To find out more about the origins of microdosing psychedelics (of which LSD is one) one has to go back nearly 500 years when a Spanish friar reported that when the Aztecs suffered from conditions such as rheumatism and fever, they often treated themselves with low doses of psilocybin, the psychedelic ingredient in what most of us today know as magic mushrooms. After LSD was discovered in 1943, the research into psychedelics started gaining new ground. And it soon became obvious that LSD might have more benefits than realized.
The man who is widely regarded as the father of modern genetics, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Francis Crick, made no secret of the fact that he was using small doses of LSD when he and his equally brilliant partner, US scientist James Watson, first discovered the double-helix structure of human DNA in the 1950s. He believed that the LSD was able to boost his thinking powers.
Despite growing evidence that microdosing a psychedelic such as LSD could improve elements of cognition and creativity, research in the United States has been held back by government restrictions. The situation is changing fast though, with fresh evidence about the potential benefits of microdosing LSD emerging regularly.
What Is LSD?
The scientific name for LSD is Lysergic acid diethylamide, which is probably why it is colloquially referred to as ‘acid’. It is a powerful psychedelic substance of which the effects often include very intense emotions, thoughts, and sensory perceptions. At a high dosage, LSD often causes auditory, visual, and mental hallucinations. Other effects that are quite common include an increase in one’s body temperature, elevated blood pressure, and pupils becoming dilated. These effects start quickly, often within 30 minutes of taking LSD, and they can last as long as 20 hours. LSD is also credited with causing ego dissolution and other mystical experiences. The most common ways to take a standard dose of LSD include holding it under your tongue or swallowing it. With microdosing, there are a few other considerations to take into account. Continue reading to find out more.
What Is Microdosing LSD And How Does It Work?
As you might already have guessed from the term ‘micro’, microdosing LSD refers to using very small doses of LSD - so small that they can not have a significant impact on your consciousness, induce intoxication, or cause psychedelic effects. There is no exact amount of LSD that would constitute a ‘standard’ microdose. A typical microdose is normally anywhere between 1/20 and 1/10 of the amount people would use for recreational purposes.
In an online [survey] (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6600464/) conducted few years ago, the majority of respondents said they used 10 mcg (micrograms) at a time. A user would typically take these minute doses of LSD regularly, for example, every two or three days over a relatively long period. According to a review that was published a few years ago, the following three microdosing rules were very common:
- taking a microdose every second day
- taking a microdose from Monday to Friday but pausing over the weekend
- taking a microdose for two days in a row and then skipping the next two days
Nearly half of the respondents, however, developed their customized protocols. According to the review, the majority of users would follow the protocol they decided on for anything between one week and two years.
Is There Any Scientific Evidence For The Benefits Of Microdosing LSD?
Although there has recently been some research on microdosing LSD, the bulk of the available evidence is based on the effects of large doses of LSD and other psychedelics on the brain. A lot of what is currently understood about the way psychedelics like LSD work has to do with the role of serotonin, one of the most important chemicals in the brain’s arsenal of neurotransmitters.
Serotonin has an impact on just about everything a human does, from the way we process data to how we feel. One can quite literally say that serotonin is what keeps the brain ticking. Since serotonin plays such an important role in mood stabilization, antidepressants known as SSRIs (Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) can make someone who suffers from e.g. depression experience an elevated mood by increasing the serotonin levels in their brain.
How psychedelics such as LSD achieve the same result is more direct: they simply mimic serotonin. It is because these substances have a structure that is so remarkably similar to serotonin that they can mimic the latter’s chemical effects so easily.
Psychedelics such as LSD are also able to cause certain parts of the human brain that do not normally ‘talk to’ each other to start communicating. This is achieved via their remarkable ability to reduce the activity levels of the Default Mode Network or DMN, a part of the brain that is often over-used.
This part of the brain is responsible for various mental activities such as self-reflection, daydreaming, and pondering about the future or the past. Research has, however, shown that an overactive DMN would cause individuals to start over-analyzing themselves, ruminate, and not be in the moment. They would spend too much time questioning the future and the past. All of this can cause unhappiness.
Some studies have suggested that depression is nothing more than an overactive DMN. If this is true, it would help to explain why LSD could be used to fight both depression and anxiety - and why it could lead to new perspectives and insights that might otherwise continue to evade us.
What Does The Latest Research Say About Microdosing LSD?
As we pointed out above, the research on the effects of microdosing with LSD is quite fresh. But the results so far have been promising. About three years ago, a company named Eleusis carried out one of the very first research projects in this field. When they conducted placebo-controlled clinical trials to study whether microdosing LSD has any benefits for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease they were able to confirm the safety of the treatment. This step paved the way for bigger trials. The company is now also studying psychedelics like LSD as a possible treatment for people who suffer from chronic inflammation.
