- the action or practice of taking or administering very small amounts of a drug in order to test or benefit from its physiological action while minimizing undesirable side effects.
Most of us are seeking the holy grail that that will help us feel all the feelings we are most lacking in our lives: uplifted, energized, relaxed, in flow. Since nobody has really hit the jackpot yet with the holy grail, we experiment with: lifestyle choices, relationships, diets, exercise and of course exogenous substances, that when ingested, change how we feel. These exogenous substances, or any substance we consume that is not naturally occurring inside our bodies, vary in potency and effect from natural herbs, vitamins and minerals to various drugs legal and otherwise. The practice and term microdosing emerged in the underground counterculture and originally referred to microdosing psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin or LSD. As the term and practice gained traction it is now becoming part of mainstream culture. There is a growing body of information available about microdosing. Even well known author MIchael Pollan who wrote the “Omnivore’s Dilemma” is pushing the envelope forward for microdosing with his recent book on psilocybin and LSD, “How to Change Your Mind.”
Microdosing means ingesting a very small dose of a drug, such that you only feel positive benefits without experiencing the high associated with the drug. Microdosing has been revolutionary for some people, releasing them from the bonds of depression and energizing their lives. With anecdotal success stories of microdosing spreading like wildfire in the media, the concept of microdosing is now being applied to many other substances including cannabis.
Traditionally, most microdosing is done on a semi-regular schedule, often with breaks of 2-3 days between doses. The reason for taking 2-3 day breaks between doses is so that the substance does not build up in your body causing your tolerance to increase, thereby requiring a larger dose to experience the health benefits. As an owner of Portland dispensary Urban Farmacy, I have encountered microdosing being applied in two primary ways. First, the traditional way of semi-regular microdosing every few days, leaving time for the receptor sites to purge themselves of the phytocannabinoids therefore minimizing possibility of a tolerance. However, a new way of microdosing has emerged specific to cannabis. Many people have found positive benefits of taking a microdose of cannabis more frequently, either daily or even multiple times daily for a certain period of time (often times several weeks at a time) then taking 3-7 days off to reset their receptor sites and minimize their tolerance level. Each person has a unique situation and reason for their relationship with cannabis. Depending on the needs of your personal situation you can experiment with the frequency of use that is right for you. For some people it might be right to keep your cannabinoid levels elevated more frequently if for example you are using cannabis to abate a disease or symptoms from a disease. For others, if you are simply looking for increased energy and mood enhancement, the semi-regular schedule will retain the efficacy of your cannabis microdosing treatment.
Since cannabis has so many applications, and now with the widespread adoption of legalization, access to quality and reliable cannabis products for microdosing makes it an appealing option. I personally prefer either edibles or sublingual applications (i.e. tinctures) for microdosing. They are much easier to control your exact dosage, which is key to the microdose experience. An average microdose of cannabis ranges from 1-3 mg of THC for people with a low tolerance. For people with a medium tolerance 3-5 mg usually constitutes a microdose. For those people with a very high tolerance, up to 10 mg might be required for a microdose. The most defining factor to keep in mind with microdosing is that if you feel high, it wasn’t a microdose.
When first experimenting with microdosing cannabis, select a day with light responsibilities since you will be experimenting with dosage size. Remember start low and slow: with microdosing you are looking for only subtle shifts in mood and energy level. It’s okay to take a dose smaller than what you think is reasonable, you can always take more next time and compare the experiences until you find the sweet spot. The overall purpose of microdosing is to allow us to continue doing all our usual activities throughout the day with a heightened sense of wellbeing, energy and focus. When I microdose with cannabis I literally consume one mg of a THC chocolate, specifically the Crop Circle Chocolates. Often times a few hours later I will have totally forgotten that I consumed any cannabis until I reflect on how much more present and joyful my day of the ordinary seemed.
Cannabis is a versatile herb that offers us a wide spectrum of experiences. The cannabis spectrum spans many different cannabinoid and terpene profiles and is variable by the dosage size we consume. At Urban Farmacy, I encourage people who are trying a new method of cannabis consumption to either journal about their experiences, or at the very least take stock of how they feel consuming different products. Exploring the available spectrum of cannabis experiences launches us into exploring some of the vast layers of our consciousness and experiences as humans. Happy exploring!