Microdosing LSD is an increasingly popular practice that entails taking sub-perceptual amounts of LSD. Some people who microdose do so on a regular basis according to a specific regime. The microdose is not meant to be felt nor to produce a psychoactive response. The idea is that over time, the practice of microdosing may add some benefit to the individual’s life. This could be because they are seeking an increase in focus, a reduction in anxiety, or an improved sense of general well-being.
Indeed, many substances can be used in a microdosing practice, from LSD to psilocybin mushrooms, cannabis, to San Pedro cactus that contains mescaline. There are a number of considerations to take into account in a LSD microdosing practice, including the specific dosage, the method and rhythm of the microdosing practice, the frequency of the microdosing, new findings from scientific research,and harm reduction techniques to reduce suboptimal effects that may occur.
Benefits of Microdosing LSD
There are many anecdotal reports attesting to the benefits of microdosing LSD. Whereas the benefit of a single large dose trip is found in the insights and integration of the experience, with microdosing the benefits come from the practice over time and are integrated more gradually. This practice is used by some people to increase focus,1 decrease depression,2 support creativity and promote overall well-being.3
Safety Considerations for Microdosing LSD
Despite the positive effects of microdosing LSD, it is also important to practice harm reduction in order to mitigate any potential negative impacts of even subperceptional doses of LSD, such as increased anxiety.4 One potential harm of frequent introduction of psychedelics to your CNS is a decrease in receptor availability; an individual’s receptors will build a tolerance to the dose and require a higher amount to have any activity. Before starting a microdosing practice, be sure that you have done ample research—whether on your own, with the help of a coach, or online. In recent years, coaches who specialize in supporting microdosing practices have become available.
It’s also important to note that the long term effects5 of microdosing LSD still have yet to be studied in depth, although some research has been conducted. Other considerations to take into account include whether a person is taking other medications such as SSRIs that may contraindicate6 with the microdosing practice or dampen its effects. Or whether a person is taking other psychedelics or may have an underlying mental health issue.
How to Microdose LSD
Taking a psychedelic, at least in a perceptible or full-dose, entails a degree of intentionality and planning, especially regarding set and setting – a person’s internal state and external surroundings going into a psychedelic experience. Microdosing, in contrast, is a more consistent practice that requires diligence and self-reflection, rather than premeditation.
Microdosing is not a magic bullet and requires a significant degree of consideration and thought before committing to a practice, including what protocol to follow and assurance that the substance (in this case LSD) is not adulterated or a counterfeit substance and has been tested with a drug checking kit.7
The practice of microdosing entails ingesting approximately 1/10 of a standard ‘full dose’ of a psychedelic. In the case of LSD, a microdose is between 10 and 20 micrograms. For many people, a full dose of LSD is between 100 and 200 micrograms. The practice of microdosing itself varies according to the specific, given methodology. One more common regimen[footnote]https://microdosinginstitute.com/how-to/microdosing-protocols/ is to take a microdose every two to three days over the course of several months, followed by a pause.
The microdosing methodology of one day on, two days off, was developed by psychedelic researcher James Fadiman, co-founder of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. The Microdosing Institute offers another approach, consisting of every second day. Other protocols8 for microdosing LSD are more intuitive, based on when the user feels the “need” for the microdose. Some people microdose on a very occasional basis.
Research on Microdosing LSD
A combination of anecdotal and clinical evidence point to some benefits associated with the practice of microdosing LSD. However, research is still in early stages and is not conclusive. At this point in science, the benefits people claim they attain with microdosing do not match up with the data. Currently all available evidence shows that microdosing is as effective as placebo.
There remains a range of opinions and scientific data9 about the benefits or efficacy of a microdosing practice. The Beckley Foundation, a UK-based nonprofit organization that investigates the effects of psychedelics and advocates for global policy change, has funded research10 into psychedelics. The foundation has supported a number of studies looking at microdosing LSD and its effects on chronic pain, mood, cognition, neuroplasticity, addiction, various psychiatric conditions, and more.
Research11 conducted by scientists at Imperial College London also looks to the placebo12 effect as part of the benefits of microdosing. Indeed, the user’s positive expectations regarding a microdosing practice may contribute to, or even be responsible for, positive results, according to some research.
As the practice of microdosing becomes more popular, a number of companies have begun to conduct research in this field with the intention of commercializing a form of this practice. The neuro-pharmaceutical drug development company MindMed is collaborating13 with Maastricht University to investigate the effects of microdosing LSD on mood regulation, cluster headaches, and other conditions.
History of Microdosing LSD
Perhaps the first microdose of LSD was taken by the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann when he synthesized the compound in the early 1940s and accidentally ingested a little bit through absorption from his fingertips,14 although this story is highly disputed15 within the psychopharmacology community. While some people who experimented with LSD in the counterculture of the 1960s and 70s noticed that using a small amount offered a general enhancement to whatever activity was at hand, the practice became more popular in the early 21st century.
In 2011, researcher James Fadiman published The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, which included a chapter about microdosing LSD as a potential approach to reaping its benefits without a full-blown psychedelic experience. This contributed to a resurgence in the interest of microdosing, which gained momentum as others discussed the practice, including Ayelet Waldman in her 2017 bestseller, A Really Good Day. News of microdosing continued to make headlines in national magazines and newspapers, as the practice became especially popular16 among people who work in the tech industry in Silicon Valley in California, some of whom use LSD for creativity and productivity.