Another organization that has committed itself to study the potential therapeutic benefits of microdosing LSD is the Beckley Foundation. Their initial study focused on the short-term benefits of singular LSD microdoses on the flexibility of cognitive function, creativity, and general well-being. Soon, the Foundation will also research consistently using LSD microdoses over 4 weeks.
Another company that is involved in researching the potential benefits of microdosing LSD in the treatment of addiction and ADHD is a start-up by the name of MindMed.
Other researchers have recently also started studying the possible role of psychedelics such as LSD in the treatment of a bipolar disorder. Under the management of Dr. Roland Griffiths, the prestigious John Hopkins Institute’s Psychedelic Research Center continues to grow. Until now they have focused most of their attention on researching psilocybin, but more recently they have also conducted several studies on LSD.
How Do I Microdose With LSD?
Microdosing with LSD is a relatively simple process. All you have to do is to use volumetric dosing to prepare the microdoses. To make sure you get the desired outcome, the next step should be to use a microdose at intervals and for the period, you have decided on. Note: We do not recommend the much less precise cutting method to prepare the microdoses (see below) because it’s simply not precise enough. Preparing an LSD microdose. You might have to experiment for a while to find the ideal microdose for your specific purposes. Remember that the aim of microdosing is not to bring about a drastic change in mindset, disposition, or mood. The effects should be much more subtle but very real. A typical LSD micro dose to achieve this balanced outcome is anywhere from 6 to 20 micrograms. Taking into account that a single tablet is normally around 100 micrograms, using the cutting method could mean that you might have to cut a single tablet into 16 pieces. Not all of them will necessarily contain the same amount of the active substance. That is why we prefer the volumetric method described below. The volumetric method will give far more precise results. The process simply involves placing a full tablet into a small amount of distilled water or alcohol and then using the same quantity of that to microdose. After dropping the tablet into alcohol or water, store it in the dark and leave it for around a day. If you drop a 100ug tablet into 100 ml of liquid (alcohol or distilled water), every milliliter will contain virtually exactly 1ug of LSD. So if you want to use 10ug of LSD, just take two 5ml teaspoons of the liquid, i.e. 10ml. You can safely store the mix in the refrigerator for more than a month. What Is the best LSD microdosing schedule to follow? When deciding on an LSD microdosing schedule (e.g. once every three days, only weekdays) it is important to choose one that will best fit in with your normal routine. When you first try microdosing LSD, we recommend that you take a day off from all your social commitments and/or work. This will allow you to take care of any unexpected side effects in the privacy of your home. Although it might appear as if the microdose only affects those days when you are taking it, watch out for how it affects the days between doses. Many individuals don’t only experience an increase in energy, creativity, and flow on the days they take the microdose, but also the day or days after. We do not recommend microdosing LSD every single day. Your body will soon build up a tolerance to the substance and you could see diminished results after only a couple of days. As we pointed out above, many people experience positive effects a few days after taking an LSD microdose, which is a good enough reason to space out the doses anyway.
Summary Of The Benefits And Risks Of Microdosing LSD
There are numerous benefits involved with microdosing LSD but the majority of people do it for two main reasons:
- To improve the intensity and frequency of desirable outcomes such as
- Having more energy
- Becoming more creative
- Being more focused and productive
- Experiencing flow states
- Improving coordination during athletics
- Increasing your levels of empathy
- Improving your leadership skills
- To reduce the intensity and frequency of unwanted mental states that are caused by conditions such as:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Other mood disorders
- Substance addiction
Risks And Side Effects Of Microdosing LSD
The biggest risk involved with using or possessing LSD at this stage is the law. In the United States and most other Western countries, LSD possession is still a crime. There are a few countries, however, where LSD is to a greater or lesser extent legal. The list includes Ecuador, the Czech Republic, Portugal, and Mexico. Read the fine print before jumping on a plane to one of these countries though. Other risks that even a very small dose of LSD might pose to a very small minority of people include the following. That is why we recommend that you first talk to your doctor if you have any reason to be concerned:
- Increased anxiety or turbulent emotions
- Longterm microdosing might potentially cause VHD (valvular heart disease)
- If you suffer from schizophrenia, psychosis, or severe anxiety, microdosing LSD could exacerbate your symptoms. First, discuss the potential risks with your doctor.
- Another rare long-term side effect of using a psychedelic substance such as LSD, even in very small quantities, is HPPD or hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder. This condition is characterized by ongoing sensory disturbances, most commonly visual. These can sometimes persist for months or even years after using the substance. To be fair, HPPD is rare and much more likely to happen when a psychedelic such as LSD is not consumed in a responsible, safe environment. It can be treated with antiseizure or antipsychotic drugs.
There are currently well over a dozen scientific studies underway to determine the medical efficiency and safety of psychedelics such as LSD. So far the results have been very promising and we are looking forward to even more in-depth research into the potential benefits for the treatment of depression, anxiety, substance addiction, and much more.
Sascha Mayr · 12/13/2022