Microdosing and Treating Wellness with Psychedelics

Dr. Robin Barnett, EdD, LCSW, LCADC, CSAT

Psychedelics may have had their heyday in the 1960s, but they haven’t gone anywhere in that time. Sure, some people still use the (illegal) drug to get high, to “expand their consciousness”. But a new trend has emerged that positions LSD as a tool for increased emotional wellness.

The concept is known as microdosing and involves taking a miniscule dose of LSD or psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”)—one-tenth to one-fifth the normal dose—for everything from enhanced problem-solving to reduced ADHD symptoms. The tiny doses are below the “perceptual threshold”, which means you won’t go on a hallucinogenic LSD trip when using it.

Users report relief from symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as extended focus that allows them to be more productive.

Dr. James Fadiman has been (controversially) researching the therapeutic effects of LSD since the 1960s and guides much of the dosing recommendations based on what he’s learned in the last 50 years. He advises taking a microdose in the morning every three days. Those who follow the protocol report the second day being the sweet spot of enhanced wellbeing and efficiency, while the third day is built in to reduce the possibility of developing dependence on the drug.

He told The Huffington Post that its primary function is to “rebalance people” and moves them toward greater health and wellness. Those who microdose report having an easier time making better choices for themselves, such as exercising regularly and selecting more nutritious foods.

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Fadiman says people report the LSD microdoses have helped reduce severe stuttering, social anxiety, and even painful periods.

In the book, A Really Good Day, Ayelet Waldman recounts her month-long experiment with LSD microdosing. Having suffered from severe, often incapacitating depression for years, she read about Dr. Fadiman’s work and decided to give it a try.

She describes its effects as allowing her to “open up and have space between” the cause-and-effect actions of emotions –> thoughts –> impulses to act –> acting—something she had never before been able to manage.

Her depression lifted and she found herself happy and patient with her kids in the morning—a notable difference from her usual grumpy demeanor around the breakfast table. Yet she discontinued the protocol after a month since LSD is technically illegal and she feared legal repercussions.

The legal factor is no small thing, obviously, yet the benefits of this controlled use of LSD are peaking curiosity around the medical and psychological communities.