Oct 4, 2018 | Kat Austin
Microdosing weed is one of the most popular trends in cannabis use in 2019. It is exactly what it sounds like – taking tiny doses of cannabis. The purpose is to get the benefit of THC without getting high.
The dosage is generally around one-tenth the size of a normal recommended dose, and in order to microdose weed correctly, they need to be taken on a regular schedule. This way of ingesting anything has its place in the history of medical studies on pharmaceutical drugs and is more recently coming to the forefront of dosing methods for cannabis users.
What is Microdosing Weed?
The idea of using cannabis in microdoses came from the medical world. Some pharmaceutical studies use low doses of a medicine administered regularly to see their effects on patients.
The doses are not strong enough to have any physical impact on the person. Instead, a response is created on a cellular level. This gives researchers the ability to observe the impact of the drug before increasing the potency, which makes the drug trial less risky for the test subject.
One controversial, but popular use for tiny dosage is with psychedelic drugs. Specialists like Dr. James Fadiman have supported this methodology for quite some time.
Fadiman, an American psychologist, pioneered a social study in which people were asked to microdose LSD, taking tiny bits of it every few days. The individuals were not patients, but rather curious souls on the internet who had access to their own supply of hallucinogens and wanted to give it a try.
They were asked to respond with information about their day and how the experience affected them overall. Most participants reported that it did not cause a psychedelic experience, but rather boosted their mood, helped them engineer innovative ideas at work, and resulted in an overall improved quality of life.
While psychedelics are not everyone’s cup of tea, the same idea is applied to cannabis, offering users a way to ease into dosing. Microdosing weed is the next big trend for both recreational and medical use.
- Why is this Trend Popular?
- Microdosing Weed for Creative Use
- Microdosing Weed for Recreation
- Microdosing Weed for Physical and Mental Health
- How Microdosing Controls Effects
- Best Methods for Microdosing Marijuana
- How to Microdose Weed
- Microdosing CBD
Why Is Microdosing Weed Popular?
One look at Google search trends over the past five years shows that the interest in microdosing has significantly spiked since 2018. Most popular sources for information show that this method is a way for first-time marijuana users to get acquainted with the plant and its effects. While it is a great way to ease into regular use, it has multiple benefits:
- Microdosing eliminates the “high”: it allows the user to reap the “functional” boost benefits without the body/mind high, which can be an obstacle in completing daily activities.
- It is economically pragmatic: it helps people find the smallest possible dose to effectively reap desired results, reducing costs while maximizing the benefits.
- It’s a safe way to start: many regard this as the safest way to build up to higher doses since it allows time to judge a reaction before increasing dosage.
- Microdoses allow stability: the method keeps cannabinoid levels more stable in the body, which may be helpful for treating certain health conditions (particularly pertaining to mental health).
- Productive bonuses: microdosing reportedly boosts creative and mental focus, which is why professionals are using it to help improve their efficiency at work.
Microdosing Weed for Creativity
It’s not uncommon to stop by the coffee shop for an energy boost on your way to work. Many people rely on caffeine as a stimulant to get them through their day. The same concept applies to certain cannabis strains that help boost some people’s creativity.
One study in 2012 confirmed the ability of cannabis to improve “hyper-priming” in the brain. Priming refers to the brain’s ability to relate ideas and utilize stimuli to create new ideas. It’s the domino effect of creativity in the brain, in which certain stimuli stems easily into new, but related, ideas. In other words, “hyper-priming” greatly affects your brain’s ability to produce creative thoughts during the brainstorming process.
Another study led by researchers at Harvard Medical School Affiliate McLean Hospital concluded that marijuana use has positive effects on cognitive function. Leading researcher, Staci Gruber, said that the effects were prominent in the prefrontal cortex, which controls most cognitive activity, including coordination functions throughout the rest of the brain, and has a large impact on personality development, communication skills, decision making, and even creative processes.
This goes hand in hand with Dr. Fadiman’s findings with LSD, but microdosing marijuana may be more appealing to modern professionals. The combination of increased focus, creative inspiration, and relaxation make it a prime tool for many people in the workforce.
It is also a discreet way to use cannabis since it is available in many smaller forms, like THC-infused mints, sprays, strips, gum, or candy that’s easy to access throughout the day.
Microdosing Marijuana for Recreation
Curious first timers choose to try a little bit at a time in order to smooth the path to regular cannabis use. For others, this is the “safe” route after ingesting too much THC their first time around. Inexperienced users are using lesser amounts as a way to get the ball rolling because it allows them to slowly increase their dose.
Increasing your intake in small increments allows the opportunity to determine an optimal dose, even if you have no prior knowledge. Not only does their body have time to build a tolerance, but the chance of adverse effects is slimmer than if they smoke an entire joint for their first experience.
