Microdosing refers to the process of ingesting small, measured amounts of psychedelics such as LSD or magic mushrooms. In large quantities, these drugs can be quite debilitating, but when one microdoses, rather — take them in in small, recreational-sized doses, they can access the benefits of the drugs, without the extreme highs. But, can cannabis users experience the same from pot? Can microdosing work with cannabis and will it change the way that you get high?
What is Marijuana Microdosing?
Microdosing involves taking small amounts of cannabis to reap the benefits of THC without experiencing the psychoactive effects that can interfere with the demands of daily life.
Sometimes we want to only enjoy specific aspects of a drug. When it comes to psychedelics, we can take smaller amounts to just experience the sensations of euphoria, well-being, and overall happiness, foregoing the more extreme, debilitating effects such as hallucinations. Taking only a fraction of a normal dose of a drug can bring about what is called “sub-perceptual,” or a dose that is way below the threshold where you’d actually notice the effects.
Ultimately, microdosing takes away the “trip” and provides you with a level of enjoyment while still being able to navigate and enjoy life. In some cases, microdosing can even help you improve focus, and also deal with chronic pain and mental health symptoms, including anxiety and depression while giving you the ability to go about your day-to-day as usual. This is a great option for those who depend on cannabis to go about their daily lives but prefer to not be stoned all the time. In many cases, doctors have noticed that patients can even see better results with a lower dosage of cannabis.
In the past, microdosing was only associated with LSD. As legalization has become a big part of the cannabis dialogue, medical experts are considering the potential that lower THC doses have for their patients.
What Medical Conditions Lend Themselves to Microdosing With Cannabis?
According to Sulak, patients are now turning to microdosing in order to treat conditions such as depression, stress, anxiety, pain, and to help improve focus and promote sleep.
While a substantial amount of empirical evidence is still lacking, there is some clinical research suggesting that less is in fact more when it comes to medicinal cannabis.
In a 2012 study, for example, patients with advanced cancer who were unresponsive to traditional opioid painkillers were given nabiximols, a THC/CBD compound, at low, medium, and high doses. Patients who received the lowest dosage of cannabinoids showed the greatest reduction in pain, while those receiving higher doses actually experienced more pain.
In another study, a group of incarcerated individuals were given low (four milligram) doses of Nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, to help treat their posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its associated symptoms. The results, published in 2014, showed significant improvements in PTSD-associated insomnia, nightmares, general symptoms, and even chronic pain.
Enhances Positive Effects
Microdosing on marijuana is the ideal approach for first-time users since the likelihood of experiencing negative side-effects is significantly reduced. This is because the ingested cannabis product only contains 2.5 milligrams of THC. By starting with a low dose, you can expect to get used to the cannabis effects much better.
Best for Daytime Use
Having low doses of cannabis will result in a barely perceptible psychoactive high, while still providing relief from certain symptoms. Microdosing can be a particularly good solution for anyone suffering from anxiety.
As it turns out, low levels of cannabis can help reduce anxiety. But keep in mind that there’s a fine line between too little and too much because overdoing it can have the opposite effect.
If you’re a regular cannabis consumer, studies have shown that abstaining for 48-hours can improve the effects of microdosing.
Great for Pain Management
It’s common knowledge that cannabis is used to treat a wide range of symptoms. However, not all medical conditions can be treated with the same dose or type of cannabis. While the frequency of use and the approach to dosing can be completely different.
There is no extensive research on the exact conditions that lend themselves to microdosing, but clinical research has found that smaller amounts of cannabis increases the therapeutic effects. In a study performed with cancer patients unable to control their pain with traditional painkillers, nabiximols, a form of THC and CBD, was found to be beneficial. Even patients who were given the lowest dose experienced a greater reduction in pain, compared to a placebo.
Another medical benefit of microdosing marijuana comes in the form of anti-aging. In a memory loss study conducted with older mice, cannabis microdosing was found to boost memory and enhance activities.
In other words, cannabis microdosing has helped the older mice to feel young again. We still have to see how this translates to humans but there’s a possibility that a cannabis microdose could keep memory loss at bay.
Don’t Expect to Feel Anything
The top reason why people turn to microdosing is to avoid getting noticeably high. The goal is to consume very low doses of cannabis, while still taking advantage of the benefits.
It’s highly important to practice microdosing at home before taking it to work. There are a lot of cannabis products designed to give a certain high. That’s why it’s recommended to take the proper dose and reduce it eventually.
Take It Slow
It’s always recommended to start with a low dose and get familiarized with the varying modes of ingestion. You can use smoking flowers, vaporizing oils, edibles or sublingual administration.
The smoking and vaporizing method can take effect in as little as 5 minutes and will make you feel more shifted in the mind. If you’re just starting with the vaporizing method, you can try inhaling up to a quarter-lung or half-lung capacity.
For microdosing using edibles, its best to look for products where the CBD outweighs the THC. If you don’t experience any effects immediately, wait for a little while since edibles (including sublingual) might take longer to kick in.
Acknowledge Your Responsibility
It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about microdosing. Make sure you acknowledge your responsibility by checking your schedule, and always make sure you aren’t under any major deadlines that might be compromised if you decide to microdose.
What Is the Optimal Dosage for Microdosing Cannabis?
The short answer is, it depends. There is tremendous variance in the amount of THC that will result in feeling high. This can be affected by individual differences in liver metabolism, genetics of cannabinoid receptors, and previous usage, to name a few.
“The goal is to use the dose that gives the most minimal noticeable effect.”
Dustin Sulak, Osteopathic physician
“Microdosing is something that is very personal,” says Ross. “There is no magic bullet for all patients; it is different for each one. So keep experimenting until you find the dose that works for you.”
For those using cannabis regularly, dr. Sulak recommends an initial 48-hour period of abstinence, which he believes is enough time to reset the endocannabinoid system. While this might seem like a relatively brief window after years of usage, a brain imaging study published last year tracked the number of cannabinoid receptors during a period of abstinence from cannabis. The results indicated that even in heavy smokers, the receptors bounced back to baseline levels after just two days.
After this neural cleansing, micro hopefuls should gradually reintroduce cannabis into their system, starting with just one milligram.
For those who are using cannabis irregularly or for the first time, Sulak suggests one milligram of THC combined with one milligram of CBD and gradually increasing the dosage (while maintaining the 1:1 ratio) until they feel something, then stay at that level for four days.
How to Consume Cannabis for Microdosing Benefits
There are numerous methods available for microdosing cannabis, but some may be more effective than others. Here are the best ways to consume cannabis in a microdosing fashion.
- Smoking: a classic way to get high, this tends to be the absolute worst way to microdose. It’s tough to find a balance and get a precise measurement of how much you’re consuming (which is the point of microdosing) and it hits you very fast.
- Edibles: a good way to microdose since you know how much you are taking in… but a gradual high.
- Vaping: Second best option following edibles, you can get a more accurate measurement of how much you’re consuming (unlike with smoking) and the effects are immediate. Now, more than ever, there exist plenty of oils and other vape kits on the market to try out.
All in all, moderation is key, right? Trying out a new trend like microdosing can help you manage and enjoy your highs a bit better, and gain an overall better experience from your trips… without truly tripping. Try it out today – and take time to listen to your body and your needs to find that perfect dose that will give you all the benefits of THC and cannabis without the psychoactive effects.
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