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The Curious Beginner’s Guide to Microdosing for Work, Relationships, and Happiness
In my previous post, I discussed the results of my yearlong experiment with microdoses of psilocybin mushrooms, and how it affected my work, mood, and relationships. Long story short, it was like escaping ‘The Matrix’. I’m grateful for the changes I’ve experienced as a result: I’m more empathetic, compassionate, self-aware, reflective, creative, and most of all, happier.
In this guide to microdosing, I will share some of the practical considerations for choosing a substance, obtaining it, timing and dosing, and some of the most common concerns.
Disclaimer: This article is for information and harm reduction purposes only. Note that psilocybin and LSD are deemed Schedule I substances under the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and are illegal in most countries. The publisher and author of this article do not condone the purchase, possession, sale, or consumption of any illegal substances.
Legal Status By Country
Before we begin, it may help to learn more about what you’re getting yourself into, legally speaking. The following links provide a listing of the legal status of these substances and derivatives by country and region.
Choosing a Substance
Your substance of choice will depend on two things.
(1) Your goals — Do you want more creativity, or more focus? Do you want to become more emotionally attuned, or more logically oriented? Do you want to exercise more empathy and create more opportunities for connection, or do you want to ‘give fewer f*cks’ about what other people think? Choosing one focus is not better or worse. Nor is it exactly as clear as black or white — but your goals will affect your choice of substance.
(2) Your unique response to each substance. Each substance will affect you differently. For example:
- When I microdose with psilocybin, I notice more creativity, empathy, and openness, and less focus, logic, and analytical thinking.
- When I microdose with LSD, I notice the opposite: more focus and logical thinking, less empathy and openness.
Your mileage will vary; find what works for you.
Although there are some patterns in the way LSD and mushrooms affect people at larger doses, it’s hard to predict how those effects will be experienced by any one person.
I asked about 30 people about their preferences for mushrooms vs. LSD, and the results were surprising. Half of the individuals preferred mushrooms, while the other half preferred LSD. When I asked for their reasons, it got even more interesting: Both sides claimed that their drug of choice yielded more benefits, and that the other drug had more side effects.
In other words, the choice of substance is highly personal, and the effects vary widely from person to person.
It would be interesting to study genetic links to different effects across a population, and to uncover any physiological differences that would lend for such a rift in experience within a population. Right now, we only have our personal experiences to guide our choices. And that’s good enough.
Never in my life would I have expected to write publicly about obtaining drugs, but here goes.
There are three ways people typically obtain drugs, in order of ease, reliability and safety.
- Buy from a trusted local source. This is the most common way, and readily accessible in larger cities. It may take a few tries to find a reliable and trustworthy source. The bad news is this option is not as accessible (or altogether non-existent) in smaller cities or in countries with strict drug laws. Festivals, concerts, and house parties are usually where someone will have access to a source.
- DIY. Mushroom ‘grow kits’ with spores are available legally in the U.S. and other countries, but they tend to be unreliable. According to one grower I’ve spoken to, it takes many tries — and just the right growing conditions — for a successful harvest. The psychedelics community has even provided DIY guides for making LSD. But if it isn’t already obvious, preparing or cultivating illegal drugs at home is dangerous and impractical — it’s easy to be caught for possession. It’s best left to the professionals.
- Purchase from the ‘dark net’. Only use this if you’re highly tech-savvy and know what you’re doing. Install Tor web browser. For secure browsing, set up a VPN, and always use a private network. Find a reputable marketplace on DeepDotWeb, such as TradeRoute or DreamMarket (active at the time of this writing). Find your substance of choice and make a purchase using bitcoin. Avoid using your home address for deliveries. Encrypt your contact information using PGP when sending to the seller. Note that this is the riskiest option for several reasons — your IP address can be tracked and people *do* get caught.
Drug Quality and Formats
Drugs are sold in different forms, and it’s important to know the various kinds being sold.
Mushrooms are usually sold dried and whole (in 90% of cases), as shown below. There is also powdered mushrooms and liquid psilocin (the psychoactive component of psilocybin), as well as crystals. The pros and cons of alternate forms of psilocybin are subject to endless debates in the psychedelic community, but is not important for beginners. Dried, whole mushrooms are the best bet for most uses, both at microdoses and regular doses.
Measurements of psilocybin mushrooms usually refer to dried whole mushrooms. One important fact about whole mushrooms is that the psilocybin content of caps is significantly higher than stems, per weight. For consistent doses, only stems (or only caps) should be used for microdosing.
Note: The darkened parts of the stems are not due to rot or other defects, as may appear, but rather indicative of psilocin, which stains blue upon handling. However, lack of bruising doesn’t necessarily indicate lack of hallucinogenic effects, as seen in the Psilocybe semilanceata mushroom.
LSD is usually sold on paper blotters. It is usually on paper, made to be consumed by dissolving on the tongue. The dotted lines separate each ‘tab’, which typically contains a standard dose of 100μg (micrograms). LSD is also sold in liquid form, with a dose in each drop. Either format is acceptable, but paper is the more common form.
The first option is the lowest risk and takes the least amount of time and effort to obtain a source. Psilocybin most commonly come in whole dried mushrooms and, for consistent dosing, should have caps separated from stems. For LSD, paper is the standard, while liquid is also available. Both substances can be tested for purity using a drug test kit that detects indoles.
Finding the Right Dose
Different Approaches to Dosing
When it comes to dosing, Dr. James Fadiman in the Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide recommends a cautious approach: start low, then gradually increase to higher doses. However, as those new to psychedelics have informed me, it can be hard to notice the effects of a microdose as a newbie without experience of a full dose.
