Microdosing – Popular Trend Needing Greater Accuracy
Recently, microdosing has been gaining popularity and attention. The term “microdosing” is typically used to describe taking a small amount of a “psychedelic” drug with hopes of gaining a beneficial effect without the hallucinations typically associated with taking psychedelic drugs. Microdosing has received particular attention in silicon valley, where computer programers use the practice to improve creativity and focus. 71Republic recently reported on the trend:
“Rolling Stone reported back in 2015 that lots of people in San Francisco are hacking the world by hacking themselves; they’re microdosing LSD, psilocybin, and other psychedelics. Microdosing is the practice of taking a very small amount of a psychoactive drug such to boost performance, decrease stress, and increase creativity. Typically, it will be about 10 micrograms of LSD or half a gram of psilocybin mushrooms.”
The above quote serves as a good illustration of the state of the art for microdosing psilocybin. Typically, users take “about” some amount of psilocybin mushrooms. Here, the problem is a general lack of accuracy regarding both (1) the amount of mushrooms and (2) the chemical composition of those mushrooms.
Microdosing – State of the Art
There is currently no precise method for microdosing psilocybin. The generally accepted practice can be described as follows: Ingest substantially fewer mushrooms than you take for a psychedelic “trip.” Various “authorities” on the subject suggest anywhere from 0.1 g (100 mg) to 0.5 g (500 mg) of mushroom material. This practice would benefit from greater accuracy in dosing through a better understanding of the active ingredients in that dose.
Inherent Variability in “Dose”
Someone microdosing would benefit from knowing exactly how much of the active components they are consuming. Different mushrooms have different amounts of active ingredients. So, taking precisely 0.5 g of mushroom material on two different occasions could result in consuming dramatically different amounts of the active compounds. That could result in either (a) not receiving any of the benefits desired or (b) unwanted psychedelic effects within an inappropriate setting — like driving to work.
Variability in Chemical Composition
Someone microdosing would benefit from knowing which active components they are consuming. Different mushrooms have different active ingredients. So, taking precisely 0.5 g of “mushroom material” could result in consuming dramatically different active compounds– depending on the type of mushrooms consumed. These differences could result in considerable inconsistencies in the observed effect. We don’t know the scope of those inconsistencies because we don’t really understand the different effects provided by each of the different psilocybin derivatives, e.g., baeocystin versus aeruginascin vs. psilocybin.
Accuracy vs Precision
Accuracy tells you if your psilocybin dose is close to the therapeutic value. But first, we must understand what the therapeutic values are for psilocybin (or synthetic psilocin) before we can determine how accurate the doses are. When clinical trials are completed and these numbers are understood, precise doses can be made to give consistent and predictable results. So, accuracy tells how close you are to the dose and precision is when all doses are the same. Think of it like this. An accurate golf putt will always either go in the hole or be near the hole (say, within 6″). A golfer has precision when all their putts land in the same area (like on the green, for example). The best golfers are accurate and precise, resulting in the ball going into the hole every time.
Nothing “Micro” about “Microdosing”
At a minimum, microdosing psilocybin involves taking about 100 mg of psilocybin. One hundred milligrams means 100,000 micrograms. Although LSD is active on the microgram scale, psilocybin is not. Anyone “micro” dosing psilocybin is really “milli” dosing. Although this seems like a trivial or technical point, it is illustrative of the overall unmet need in the psilocybin arts: Knowing what chemicals are being administered.
Need for Psilocybin Chemistry
Each of the above improvements to microdosing can be accomplished by shifting our focus towards psilocybin chemistry. In other words, rather than focusing on “magic mushrooms,” consider the specific molecules within those magic mushrooms. The art of microdosing could be improved by
taking a precise amount of known molecules.
Taking known amounts of known molecules could be accomplished by purifying and/or isolating the active components in psychoactive mushrooms and then formulating those components into precise dosage formulations. For example, this would allow a user to “take 80 mg of psilocybin each morning” — instead of taking about 800 mg of unspecified mushroom material.
See also Microdosing – Needed Improvements.