What Is Microdosing?

Third Wave · May 18th, 2018

Microdosing is a growing trend among artists, entrepreneurs, and pretty much anyone with an interest in bettering themselves.

It involves taking very small doses of psychedelic drugs, most commonly LSD or psilocybin mushrooms, in a semi-regular schedule.

The idea is to take such small amounts that you can go about your daily life and notice the effects barely enough to experience a subtle increase in productivity, creativity, focus, and awareness.

Why are people microdosing?

Large doses of psychedelics have been heralded as a game-changer for psychotherapy. Studies have shown that a trip on substances like LSD or psilocybin mushrooms can effectively treat conditions such as depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, addiction, and eating disorders.

A lot of recent research has also shown that large doses of psychedelics can help us think more “divergently,” potentially boosting our creativity and helping us solve abstract problems.

However, there are many reasons that people aren’t keen on the idea of tripping on a big dose of a psychedelic substance.

First of all, it’s scary! Psychedelics are powerful and have the potential to change your life forever. Many people describe experiences that are deeply spiritual, deeply personal, and often extremely uncomfortable. The fear of “bad trips” is very common. Although there are ways to minimize the risk of a bad trip, it’s always a possibility, and most people are (justifiably) terrified of the thought of a dream that could turn into an out-of-control nightmare at any second.

Secondly, it’s impractical! A full-on psychedelic trip will take several hours, and that’s not including the copious amount of time you’ll need to spend preparing yourself beforehand, and the day or two you’ll need to take afterward to integrate the experience and come back to reality. For many people, it’s not easy to take a few days off work every time they want to benefit from a psychedelic experience.

Finally, it’s difficult to get it right! Most of the studies on the benefits of large doses of psychedelics take place in clinical environments, amidst a horde of experts and carers, with stringent safety guidelines and aftercare protocols. It’s hard to replicate this in your living room! Unless you know some qualified psychedelic psychotherapists who would be willing to guide your experience, you’re going to have to settle for a less-than-ideal environment. And this certainly puts people off. For many, to feel entirely secure, they need to know they are in the optimal environment.

This is why microdosing is an attractive alternative. For those who are intrigued by the reported benefits of psychedelics, but don’t want to surrender to a full-dose psychedelic journey, a microdose is an excellent place to start.

  • Microdosing is not scary. Because the ideal dose is so tiny, you won’t even notice it. As such, if you do it even remotely right, there is no risk of having a bad trip.
  • Microdosing is practical. Once you’ve figured out your correct dose, you can go to work as normal, play sports, hang with friends… there is no “hangover” so you won’t need to spend the day after at home.
  • Microdosing is relatively easy. You won’t need to be surrounded by psychotherapists. It’s easy to get started, although it may take you some time to optimize it!

What results do people see?

People microdose for different reasons, so the benefits they experience may depend on what they are hoping to gain.

Many people microdose for creativity; to help them think outside the box and solve difficult problems. Artists and musicians microdose to help them create, while entrepreneurs microdose to discover new ideas and solutions to problems.

Others microdose to harness the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics. A significant number of people microdose to relieve their depression, with startlingly positive results. A growing number of sufferers of ADHD have found microdosing to be more effective than using typical medications. Although these reports are so far only anecdotal, we’re beginning to discover a new world of therapeutic potential hidden within psychedelic microdoses.

The most common benefits that are reported by almost everyone who microdoses include:

  • Less social anxiety
  • Fewer negative ruminating thoughts
  • Increased patience with people
  • Less procrastination
  • Greater appreciation for nature
  • Increased creative drive

How are people microdosing?

Microdosing with LSD or psilocybin mushrooms is fairly straightforward. The standard technique involves taking a small dose every 4th day, as shown in the diagram below. So you’ll take a microdose on day 1, wait a couple of days, take your next microdose on day 4, and so on. People will often continue this cycle for a few weeks, then give themselves a break to reflect on how things have gone.

The dose itself may take some time to get right. Ideally it will be low enough that you don’t notice it, but high enough that at the end of the day you can reflect on the subtle positive impact. Typically, a beginner will begin with around 10ug of LSD (around a tenth of a tab) or 0.1g of dried psilocybin mushrooms.

For more information you can read our full guides: Microdosing LSD and Microdosing Psilocybin Mushrooms.

As previously mentioned, it may take some time to optimize your dose – but it may also take some time to optimize your mindset to ensure you are making the most of your microdosing regimen.

Our extensive microdosing course goes into detail about how to maximize the benefits of microdosing, depending on your motivations and expectations. The course goes into detail about how to get started, describes how to optimize your protocol, and contains interviews with the world’s leading microdosing experts.

Is microdosing safe?

Psychedelic substances are some of the safest substances known. In terms of their toxicity, it would take enormous quantities to come anywhere close to being lethal. In terms of their harm to society or family units, they are safer than almost all other psychoactive substances.

Although the 1960s and ‘70s produced numerous horror stories regarding the psychological effects of psychedelics, most of these stories were exaggerated or falsified. It’s certainly true that irresponsible use of psychedelics, without adequate support, can lead to unpleasant experiences. But when used in the correct environments, with the right intentions and support, the risks of a bad experience are minimal.

Microdosing, because it involves such tiny quantities of psychedelics, does not carry the risk of a “bad trip.” If done correctly, you will not have an intense experience.

Some people have reported that microdosing can increase their anxiety levels. This can almost always be remedied by reducing the dose, or microdosing in different environments.

Because there have been no long-term studies of the physiological effects of microdosing, we can’t say with absolute certainty that microdosing is physically safe. There is some evidence to suggest that regular, heavy psychedelic use can damage your heart. As such, there’s a possibility that regular microdoses could pose a risk of heart disease. This is why we recommend microdosing for no longer than a few weeks at a time, and taking long breaks between microdosing regimens; at least until future research can show that microdosing for long periods is physically safe.

Microdosing with other substances

Microdosing with LSD and psilocybin mushrooms is quickly growing in popularity. However it’s likely not a new idea – and not just restricted to these two psychedelics. It’s almost certain that indigenous shamans have been taking smaller doses of natural psychedelics like ayahuasca and Salvia divinorum for as long as psychedelic ritual has existed.

People have begun to microdose with other psychoactive substances, such as ayahuasca, DMT, ibogaine, mescaline and even cannabis.

The microdosing paradigm is helping us understand that there are nuances to psychedelics which we are only beginning to discover. It’s not necessarily all-or-nothing!

Microdosing is at the forefront of the Third Wave of psychedelics – helping us understand how psychedelics could become integrated in mainstream society. Once we begin to accept that microdosing psychedelics can be healing and beneficial without any of the downsides of large-dose experiences, we can start to think about psychedelics outside of the stigmas and myths that are usually associated with them.


If you’d like to learn how to use microdosing to elevate your mind, body, and spirit, check out our Microdosing Course. We’ll guide you through the basics—then dive much deeper, helping you tailor your routine to meet your personal goals.

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