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Microdosing - what is it and what substances can be microdosed?

Microdosing - what is it and what substances can be microdosed?

Microdosing - what is it and what substances can be microdosed?

Microdosing to słowo, które coraz częściej przewija się w dyskusji na temat terapii zaburzeń psychicznych przy wykorzystaniu psychodelików. Najczęściej mówi się o mikrodawkowaniu LSD, THC i psylocybiny, jednak pojawiają się również badania dotyczące microdosing’u MDMA i ketaminy. Każda z tych substancji, w mniejszym lub większym stopniu, daje nadzieję na nowe ścieżki terapeutyczne w psychiatrii. 

What is microdosing? 

Microdosing - microdosing is the use of small doses of substances known to be psychoactive. It was first popularized by an American writer and scientist James Fadiman

Fadiman recommended taking 1/10th of a psychoactive dose every few days. With such a small dose, the substances do not cause a noticeable psychedelic effect, but they still have an effect on the body of the user. 

Opinions are divided as to what this influence consists of. Supporters and skeptics of microdosing also function in the scientific community, which is conducting research into the use of psychedelics to treat various disorders and ailments. 

Advocates of mkrodawn attribute it primarily to its beneficial effects on the psyche: increased creativity and motivation, better contact with one's own emotions and needs, improved mood, better concentration, inner peace. 

Skeptics are convinced that it is mainly attitudes and expectations that are at work here, while the beneficial effect is a placebo effect. The main objection to microdosing proponents is that there are no reliable scientific studies proving the occurrence of the benefits claimed by microdosing users. 

In fact, there are few scientific publications that describe fully methodologically planned studies on the use of small doses of psychedelics. Conclusions about the effects of small doses are sometimes drawn on the basis of clinical studies in which full, psychoactive doses were used, which is not necessarily authoritative. 

Many reports of microdosing are based on questionnaires, in which people taking small doses on their own describe changes in their well-being and provide answers to researchers. But this is changing, with more and more researchers looking at the phenomenon and putting it into a scientific framework.

What substances can be microdosed?

In the literature on microdosing, the following substances are most often mentioned:

  • LSD
  • THC
  • Psylocybin

Microdosing LSD

Known for its hallucinogenic properties, LSD (a synthetic substance, not found in this form in nature) is the earliest psychedelic recognized by Western medicine, having been discovered in 1938 by chemist Albert Hofmann. Intensive research into its use in psychiatry lasted from the 1950s to the 1970s. 

Studies involving male and female patients (unfortunately, deviating from today's ethical standards for research involving human subjects) were designed to test, among other things, whether long-term personality changes occur under the influence of LSD therapy. 

This was followed by an almost 40-year pause, associated with the outlawing of LSD. Although the substance has not been legalized again, there is talk of a great resurgence in psychedelics research in the past decade. 

Współczesna psychiatria dostrzega potencjał psychodelików jako psychoplastogenów – substancji, które mogą pobudzać neuroplastyczność strukturalną i funkcjonalną układów mózgu. Ich zastosowanie wydaje się naukowcom szczególnie obiecujące w terapii depresji, zaburzeń lękowych, PTSD i uzależnień (szczególnie optymistyczne rezultaty zaobserwowano w terapii alkoholizmu). Niektórzy uważają nawet, że psychodeliki mają szansę przynosić długotrwałe korzyści w terapii chorób mózgu mózgu (brain disorders).

A comprehensive historical review of research on the therapeutic potential of LSD in psychiatry can be read here In English.

Microdosing LSD got into the mainstream thanks to Silicon Valley IT geniuses who started talking about taking small doses of the substance as their "productivity hack."  

Controlled scientific research to describe the effects of small doses of LSD on the human brain is already underway. Berkley Foundation researchers have observed in vitro and in animal models that micro doses of LSD increase brain plasticity. Studies analyzing brain activity, mood and cognitive function in humans taking micro doses of LSD are currently underway.

On the other hand, addiction treatment specialists warn that even taking small doses of LSD can lead to the development of addiction, making it dangerous to practice microdosing without consulting a doctor. 

