I Didn’t Think Microdosing Worked, But This Month Has Me Thinking…

I went in as a skeptic, and came out somewhat less.

Microdosing is the often inexact practice of consuming small doses of psychedelics, notably psilocybin and LSD. While some measure 0.1 and 0.3 mg quantities, many eyeball it with an estimated pinch into their mouths or beverages. 

The microdosing trend kicked off around 2010, with its popularity surging by 2015, leading to notable publications running with the claims made by diverse demographics, including psychedelics researchers, business leaders and stressed moms. The reported effects differed from person to person, but overall, positive reports often centered around decreased mental stress, increased happiness, improved focus, expanded creative energy, and other mental health and cognition effects.

By 2018, the trend had picked up enough momentum that the first-ever lab trial analyzing microdosed LSD began. Since then, lab studies and analysis have come in quite steadily. Researchers have recorded slight psychological changes in some studies when consuming psychedelics in microdose form. Some short-term improvements include decreased levels of depression, stress and mind wandering. However, the reported outcomes did not align with those participants expected to see change.

Many studies in recent years have concluded that microdosing does not demonstrate an overwhelmingly positive impact on areas such as introvertive awareness or emotion processing. Even notable medical cannabis and psychedelics researchers like Dr. Peter Grinspoon have stated that microdosing psychedelics has yet to provide any definitive evidence that it is either safe or effective.

Still, despite the clinical evidence suggesting otherwise, numerous consumers have provided anecdotal feedback that microdosing has benefited them–some in a life-changing fashion. 

My Mushroom Experience

I’m no psychedelics expert. Nor am I a complete novice. I’ve done macro doses of psychedelics probably around a dozen times between ages 21 and 38. Most of the doses have been with psilocybin and two with LSD. I also tried microdosing a handful of times several years ago. Mainly based on my own experiences, I was convinced that macro doses were the way to go if I wanted to feel something profound. But with little time to myself these days, I could barely find time to trip.

While there were a few moments here and there that would be considered adverse, most of the time, I was loving life on a macro dose. I usually came away with some epiphany or mental clarity I had been seeking either consciously or subconsciously. With microdosing, the effects weren’t as clear and present. I noticed slight effects, if at all. I could say that my energy level or focus increased. But without dosing on a consistent regular basis, I never really set myself up for the best possible results.

I was content with staying in this frame of mind that microdosing didn’t work. My experiences, combined with a rush of often ineffective and underwhelming licensed psychedelic products being sent my way as part of press campaigns, made me feel like microdosing was a sham or at least overhyped. Many of these products I received came in sleek packages and tasted like elite chocolatiers were behind the recipe. They checked all the boxes for a quality product except for the crucial fact that few delivered any psychedelic results. 

I began to feel like much of the psychedelic world had become bullshit. The feeling persisted for several years. My stance began to alter about six months ago when I ran into my friend, Chill Steel Pipes CEO Justin Johnson. He had been going through a particularly trying time in life that saw the unexpected passing of his business partner and good friend. The events led to a surge in work demands that left him spread thin and taxed in numerous ways. With so much on his plate, Justin told me he didn’t feel like he could smoke to relax while needing to learn several new aspects of the business. Needing some relief, he turned to psilocybin and found immense relief. 

I kept our interaction in my back pocket for several months but didn’t do much with it until recently. My inaction presumably came from the burnout I hadn’t been able to shake for the past few years. I can’t tell if it was the pandemic or other factors in business and life, but one or many things had taken me out of what made me who I was–especially at work. 

My drive wasn’t there. My patience got thinner. I found myself angry, apathetic and incredibly uninterested more often than not. All the while, I worked more than ever to make ends meet, costing me my free time to enjoy life. It became an endless negative loop. I felt trapped and even less free than when I was shackled to a 9-to-5 office job. When working, I often found myself in a haze of assignments and errands while constantly struggling to stay mentally composed. What once brought me joy now felt like a burden.

I needed a change, and tried many things over the past year or so to generate a transformation of any kind. I worked out more. I tried to sleep better. I changed my diet, meditated, and so many things. In late August 2023, I lost a major freelance client, causing me to panic about my monthly income and desire to pick back up with freelancing. The unease and wish to avoid self-destruction led me to pull the trigger in search of a new perspective. Or, at the very least, to guinea pig myself to find out if microdosing had any positive effect.

What Happened?

To get things started, I bought an eighth of Penis Envy shrooms from my plug, cleaned out my coffee grinder and turned my dick-looking psilocybin into a funky smelling powder. I placed that powder inside a Pyrex container and stored it in my cabinet next to my coffee grounds. I made a note in my calendar to microdose every three days with my coffee. Saturday, September 2nd, was the first microdose. That day started to sway my opinions. 

Typically, it takes me several hours to finish my errands around the house. I love to procrastinate between tasks. That wasn’t the case when I microdosed. About 45 minutes in, I understood why some people consider microdosing mushrooms a “natural Adderall.” I wouldn’t go that far, but I got work done effectively and happily. I breezed through my errands in just a few hours. I still took a few minutes here and there to rest, but I got through tasks all while laughing at podcasts and enjoying music. It wasn’t anything profound, and may even be the standard for many reading this. But it felt incredibly different and positive to me–as if I had reconnected with something I loved doing but forgot all about at some point in adulthood. 

The second dose came on a Tuesday and provided the first challenge during a work day. I didn’t set any clocks or trackers to detect any difference in my work performance. Nevertheless, I noticed that I was more focused and driven to handle my tasks and work on improving my feelings of being burnt out. While I hadn’t found any clear-cut solutions by this point, my brain started sending me advice that almost felt like daily mantras about the importance of staying original and not forgetting what has worked for me for the better part of a decade. And even if I wasn’t finding solutions, I was laughing more. I felt lighter and freer as if a mental burden had lifted to some degree. For the first time in a long time, I was enjoying myself. 

Around dose three or four, I started to see my energy and focus plateau. I still felt more energized during the days I microdosed. But I also dipped back into my old form, where I would get distracted by social media or other thoughts I didn’t need to focus on during the work day. 

One thing that had bothered me for some months now was how much I started to be affected by social media posts. I don’t like much of what I see, including what I was putting out there. But at some point, I felt a voice in my head say to let what was being said slide off your back–and for the love of God, stop posting so much. While my activity is still wildly imperfect, I started actively trying to be more responsible and restrict what I put online. At the same time, I found myself laughing at posts and accounts that used to upset or annoy me. Social media is still a hellhole, though. 

I stopped tracking how I felt each session on dose five. By then, it felt like I had settled into a groove where I wasn’t receiving much of an increase in energy or focus on the days I microdose. Instead, my outlook felt like it was transforming daily. My focus has improved, though I still have days where it wanes. And while I still feel like there’s far too much negativity and grandstanding in cannabis (and life), I’ve realized where I stand in my role. Instead of worrying about the next steps, I am eager to implement more of those thoughts into my life. This has continued through the ninth dose I took two days ago. 

So, Microdosing Works?

I don’t know if microdosing works for certain. Numerous lab studies suggest that it has yet to demonstrate a significant ability to produce substantial, or any, effects on consumers. Still, many, like Justin, swear by microdosing. 

I’m still a bit skeptical to say that it works because I have a lingering feeling that this could all be a placebo effect. I want to stick with it for a month or two more before I form any firm opinions. But this past month and my first regimented microdosing schedule have given me much anecdotal evidence to consider. Whether it be placebo or plant medicine at work, this past month has given me the clarity I’ve long needed–and that’s something I’ve been searching for a long time. 

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