Author: James Anderson

Microdosing: Definition, Effects, Uses, Risks, Legality

what is microdosing

We spoke with Dr. Shannon Eaton, a neuroscientist and Assistant Teaching Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University, to learn everything you need to know about microdosing. These low doses are purported to enhance daily functioning while avoiding a dramatically altered state of consciousness.

what is microdosing

Side effects of decreased mood, cognitive impairment, neurosis, and feelings of disconnection from others have also been noted. The substances people microdose are illegal, further complicating research efforts. Psychedelics are a class of drugs that cause complex psychological, behavioral, and physiological effects by activating the serotonin 5-HT 2A receptors. Serotonin is a hormone that causes feelings of happiness and well-being and helps stabilize mood.

Many people use psychedelics at higher doses for self-exploration, recreation, or spiritual purposes. On the other hand, microdosers tend to take these doses to improve their well-being or enhance their emotional or mental state. “The whole idea is you’re taking a very small dose – like a tenth of what you would use to feel anything. Elon Musk recently reported that he microdoses ketamine for the treatment of depression, while Prince Harry said mushrooms and ayahuasca helped him through the grief of losing his mother. One of the most meaningful potential outcomes of Phase-0/Microdosing studies is the early termination of development.

There is no definitive evidence yet that microdosing with psychedelics is either effective or safe.

Since 2010, Dr. James Fadiman, an American transpersonal psychologist, has been collecting microdosing reports from people around the world. His findings with numerous positive experiences serve as the foundation for the scientific quest into the world of microdosing. Yet despite mounting evidence suggesting that taking psychedelics may improve elements of creativity and cognition, research in the field has been stagnant due to government restrictions over concerns regarding recreational drug use. To date, there is little to no statistically-significant scientific evidence to support or reject the use of psychedelics or microdosing for positive health benefits. Microdosing involves taking 5–10% of the amount necessary to induce psychoactive effects.

  1. In this setting, healthcare professionals can respond in an emergency, and you know exactly what you’re taking and the dose.
  2. The potential benefits of microdosing may include improvements in mood, sleep, and eating habits, among others.
  3. Mescaline is a naturally-occurring psychedelic that has effects similar to LSD and has played an important role in Native American tradition.
  4. Anecdotal evidence suggests that people tend to take a small dose and then take it regularly or semi-regularly for an extended period.

Researchers can then assess its pharmacokinetics, or how it interacts with the body. There is a lack of research into the effects and potential benefits of microdosing. Another problem is that researchers do not yet know the possible long-term effects of this practice. When microdosed, proponents suggest that it helps increase spiritual awareness and lessen feelings of anxiety. Early research on the use of psychedelics showed a number of beneficial effects. Psychiatrists used psychedelics during experiments during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.


People might feel that they are more creative, but this may not necessarily correspond to real-world improvements in problem-solving and innovation. Microdosing involves taking very low doses of a substance, usually a psychedelic drug. The amount of the substance that is used is significantly below a hallucinogenic dose, yet proponents believe that the practice can produce a range of positive health effects.

what is microdosing

21% of people responded that they primarily used microdosing as a therapy for depression, while 7% used microdosing for symptoms of anxiety. About 9% of people who responded used microdosing to help with other mental health disorders. Many of the reasons why people microdose involve some aspects of mental health, such as reducing stress and anxiety or alleviating symptoms of depression.

Could psychedelics become safer if legalized?

Overall, 44% of people who responded perceived that their mental health was much better as a consequence of microdosing. The potential benefits of microdosing may include improvements in mood, sleep, and eating habits, among others. Ketamine is legal with a prescription from a doctor, but most therapies (with the exception of Spravato, or esketamine, a nasal spray) have not been FDA-approved. Most other hallucinogenic drugs aren’t legal, however, more research is being done on their therapeutic use, which could change laws in the future.

This method often involves asking questions to people who have been microdosing or were already interested in it. As such, there may be a bit of bias in these studies, as the people may expect to have a good experience while microdosing. Some research has shown that perceived benefits were unrelated to reported outcomes, which suggests the placebo effect and recall bias may be less significant to the experience than previously thought. Another important safety consideration is the fact that because many of the substances used for microdosing are illegal, there is no regulation of the manufacture and production of these substances. People frequently report feelings of improvements in mood such as greater happiness, peace, calm, well-being, reduced depressive symptoms, optimism, and a better outlook on life. Popularly known as ecstasy or molly, MDMA is a psychoactive drug that is primarily used for recreational purposes.

However, there is currently not enough scientific evidence to prove these claims are true. Because of the promising potential seen in research on standard doses of psychedelic substances, the potential of microdosing as a mental health and substance use treatment warrants further research. It has also piqued the interest of physicians and researchers, as more evidence is emerging that microdosing can improve mental health. A recent study found psilocybin may help cancer patients with depression and anxiety. What we do know is that psychedelic substances act on the serotonin (5-HT) receptors in our brain. Serotonin receptors are found throughout our nervous system and govern many aspects of our being, including mood, thinking, and bowel movements.