These Are The Up- And Downsides Of My One-Month Experience Microdosing LSD
Microdosing of various entheogenic substances such as LSD, Psilocybin, Mescaline, and others made its way into all kinds of different fields of application. Some people are actively treating their mental diseases, others are using it to boost their creativity and productivity, and some are exploring it out of curiosity and other interests. But why is there such a momentum for microdosing in this particular time? I sailed out to learn more about potential reasons.
What is microdosing?
The concept is simple: take a sub-perceptual dose of an entheogenic substance every few days. Why not every day? The body quickly builds up a tolerance against substances like LSD or Psilocybin and taking a dose every day would diminish the effects over time. Currently, James Fadiman’s microdosing protocol is considered the gold standard of microdosing:
Unlike the recreational use of entheogenic substances, with microdosing you’re not supposed to feel any psychedelic effects. “If you’re taking a microdose and you’re feeling a little high, you’ve been taking a little too much.”, says Fadiman (Fadiman J and Korb S). The actual goal is to stay under the perceptual threshold. As I am using LSD as the substance of choice for this experiment, I’ll refer only on the particular information and handling of this substance. If a full recreational dose of LSD is 100 micrograms, a good first try for a microdose is 10 micrograms. From there on, the dose can be tweaked until the user has found their personal optimum and feels comfortable.
Since I first learned about LSD in 1966, before it was made illegal, I became aware of its great potential value for health and cognitive enhancement.
Amanda Feilding, director of the Beckley Foundation.
LSD is usually distributed on so-called blotters. These are small strips of paper onto which LSD has been applied in its previously liquid form. Let’s say one blotter contains 100 micrograms of LSD (very important side note: always try to test your substances to be sure that you’re a) exposing yourself to the substance you intend to do and b) to know the actual amount of substance contained). Because cutting such a tiny blotter into 10 even tinier equal pieces is a challenge for most people’s fine motor skills, the easier method is dissolving the blotter in distilled water (see the headline picture).
Dissolving a blotter containing 100 micrograms of LSD in 10 millilitres of water, leaves you with a simple ratio of 1 milliliter water = 10 micrograms of LSD. Medical syringes are convenient tools for withdrawing precise amounts of liquid from a bigger container.
When I first started with this exploration of microdosing LSD, I wanted to taste for myself and not rely on any other “how to do-guides” which are broadly available in literature and on the internet. As a consequence, there were many interesting and unexpected things that I had to take in consideration for further exploration. For example, I started with initial doses of about 20 micrograms cut from blotters which I tested before and contained 100 micrograms each. As you can imagine, this is not a recommendable approach and lead to great variance in respect to dosage. However, as I was also taking another road in regards to the frequency of ingesting the substance, I would take a microdose on Mondays, Tuesdays and on Thursdays, I continued with the approach of cutting. This because I thought that over time, the tolerance would eliminate potential overdosing. Anyhow, that’s something I wouldn’t do anymore in further sequences of microdosing. The length of the experiment was limited to exactly one month and took place during a normal day to day life period which I’ve chosen consciously.
One can’t and doesn’t want to encourage people to microdose, but it is interesting to try to gather data in a slightly more scientific way from people who are doing it.
Amanda Feilding, director of the Beckley Foundation.
After one full month of microdosing LSD three times a week, I can generally say that there’s definitely something to it. When I started reflecting on the particular layers of the experiences, I realized that labelling the subtile details is quite a challenge for me. One of the sensations which I quickly got aware of, was that I seemed to be surrounded by a bubble like thing. In other words, I found myself somewhat cut off from my environment and to be in a micro cosmos where everything was calm and balanced. Yet, I was always able to interact with outside happenings whenever I moved my focus in that direction. This sensation or phenomenon seemed very interesting to me as it allowed myself to step into a higher state of focus with an awareness which as quite resistent to distraction.
