There's a new saying among cannabis aficionado's: Less is more. Welcome, to the world of Microdosing.
We note that the subject contained in this article represents illegal activity in certain jurisdictions. Whilst we do not condone any acts which are contrary to any such laws, we understand that readers in those jurisdictions which have decriminalised cannabis may find this article of interest.
Marijuana has become so potent that an increased number of people are even ending up in the hospital because of it. This is largely because, for decades, weed has been associated with nothing but getting high. As a result, most cannabis users have always believed that the higher you get, the better the weed.
However, this could be all about to change.
A new trend is emerging known as microdosing wherein users will administer minuscule amounts of a drug to gain positive benefits while avoiding negative side-effects.
So, let's learn a bit about the history of microdosing.
A Little History: Microdosing 101
Microdosing is not a term or phenomena that originated through marijuana use. Rather, it was Lysergic Acid Diethylamide—also known as LSD—that was first taken in small doses to minimize harmful effects.
The first man to microdose LSD, or acid, as it is commonly known, was believed to be the very same man who discovered the drug: Albert Hoffman.
Hoffman was a Swiss scientist who sought to create an analeptic—or nervous system stimulant—that didn't impact the uterus. After considering lysergic acid, Hoffman set the drug aside for five years before re-evaluating it.
Then, on April 16th, 1938, Hoffman accidentally absorbed some LSD through his fingertips. Hoffman described the effects of the substance as being "a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness".
A few days later the Swiss scientist once more took the drug after work—this time, intentionally—and rode home on his bike. April 19th is now known as 'Bicycle Day' for this reason.
Hoffman was infatuated with LSD, describing it as a "sacred drug," that gave "material aid to meditation aimed at the mystical experience of a deeper, comprehensive reality."
Toward the end of his life, it was believed Hoffman was taking 10mg doses of LSD each day, making him the first man to microdose with psychedelics. To put this dosage in perspective, Hoffman initially took 250mg of LSD on bicycle day.
It wasn't until much later that microdosing became codified by a man named James Fadiman, a Harvard Ph.D. graduate who had studied psychedelics since the '70s. Fadiman reportedly heard of Hoffman's microdosing towards the end of his life, and began to research further into it.
Then, Fadiman published a book entitled The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide in 2011, which outlined the methods involved with microdosing and how they were achieved. Fadiman recommended users take between one-twentieth to one-tenth of the recreational dose of psychedelics to achieve a microdose.
From there, microdosing has spread throughout Silicon Valley as the new secret weapon for young tech entrepreneurs seeking to enhance their brains.
Less Is More
As you can see, the history of microdosing has centered largely around psychedelics – not marijuana. And even then, the research is both limited and murky given their illegality, which leaves us with primarily anecdotal evidence.
Individual reports of microdosing substances such as psilocybin or LSD frequently state feelings of increased euphoria, additional focus or an improved mood. But again, we're speaking about psychedelics, which aren't drugs that are readily available to consumers.
While cannabis is much more accessible and publicly supported than psychedelics, it is still considered a Schedule One substance. This means that the government doesn't recognize any medicinal value in the plant, and getting access to a grant can become tricky.
As a result, studies around cannabis are also largely in their infancy.
However, one of the few studies that has been conducted may suggest that lower doses of cannabis can be more effective than higher doses.
Emma Childs, associate professor of psychiatry in the UIC College of Medicine conducted a study that found: " THC at low doses reduced stress, while higher doses had the opposite effect, underscoring the importance of dose when it comes to THC and its effects."
The study used 42 volunteers, none of which were daily smokers, who were then split into three random groups. Each group was administered a different dose of THC ranging from low (7.5mg) to medium (12.5mg) and a placebo group.
They were then asked to report their stress levels, after undergoing a series of activities such as a mock job interview, a game of solitaire and a small speech about their favorite book or movie to the lab assistants.
The group given 7.5 milligrams of THC reported the lowest stress levels after the test, and their stress levels also dissipated the fastest of any group.
Meanwhile, the group who received 12.5 milligrams reported having a worse mood than the other groups, describing the tasks as "challenging" and "threatening" beforehand. This group also struggled during their mock interviews, pausing more frequently and appearing noticeably less confident.
So the next time you're about to step into a job interview, you might want to opt for a low-dose gummy instead of taking a hit from your dabbing rig. You'll thank us later.
Other studies have confirmed this "less is more" approach, showing that one puff of marijuana has the same—or better efficacy—when it comes to treating anxiety and depression than ten or more puffs.
While it's looking like microdosing cannabis has its benefits, these are small studies that aren't entirely conclusive. The best way to find out if microdosing is for you is to simply try it for yourself.
A popular approach among the microdosing cannabis community has always been "start low, and go slow." Begin by taking a much smaller amount than you feel is necessary, and then increase the dose as time goes on. Ideally, microdosing should be done via a cannabis oil, edible or tincture, as these methods offer far more accurate dosing than smoking.
From there, take a dose too small to have any psychoactive effects. If you get high, you're doing it wrong. Once you've found your dose, write your mood and thoughts down at the start and end of each day. After a week, look at the results and see how you feel. If there are no changes, you might need to increase the dosage. If the walls begin to melt, decrease the dosage – or quit microdosing entirely.
For those who feel foggy or anxious after marijuana use, microdosing may be a way to enjoy the benefits of cannabis without the downsides. You might get that little bit of extra creativity you need to come up with an idea for work, or simply feel happier throughout the day. Each person is unique, and each experience with microdosing will be unique too.
A Colourful Future
Microdosing may well be the ingestion method of the future. Media giants such as Rolling Stone, Huffington Post, and Forbes have all written articles about the microdosing phenomenon, many of which contain anecdotes about people who've tried it.
For those uncertain about microdosing, reading up on these accounts may give you insight into whether the ingestion method is right for you.
And as marijuana legalization spreads across the globe more studies will likely emerge surrounding the optimal dosage and duration of cannabis use to achieve medicinal results.
Though marijuana might serve more as a lynchpin when it comes to the topic of microdosing, as we're also seeing some cities begin to loosen their stance on psychedelics. Oakland and Denver have decriminalized naturally occurring psychedelics, which means that users found in possession of these drugs will only face a fine and no chance of jail time.
While decriminalizing a drug doesn't open the floodgates to an all-out psychedelic buffet, it is often the sign of evolving mentalities and soon-to-be changes in the legal system. As we saw with cannabis legalization, U.S. states often went from decriminalization, to medicinally legal, to finally recreationally legal. It's possible we may even end up experiencing a similar progression with psychedelics.
When we look now at the benefits of cannabis—which can assist with epilepsy, depression, inflammation, and insomnia to just to name a few—it seems ludicrous that we ever banned this wonderful plant.
It seems that marijuana may prove to be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to forbidden fruit.
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