Microdosing is categorised as taking regular doses of a drug or supplement to improve mental and/or physical health or wellbeing. Contemporary microdosing is most often associated with classic psychedelics and cannabis products, but can also include other substances such as research chemicals, new psychedelic substances, non-psychoactive mushrooms and cacao. In this case, we are talking solely about microdosing classic psychedelics, which most often is either psilocybin containing mushrooms or truffles, or LSD or one of it’s more accessible analogues such as 1P-LSD or 1V-LSD.
Microdosing with classic psychedelics is not new, but has been growing in popularity over the last decade during the “Psychedelic Renaissance” of the 21st century. This new trend of microdosing appears to have begun in Silicone Valley around the early- to mid- 2010s. Users reported that it helped them to feel more creative, engaged, productive, and socially adaptive. Thus, microdosing seemed like the perfect answer to the Western problem of struggling to keep up with all of life’s demands in a culture that values productivity and wealth creation over healthy, sustainable lifestyles.
High hopes meet the ground
Against a backdrop of renewed research into the potential for psychedelics in medicine and mental health, driven by the efforts of legacy research who fought for decades to make permission for that research possible, many academics honed in on the subject of microdosing. There are several pioneers of modern microdosing, who have spent years collecting anecdotal data about microdosing which amount to tens of thousands of reports from people about their experiences and the way the practice has changed their lives. On the contrary, experimental research on microsoding has had very mixed results, especially earlier studies, but the majority of these studies have faced major limitations such as poor controls, inadequate experiment conditions, short study durations, confounding factors, small sample sizes, improper assumptions about dosage, legal restrictions, and others.
Most of all, microdosing research has fallen short of its goal through trying to measure the wrong outputs, in the assumption that the practice will make the user “more creative”, “more productive”, “less depressed”, etc. This is especially true when, for example, trying to measure an effect on depression in a cohort not specifically selected for depression, because relatively few of your participants may both have depression and experience significant reduction, leaving a higher proportion of “no effect” measurements across your whole study. What’s true about psychedelics first and foremost is that the experience ultimately evades frontloading. If one were to take a person who has no particular affinity for creativity, and encourage them to microdose, and observe for an “increased creativity effect”, you will probably end up disappointed, or claim that the power of microdosing is debunked altogether. What we may not notice, however, is that this same person has been getting on top of some tasks that have been paralysing them with stress, or has felt some initiative to talk more with friends. They feel lifted from some rut, and we simply didn’t know that was what needed to be measured.
Not another productivity tool!
Ultimately, the key is in the context…why did all those Silicone Valley tech innovators report increased creativity if that’s not a statistically measurable output of microdosing? A possible explanation is that they are inherently creative people, facing pressure to perform in a fast paced industry, increasing stress and fear of failure, depletion of any sense of completion or reward, and lacking the space, time, rest, and reflection that are truly conducive to a creative life. Microdosing could be the thing that broke down the rigidity of this stress/freeze response and allowed their creativity to be renewed.
Thus we end up with a much more workable idea of how microdosing can be incorporated into an individual’s life. We need to remove assumptions about simplistic outputs. We don’t want to make people “more creative” or “more productive”, and we don’t want to make promises that we can make people “less depressed” or “less anxious”. What we can do is hand people tools and practices that help them break down those rigid brain states, thought patterns, and body responses that are inhibiting their relationship with themselves, demolishing their sense of wellbeing, and jeopardising their connection with their life and community. This also sets the stage for microdosing to be an unexpected but powerful tool to combat the repercussions of contemporary Western life, rather than another weapon in it’s artillery.
Microdosing research, like all psychedelic research, has a long way to go, and faces challenges to complex and many to name. Anecdotal evidence will never be enough to develop formal theories, yet experimental enquiry which asks the wrong questions will always produce false theories. But that doesn’t mean that those of us who have experienced first hand how transformative these practices can be cannot hand them to others, especially when there are so many people out there who are struggling in the depths. Our duty is simply to responsibly guide, inform, and give room for the other to find their own way out.
Who Is This For?
