Psychedelic Micro-dosing Benefits� A Comprehensive Review
Over the last decade, micro-dosing has increased in popularity, but the scientific literature contains minimal research on this practice. There has been limited reporting on adverse events associated with micro-dosing, and the experiences of micro-dosers.
Today, our goal is to provide readers with a succinct and accurate understanding of the current literature pertaining to the research (both clinical and anecdotal) surrounding this relatively new method of psychedelic consumption!
An Overview about Micro-dosing
Psychedelics have returned from the �shadows� and re-entered the�mainstream�in a huge way over the last two decades, whether through successful�ballot initiatives, on the�stock market�or in�Silicon Valley. But now, it�s not profoundly visual, earth-shattering trips like the ones that inspired Steve Jobs to create�the iPhone�that are being glorified, it�s micro-dosing.
- Micro-dosing is defined as �the practice of consuming very low, sub-hallucinogenic doses (one-20th to a tenth of a recreational dose) of a psychedelic substance, such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or psilocybin-containing mushroom, with the goal of not getting high, but to feel more focused, creative and present.�
Recent reports indicate that millennials are drinking less and less interested in drugs like cocaine, rather, they�ve taken up LSD and mushrooms in the way someone else might pop an Adderall. The most widespread self-reported benefits include improved mood, better eating and sleeping habits, and less of a need for caffeine, but we�ll touch upon this more later throughout this article.
The Big Four in Micro-Dosing
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)
Users describe feeling a boost in energy, focus, and an increased sense of subjective vitality. A �proper� micro-dose, according to users of the drug, is like a day in which you�ve �gotten enough sleep and eaten well.� Users have also reported that provides assistance in addressing addictions, from cigarettes to heroin. Additionally, many LSD micro-dosers find that it�s made it easier to lose weight, stop drinking, and even cut down on playing video games.
Psilocybin (�Magic Mushrooms�)
Approximately one to two hours after consumption, users have reported an increase in concentration and vitality. Many users have also found that micro-dosing psilocybin helps with weaning off and staying off anti-depressants (SSRI�s). It can help reduce the side effects of a withdrawal and even mitigate symptoms of depression, along with increasing one�s sense of empathy as well.
DMT has a quicker onset than any of the drugs listed above� it can kick in seconds after use, and its acute effects last only about a half-hour. It brings users to a place of introspection and, as one frequent micro-doser put it, �cuts out anything that isn�t serving me in the present moment, so I can just enjoy being.�, in other words, it helps users block out the noise in order to feel present.
Micro-dosing cannabis has been proven to be helpful in addressing an assortment of physical ailments, such chronic pain, nausea, inflammation, indigestion, fibromyalgia, PTSD-associated and insomnia. Likewise, it can boost interest in one�s surroundings, creativity, happiness, and focus, while also combating stress.
Preliminary Findings Suggest Positive Outcomes
A recent study conducted by Anderson et al. (2019) has shown that micro-dosing psychedelics resulted in the following:
- �Improved mood (26.6%, 215 reports): This most frequently reported benefit-category captures all codes related to mood improvements: happiness, well-being, peace, calm, and reductions in depressive symptoms. Also included are reports of improved outlook, appreciation of life, optimism, spiritual and emotional insights, and being more in touch with emotions.�
- �Improved focus (14.8%, 119.5 reports): This benefit-category references codes concerning focus and concentration, conscious awareness, mindfulness, and increased engagement and attentiveness.�
- �Creativity (12.9%, 104 reports): This category includes creativity per se, as well as meta-creative processes, e.g. shifting perspectives, divergent thinking, curiosity, and openness.�
- �Self-efficacy (11.3%, 91.5 reports): This category references improvements in self-efficacy (motivation/ambition, productivity, confidence, sense of agency) and self-care (introspection, meditation, and other behaviours facilitating mental health).�
- �Improved energy (10.5%, 84.5 reports): This category includes codes referencing �improved energy� per se, as well as alertness, wakefulness, and stimulation.�
- �Social benefits (7.6%, 61 reports): This category references various socially facilitating benefits such as extraversion, empathy, sense of connection, and verbal fluency.�
- �Cognitive benefits (5.8%, 47 reports): This category concerns cognitive enhancement (understanding, problem-solving), clarity of thought (clear headedness, lucidity), and memory.�
- �Reduced anxiety (4.2%, 34 reports): References to anxiety reduction and social-anxiety reduction fit in this category.�
- �Physiological enhancement (3.0%, 24 reports): This category concerns biological processes including enhanced senses (especially visual), cardiovascular endurance, sleep quality, and reduced migraines and/or headaches.�
- �Other perceived benefits (2.2%, 18 reports): This category was a catch-all for otherwise uncategorized codes. These include the novelty of the experience itself, the ability to control the dose, the lack of side-effects, and other miscellany. This category also includes 1 report that there were no beneficial effects.�
- �Reduced symptoms (other) (1.1%, 9 reports): References to stress reduction, reduced sensitivity to trauma, and references to reduced substance dependence (e.g. quitting smoking) are included.�
Additionally, participants answered targeted questions concerning behavioural improvements and substance-use reductions Respondents reported the following:
- improved mood (92.9%)
- anxiety (59.2%)
- meditative practice (49.1%)
- exercise (49.1%)
- eating habits (36.0%)
- and sleep (28.8%)
They also indicated reduced use of:
- caffeine (44.2%)
- alcohol (42.3%)
- cannabis (30.3%)
- tobacco (21.0%)
- psychiatric prescription medications (16.9%)
- illicit substances (16.1%).
The potential of micro-dosing has not yet been well understood, but the benefits reported in this literature suggest potential novel research avenues for psychedelic-based pharmacotherapeutic treatment of depression, anxiety, ADHD, smoking cessation, and substance use disorders.
LSD and psilocybin were the most frequently used substances and, as micro-dosing continues to be culturally, scientifically, and clinically relevant, it will be important to establish dose-dependent outcomes of micro-dosing and to consider the different contexts in which micro- and full doses may be variably appropriate, including when they may complement each other.