Microdosing is unique because it allows users to “stack” throughout the day, which is useful for managing daily stressors. Every day is different, and for most folks, the necessary portion of cannabis changes too. A tiny bit in the morning may prove to be enough, but if not, more can be taken before lunch and so on throughout the day until the desired effects are reached.
Microdosing Cannabis for Health Conditions
The slow and steady consumption of medical marijuana may benefit some conditions more than others. Some conditions respond better to consistent cannabinoid levels, while others (like conditions that flare up at unexpected times) may require stronger concentrations. Many patients choose microdosing this way to consume medical marijuana to treat the following conditions:
- Depression and Anxiety: Researchers at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center took a look at cannabis’ effect on symptoms of anxiety and depression. They found that cannabinoids found in marijuana were useful in reducing these symptoms, but that chronic use actually increased symptoms. In short: controlled use of marijuana in small amounts may be more effective for treating anxiety or depression.
- Microdosing Weed for PTSD: One study found that CBD and THC are able to interact with the amygdala and the hippocampus, glands in the brain that help control emotional responses. In tiny doses, marijuana is able to help repress the learned negative response and fear associated with PTSD. However, most sources agree that heavier use can interrupt sleep patterns and induce anxiety, making it risky for patients suffering from post-traumatic stress.
- Neuropathic Pain: Many doctors agree that regular low dosage of cannabidiol and THC may help manage pain better than heavy but irregular use. One study specifically noted that small, controlled use of cannabis was able to nearly diminish neuropathic pain, while heavier use had a less significant impact.
Using in smaller doses may help other physical and mental health conditions, but there is a lack of research specifically in regards to using in tiny amounts and the impact on different health conditions.
How Microdosing Helps Control Effects on the Body and Mind
Dr. Dustin Sulak, an integrative medicine physician based in Maine, regularly prescribes medical marijuana to his patients for a range of health conditions. Sulak believes in the power of microdosing. He discovered that most people have a certain threshold below which they’ll actually experience a gradual increase in health benefits over time, and above which they’ll start building tolerance, experiencing diminishing benefits and more side effects.[source]
This is likely due to the plant’s biphasic effect. Alcohol also produces a biphasic effect. In small amounts, it acts as a stimulant, which is why you’re more apt to get out on the dance floor when you are feeling a little tipsy. Drink too much, though, and it acts more as a sedative, and can even leave you feeling physically ill.
Marijuana works the same way. In lesser amounts, it can create enjoyable feelings of euphoria, promote mental focus, and help you relax. Overindulging can result in the opposite, though, making you tired, unfocused, and in some cases even nauseated or sick.
The effects you get from partaking in this way depend heavily on the strain you choose. There are hundreds of cultivated strains, but they each are either a derivative of the Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica species, or a combination of the two. A lot of consumers choose indica strains for their anti-anxiety and relaxation properties, while sativas are most popular for their energizing, uplifting effects.
In general, indica may be helpful throughout the day to manage anxiety and useful at night for promoting relaxation and sleep. Sativa may be better suited for early mornings as a stimulant or before engaging in interactive or physical activity, like a work project or trip to the gym.
Just like each species of the plant, each strain has different effects as well. They each have different levels of THC, CBD, and other terpenes, which makes them useful for different applications. For instance, those who microdose for health purposes may choose a high-CBD strain, while recreational users may prefer more THC or a balanced strain.
Sulak regularly prescribes microdosing techniques of full-spectrum products, which includes a combination of other terpenes and cannabinoids that have more targeted effects, like aiding sleep or managing appetite. In some interviews, he says that there is no possible way for a doctor to recommend the perfect dose since each person will individually react differently to any given amount. Each person’s sensitivity to marijuana depends on a range of things, like their weight, age, metabolic liver functions, or tolerance.
Best Methods for Microdosing Marijuana
There are multiple different methods for consuming cannabis, all of which can be done in small increments in order to fit a schedule. However, not every method makes it easy, and some methods make it nearly impossible to keep a close eye on the exact amount of cannabis you consume.
Microdosing via Smoking Flower
Smoking can be used by taking only one puff at a time and leaving plenty of time in between to judge its effects. However, it’s virtually impossible to measure the amount of THC or CBD you consume when burning dry bud. With the most potent strains, even a single hit can be enough to push you past your limits.
Even if you can measure out a precise amount to pack into a bowl or purchase pre-rolled joints, you can’t precisely measure the potency of each puff. Smoking isn’t exactly the most cost-efficient method, either, since you’ll likely be putting out the same joint and relighting it a number of times, resulting in quite a bit of waste.
Microdosing via Vaping
Vaping is another option for those looking to try a little bit at a time. While there is still some uncertainty in the measurement for each lungful, it is easier to ensure that you are inhaling a smaller dose. Low dose vape cartridges are widely available, making it possible for each hit to contain a low concentration.
