By John Salak –
Maybe just a little will do someone good. That’s the idea that James Fadiman came to believe and promote through his 2011 book, leading him to be known as the father of microdosing.
But Fadiman’s concept of small bites has nothing to do with dieting. He believed that taking small doses of largely illegal psychedelic drugs on a routine basis could be good for a person. A growing number of people are lining up behind the idea, although Harvard Health Publishing reports there is no definitive proof that microdosing psychedelic drugs is safe or beneficial.
“Psychedelic drugs have been capturing the attention of doctors and patients alike for their increasingly proven potential to effect long-lasting improvements in the mental health of people suffering from conditions such as treatment-resistant depression,” Dr. Peter Grinspoon wrote for the outlet. “We don’t know as much about safety as we might have learned if not for the War on Drugs, which curtailed much of the research into psychedelics starting in the late 1960s. This research has been renewed over the last five to 10 years, and many medical centers are researching psychedelics.”
While the concept centers on taking smaller than normal doses, there are no exact amount guidelines. One measure definition sets microdosing quantities at about one-fifth to one-twentieth of a recreational dose. This soft range, coupled with the limited legalization of these drugs, leaves users open to consuming dangerous amounts of certain substances. Only one-third precisely measure the amount they are taking, according to one study.
However, there is growing pressure to legalize some of these drugs. Oregon, for example, became the first state to decriminalize psilocybin and legalize its supervised use. Colorado followed suit soon afterward in 2022. It remains illegal, however, under federal law.
The psilocybin compound is found in mushrooms and is thought to be safe in low doses to treat depression and anxiety.
Microdosing, in general, started to gain popularity about a decade ago, especially among tech workers in Silicon Valley, who hoped the effects would benefit their careers by enhancing their creativity, focus, energy and overall mental health. Anecdotal and scientific evidence remains scant for many if the benefits are real.
Fadiman, of course, has a more conclusive view of microdosing, thanks in part to his own 1,850 reports on individuals who experimented with the practice. He claims to have evidence of the benefits of microdosing, especially under his prescribed process of one day taking a dose and then passing on the next two while monitoring the effects in a journal.
“Increased awareness offered by psychedelics comes in different forms,” he wrote. “In higher doses taken in safe and sacred settings, they facilitate one’s intimate relationship with all living things. In moderate doses, they facilitate awareness of the intricate psychodynamic structures of one’s consciousness. In low doses, they facilitate awareness of solutions to technical and artistic problems.”
While the practice may be growing, reports in The New York Times and Washington Post note it is difficult to get a handle on the exact usage levels. Whether that is troubling depends on where conflicting reports of microdosing’s benefits.