As discussed in the introduction, microdosing is not specifically a “cure” or straightforward fix for any particular condition or problem, although some specifics are emerging through more rigourous research. What we do know, is that various psychedelics have effects on the brain and body that can open up avenues to resolving a variety of different issues. Some known properties of psychedelics include:
- Neurogenesis – neural cell birth and growth
- Increased ability to create new neural pathways (established communication routes from neuron to neuron)
- Increased connection between brain regions, decreased connection within brain regions
- Increased brain entropy
Macrodosing is privilege, Microdosing is accessibility
Macrodosing psychedelics produces these effects to a much greater degree than microdosing, whence the enormous movement to legalize and study these substances, and the documented ways they have changed lives. However, for many reasons, macrodosing psychedelics is not for everyone. Access to safe, guided macrodosing experiences is a privilege, you need either the money to seek out reputable retreats possibly in a foreign country, or you need the luck to have someone in your own network who can be this guide for you. Macrodosing alone can be difficult or risky, especially for those who are more vulnerable, and for the unseasoned psychonaut, can actually create more of a sense of aloneness and struggle for meaning, when not surrounded by others who share the kind of insights psychedelics gift us. Macrodosing can produce profound realisations and epiphanies which can be very freeing for those with the resources to make the changes they need to fit their new mindset, but for those without resources, living with these unlived realisations can be even more damning. For those who are underprivileged especially, life is already full of unrealised dreams and visions of what life could be if it were not for the systemic, financial, and health related barriers that stand in their way.
This opens the door for microdosing to play a role in bringing the benefits of psychedelics to those without the privilege or desire to engage in full psychedelic experiences. Microdosing has been described as taking “sub perceptual” doses of psychedelics, but some are now moving away from this phrasing. Rather, it is a “sub-entheogenic” dose that characterises the microdose. A perfect microdose is one which does not induce a “psychedelic state” of visuals and journeying, but which does produce some “feeling”. Though this varies from person to person, some effects do seem ubiquitous, such as:
- Feelings of warmth
- A sense of connectedness
- An impulse to engage to take action
- An overall sense of wellbeing, a feeling that things are okay
My Ideal Client
My focus, specifically, is to help people incorporate microdosing in a practical, realistic way to gradually raise themselves out of the tangles of everyday miseries. For many people, their problems are the compounded effects of marginalization, financial deficits, social isolation, bureaucratic barriers, unemployment or unhealthy employment, disability, lack of social supports, inaccessible healthcare and many more. We cannot keep lauding “productivity”, “hard work” and the latest health hacks as the pathway out of systemic underprivilege, nor can we fix systemic issues through individualised therapies, but what we can do in the here and now is help people to alleviate some of the powerlessness and hopelessness that’s burying people, and give them a better chance of dismantling the very real barriers they face.
I welcome in my practice, in particular, those who face systemic barriers who want to work with someone who shares those experiences, and who may not feel that the glamourised, luxury brand aesthetics that the wellness and psychedelic industries have adopted are something they can relate to, including: LGBTQ+; BIPOC; disabled and neurodivergent; women, especially those who feel fundamentally marginalised; those with specific spiritual needs or who have suffered cult abuse; those who cannot afford the typical prices of psychedelic services; those who have had difficulties navigating unfit-for-purpose mental health systems; and others who feel these descriptions relatable to them.
There are several well known microdosing protocols, as well as many ways that individuals choose to work with this practice.
The Fadiman Protocol, named for it’s creator James Fadiman, probably the most commonly used, involves microdosing every third day. So you have the microdose day, a transition day, and a rest day. Fadiman recommends repeating this for four to eight weeks before taking a break.
The Stamets Protocol or Stamet’s Stack has also become popular over the last few years, especially with growing interest in non-psychoactive mushroom supplementation. Paul Stamet’s advice is to “stack” microdosing psilocyin truffles with Lion’s Mane mushroom and Niacin (vitamin B3). The schedule is to take this “stack” for four days, and rest for three, and to continue for 4 weeks before resting for another four weeks.
Other protocols include things like : every other day, twice a week, or specifically microdosing on significant days such as days that demand more engagement or social interaction.
The White Rabbit Protocol
My protocol is a little different from the others. It’s designed to be neurodivergent friendly (because I made it for me), to work with the brain’s natural timeline for creating new neural habits, and to fit into the real world scenarios of people looking for a stable plan of action, not a series of short experiments. A main feature of this protocol is a “set it and forget it” approach, rather than daily microscopic evaluation of the practice. This protocol is named, not for the idea that you’ll fall down a hole and have a bewildering, mind-bending experience (given that the story of Alice is inherently psychedelic in it’s theme), but rather for the idea of setting out on a journey of thorough exploration, challenging perspectives, and unexpected discoveries, and which has no concrete conclusion any more than our overall personal development does. This is a better way of framing both a microdosing practice and the integrative approach to macrodosing. The name also pays homage to the context in which I myself discovered microdosing, but that’s a story for another day.
