What Is Microdosing And Can It Really Enhance Your Daily Routine? We Investigate
Editor’s note: AskMen does not encourage or endorse the use of illegal drugs. The following article is for informational purposes only.
How’s this for your morning routine? Wake up around 6 a.m. hit the gym, back home by 7:30 a.m., shower, dress, get your cup of coffee, pop some LSD and head out the door for a productive day at work.
Nope, you didn’t read wrong — I did mention “pop some LSD” and “productive day” in the same sentence. While this might sound like the plot some off-the-wall Vice documentary, in reality, an early hit of LSD is becoming increasingly popular among Silicon Valley-ers as a way to perform at optimal levels and get a leg up on the competition. What’s this crazy practice called? Microdosing.
You might have heard murmurs about the phenomenon already, but if you haven’t, microdosing is taking small doses (usually about 1/10 of the regular dosage) of psychedelic drugs in order to reap the benefits while simultaneously avoiding the pitfalls. It’s been increasingly creeping into the mainstream in recent months and you’d be hard-pressed to find a scientific website today that isn’t fascinated with the entire procedure. So is it worth the hype? We decided to dig deep and find out what the real deal behind microdosing is.
How Did Microdosing Start?
Much of the microdosing phenomenon is credited to Dr. James Fadiman, who is widely considered the father of microdosing. He’s been studying the impact of psychedelics on humans since the 1960s and it’s his 1966 study on the benefits of hallucinogens that’s become a bible of sorts on the topic.
Another name that has become massive within the community is author Ayelet Waldman. Her 2016 book, A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life, became a cult hit as she extolled the positive impact the practice had on her.
Waldman reported the balancing out of her moods (She suffers from bipolar disorder) and the increase in productivity. It’s a fascinating read. These two figures, combined with Silicon Valley’s fascination, have catapulted microdosing from the fringes into the mainstream conversation.
How Does Microdosing Work?
Describing the overall effects of microdosing is a bit convoluted, but perhaps this analogy can break it down (though it affects different people in different ways).
Imagine your body is the government (I know, that’s the last thing you want to think, about but bear with me) and microdoses of LSD are like suped-up lobbyists buying votes. These votes, however, are all positive and essentially convince you to do the things that benefit you. They even appear to supersede laziness.
Simply put, microdosing supposedly helps its users be more attuned to their own needs by enhancing your cognitive processing in specific ways. The claim is that you will be more creative, more focused, and your mood will improve. But most importantly, you’re not tripping balls.
So What Does Microdosing Actually Look Like?
To be clear, you’ll never microdose every day. According to protocols outlined by Dr. Fadiman, you dose on Day One and you’ll feel the effects for the duration of that day and the next. By Day Three you’ve likely stopped feeling any of the effect at all, so by Day Four you dose again.
This is the recommended course of action, as it allows the subject to judge for themselves how they feel during a specific cycle. Even with small doses, hallucinogens affect people differently; this method allows for experimentation. It’s recommended to complete this cycle for a month before deciding whether or not to continue.
Third Wave, an organization that advocates the educated use of psychedelic drugs, put together a rundown of a typical day while microdosing. Below, they break it down into four core benefits that are distributed throughout the day based on time. Microdosing doesn’t work as linearly as this may suggest, but it’s a good guideline.
INCREASED CREATIVE OUTPUT – 9 A.M.
- Brilliant outbursts in work and personal creative projects.
- Super easy to get in the ZONE.
- Work becomes fun!
MORE PHYSICAL ENERGY – 4 P.M.
- More stamina while exercising.
- Clean energy buzz–like a psychedelic coffee.
- Lift heavier weights
- Improved coordination & higher level of focus.
IMPROVED EMOTIONAL BALANCE – 7 P.M.
- Create stronger bonds with new and existing friends
- High levels of gratitude
- Alleviates depression
- Gradual buildup of openness and awareness
HEIGHTENED SPIRITUAL AWARENESS – 9 P.M.
- Glimmers of insight into the unity of all life forms
- Amazed by the wonders of life
- More in line with spiritual intentions
What Are The Drawbacks?
Some who have tried it have reported trouble sleeping, over-empathy and restlessness. This Reddit thread is excellent reading if you’re thinking about testing it out. But the overall drawbacks are more concentrated about the entire field itself, not just the act.
Microdosing is part of an emerging field of experimenting with psychedelics for health benefits — and that’s the keyword: “emerging.” Most studies around the practice are anecdotal. There have yet to be any large-scale definitive studies on the long and short-term effects.
Some critics have even purported that it may act as a glorified placebo, with the idea being that microdosing will only really serve to exacerbate who you really are at your core. Because the dosage is so little, they suggest, it won’t alter your entire experience.
So Where Do We Stand Now?
In addition to being illegal in all 50 states and in the majority of Western countries, LSD is heavily stigmatized in society and the idea that it will one day become just another over-the-counter drug may be wishful thinking at best. There are precedents, however — consider the recent legalization of marijuana in several states after decades of illegality and harsh legal punishments for dealers and recreational users alike.
Humans are constantly fascinated with performing at our optimum levels. We ask, “How can I make sure that this body I occupy can perform at peak level both physically and mentally at all times?” Microdosing is just another example of where that question can take you, and more studies will be required. In the mean time, AskMen doesn’t recommend you start micro — or macro- — dosing with any illegal drugs.