“Microdosing of 10 to 20 micrograms (of LSD) allow me to increase my focus, open my heart, and achieve breakthrough results while remaining integrated within my routine. My wit, response time, and visual and mental acuity seem greater than normal on it.”
– Madeline, The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide
On a beautiful morning in Amsterdam I grabbed my vial of LSD, diluted down with half high grade vodka and half distilled water, and told my friend to trust me and open his mouth. While semi-carefully measuring the droplets for his microdose, I told him to whirl it around in his mouth for a few minutes before swallowing the neuro-chemical concoction. I quickly followed suit.
We had one of the best walking conversation of our lives.
I first became immensely curious about the potential of microdosing psychedelics after reading this captivating story about James Fadiman and his research. After a few test-runs, I knew I stumbled upon something significant.
Today we are witnessing the birth of a truly remarkable epoch. With the psychedelic renaissance well under way, consisting of new fascinating research, the coming out of thousands of individuals and the introduction of many, hitherto unknown, psychoactive plants steeped in their cultural context of healing and initiation, we are now facing some new and interesting questions.
- What types of consciousness are possible, and how are we to navigate these?
- Which plants and substances are beneficial in which situations?
- How are we to make sense of these shamanic wisdom traditions, as our own euro-shamanistic traditions and the Eleusinian mysteries seem to be lost in time forever?
- And how can we develop new ways of healing, new rituals embedded in cultural meaning that are able cure our current “collective insanity“?
I think one of the more fruitful directions we can take is towards is microdosing.
Microdosing is taking sub-perceptual doses (6-25 microgram LSD, 0.2-0.5 gram dried mushrooms, 50-75 microgram mescaline HCL) while keeping up with ones daily activities, engaging in extreme sports, appreciating nature or enhancing one’s spiritual practice.
This manner of integrating psychedelics, also known as a psycholytic dose, doesn’t inhibit ego-functioning in the same intense manner as the ‘heroic’ Terence McKenna dose does. It is much easier integrated into non-psychedelic activities.
It is known that Albert Hofmann, the first synthesizer of LSD, continued this practice well into his old age while saying “it would have gone on to be used as Ritalin if it hadn’t been so harshly scheduled.”
What are the effects of microdosing that makes it so interesting?
James Oroc, the author of the amazing book Tryptamine Palace: 5-MeO-DMT and the Sonoran Desert Toad, while writing about the secret affair between psychedelics and extreme sports, says that taking psychedelics at lower doses, the “cognitive functioning, emotional balance, and physical stamina were actually found to be improved.”
For some, this might not come as a surprise, since Hofmann already spoke in a now famous interview that “Lysergic acid diethyl amide (LSD) is related in chemical structure to nicotinic acid diethylamide, known to be an effective analeptic.” (central nervous stimulant.)
But there’s more, as James Oroc eloquently put,
Virtually all athletes who learn to use LSD at psycholytic dosages believe that the use of these compounds improves both their stamina and their abilities. According to the combined reports of 40 years of use by the extreme sports underground, LSD can increase your re- flex time to lightning speed, improve your balance to the point of perfection, increase your concentration until you experience “tunnel vision,” and make you impervious to weakness or pain. LSD’s effects in these regards amongst the extreme-sport community are in fact legendary, universal, and without dispute.
He goes so far to suggest that, to some in the extreme sports subculture, taking a microdose at any physical competition is considered cheating. And this is not just the case for sports. P.G. Stafford and B.H. Golightly write in LSD — The Problem-Solving Psychedelic about a student that wanted to learn german making huge strides under the influence of an unknown amount of LSD. These are the words of the student:
It was a week before registration and it depressed me tremendously that I had not spent the summer learning German, as I had planned. I had intended to give myself a crash course so I could take second-year German, which I needed for my study in physics. I had heard of a woman who had learned enough Spanish in a few days, via LSD, to speak it fluently when she had to go to Mexico on business.
I had taken LSD before, and while I couldn’t see how she did this, I decided it was worth a try. I hadn’t even gotten around to picking up a textbook, but I did have a close friend who knew German well and who said he was willing to “sit in” while I took the drug and try to teach me the language.
Fortunately, I knew something about conjugation and declension, so I wasn’t completely at sea. I wanted to get worked up and feel involved with the language, as it seemed that this must be at least part of the key to the problem, so I asked my friend to tell me about Schiller and Goethe, and why the verb came at the end. Almost immediately, after just a story or two, I knew I had been missing a lot in ignoring the Germans, and I really got excited. The thing that impressed me at first was the delicacy of the language (he was now giving me some simple words and phrases), and though I really messed it up, I was trying hard to imitate his pronunciation as I had never tried to mimic anything before.
For most people German may be “guttural,” but for me it was light and lacey. Before long, I was catching on even to the umlauts. Things were speeding up like mad, and there were floods of associations. My friend had only to give me a German word, and almost immediately I knew what it was through cognates. It turned out that it wasn’t even necessary for him to ask me what it sounded like.
Memory, of course, is a matter of association, and boy, was I ever linking up to things! I had no difficulty recalling words he had given me—in fact, I was eager to string them together. In a couple of hours after that I was reading even some simple German, and it all made sense.
The whole experience was an explosion of discoveries. Normally, when you’ve been working on something for a long time and finally discover a solution, you get excited, and you can see implications everywhere. Much more than if you heard someone else discovering the same-thing. Now this discovery thing, that’s what was happening with me—but all the time.
The threshold of understanding was extremely low, so that with every new phrase I felt I was making major discoveries. When I was reading, it was as though I had discovered the Rosetta Stone and the world was waiting for my translation. Really wild!