I often observed an uplifting influence on my personal mood which had great influence on my overall perception of things and as a result, it also had a great influence on my interaction with any subject or object. In these interactions, especially with other human beings, I felt a greater connection and an even greater empathy which in most cases lead to a more constructive outcome for both sides. Moreover, the way how my brain operates clearly changed on days where I was microdosing and therefore my thought processes changed too. That’s a particular example where it is really tricky for me to properly formalize how I experienced this phenomenon. It felt like the “normal” patterns of how I process data was no longer applied but instead a more freely concept which is not tied to ordinary behavior within the brain chemistry. This enables a kind of “out of the box thinking” which may be very helpful when you work on problem-solving tasks or innovation related things where you need creativity.
My eye sight got influenced as well and on distance I was able to identify much more precisely what I was looking at — small letters for example. This was not really new to me as I observed this effect already many times with larger doses of entheogenic substances. Another interesting effect on my system was an extremely refreshing and energizing sensation which I always first felt between 1 to 5 hours expanding from my stomach. In the first phase, it sometimes felt like a tingling but never in an uncomfortable way. Over time, the tingling faded away and what remained was an energized body and mind which lasted about 8 to 12 hours depending on the structure of my days.
It actually took me quite a while to come up with something that I perceived to be more difficult to handle or irritating while pursing a day to day life. For me personally, a potentially critical thing was to commute accompanied by big masses which sometimes felt quite overwhelming. Nevertheless, I have to say that this is already often the case when I commute one hundred percent sober. Obviously, any other overwhelming situation would be critical as well as microdosing can make you more sensitive to energies in general.
Potentially, there are many other downsides which I was or am not able to identify as these are playing out on the neurophysiological or psychological level. Long-term studies collecting data from a great number of people will someday reveal further insight into this particular aspect.
Why is microdosing getting so popular, why now?
It’s hard to say from which directions microdosing came before it gained momentum on a larger scale. Yet, it seems like the first place where people started exploring it heavily was in Silicon Valley. Techies and others tried to mix business and pleasure and are insisting that taking small doses of entheogenic substances simply makes them perform better at work as they are becoming more creative and focused in their daily business. As todays modern society is very dynamic and running at an extremely high pace, people apparently seek for possibilities to keep track and perform world-class. That’s where these substances seem to be a suitable tool to do so, at least for some people. Another potential reason for its popularity may be that the structures many of us live in are not allowing high doses anymore that easily and people feel more drawn to this type of experience and connection to entheogenic substances. However, these are just trivial assumptions I came up with and are most likely just few variables from a much more complex and bigger picture.
What remains unclear
Never underestimate the power of placebo. Having said that, some of the experiences and sensations which I had during my experiment may potential be correlating with this specific phenomenon. Numerous studies have demonstrated strong placebo effects in chronic pain and mood disorders. For example, in antidepressant drug trials, the placebo response makes up for seventy-five percent of the positive effect of the antidepressant (Kirschi I et al. 2002 and Kirschi I and Sapirstein G. 1998).
Our individual perception of reality is heavily biased by our previous experiences and our expectations. When we are microdosing, I do believe that we’re dealing with an especially strong positive expectation bias and therefore a potential strong placebo effect. A more metaphorical way of understanding this might be the following: if you got a supplement from your sports coach on a really great number of game days and you always won on these particular days, wouldn’t you start to connect the dots and interpret that there’s a correlation between this specific supplement and the outcome of the games? That’s how I encountered microdosing. I really wanted microdosing to work.
Fadiman J, Korb S. Microdosing: The Phenomenon, Research Results, and Startling Surprises. Youtube. Opened 7 of November 2018.
Kirsch I et al. 2002. The emperor’s new drugs: an analysis of antidepressant medication data submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration. 2002. Prevent. Treat. 5, 23.
Kirsch I, Sapirstein G. Listening to Prozac but hearing placebo: a meta-analysis of antidepressant medication. 1998. Prevent. Treat. 1, 0002a.
This article does not promote or recommend the use of illegal drugs. Many of the substances referenced to in the content are illegal in many countries. This article does not constitute medical advice. As always, please consult your doctor before taking any medicine.
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