New Ways to Enjoy Psychedelics and Microdose StairStep
Some of the most surprising people are using LSD and other psychedelics in extremely low doses, and the results are most interesting. At the fifth annual Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics Conference in New York City in October 2011, pioneering psychedelic researcher Dr. James Fadiman solidified his reemergence as a leading researcher of and advocate for psychedelic substances. Fadiman had done groundbreaking research with LSD up until the very day it was federally banned in 1966, but after that, he retreated into a life of quiet conventionality—at least on the surface. While Fadiman disappeared himself from the public eye for decades, he never did give up him interest in and enthusiasm for psychedelics.
A year before appearing at Horizons, he published his life’s work, The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, an amazing compendium of hallucinogenic lore, as well as a user’s manual for would-be psychonauts. The book examined the primary uses for psychedelics, such as spiritual enlightenment at high doses and improvements in creativity at smaller ones. It also addressed a lesser-known but increasingly popular phenomenon: microdosing.
Microdosing refers to taking extremely small doses of psychedelics, so small that the affects usually associated with such drugs are not evident or are “sub-perceptual,” while going about one’s daily activities. It’s being done by anyone from harried professionals to extreme athletes to senior citizen businesswomen, and they’re claiming serious benefits from it.
To trip brains (or have a transcendental experience) on LSD, a dose of 400 micrograms or more is called for; to explore your inner self, take 200 micrograms; for creative problem solving, try 100 mikes; but for microdosing, take only 10 to 15 micrograms. Similar microdoses for other psychedelics would include 0.2-0.5 grams of dried mushrooms (about one-fifth the normal dose) or about 50-75 micrograms of mescaline.
At that Horizons conference, as reported by Tim Doody in a fascinating profile of Fadiman, the bespectacled 70-year-old at one point asked his audience “How many of you have heard about microdosing?” A couple of dozen hands went up. “Whoa,” he exclaimed.
He explained that, beginning in 2010, he had been doing a study of microdosing. Since research with LSD remains banned, he couldn’t do it in a lab, but had instead relied on a network of volunteers who administered their own doses and reported back with the results. The subjects kept logs of their doses and daily routines, and sent them via email to Fadiman. The results were quite interesting, he said.
“Micro-dosing turns out to be a totally different world,” he explained. “As someone said, the rocks don’t glow, even a little bit. But what many people are reporting is, at the end of the day, they say, ‘That was a really good day.’ You know, that kind of day when things kind of work. You’re doing a task you normally couldn’t stand for two hours, but you do it for three or four. You eat properly. Maybe you do one more set of reps. Just a good day. That seems to be what we’re discovering.”
Study participants functioned normally in their work and relationships, Fadiman said, but with increased focus, emotional clarity, and creativity. One physician reported that microdosing put him “in touch with a deep place of ease and beauty.” A singer reported being better able to hear and channel music.
In his book, a user named “Madeline” offered this report: “Microdosing of 10 to 20 micrograms (of LSD) allow me to increase my focus, open my heart, and achieve breakthrough results while remaining integrated within my routine. My wit, response time, and visual and mental acuity seem greater than normal on it.”
These results are not yet peer-reviewed, but they are suggestive.
“I just got a report from someone who did this for six weeks,” Fadiman said. “And his question to me was, ‘Is there any reason to stop?’”
It isn’t just Fadiman acolytes who are singing the praises of microdosing. One 65-year-old Sonoma County, California, small businesswoman who had never heard of the man told AlterNet she microdosed because it made her feel better and more effective.
“I started doing it in 1980, when I lived in San Francisco and one of my roommates had some mushrooms in the fridge,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous. “I just took a tiny sliver and found that it made me alert and energized all day. I wasn’t high or anything; it was more like having a coffee buzz that lasted all day long.”
This woman gave up on microdosing when her roommate’s supply of ‘shrooms ran out, but she has taken it up again recently.
“I’m very busy these days and I’m 65, so I get tired, and maybe just a little bit surly sometimes,” she admitted. “So when a friend brought over some chocolate mushrooms, I decided to try it again. It makes my days so much better! My mood improves, my energy level is up, and I feel like my synapses are really popping. I get things done, and I don’t notice any side-effects whatsoever.”
She’s not seeking visionary experiences, just a way to get through the day, she said.
In an in-depth post on the High Existence blog, Martin Schirp examined the phenomenon in some detail, as well as describing his own adventure in microdosing: “On a beautiful morning in Amsterdam, I grabbed my vial of LSD, diluted down with half high grade vodka and half distilled water, and told my friend to trust me and open his mouth. While semi-carefully measuring the droplets for his microdose, I told him to whirl it around in his mouth for a few minutes before swallowing the neuro-chemical concoction. I quickly followed suit,” Schirp wrote. “We had one of the best walking conversations of our lives.”
James Oroc, author of Tryptamine Palace: 5-MeO-DMT and the Sonoran Desert Toad, exposed another realm where microdosing is gaining popularity. In a Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies monograph titled“Psychedelics and Extreme Sports,” Oroc extolled the virtues of microdosing for athletes. Taking low-dose psychedelics improved “cognitive functioning, emotional balance, and physical stamina,” he wrote.