THC microdosing

THC, as a psychoactive cannabinoid of cannabis, is included among psychoplastogens. In the context of medical cannabis, THC microdosing is often discussed for patients and clients who want to avoid the "high" effect while taking a doctor-recommended drug. Small doses are intended to develop the body's tolerance to THC before getting on the target dose of the drug, and are not always talked about as a treatment in themselves. 

However, Swade Cannabis specialists emphasize that the therapeutic effect is always sought at the lowest possible dose of cannabis, and that starting treatment with the lowest dose makes it possible to determine the one appropriate for the individual. 

A microdose of marijuana is usually 1-1.25 mg, and it is easier to take it orally, such as in the form of so-called "edibles," but inhaling a measured amount is also possible.  

To avoid the psychoactive effects of THC, while maintaining its therapeutic potential, a product called Zeno, which contains 0.4 mg of THC - below the standard microdose. 

Preparat Zeno jest traktowany jako lek, został wyprodukowany, aby zwiększać funkcje poznawcze i redukować lęk bez efektu odurzenia. Może być także stosowany u osób, które źle tolerują wysokie stężenia THC (np. tych, u których pojawiają się fobie i stany lękowe po zażyciu). 

Badania przeprowadzone na Uniwersytecie Chicago wykazały min., że mikrodozowanie tetrahydrokannabinolu redukuje stres, podczas gdy średnie i wysokie dawki nie wpływają na poziom stresu lub wręcz go zwiększają. Naukowcy uważają, że niskie dawki THC mogą przynosić korzyści terapeutyczne w leczeniu ADHD oraz zaburzeń lękowych. 

Psylocybin Microdosing

Psylocybin is a psychoactive substance found in nature in many species of psilocybin mushrooms, including Psilocybe cubensis and Psilocybe semilanceata. Hallucinogenic mushrooms were/are used in many indigenous cultures in shamanic and spiritual ceremonies.

Western psychiatry appreciates psilocybin for similar reasons it appreciates LSD - it is a psychoplastogen that may have applications in the treatment of certain mental disorders. Scientific studies on the use of full doses of psilocybin in the treatment of depression, anxiety, PTSD or addiction have yielded mostly optimistic results. 

Sessions with psilocybin were organized under the control of doctors, participants' reactions were measured during the session - under the influence of the substance and for several months afterwards. The results indicate significant therapeutic progress in the participants, the researchers are optimistic about further research and the future possibility of popularizing this type of therapy. 

The Berkley Foundation, mentioned above, is lobbying for the legalization of psilocybin as an available therapeutic substance. The researchers base their argument on the results of their pilot study (a double-blind study involving cancer hospital patients; a control group), in which they analyzed the effects of the substance on anxiety and distress in cancer patients.   

Osoby uczestniczące w badaniu deklarowały zmniejszenie objawów lękowych o 2 punkty w 3-stopniowej skali, nie odnotowano istotnych działań niepożądanych psylocybiny. Zdaniem naukowców, to badanie wykazało bezpieczeństwo stosowania psylocybiny, zarówno u osób z lękiem, jak i tych, których organizm jest osłabiony przez chorobę. 

Extensive research involving volunteers on the effects of microdoses of psychedelics, primarily psilocybin or LSD, on the human brain is underway at Macquarie University in Sydney. The research is headed by Professor Vince Polito.  

The first two rounds of the study showed short-term improvements in the overall mental functioning of male and female participants: lower stress levels, better mood and concentration. At the same time, higher levels of neuroticism were observed. In the long term, microdosing benefited from improved focus and reduced depressive symptoms. 

There was no control group in the study, which makes it impossible to determine to what extent the perceived benefits are due to the attitudes and expectations of the participants. The researchers recognize this problem and are planning further work on a more methodologically complete study. 

Podczas gdy medyczna marihuana – czyli również THC – jest już w wielu miejscach na świecie legalnym lekarstwem, także w chorobach somatycznych, pozostałe z wspomnianych powyżej substancji wciąż są w fazie badań. Zanim dojdzie do wprowadzenia ich na rynek w formie gotowych preparatów, muszą przejść jeszcze długą ścieżkę. Miejmy nadzieję, że naukowcom uda się wypracować optymalne dawki, które pozwolą na maksymalizację korzyści płynących ze stosowania tych substancji.

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