Three Microdose Days on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Unlike “every third day” or “every other day” protocols, this sets up a memorable routine that can be easily adopted by those who struggle with remembering appointments and tasks, or following irregular routines. This way, the microdose is on the same days every week, rather than falling on different days throughout the cycle. One of the most important components of successful microdosing is consistency, and with an easy, memorable routine, that consistency is much more realistic. It’s easy to set your alarm or calendar to this schedule, without having to change it every week or set up doses individually. It eventually becomes second nature to know which day is microdose day even without reminders.
The day after each microdose is not a microdosing day. This is because it’s advisable to not microdose every day as it is possible to build tolerance. We don’t need to observe anything special about non-microdosing days, as all we want to achieve in the bigger picture is an even distribution of microdoses close enough together to have real potential, without forcing tolerance. There is an extra non-microdosing day on Sunday. This is because the days of the week are uneven, so to have microdose days fall on the same day each week, we require this adjustment day. It’s more prudent to have an additional day off than an additional day on, although too many days off should also be considered countereffective.
The microdosing week has been arranged this way to fit in with the traditional work week. This is because the vast majority of us have lives that are indeed structured around The Work Week, and will find microdosing during weekdays when there are likely more demands to be more beneficial than microdosing during weekends when we are more likely to be resting or doing activities we find naturally comfortable.
The Microdose Cycle
The microdosing cycle is six months. In life, in practice, in habit building, and in the brain, we achieve nothing in a month or two, or if we do start to feel change happening in a handful of weeks, it is easily lost when we remove the structure or input. Microdosing is like training wheels for new neural pathways, and if you take them away too early, we will slip easily back into the old, hard worn pathways we have become so comfortable in. Whilst many wonderful new feelings and changes can happen in the early stages of microdosing, which in itself is encouragement to really commit to the practice, the goal is for these changes to become normal to you, and not a “medicated effect”.
When it comes to psychedelics, there’s a lot of variation between people, as well as many external factors that affect our experience too. A microdose is considered to be roughly one-tenth of a standard dose. A standard dose could be defined as a dose that induces a fully psychedelic experience (not to be confused with the practice of taking larger, “ego dissolving doses” which are not used to calculate microdoses). The standard dose for LSD is 100µg (µg = micrograms), so a microdose of LSD is around 10µg. The substance used in this protocol is 1P-LSD (1-propanoyl-lysergic acid diethylamide) which is a derivative and functional analogue of LSD, which is converted to LSD in the body. The standard dose of this analogue is estimated as 120µg, therefore a microdose of 1P-LSD is set as around 12µg.
Since we all differ in how our bodies process and experience psychedelics, we never start at 12µg, but rather we aim to work up to the correct dose for us, which could be higher or lower than 12µg. Exceeding 20µg is not currently recommended in microdosing. Starting at a maximum of 5µg is recommended, especially for those who are psychedelic naïve.
A sensible plan might look like:
Week 1 – 5µg on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – if this is too much, reduce to 1µg and increase by 1µg per week
Week 2 – 7µg on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – if this is too much, reduce back to 5µg and increase by 1µg per week. If this is too much, reduce to 1µg and increase by 1µg per week
Week 3 – 10µg on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
Week 4 – increase by 1µg until you find the right dose.
The right dose, which some call the “sweet spot”, is a dose that “feels like something” and yet “isn’t too much”. Finding this dose is very much a statistical game, and can’t necessarily be derived from any one day’s experience. For example, there are days when you will take the dose that is “your dose”, but it will hit you with a bit more intensity than usual. This may be to do with what you ate, your energy levels, other interactions like caffeine. It is important not to be alarmed, and to find a way to feel more grounded, like eating some carbohydrates, pranayama, avoiding high stimulus environments and stressful activities etc. Some of the initial intensity of microdosing wears off after the first while, and we settle into a more seamless routine with the real work happening in the background.
The decision to use a microdosing journal is entirely personal. If journalling or regularly recording experiences is something you do well or benefit from, then this can certainly be a valuable addition to your practice. If having to take notes about your day to day experience is something that if difficult to keep up with or not enjoyable, then it is not important to your microdosing practice. Being under the impression that this is the “right way” to microdose can lead to feelings of failure or pressure that are not helpful to your practice, it will just end up feeling like a chore you cannot catch up with. In my mind, the real benefits of microdosing are not something you can measure and record in small timeframes. Focusing on the minutae can lead to placebo effects and confirmation bias. Feel free to express your journey in whatever form makes the most sense to you, and if you need to at all.
