people across widely different backgrounds and age ranges.
Our goal is to provide well-researched information regarding the science, benefits, protocols, and effects of microdosing for professional and emotional growth.
LSD and psilocybin mushrooms (“magic mushrooms”) are the two most common substances used for microdosing. However, microdosing can be done with nearly any psychedelic. The particular protocols for each will vary for things like preparation and dosage, so it’s important to learn as much as possible about whichever psychedelic you choose to microdose.
To that end, we’ve developed in-depth guides for microdosing several different psychedelics.
Each guide provides an overview of each psychedelic and includes topics such as History, Science & Research, How-To Guides including preparation and dosages, Benefits & Risks, FAQ’s, and Resource Articles.
Microdosing vs Macrodosing
As stated above, microdosing involves taking very small, subperceptible amounts of a psychedelic over a period of several days to several weeks with the goal of gaining some benefit in your everday life (more on those benefits below).
Those who macrodose—that is, take high or full dose—on the other hand, typically aim for a strong physiological response with very noticable changes in perception and cognition. They also often seek out a psychospiritual experience, looking to gain insight into their own psychological underpinnings, emotional realities, interpersonal relationships, and their connection with the world around them.
So the difference between microdosing and macrodosing lies not only in the amount of the psychedelic taken, but also in the intent behind the experience.
A few of the many benefits commonly reported were an increased ability to focus and concentrate on tasks for long periods, deeper sustained thinking about complex ideas, and heightened creativity.
Naturally, these reports caught the attention of Silicon Valley executives in the early 2010s and the practice began to make its way through the start-up and venture capital culture.
Now mainstream culture has taken an interest in the microdosing trend, and more and more people continue to explore ways in which the practice can expand their work and benefit their personal lives.
According to a study in the Harm Reduction Journal, the benefits of microdosing include:
- Improved Mood (26.6%) – Peacefulness, overall well-being, calmness, happiness, and a reduction in the symptoms of depression. Also includes more emotional connection, a general sense of optimism, and an improved outlook on life.
- Improved Focus (14.8%) – Covers skill sets like the ability to focus or concentrate, and enhanced self-awareness.
- Creativity (12.9%) – Aside from a general sense of improved creativity, this also includes behaviors such as being more open, enhanced curiosity, ability to shift perspectives, and divergent thinking.
- Self-Efficacy (11.3%) – This applies to such behaviors as ambition, self-motivation, self-confidence, and a sense of agency. It also relates to improved mental health, including increased introspection, the practice of meditation, and other aspects behaviors tied to self-care.
- Improved Energy (10.5%) – In this case, “energy” refers to things like mental stimulation, wakefulness, and alertness.
- Social Benefits (7.6%) – Outside of more engagement with others, this category also includes more empathy, greater sense of connection, and more extroversion.
- Cognitive Benefits (5.8%) – When microdosing, user experience heightened mental clarity, better memory recall, and an improvement in problem-solving ability.
- Reduced Anxiety (4.2%) – This applies to a reduction in both general and social anxiety.
- Physiological Enhancement (3.0%) – Includes enhanced visual acuity, cardio endurance, reduction of migraines and headaches, and higher quality of sleep.
Potential negative effects of microdosing
The same study found the following challenges with microdosing:
- It’s Illegal (29.5% of reports) – One of the most frequently cited concerns about microdosing is that it’s illegal. While the cultural, poltical, and legal landscape continues to shift in a favorable direction for some psychedelic substances, this remains a concern for many.
- Physiological discomfort (18.0%) – Includes disrupted senses (visual), temperature dysregulation, numbing/tingling, insomnia, gastrointestinal distress, reduced appetite, and increased migraines and/or headaches for some.
- Impaired focus (8.8%) – Some reported poor focus, distractibility, and absent-mindedness.
- Increased anxiety (6.7%) – General, social, and existential.
- Impaired energy (7.2%) – Both excessive energy (restlessness, jitters) and inadequate energy (fatigue, drowsiness, brain fog).
- Impaired mood (6.9%) – Mood deterioration (sadness, discontent, irritability), emotional difficulties (over-emotionality, mood swings), and impaired outlook (fear, feeling unusual).
- Social interference (2.6%) – Awkwardness, oversharing, and difficulties with sentence-production in social settings.
- Cognitive interference (2.3%) – Confusion, disorientation, racing thoughts, and poor memory.
- Self-interference (1.2%) – Self-processing concerns (dissociation, depersonalization) and self-sabotaging (rumination, over-analysis).
- Increased symptoms (other) (6.2%,) – After-effects (psychological dependence and concerns about potential addiction, substance tolerance, comedown or hangover) and also more concerning, but rare, adverse psychological events (0.7%).
our microdosing course
The Third Wave’s Microdosing Course is an in-depth online course that will teach you all the ins and outs of microdosing, with a particular focus on how you can harness this cutting-edge technology to live a better life.
- How do I get the substance safely and legally?
- Once I get it, how do I prepare it?
- Once I prepare it, how do I best utilize it?
Our Microdosing Book
Microdosing has been used for over 40 years by those working in highly creative and innovative fields. But due to the ineffective Drug War on psychedelics, its use has been confined to the fringes of society.
That’s now changing. With the widening dialogue around marijuana legalization, and the power of information sharing over the Interwebs, more people are taking a second look at psychedelics.
Here is a basic overview of the microdosing protocol laid out by Dr. James Fadiman, based on microdosing research he has carried out since 2012.
- Dosing – A true microdose (or low dose) in which the effects are sub-perceptual is about 1/10th of a standard dose, although this varies on an individual basis. Typically, a standard ldose of LSD is 100 micrograms, meaning a microdose is 10 micrograms. For psilocybin, a standard dose is 3.5 grams of dried mushrooms. Thus, a microdose of mushrooms is between .2 to .3 grams.
- Observation – Throughout the day, track your experience by journaling. Note any changes in mood, perception, mental state, or feelings that arise on your microdosing day and the day after.
- Calibration – Many factors contribute to calibrating the proper dose level, including body composition, mental state, and experience with psychedelics. When calibrating, make incremental changes in the amount you take. This will help to optimize the experience.
- Timing – Dr. Fadiman’s protocol calls for one day on, two days off, one day on, two days off. If the first dose is taken on Monday, wait until Thursday to take the following dose. Pause your protocol after microdosing for 6-8 weeks to evaluate the impact of the experience so you can adjust as needed. Breaks are also important so you don’t build up a tolerance to microdosing.
The third wave of psychedelics is possible because of the work of researchers across the globe. Organizations like MAPS, The Beckley Foundation, Heffter Research Institute, Johns Hopkins, Usona and others are paving the way for a new paradigm in mental health.
To date, clinical trials are not yet being conducted on the effects of microdosing, though some studies are in the works.
Below are a few of the key non-clinical studies which demonstrate the benefits of microdosing psychedelics:
- Microdosing psychedelics: personality, mental health, and creativity differences in microdosers
- Exploring the effect of microdosing psychedelics on creativity in an open-label natural setting
- Psilocybin with psychological support for treatment-resistant depression: six-month follow-up
- Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression: fMRI-measured brain mechanisms
- A systematic study of microdosing psychedelics
- This Is Your Brain on Microdoses of Psilocybin
- Powerful substances in tiny amounts: An interview study of psychedelic microdosing
The Beckley Foundation is leading the charge, where they are administering several placebo-controlled microdosing studies. An area of focus for this research is the therapeutic benefits of taking low doses of LSD. This microdosing study will allow scientists to determine if there is evidence to support the idea that psychedelic drugs affect brain activity, mood, creativity, and cognition.