Microdosing refers to the act of taking a very small amount of a psychedelic drug - usually LSD or psilocybin (magic mushrooms) - on a regular basis in order to improve certain aspects of one’s life. Often times people microdose as a regular part of their morning routine.
Albert Hoffmann first synthesized LSD in 1938, and took what is known as the first planned LSD trip in 1943. Known as the “father of psychedelics,” Hoffmann himself used the microdosing method in the last 20 or so of his life. He lived to be 102 and found that “consuming LSD in small amounts clarified his thinking.”
According to David Nutt, director of the Center for Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, “[psychedelic] drugs change cortical functions, making them more fluid and less rigid. At least big doses do - that’s what our imaging studies tell us - and maybe low doses to a lesser extent.” He adds that “this may help certain brain areas work in more flexible and expansive ways that might give better outcomes.”
In the 1960s, Dr. James Fadiman conducted groundbreaking experiments with psychedelic drugs, one of which involved administering doses of LSD and Mescaline to mathematicians, scientists and architects to see the effects on creative thinking and problem-solving.
Unfortunately this one was of the last scientific experiments using LSD to be conducted due to laws put into place by the FDA that banned the substance.
Nowadays, Dr. Fadiman is conducting research in a different method: he’s collecting ongoing data from hundreds of people around the world who are experimenting with microdosing. They’re using it to treat anything from depression to anxiety, or even just to increase their creative productivity.
Dr. Fadiman says that the experiment has gotten more and more people to open up about their experiences with psychedelic drugs.
Microdosing requires only approximately one-fifth to one-tenth of a normal dose of the desired psychedelic drug, so as not to actually “trip.” Microdosers have reported benefits including improved mood, better productivity and relief from mental ailments including depression and ADHD. Dr. Fadiman recommends that microdosers dose in the morning, about once every three days for the best results.
Microdosing has become the new five-hour energy among professionals who want that little extra boost in the mornings.
Ken (name changed), who has a master’s degree from Stanford University and works for a San Francisco startup, told Rolling Stone that he had “an epic time,” after a day at the office. “I was making a lot of sales, talking to a lot of people, finding solutions to their technical problems.”
Unfortunately, due to the restrictions put on hallucinogens by the FDA, performing legal medical experiments involving psychedelic drugs is incredibly difficult.
“Microdosing at a medical level, we know absolutely nothing about,” says Psychiatrist James Rucker, who has also been conducting experiments into the medical uses of psychedelics. “The only way that we can sort out whether or not it works is by doing a blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized trial.”
Rucker explains that we don’t know what the long-term risks might be for microdosing. He says that in people who are more apt to developing mental health disorders like schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, that “the drugs might actually uncover those problems in some people.”
Until the government lifts its ban on hallucinogens, it will be difficult for any researchers to gather conclusive evidence on microdosing. Until then, we’ll just have to read about the participants in Dr. Fadiman’s study and their experiences.
And of course, if you’re thinking about trying out microdosing, always do your research and proceed with caution!