Microdosing, a relatively new phenomenon in Western culture, is the practice of taking sub-perceptual doses of psychedelics, allowing one to experience their many cognitive benefits while going about daily life and avoiding the potentially overwhelming effects of higher doses.
Many of us are familiar to some degree with the history of psychedelics, but microdosing seems to have appeared out of nowhere. In fact, microdosing has likely been utilized by indigenous cultures in psychedelic ritual for thousands of years.
The story of how microdosing was introduced to the Western world and quickly became a cultural phenomenon provides an insightful look into our society’s current priorities, struggles, and desire for change.
Microdosing in Mainstream Culture
The term “microdosing” was first introduced into mainstream culture by Dr. James Fadiman in his 2011 book: The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys. Having played a prominent role in psychedelic research since the 1960’s, Dr. Fadiman shares his extensive knowledge on the proper use of psychedelic substances, including how to use microdosing for improved cognitive function and emotional balance.
In 2015, Dr. Fadiman discussed microdosing on The Tim Ferriss Show, a podcast with over 100 million downloads. Needless to say, public interest in microdosing skyrocketed at this point. Reports of Silicon Valley professionals utilizing microdosing to gain a competitive edge in the workplace began to circulate and cause somewhat of a controversy, drawing even more mainstream attention to the practice.
Ayelet Waldman’s 2016 book, A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life, gives a first-hand account of how regular microdosing pulled her out of a deep, treatment-resistant depression. Waldman’s book provided a spark of hope for the large portion of people suffering from depression and other mood disorders who have struggled to find success using traditional therapies.
Today, tens of thousands of people have begun to explore microdosing for its therapeutic and performance-enhancing properties, evident through personal accounts of experiences circulating the internet via online forums.
Studies on microdosing psychedelics are just beginning to appear, after the realization by the scientific community that this phenomenon would only continue to grow in popularity, despite the lack of rigorous testing or knowledge of long-term effects.
Present studies seem to confirm what the public has learned about microdosing through self-experimentation: that it can allow one to benefit from the mood-lifting, energizing, and creativity-boosting properties of psychedelics without experiencing a full-on trip.
The explosion of interest in microdosing within such a short time frame is indicative of the state of our collective mental health. Currently accepted treatments for mood disorders like depression and anxiety are simply ineffective for many people, and the prospect of a new treatment option that allows users to feel like themselves again is exciting.
Researchers and public figures around the world are pushing for a rapid change in the legal framework around psychedelics due to an abundance of promising research and their potential role in solving the current mental health and addiction crisis.
Microdosing in the Future
Microdosing with psychedelics has the potential to become a widely accepted part of mainstream culture. Recognizing psychedelics as potent therapeutic tools, rather than purely recreational substances, could help remove the cultural stigma that still exists around using them.