For practical purposes, I suggest an alternative. Take a slightly higher dose than a microdose, perhaps on the weekend or a day with lower stakes, so as to guarantee a noticeable effect. Then, slowly work your way to the lowest dose you can take while still feeling an effect. That is your minimum ‘threshold’ dose. Then experiment with different doses from your threshold, week by week.
For reference, typical dosage ranges are included for each substance below.
Mushrooms (dried stems)
Creative dose: 0.5–1g (test out these doses before taking at work!)
Typical party dose: 2–3g (a full trip dose)
Creative dose: 40–50ug
Typical party dose: 100ug
For measurements, use a mini kitchen scale (like this one) that can detect increments as little as 0.001g. To contain each dose and prevent a bitter taste, try gelatin capsules — they’re available through Amazon.
Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Microdosing Experiments
Dr. Fadiman’s Approach (1 microdose every 3 days)
Dr. Fadiman recommends taking one microdose every 3 days so as to prevent changes in tolerance over time. He says,“the first day you feel great. The second day you would feel half of that. And the third day you won’t feel anything.”
Week 1: Mon/Thu/Sun
Week 2: Wed/Sat
Week 3: Tue/Fri
Week 4: Mon/Thu/Sun
Dosage: Start with lowest dose in the first 2 weeks (10ug LSD or 0.2g mushrooms), then progress to a higher dose in the following weeks.
Note: I didn’t notice increases in tolerance during my one-year experiment when I took microdoses almost every day (3–6 times per week). In fact, I noticed the opposite effect — a buildup of effects if I took too many doses in a row, such that my third day in a row of taking 0.2g felt like I was taking 0.4g. However, your mileage may vary, and I don’t doubt there are other reasons Dr. Fadiman recommends this protocol.
Workaholic’s Approach (weekdays on, weekends off)
This plan is geared towards individuals looking to test microdosing for potential improvements at work. The weekends are left open for recovery to baseline, in case of changes in effect over time.
Week 1: Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu/Fri
Week 2: Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu/Fri
Week 3: Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu/Fri
Week 4: Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu/Fri
Dosage: Start with either a higher or lower dose, depending on your risk tolerance, balanced by urgency to see effects, and slowly alternate dosages week by week.
Balanced Microdose Approach (every other day)
This dosing schedule is most similar to the dosing schedule in my own microdosing experiment. Microdoses are taken 3–4 times per week (I microdosed 3–6 times per week, depending on how I felt at the time).
Week 1: Mon/Wed/Fri/Sun
Week 2: Tue/Thu/Sat
Week 3: Mon/Wed/Fri/Sun
Week 4: Tue/Thu/Sat
Dosage: As with the previous experiments, start with either a higher or lower dose, and then progress to the next dose after 1–2 weeks.
Track Effects with the ‘Check Yourself’ Checklist
The following is a checklist of areas to scan when microdosing. Most likely, you won’t be affected in all areas, but it’s important to take a comprehensive review of the effects. There are 7 areas to track:
Mental: Notice the thoughts running through your mind. Are they the same as usual, or different in nature? Are you having more or fewer thoughts than usual? In general, is your mind more clear or more cluttered?
Creative: Are you finding new qualities in things, like stories in objects? Do you find your mind wandering in directions it doesn’t usually? Are you getting more ideas than usual? Do solutions to problems come more easily?
Emotional: Do your feelings take on any different qualities than before? Are there more or fewer feelings experienced than usual? How quickly do you process them before reaching a resolution and moving on? Is sex better, or a different quality?
Social: How are you expressing your thoughts and feelings? Are there any changes in the pacing, tone, or nature of your speech? What about your facial expressions? Do you smile more or less? What frequency do you agree or disagree with someone in conversation? Do you talk differently with your coworkers, spouse, friends and family? The barista at the local coffee shop?
Body: Take a look at how aware (or not aware) you are of your body. Now zoom in on the body by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. Slow your mind and place your full attention on any sensations in your body. Do you notice anything?
Capabilities: Notice if you’re more able to complete certain tasks than usual. This might manifest as changes in attention span, physical/visual acuity, verbal fluidity, problem solving ability, empathy, different areas of awareness, and so on.
Outlook: Are you more positive or negative? More optimistic or pessimistic? More or less skeptical? More fearful and guarded, or open to possibilities Feelings of oneness, universality, truth, connectedness, love, or peace are also in this area.
Should I microdose or take regular doses?
Microdosing is best for gradual improvements over time. It will have immediate benefits, but you may not notice all of the effects until much later, in retrospect. This is best done when you’re looking to keep a stable daily routine.
Regular doses of psychedelics are best taken during vacation, sabbatical, or other transitional periods, because the insights gained will help sort out your highest priorities and values, and will often cause major shifts in perspective. This is better when you don’t have a routine holding you back, or are ready for a major personal transformation that will impact all parts of your life. I will cover regular doses of psychedelics in future posts.
Will I be ‘tripping’?
No. Because the effects of microdosing are very different in nature than those experienced during a full dose, you will not be ‘tripping’. Some individuals don’t even notice it at first if the dose is very low, which is why I usually recommend a slightly higher dose for beginners.
Will people notice? Will I be able to go to work?
Yes, you can go to work. Most people won’t notice anything different unless you tell them. You will have control over your behaviors and may even become even more aware than before, so the chances of causing something detrimental at work are unlikely.
How long do the effects last?
With moderate to large doses of psychedelics, the effects range from 6–8 hours with mushrooms and 8–10 hours for LSD, but microdoses seem to last a shorter period of time. Based on n=1 data, microdoses of mushrooms last around 4 hours, while LSD microdoses last around 5 hours.
Please comment if you have tried microdosing, or are thinking of trying. If you’ve tried it, what was your experience? If you are thinking of it, is there anything holding you back from trying it?