Microdosing is considered Phase 0 in clinical trials and refers to the administration of a drug in the smallest amount possible to get a cellular response that is measurable vs a full body response. It allows the experts to know whether the drug validates additional testing. In the context of psychedelics, microdosing is the practice of taking very low, sub-hallucinogenic doses of psychedelic substances such as psilocybin mushrooms. The aim of this minimum effective dose or microdose is to induce the positive effects of the substances without the hallucinogenic effects.
A study published by the Harm Reduction Journal, Psychedelic microdosing benefits and challenges: an empirical codebook, lists the following as some asserted benefits of microdosing psychedelic substances:
Improved mood – Participants reported improvement in their happiness, well-being and reduction in depressive symptoms.
Improved focus – Including mindfulness, increased consciousness and awareness.
Creativity – Participants experienced divergent thinking, curiosity and openness.
Improved energy – Described as alertness, wakefulness and stimulation.
Microdosing also offers persons the ability to control the dose and decrease the risk of side-effects. Additionally, microdosing psychedelics may be applied to each person based on their current needs. Typically, the individual who is microdosing will have a goal or reason to ‘dose’ which is the focus of their experience. These experiences are often guided by a medical, religious, spiritual advisor to help ensure the consumer stays on track to have a progressive and beneficial experience. A therapeutic intervention is often associated with the experience when the individual participant has a need to address topics like PTSD, anxiety and depression.
Recent studies have suggested that the perceived positive effects of microdosing might be attributed to a placebo effect, which is the phenomenon of persons experiencing improvements or benefits despite taking an inactive substance. Lead author, Balázs Szigeti of research paper, Self-blinding citizen science to explore psychedelic microdosing, stated that the results of the research was mixed. On on hand, they observed the benefits of microdosing in a range of psychological measures but also, benefits were seen in persons taking the placebos.
It is evident that additional studies and research is necessary to ascertain just how microdosing works and its potential for generating positive effects in the daily lives of consumers.
Anderson, T., Petranker, R., Christopher, A. et al. Psychedelic microdosing benefits and challenges: an empirical codebook. Harm Reduct J 16, 43 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12954-019-0308-4
Szigeti, B., Kartner, L., Blemmings, A., et al. Self-blinding citizen science to explore psychedelic microdosing. eLife 2021;10:e62878 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.62878