“Virtually all athletes who learn to use LSD at psycholytic [micro] dosages believe that the use of these compounds improves both their stamina and their abilities,” Oroc continued. “According to the combined reports of 40 years of use by the extreme sports underground, LSD can increase your reflex time to lightning speed, improve your balance to the point of perfection, increase your concentration until you experience ‘tunnel vision,’ and make you impervious to weakness or pain. LSD’s effects in these regards amongst the extreme-sport community are in fact legendary, universal, and without dispute.”
Even the father of LSD, Albert Hofman seems to have been a fan. In his book, Fadiman notes that Hofmann microdosed himself well into old age and quoted him as saying LSD “would have gone on to be used as Ritalin if it hadn’t been so harshly scheduled.”
Psychonauts, take note. Microdosing isn’t going to take you to another astral plane, but it may help you get through the day. For more infomation on the microdosing experience, dig into the links up-story, as well as the Reddit user forum on microdosing. Surprisingly enough, the vaults of Erowid, that repository of drug user experiences, returned only one entry about microdosing, from someone who appears to have been a subject in the Fadiman microdosing experiments.
And, of course, if you want to try this, you have to obtain some psychedelics. They’re illegal, which doesn’t mean they aren’t around. An increasing number of people are finding them on the dark web; others obtain them the old-fashioned way: from within their own communities. Those who are really interested will get to work.
The above article was originally authored by Phillip Smith.
And now something from the authors at Mushroomshaman.com, primarily Hugh Alkemi.
Microdosing is an interesting shamanic art and alchemical practice. I personally practiced this several years ago with Psilocybe Cubensis, Magic Mushrooms and Magic Cactus (containing mescaline). I rather enjoyed the everyday experience and the substances did provide better days, uplifted mood, and courage in relationships and communication. I am unaware of a drug test that can detect Magic Mushrooms after 24 hours of being in your system and this may also be true with mescaline (but that depends on the test, although most employee drug tests won’t detect it).
I have taken psilocybin mushrooms in qualities as small as .1 of a gram to ease physical and nervous pain (and headaches). I have found that once an individual becomes adjusted or comfortable with the microdose, it is incredibly easy to sleep on/through and helps with the visionary state between sleeping and waking (hypnogogia).
Last year, I introduced a method of microdosing to my friends in the Phoenix, AZ area so that they might better be able to integrate their deep healing visionary and emotionally intense trips on larger doses of magic mushrooms. They were responsible adults and had been seeing several types of healers (for sober therapy) relating to healing childhood trauma triggered from being raised Mormon aka Church of Latter Day Saints. To this day, I believe they have been using the medicine in a safe and effective way.
Here’s the method that I learned and shared with my friends in Phoenix: A person is to start with a very small dose of magic mushrooms such as .1 grams (or less if you are a sensitive) on the first day, take .5 grams the second day, ingest 1 gram on the third day, rest and prepare yourself (possibly doing a special cleansing diet on the fouth day (or for 24 hours before the next step).
The peak experience: On the fifth day or night it is time for the person to take a 3.5 to 6 gram dose of the magic mushrooms, with a sitter and safe set and setting on an empty stomach. This is a psychedelic dose and will usually trip someone into inner or outer-space. This is a great time to have a focus or conversation about the life experience or trauma that the person is seeking improvement with.
The next day, or the sixth day, it’s important to journal and talk with the sitter or another person like a therapist in comfort about the experience/vision. Sometimes, I take a rest from the medicine but sometimes after a bad trip a person can be depressed, this may indicate that it’s appropriate to take a micro-dose from .5 grams to 1 gram. This dose should be so closely following the full dose experience (within 24 hours) that the individual has a tolerance and may be suggestive of less strong effects. I would err on the side of caution and remember that less is better. Other things can be substituted for the psychedelic mushrooms during this “come down” phase, such as adaptogenic herbs like Rhodiola or Suma/Maca roots, and superfoods can be used to return the nervous system and brain function to a great state of health (e.g. chia seeds, sea-weed, sea salt, raw organic fair trade chocolate, walnuts, and avocados). This is definitely not a day for intense experiences, social pressure, or action movies…it is a time of reflection. I like to be by water or in water.
On the next two days, it’s important to down step the dose back to the amount that you started with. So day 7 might be .5 grams or a little less, and day 8 may be even less (around .1 grams). This process of continuous microdosing is subjective and can be modified to you or your friend’s needs. If you are new to psychedelics, less is better and always take your time with experiences and experimental doses. It’s better to step up the dose slowly and a person can always make the bell-curve microdose model work around smaller or larger doses based on experience or take twice as long to increase and decrease the daily doses. It is also enjoyable and possible to receive the benefits of this healing journey by taking one or two days off in between doses. Remember that tolerance usually resets after 24 hours (with mushrooms).
Check out this graphic and imagine the dosage over time (dose is the height axis and times is the length axis).
Check out various articles on harm reduction, psychedelic therapy, and good set/setting practices online and by reading James Fadiman’s book.
Go with your gut,
(See the revision of this article made August 2019)