What is Microdosing?
Microdosing psychedelics is the practice of taking 1/10th to 1/20th of a full “journey” dose of mushrooms, LSD, San Pedro, or another entheogenic substance. The phrase was coined in 2011 by longtime psychedelic researcher James Fadiman, PhD, in his book, The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, and has since become a cultural phenomenon.
Microdosing Mushrooms Experience: What Does Microdosing Mushrooms Feel Like?
Unlike a full dose of psychedelics, a microdose is meant to be “sub-perceptual,” or barely noticeable. And so, the aim of a microdose isn’t to achieve a transcendental state or to see your life from a whole new perspective, as is common with higher doses of shrooms. Nor are visuals distortions like patterning or trails part of the microdose experience. It’s really more about a slight opening or enhancement of the senses, which translates for many folks into an increased sense of presence in their everyday activities.
“I feel more aware while microdosing, not only externally—colors are more vivid, plants and nature fascinate me even more, I feel like I can see more details—but internally as well [I’m] aware of my thought processes, my emotions, really feeling all the feels!” a 31-year-old woman who typically microdoses 0.1 grams of Golden Teachers tells DoubleBlind. “My mood overall is improved, although I do find that more uncomfortable emotions, [like] sadness, frustration, nervousness, et cetera, still very much exist and are felt deeply. [But] they are easier to move through.”
Why Do People Microdose Shrooms? Benefits of Microdosing Mushrooms
The reasons people microdose are as varied as the individuals themselves, but there are some overall trends. Many of the 83 people who filled out a survey I created reported microdosing for some kind of mental health reason, like depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, ADD/ADHD, addiction, and even pain management.
Another common reason folks microdose is for enhanced creativity and focus. For example, a lot of people find they make new connections on microdose days that they wouldn’t normally make. Similarly, many people report that microdosing helps them quiet their mental chatter and focus more deeply on a task at hand, or possibly even enter a “flow state” where they’re so engrossed in an activity they lose track of time.
Finding a flow state is one of the main reasons microdosing is gaining popularity among artists, musicians, writers, programmers, and even athletes who find that the practice helps them get out of their heads and become more embodied in their workouts.
When I learned about athletes who microdose, I also found out that there’s a growing number of folks who have suffered concussions and other types of traumatic brain injury who are looking to microdosing psychedelics for its potential to stimulate neuroplasticity and overall brain health. Although there isn’t much research on microdosing psilocybin to stimulate neuroplasticity, there was a recent study on low doses of LSD’s ability to promote BDNF blood plasma levels, a key component of plastic changes between neurons.
Plus, a 2018 study on rat models found that higher doses of psilocybin promote structural and functional neural plasticity, which the authors theorize could be part of how psychedelic-assisted therapy works for depression and related disorders.
A handful of folks also reported microdosing out of curiosity and for fun. While researching my book, Your Psilocybin Mushroom Companion, I learned microdoses of shrooms are becoming a popular social lubricant and alcohol replacement, especially in the form of “Scooby snacks,” which is typically a 0.25 gram capsule of psilocybin mushrooms mixed with bee pollen and other natural supplements.