In the 60’s the creativity enhancing effects of psychedelics were already hailed as revolutionary, and these famous trippers would certainly agree. One significant study investigated the effect of 100 micrograms of LSD on top of the field experts who had been struggling with a hard problem for months. Their solutions were reviewed by a panel of other experts in the same field. As Tim Doody reports;
LSD absolutely had helped them solve their complex, seemingly intractable problems. And the establishment agreed. The 26 men unleashed a slew of widely embraced innovations shortly after their LSD experiences, including a mathematical theorem for NOR gate circuits, a conceptual model of a photon, a linear electron accelerator beam-steering device, a new design for the vibratory microtome, a technical improvement of the magnetic tape recorder, blueprints for a private residency and an arts-and-crafts shopping plaza, and a space probe experiment designed to measure solar properties.
Psychedelics can be described as “non-specific amplifiers”, and, as such, not just creativity can be enhanced, also the distressing states of mind. In smaller doses this is not as overwhelming and therefore, if used properly, can be quite beneficial.
Myron Stolaroff, while writing about the usefulness of psychedelics in the practice of buddhism, argues that low doses of psychedelics can be extremely beneficial to improve ones meditation practice.
The use of low doses often can be much more effective in dealing with our “psychic garbage.” Many do not care for low doses because they can stir up uncomfortable feelings, and they prefer to transcend them by pushing on into higher states, but it is precisely these uncomfortable feelings that must be resolved to achieve true freedom.
With low doses, by focusing directly on the feelings and staying with them without aversion and without grasping, they will in time dissipate. Resolving one’s repressed feelings in this manner clears the inner being, permitting the True Self to manifest more steadily. Such a result provides greater energy, deeper peace, more perceptive awareness, greater clarity, keener intuition, and greater compassion. It permits the deepening of one’s meditation practice. The surfacing of buried feelings that this procedure permits often can bring new understanding of one’s personality dynamics.
The potential to improve cognitive functioning, body awareness and our spiritual evolution with a microdose of psychedelics are limitless. There are five categories by which we can describe the overall effects of microdosing LSD. I gathered these from the various first person reports I’ve quoted so far and my own extensive experimentation.
- More overall energy, like a psychedelic coffee. A buzzing effect.
- Being able to walk very long distances without tiring.
- Need of extra sleep at the end of the day, feeling more drained than usual.
- Sometimes an uncomfortable stomach feeling, heavy body load.
- More relaxed and better focus.
- More appreciation for little things.
- A resonance and openness by which world seems to invade more deeply and I have a more playful way of relating to this invasion.
- Anti-depressive qualities, improved mood.
- More patience.
- Personal issues are at times disturbing.
- Enhanced emotional clarity.
- Music is better, more persuasive in guiding inner states.
- Sometimes objects seem to glow, having an aura surround them.
- Time perception is warped.
- Enhanced sense of touch, smell and hearing. Sometimes synesthesia.
- More flow.
- A fuller awareness of the entanglement of ideas, a richer and seemingly higher overview and increased association.
- Comprehension of ideas is greatly enhanced.
- Increased awareness of universal connectedness, in a marvelous, enlightening and almost divine way.
To be able to experiment with these states of conscious in a safe and constructive manner, be sure to follow these guidelines.
- Start out with a dose on the lower end of the psycholytic spectrum and record how you react to it. A microdosing regime that is too high makes you incapable of following your normal routine with the risk of staying in the limbo/coming up phase the whole time, which is neither beneficial nor trippy and can often be uncomfortable.
- Follow your normal routine, especially sleeping, eating, working and spiritual practice.
- Be conservative with consecutive doses. Building a tolerance is unlikely, but having a normal baseline improves integrity of action.
- Be discreet to whom you tell. Disinformation, stigma and prejudice are still mainstream.
Our Psychedelic Future
“To make this trivial world sublime, take half a gram of phanerothyme” -Huxley
In a not so far away future it will be possible to unlock different experiences with a pill. A little piece of matter, folded and turned using organic chemistry into a unique organic key to insert your brain. A drug you can buy as easy as alcohol or tobacco, or weed. Perhaps it will thrive in a system where one has to take an exam, some basic tests, and will be rewarded a license of some kind.
Aldous Huxley envisioned in Island, his last, and according to himself, his most important book, that psychedelics could help us overcome addiction, anxiety and depression. That if we could change how we experience ourselves, our loved ones and the world at large, either through rituals or through neurochemical mediated ways, we could usher in a new paradigm of human flourishing.
While his vision has not come to fruition yet, it is still very much alive. With the practice of microdosing, we will be one step closer to learning how to cope with the vast depths of our own psyches.
Enjoy the magic, my friends.
I’ve gotten so many questions, requests and microdose stories after writing this article that I have decided to write an e-book on this fascinating subject matter. If you’d like to help, I am looking for:
- Tips & Tricks
- Writings about microdosing, scientific publications on microdosing (sometimes a microdose is being used as a control for a full dose) and art.
- Your experience! Why do you microdose? How often? How is it like? What is your psychedelic of choice? How do you combine different entheogens & activities?
All information received will be used anonymously. Please enter ‘Microdosing’ as the subject. Thank you :)
A Final Note on Safety
As we repeatedly stress on HighExistence, psychedelics must be approached with reverence and caution. We believe that in a loving context, psychedelics are powerful medicines with tremendous potential, but there are a number of physical and psychological safety concerns that one should consider before journeying with psychedelics. Please, please do plenty of research, and do not take psychedelics if you have reason to believe that they will not jibe with your personality or particular mental baggage. The Essential Psychedelic Guide on Erowid is an exceptional free resource, and we recommend reading it, especially the section on ‘Psychedelic Safety,’ before ever dabbling in these substances. Take care, and happy tripping. : )