Some innovative products are surfacing that makes vaping a more reasonable choice. Some companies are starting to offer vape mods with built in vibrations that help control intake more carefully.
Other methods may make it much easier to work out a routine. Some products are designed to allow you to easily control the dose, even in tiny amounts, and they are often quite cost-effective.
Microdosing via Tincture Oils
Tinctures are one of the most popular methods for those looking to take a small dose of cannabis. They come in liquid form, and full-spectrum products offer the benefits of CBD, THC, as well as other cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant. Low potency tinctures can be used to digest as low as 1-2 milligrams under the tongue, where they are absorbed and take effect quickly. Tinctures come with a small dropper that makes it easy to control the intake and usually feature a measurement guide like “1 drop=2mg.”
Microdosing via Edibles
Edibles are another popular product for people looking to start trying weed in small amounts, but you should choose your edible products wisely. For instance, using a brownie or another bulk edible may not be effective, since they usually need to be cut into single doses. Trying to measure 2 milligrams of a 100-milligram brownie can be difficult.
Some companies cater to the microdosing market and offer products that are pre-portioned as low as 1 milligram per serving. Some of these companies are introducing products that are great for professionals that wish to microdose discreetly. These products include gummies, chocolates, mints, and gum, which are measured precisely, usually to around 2.5 milligrams.
Microdosing via Sprays, Mints, and Oral Strips for Discretion
For users looking for an easy and discreet option for administering precises doses, many companies are beginning to offer sprays, mints, and oral strips that are well-portioned. Generally, they are flavored to mask the traditional taste of tinctures or oils, and using it looks no different than using a regular breath freshening spray, mint or strip.
This may be one of the most precise dosing methods for users, and are often stored in a pocket-sized container that is easy to transport. These products are particularly unique because they take effect quickly, unlike edibles that must go through digestion. This makes it easy to stack doses as needed, since you can evaluate the effects after only 15-20 minutes, and then adjust accordingly until the desired effects are reached.
How to Start Microdosing Marijuana
As Dr. Sulak explained, the best amount will be different for everyone. In order to determine the best starting point for you, you should consider consulting your doctor. He or she will be able to give you an individual profile review that helps you determine a starting dose.
In most cases, the recommended dose is around one-tenth the size of a regular dose. This means that a good starting point can be anywhere from 2.5 to 10 mg. One pro-cannabis physician, Dr. Allan Frankel, stated: “in medicine, with all drugs, you look for the minimum effective dose.”
You can always increase slowly, monitoring your effects in between, until you reach the lowest possible dose that gives you the desired effects. The goal is not to experience the psychoactive effects, but rather to create a feeling of relaxation and/or treating medical symptoms.
Microdosing requires regularity to be effective, so you should establish consistency in your dosing schedule. The most important part of learning to microdose effectively is observing your reaction to each dose. Keeping a journal of your experiences may help you in deciding whether to increase or decrease your dose, and it offers a great reference point when you talk to your doctor.
Even though using marijuana in a fraction of the regular amount rarely results in any significant psychoactive effects, some users prefer to avoid THC altogether. There is evidence that tiny portions of cannabidiol may have great benefits.
Using CBD in this manner may be useful for treating chronic conditions and creating a maintenance schedule for other conditions. One study found that taking it in such a manner was effective for treating epilepsy. Regular smaller dosage may decrease the risk, severity, and frequency of epileptic seizures.
Low CBD portions may also be effective for treating inflammatory conditions like arthritis. Instead of dosing when the pain flares, regular use may help reduce the frequency of flares altogether. Simply put, regular CBD microdoses may act as preventative medicine for some conditions.
CBD does not produce a high, but recreational users often note that regular use of cannabidiol throughout the day help create a euphoric, relaxed sensation that can make the stressors of life easier to manage.
CBD and THC also have synergistic effects, and many reports claim that they help to level each other out. Microdosing them together may be beneficial for some people, but it is important to note that CBD products are often more costly than weed.
To try it out, you’ll need to find a cannabidiol product with a low concentration. With highly potent tinctures or oils it can be difficult to measure out dosage. The same is true for some CBD edibles and capsules, since it is not easy to break down pre-portioned products into smaller, precise doses. A small dose of cannabidiol could be anywhere from 1-10 mg, but you and your doctor should be able to decide what works best for you.
Making the Right Decision for Yourself
There is plenty of evidence that points to using cannabis in small portions as an effective treatment for a range of health conditions. Common sense tells us that it is a great way to ease into cannabis use, even for recreational purposes. However, it affects each person differently, no matter the size of the dose.
If you are considering trying marijuana, have a conversation with your doctor about the benefits and procedure to microdosing. If you’re just looking to ease your way into using recreationally, starting small may help you decide if it’s right for you.
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