The White Rabbit Protocol
The Microdosing Experience
Before beginning a microdosing practice, it’s important to manage expectations. Quite often I see people practicing short term microdosing coming away disappointed that they haven’t seen any major changes. It’s hard not to place big hope in this novel practice when the headlines about psychedelics are reading things like “one dose of psilocybin is like ten years of therapy.” Coupled with the fact that people are desperate to be relived of their pain, their stress, and their troubles, it’s no wonder that let downs happen when it doesn’t turn out to be a magic eraser for life’s problems.
Unfortunately, people are of the belief that microdosing is supposed to make you “happy” in the same way that they believe antidepressants will, and protect you from any negative feelings whatsoever. This is far from any picture of mental wellness we could strive for and respect. A better way to think about microdosing is not that it make you feel good, but that it makes you feel more connected. Psychedelics create a brain state that’s more interconnected and less intraconnected. If emotions come up, they are often ones we have pushed away behind walls because they are too much to manage, and we get stuck in small, safe ruminative thought patterns. If microdosing makes certain feelings surface, realise that they are yours whether you microdose or not, and they will surface in some way or another, for better or for worse, sooner or later. Sometimes when I start microdosing again after a break, I’ll have a big cry over some emotions I was pushing away and not feeling. It doesn’t mean that microdosing upset me or made me cry or did something negative, more that it broke down the wall between me and something upsetting – we’re just not used to thinking of this as a healthy thing.
I also often hear people mention that they experienced negative emotions whilst microdosing, and would complain that “this was supposed to make me feel better, but I don’t like what I’m feeling!” Correlation is not causation. What was the cause of anxious or other negative feeling before you microdosed? Everything. Life. Our experiences. They will always be there, we will always be weathering the way the world makes up feel. But proper, patient use of psychedelics and a conscientious approach to working with our emotions and not against them, means that in time, you can process difficulties functionally and without them taking over. Sad things will still be sad, but they won’t pull you under. Worrysome things will still give us anxiety, but we won’t freeze. The goal is to feel safely, not cease from feeling. This is another reason why microdosing is more suitable than macrodosing for many. It allows us to slowly unearth all these buried emotions, to come face to face with them, to safely feel them, and release the tension we have around them so that we can become more unified emotionally. We cannot do this all at once, but we can take as much time as we like.
The bad news is, the world is not going to change because you microdose, and you will still have to live in it. The good news is, with every stage of microdosing, our experience in the world gets a little better in some way. Whilst major changes do not happen overnight, little things do happen from the outset. It will start small, with some newfound motivation to clean the house, or get some unpleasant task out of the way, or it will just be a feeling that it is “a new day” as you go about your business. It may then start to feel like some instinct out of nowhere to eat better, or you start managing your self care more automatically. Habits that were a chore become something you want. You may find yourself reaching out to others more, or going out to see people more. Then there are the changes that happen that you don’t notice until you take stock. You may look back after several months and realise you handle things that come your way in a more stable way. You may recognise that you are not in the place that you were, no longer in some deeply desperate state, and it might surprise you to learn that.
For everyone, the changes are different, and we could not begin to quantify the possibilities, because they are as varied as we are as humans. If I were to condense all my wisdom about this practice into a few words, I would simply say:
“When we set out to practice microdosing seriously, everything is for the taking. You will not become a different person, but rather, you will finally meet yourself again.”
The use of psychedelics has been historically highly stigmatised due to unfounded claims as to their harmfulness. These claims were often made from a politically motivated perspective and not subject to rigorous scientific enquiry. In the years since, evaluations of various substances, legal and non, and their impact on the individual and society has shown that classic psychedelic substances and cannabis not only have low levels of harm, but in some cases the risks are negligible. By comparison, commonly used substances such as alcohol, tobacco, heroin, cocaine amphetamines, painkillers such as fentanyl and oxycontin, pose major risks to individual health and public safety.
Not only can we use this to demonstrate the fallacy behind the demonisation of psychedelics compared to other substances, but also an irony emerges where psychedelic and entheogenic substances are seeing more and more positive clinical results in improving conditions in participants who often turn to more harmful substances to relieve, such as easing the psychological problems that may lead to alcohol or drug addiction, or where cannabis may help to relieve pain where someone may have instead depended on daily use of harmful painkillers.
However, this is not to say that psychedelics are themselves entirely without risk. Microdosing is associated with relatively fewer risks than macrodosing. However, there are still things to consider when taking psychedelics.
Who Should Not Microdose?
- Those under 18 years
- People who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- People with a history of psychosis or paranoia/delusions
- Those taking certain medications – full info about medications here.
