What is Microdosing
Microdosing, as the name implies, is simply taking a very small dose of something. Some of you, for instance, may be microdosing on coffee or chocolate (though some of you may also be taking very large doses). The pharmaceutical industry sometimes uses the term microdosing to explain how they test new products and study what goes on at the cellular level but the amounts they use are much smaller than what is commonly considered Microdosing.
The most prevalent substances used for microdosing are mushrooms or truffles containing psilocybin (magic mushrooms) or lsd. There are some who microdose on ayahuasca, ibogaine, mescaline or even MDMA.
Modern History of Microdosing
Widespread microdosing in the modern world started some forty years ago. There has been very little scientific investigation into the effects of microdosing. You can see the latest research on our home page.
James Fadiman, who has been collecting data on microdosing for several decades now, also reports that microdosing can help relieve anxiety, depression, menstrual pain as well as migraines, increase physical skills and sensory perception.
Several books have been written about individual experiences with microdosing, one of the most vivid is Ayelet Waldman’s book “A Really Good Day”.
A Little Bit of Psychedelic Science
Psilocybin attaching to a 5ht2a receptor causing the neuron to fire
The word psychedelics, comes from the Greek words psyche, the mind, and dēlos, to manifest. Classic psychedelics are substances such as LSD, ayahuasca, DMT, psilocybin that look similar to Serotonin and activate Serotonin receptors. The most promising theory is that the Psychedelic effect is caused by the Serotonin 2A receptor being activated, making it more likely a neuron will fire. The term for that is receptor agonists. Many of these receptors are situated in your brain’s pyramid neuron in a specific layer called layer V, meaning the 5th layer in the Cortex’s 6 layer structure. There is evidence that the neuron’s in this layer are responsible for activating your brain’s top down expectations. By lowering the threshold of activation of these neurons with psychedelics your brain is less likely to activate the default previous expectations it has stored and more likely to activate new expectations. An interesting side note is that 90% of the body’s serotonin is found in the digestive tract, assisting digestion and appetite.
This change in your brain’s expectations also seems to change the activation of the Default Mode Network (DMN) while under the influence of large doses of psychedelics. The DMN is a network in the brain that seems to be correlated to one’s sense of self. The network is activated when ruminating, thinking about others and remembering the past. It seems to deactivate during goal-oriented activities.
A day after large doses of psychedelics it’s been shown that the blood flow to the Amygdala, the “fear” center of the brain is reduced while the connectivity in the DFM increases.
In rats it’s also been shown that psychedelics increase the connections and strength of connections in neurons being made between neurons as well as induce gene expression related to neuroplasticity. Whether or not Microdosing can create the same effects in humans is still unknown.
So how do we go about microdosing? The first step is choosing a substance. In most countries, psychedelics are illegal and we do not promote the use of illegal substances. In the Netherlands, truffles containing psilocybin are legal and sold in smart shops as well as online, for instance at iMicrodose.nl. Psilocybin is decriminalized in some other places and movements to legalize Psilocybin are growing around the world.
Once a substance is decided upon, the next step would be deciding on a dosage. I am not a medical doctor and this is not medical advice but I can share community knowledge and my experience. Most people microdose using approximately 1/20th to 1/10th of a full dose. Let us say your full dose of truffles is 15 grams. That would mean that a microdose would be between 0.75 grams and 1.5 grams.
This depends on several factors such as your sensitivity to the substance as well as what your goals are. If you are sensitive to the substance then perhaps a full dose for you is 7.5 grams of truffles and then it would be advisable to use between 0.37 grams and 0.75 grams. I’ve microdosed with friends using 0.3 grams of truffles and they were knocked off their feet for several hours which, I might add, is very unusual. This is why the first few times you microdose it’s recommended that you have a plan for what to do if the dose is too strong. If one of your goals is to be more active and do physical activities, then a higher dosage may be recommended. That being said, it is advisable to keep the dosage as low as possible in order to avoid building up tolerance. Too little of a dose may cause fatigue, so it is important to check in with yourself and be aware of what is occurring in your body and mind.
The next step is deciding on how often to microdose. James Fadiman offered up the idea of taking a dose on day 1, then resting on day 2 and 3 and then taking another dose on day 4 and resting on day 5 and 6: one day on, two off. Recently Paul Stamets spoke of taking a dose 5 days in a row and then 2 days off. Later he adjusted that protocol to 4 days on and then 3 days off. It might be mentioned here that Stamets also suggested stacking the microdose: taking the psilocybin together with Lion’s Mane, another non-psychoactive mushroom and then 10 minutes later some vitamine B3 (niacin). Some people have reported success with microdosing whenever they feel the need for it. In general, it seems recommended to take a few weeks break after every 2 or so months of microdosing. You can use the free imicroapp to help you find the dose and protocol that works best for you.
Once again, I am not a medical doctor and this is not medical advice but I can share the common practices and latest research. It is generally recommended you consult a medical doctor if you have any health issues before microdosing. Medications that affect the serotonin system can interact with psilocybin either decreasing their effect or increasing the risk for serotonin syndrome which can be dangerous. Substance that contains monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) increases risk for serotonin syndrome and there are reports that Lithium in combination with psilocybin might cause seizures or very “bad trips”.
It generally is not recommended that people with psychotic disorders or have a family history of such disorders microdose and they are excluded from participating in research.
James Fadiman survey showed 5 color blind people perceived trails from microdosing, an effect that usually only happens in high doses.
James Faidiman also claims that those with diagnoses along the autism spectrum may need higher doses than what would be considered a microdose which may make microdosing impractical for them.
Psilocybin also activates the 5ht2b receptor, as do many SSRI medications, long term activation of that receptor has been linked to heart disease and more research is needed to understand if the same risk might happen with long term microdosing.
Some Final Thoughts
It should be clear by now that microdosing is a highly individual activity. You are the only one who can decide if it is working for you. Keeping track of how you feel either via our app or via journaling is recommended. Mindfulness exercises can be very valuable in order to notice how your mind and body are doing during microdosing.