Media reports indicate that microdosing psychedelics is gradually increasing in popularity, especially among the younger demographic. It appears that regular LSD use, as well as microdosing, is also on the rise in the U.S. For example, from 2015 to 2018, LSD use increased by over 50%. Some are turning to LSD to understand their own consciousness, others are using it therapeutically, and the rest are merely chasing the next big high. This article focuses specifically on microdosing LSD.
What is LSD?
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a synthetic hallucinogenic compound known to cause behavioral and psychological changes. Researchers are looking into the potential of LSD in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and substance addiction. LSD is manufactured from lysergic acid obtained from the ergot fungus, which grows on rye and other grains. LSD is also used for recreational purposes due to its hallucinogenic properties.
What is Microdosing LSD?
Microdosing refers to the consumption of hallucinogenic compounds in micro-doses over a prolonged duration (weeks or months) to allow the user to enjoy the benefits while preventing adverse events. Microdosing provides similar benefits as a regular dose but with reduced effects. It may also offer additional benefits, as research is now showing. This includes improving mood, creativity, cognition, and to counteract symptoms of anxiety and depression.
How Much is a Microdose?
A placebo-controlled study showed that a dose of 5 μg (micrograms) of LSD was sufficient to provide sustained attention. This study showed that a dose of 20 μg LSD produced the most apparent physiological benefits. The research showed that low doses of LSD affect the moods of healthy participants in a positive direction.
The Fadiman Protocol prescribes starting with one-tenth of the recreational dose every fourth day of the week and resetting before beginning a new dosing period. This can also be adjusted to suit personal preferences as some users have found this dose ineffective. Other microdosers will start with one-twentieth of the regular recreational dose. This allows them to go about their usual activities without being overwhelmed by the hallucinogenic effects of LSD.
As a final note, bear in mind that a microdose is considered one-20th to one-tenth of a normal recreational dose. A simple way to understand if you’ve consumed more than a microdose is if you’ve started to see or feel “strange” things. When you microdose, you shouldn’t see hallucinations (at least, extreme ones). Microdosing is more common with LSD and mushrooms, even though microdosing other psychedelics have also become popular lately.
Benefits of Microdosing LSD
With microdosing on the rise, it’s essential to understand the benefits, as well as any potential downsides. So let’s look at how microdosing LSD might help in the treatment of some common illnesses, as well as any adverse side effects.
Here are some potential benefits of microdosing LSD:
- Improving mental health
- Improving cognition
- Boosting creativity
- Reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression
Microdosing LSD and Mental Health
Research on the therapeutic benefits of LSD is still under investigation. An interview study showed that microdosing psychedelics might offer benefits such as improving mood and cognition, boosting creativity, and counteracting anxiety and depression. Microdosing also reduced instances of intoxication and allowed the individual to function optimally.
Microdosing offers similar therapeutic benefits to regular doses of LSD. Researchers, guided by anecdotal and preliminary evidence, are exploring the potential of LSD in treating the following conditions:
Improves Cognitive Process
A study showed that both LSD (10–20 micrograms) and psilocybin (<1–3 milligrams) could improve the cognitive process. This includes improving time perception and controlling convergent and divergent thoughts.
Microdosing LSD has subtle (positive) effects on cognitive processes (time perception, convergent and divergent thinking) and brain regions involved in affective processes. Besides the pleasant experience, increased anxiety and a cycling pattern of depressive and euphoric mood were also found. As for safety, until now it was found that low doses are safe for most healthy people. The study also showed that microdosing LSD has little to no side effects.
While it is yet unclear whether psychedelic microdosing is of therapeutic value for depression, the aforementioned effects on selective processes suggest that low doses of psychedelics could play a role in depression by inducing some kind of cognitive flexibility, which might lead to decreased rumination.
Microdosing LSD has been associated with an improvement in several neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, according to preliminary reports. This has been linked to the formation of new nerve cells (neurogenesis) and a reduction in inflammation of nerve cells (neuroinflammation). Considering that Alzheimer’s has no known cure, this will be an exciting area to explore.
Athletic Abilities and Movement
According to many, microdosing LSD (and other psychedelics) positively affects athletic movement and performance in sports, especially extreme sports. It appears some physicians choose to dose small amounts of psychedelics before going for long-distance runs. In this way, he says, he gets in the flow of the run. Likewise, a former college athlete from Salt Lake City stated that microdosing LSD and playing sports enables you to get in the flow of your movement. This notion is further supported by James Oroc, an extreme athlete, who insists that LSD increases the reflex time and improves balance to the point of perfection.
Work and Cognition
Some people call microdosing LSD at their workplace a brain hack. The concept is very simple; it is believed that small doses of LSD can create a state of mind in which employees are more creative and concentrated on their work. That is why microdosing LSD has become a cultural phenomenon in Silicon Valley. In a way, you can say that software developers are “hacking” their own minds to become better at what they do.
Adverse Effects of Microdosing LSD
Although microdosing is not on par with a full-dose LSD, it may still cause unwanted effects. The extent of potential harm related to microdosing LSD is still unknown due to the lack of conclusive research in this area. Most of the above studies on microdosing are online surveys whose validity could be questionable since they rely on the honesty of the participants. Hence, there is a need for more extensive randomized studies to assess the long-term safety of microdosing LSD.
LSD is a hallucinogenic compound that is gaining popularity in the U.S. While most users consume LSD for recreational purposes, researchers are interested in the therapeutic potential. Preliminary evidence suggests that LSD may improve mental health. Microdosing on LSD may help users to enjoy the therapeutic benefits while minimizing unwanted hallucinogenic effects.