Microdosing 101: The Basics


“Microdosing turns out to be a totally different world. As someone said, the rocks don’t glow, even a little bit. But what many people are reporting is, at the end of the day, they say, ‘That was a really good day.’”

– Dr. James Fadiman

What is microdosing?

Microdosing refers to taking a small amount of a psychedelic. That is: an amount below the threshold of perception. In other words, when taking a microdose you  should not feel the effects that a normal dose would give you. The goal is not to experience psychedelic effects, but to use LSD or magic mushrooms as a stimulant, a nootropic. Something that gives you a small, but positive effect throughout your day.

In general, you can microdose any substance by taking a small amount of it. But increasingly it refers to taking these sub-perceptual quantities of psychedelics. With a normal dose, the user experiences an altered state, intense visuals, and sometimes even hallucinations. But, by taking a tiny amount of psychedelics, the user can function normally in daily life. In fact, they will probably feel more creative, energetic, or have a better mood.

The goal is not to feel different throughout the day, but to boost your overall experience of the day. At the end of the evening, looking back over the day, you might see how you behaved or experienced things differently. You might have felt better. You might have had a more positive mindset. Or perhaps you were able to concentrate for a longer period of time. Whatever you noticed, you realize that with microdosing there was a difference compared to a normal day.

What are the benefits and risks?

Unfortunately there is a lack of scientific studies that investigate  microdosing. Especially when it comes to psychedelics, there is little research – for  obvious reasons. The benefits that users report thus remain anecdotal and personal. However, there are a few benefits that most users experience. These include increased creativity, a better mood, feeling more energetic or social, being more productive, feeling more empathetic and “connected,” and others.

Obviously, dosage is something that plays a major role in the experienced effects. The higher the dose, the  more pronounced the effects – but the more they will interfere with your day as well.

Like with using any psychedelic, microdosing can act as an amplifier. When you are feeling well,  or when you are in a positive mindset, you will feel even better. If, on  the other hand, you are feeling down or if you are stressed out, this  can also amplify the negative feelings. Although it is less pronounced than a normal dose (think: “bad trip”), it is still something that a user should take into account.  The “set and setting” (that is: your mindset, and the setting of your  environment) are still important.

Finally, you should consider the interaction between psychedelics and medications or other substances. Little research has investigated this, but there are interactions between drugs and psychedelics. If you are on any medication, you should play it safe and refrain from using any psychedelic. Even with a microdose it is not worth the risk you put on yourself.

So what quantity is a “microdose”?

The exact quantity of a microdose can be difficult to determine. When it comes to magic mushrooms for example, the strength of the active ingredient differs per strain/mushroom. In general, a good starting point is taking 1/10th to 1/20th of a normal dose. If a normal dose of LSD is 100ug, then 5-10ug is considered a microdose. For magic mushrooms, this is more difficult to determine, but if a normal dose is 2g, then a microdose is around 0.1-0.2g.
 
Starting at a low dose allows you to experiment what the ideal dose size is for you. If the effects of 1/10th of a normal dose are too strong for a regular day, take less. If you don’t feel any different with 1/10th of a dose, take a little more to see what the effects are. In the end, this self-experimentation enables you to find what works and what doesn’t. At the same time you might find that certain dosages are good for certain things, and that you might want to vary the dosage size based on the plans for that day.

How often do I take a microdose?

The  main things to consider are 1) tolerance development, and 2) effects duration. 1) With psychedelics, you will quickly develop a  physiological tolerance. This means that taking a substance multiple  days in a row won’t yield the same – if any – effects. This is why sometimes these psychedelics have been referred  to as “anti-addictive.” 2) The actual effects of a microdose might not be noticable the second day. However, you might still feel a little “different” compared to a normal (baseline) day.

In practice this means the following. The first  day you will feel the “full effects.” Or: you will experience something while microdosing (if you use the correct dosage size for you). On day two, the effects will be gone, but you might still feel a little different. On the third day you will  most likely not feel anything (back to the normal state).

Luckily, this tolerance built-up is quickly diminished as well. What is usually recommended, is that users take a microdose on day 1, don’t do anything on Day 2, and use Day 3 as a rest day.  Then, day 4 can  be the start of another cycle again.

Obviously, this cycle will depend on your preferences. Self-experimentation is necessary to find out what works for you. Microdosing is deeply personal in that sense, and different users will find that they have different preferences.

Who is using microdosing?

Psychedelic usage calls to mind a certain type of user. And while this association might be wrong, many people use LSD and magic mushrooms for the hallucinations and “experiences.” That might not be your thing, and that is completely find. To me, microdosing can by used (and is used) by a much wider audience. Since the goal is not to hallucinate or have an experience, but rather to increase your every day life, many more people should be interested. Anyone looking to increase creativity, productivity, spirituality, energy or mood should be interested. In general, anyone with an interest in self-experimentation and improving their lives can benefit from microdosing.

If you read user reports on microdosing, you can see the large variety of people microdosing. From business managers, real estate agents, and bankers, to writers, musicians, and other creative types. Basically, any person that wants that extra bit of  creativity, insight, or energy can and should experiment with microdosing. It might not work for you, but it is worth a shot.

Where can I learn more?

There are several informational sources and communities on microdosing. This website is my documentation of microdosing information, but many good sources exist. The below articles/communities are recommended for further learning and reading:

From our website:

Microdosing Magic Mushrooms Guide
Microdosing LSD Guide
Benefits of Microdosing
Self-Experimentation Guide

Books:

-The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys by Dr. James Fadiman

Online Articles / Communities:

Reddit’s subreddit /r/Microdosing
The New Yorker: The Trip Treatment by Michael Pollan
The Morning News: The Heretic by Tim Doody
The New York Times: How LSD Saved One Woman’s Marriage by Alex Williams