Commonly Reported Side Effects
- Increased anxiety
- Nausea or stomach upset if taking truffles or mushrooms
- Intensified emotions
Important to note that of all the people who have self-reported their experiences with microdosing, a reduction in anxiety and depression are very common. The number of people reported increase in anxiety is comparatively very small. Most people find microdosing in the morning to be the best practice, as they feel energised and enjoy their day. They may also feel that microdosing closer to bedtime increases problems with sleep, so earlier is better in this case (before breaking your fast is best, but after food is also fine if It helps with grounding). Some people actually find that microdosing makes them feel fatigued or sleepy, so microdosing going to bed may be preferable.
Microdosing may cause more intensified emotions and restlessness. It is important not to panic or think that microsoing is harming you. We often get stuck in emotionally numb states, so at first, microdosing may be jarring because of the way it may help to connect you to your emotions more. A newfound feeling of wellbeing can also be quite unnerving to those who are not used to it. The key is to start small and have patience, and explore uncomfortable feelings with curiosity and compassion.
Some side effects can also be a combination of things, and just because you experience them one day is not necessarily going to be the same on other days. For example, some days you may feel restless if you are tired and have microdosed, and maybe also had coffee, or not enough to eat. Even without microdosing, we all have days when we simple feel off-kilter because conditions simply aren’t right. If you feel this way (microdose or not!), eat something grounding (something with carbs is good), practice some pranyama, take yourself out of high stimulus environments, and try to relax and give yourself a break for the remainder of the day, if at all possible.
Other Possible Risks
HPPD (Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder)
More commonly associated with macrodosing, Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) is not unheard of in microdosing. For information about this condition, see the Perception Restoration Foundation.
Microdosing and Medications
Once upon a time, extra caution was taken when it comes to combining medications and microdosing. This sense of caution has eased amongst microdosing professionals in more recent years. James Fadiman and Sophia Kolb compiled a list of medications that have no known contraindications, derived from their collected reports from microdosing users. This list is not derived from clinical studies and does not guarantee safe use during microdosing, nor should it be used to assume safety with the same substances whilst macrodosing. It is not recommended to take psychedelics, including microdosing, with Tramadol or Lithium.
For the full list, see here.
For more information about microdosing and safety, I recommend two places, both of which have information and other resources for those who like to delve a bit deeper:
Microdosing Institute, based in the Netherlands
- Incorporating a microdosing practice
- Supporting you as you get used to the experience
- Relaying any concerns
- Finding the right dose
- Consistent practice accountability
Please Note: these are not therapy or clinical sessions, although I do have a background in Psychology. You are, however, free to use these sessions as you like, to speak on any topics you need to, whether it’s practical guidance about microdosing itself, or just have a compassionate ear as the practice of microdosing may help you recognise and express feelings in a new way. All clients are treated with the same privacy and ethics as in any clinical practice.
How often do I need to attend? As often or as seldom as you need. You may prefer to meet weekly in order to find your rhythm and dose, but then you may find that as time goes by, checking in once a month is sufficient. Everyone is different and requires different levels of support.
Currently only online sessions. In-person sessions may become available in the future.
For those who would like support as per microdose coaching, but talking face-to-face (online) is not accessible or not something that appeals. Queries may be submitted through the booking form, and will be answered in full. Email clinic takes place on Mondays, though some queries may take longer. You may be as detailed as you like in your query, you may need to describe experiences, situations, feelings etc. Follow up questions on the same topic are permitted to get clarification, but new queries must go through the booking form again.
Microdose Tincture €40
A microdose tincture containing 300ug 1P-LSD (lab quality) in 30ml Alcohol/Aqua, with calibrated pippette. for research purposes only
Email Clinic €30
Email Clinic €15
Regular Pricing Guide
Please select the Regular option when booking if you generally recognise yourself in the following statements:
You are in full time or part time employment where your monthly income is at least the national monthly minimum wage
You income meets the criteria for the national living wage
You have disposable income after paying your fixed costs
You live in a house that you own or in a free sector rental that you can reasonably afford
You are not at risk of unemployment due to race, gender, creed, sexuality, or disability status
Low Income Pricing Guide
Please select the Low Income option when booking if you generally recognise yourself in the following statements:
You are in part-time employment and your monthly income falls below the national monthly minimum wage
You are unemployed or incapacitated for work, and reliant on income from benefits, or you are a dependent
You have difficulty meeting your fixed costs
You live in social housing, or in free sector housing which is beyond your means
You are at risk of unemployment due to race, gender, creed, sexuality, or disability status