Updated: 5 days ago
So, you have heard about microdosing and want to know more before trying it. Well, look no further; we have you covered! This brief guide will give an overview of microdosing—its history and the science behind it- and cover some typical microdosing regimes and relevant safety information.
Microdosing is the practice of taking very low doses of psychedelics like LSD, magic mushrooms, or ayahuasca. The idea behind microdosing is that combined with mindfulness practices, these substances can subtly help us tap into our subconscious minds and access information about ourselves and the world around us that we usually wouldn't know about. This allows us to make better decisions and live more authentic lives. To someone less familiar with the benefits of psychedelics, this may sound a bit ridiculous. So it's understandable that you would have some questions.
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A History of Microdosing
The distant history of microdosing in ancient societies is controversial, with scholars disagreeing on how common it was. We believe ancient civilizations like the Aztecs employed modest amounts of psilocybin mushrooms for various purposes.
The story of microdosing as we know it now begins with James Fadiman, Ph.D. and his 2011 book, The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys, which analyses microdosing as a subculture of psychedelic usage. Fadiman had a podcast discussion with entrepreneur and author of The 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss, in 2015, which introduced microdosing to thousands of his fans and piqued the interest of mainstream media.
More people than just Ferriss noticed Fadiman's work. Ayelet Waldman, inspired by The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide, turned to microdosing to control the mood swings that were wreaking havoc on her profession and relationships. Her experiences were favorable, and they formed the basis of her 2016 book, A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Massive Difference in My Mood, Marriage, and Life.
Mycologist Paul Stamets has also popularized Microdosing. Stamets has dedicated his life to the study of medicinal and psychedelic fungi. His most recent patent application is for a nootropic stack (a combination of cognitive enhancers) that contains a microdose of psilocybin, Lion's Mane mushrooms, and niacin.
Now, microdosing has hundreds of thousands (or maybe even millions) of proponents worldwide. The subreddit, r/microdosing, has 216 thousand members alone!
The Science of Microdosing
The science around microdosing is in its early stages. Due to the illegality of psychedelics, researchers have conducted very few clinical trials, especially on microdosing.
Research has found that low doses of LSD, as little as five micrograms, increased the amount of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) detected in participants' blood, with 20 micrograms producing the most significant and longest-lasting change (Hutten et al., 2020). BDNF is a protein with many functions in the brain, but it is best known for its ability to stimulate the growth of new neurons and is linked to improved cognitive performance and memory function. While previous research had established a link between psychedelics and neuroplasticity in vitro and in animal studies, this is one of the first human studies to confirm the effect of microdoses of LSD.
Everything we know, from walking and talking to playing chess or meditating, is based on our brain's ability to adapt. The fact that even small doses of psychedelics can improve this may explain why microdosing is so effective at assisting people in developing new and healthier habits, feeling more creative, and generally i