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LSD: Can a Low Dose Go a Long Way?

  1. Phungushead
    View attachment 33891 This year, 400,000 Americans will ingest Lysergic acid diethylamide. That's on top of the 23 million Americans who've already recreationally pumped their brains full of acid. If I can hazard the guess, scores of the initiated straight tripped their faces off--a precedent for the hundreds of thousands of first timers who'll deliberately eat heroic enough amounts of Lucy so as to go well beyond the horizons of the here and now, deep into the uncharted maw of the grand mind. Maybe you fall into one of those camps. And hey, that's great. Do your thing, if you haven't already.

    For others--and there are doubtless just as many, possibly more--that's enough to steer clear. The mere thought of letting go is uninviting enough. With zero interest in confronting all the batshit crazy geometric visuals and hallucinations, to say nothing of the sounds and tastes of a rollicking trip, the tabs go denied time and again. And hey, that's cool. But what if it was possible to reap some of the reported benefits of a semisynthetic psychedelic like LSD without going all heavyminded? What if it was possible to tap acid at almost imperceptible levels as a way to heighten normal, day-to-day functioning without all the mind melt?

    If that's you, wrap your head around this: Less acid is maybe more. A lot more.

    That's the allure of what's known as the sub-perceptual dose. It's an idea that has been gaining traction in certain pockets of the medical community, though it's neither new nor validated by any formal research. As James Fadiman notes in The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide (2011), sub-perceptual psychedelic dosings have for centuries been known about and utilized by indigenous cultures the world over. Fadiman would know. He's been in the trenches of legitimate mind-altering research for over four decades, and with time has become a sort of champion of the micro dose. Nowadays, he's tickled to find himself almost sober, if you could call it that, among the brain-blasted, self-important new gurus and high priests of what could be called a psychedelic renaissnace. Speaking at the 2013 Psychedelic Science conference in San Francisco, Fadiman did not mince words: "It's wonderful to be conservative in this crowd."

    He's apparently not alone there. In 2010, Fadiman put out an open call for user-submitted micro-dose reports. On every third day ever since, an unknown number of volunteers has ingested micro doses of LSD "while conducting their typical daily routines and maintaining logbooks of their observations," as Tim Doody reported in The Heretic, a fascinating long-read on Fadiman's life's work to which this article is greatly indebted. It's unclear when and if the study will end. But we do know that "study enrollment may last for several weeks or longer" for the participants, who submit their journals, preferrably attached to "a summary of their overall impressions," to a dedicated inbox.

    The problem, of course, is that psychedelics remain illegal in America and throughout much of the world. Indeed, to have any chance of getting your hands on the stuff without losing sleep over the thought of the DEA kicking your down down at 2 AM, you either have to be suffering serious mental trauma or terminally ill. That's not to undercut the growing, if still pathetically scant number of federally-approved studies whose findings continue deepening our understanding of how psychoactives may beat back the nagging horrors of post-traumatic strees, or cure nicotine or booze addiction. But the reality is that for those who believe that psychedelics and various other smart drugs could be used to the betterment of all stripes, not just people coping with PTSD or a penchant for the bottle, microdosing just hasn't been given a fair shake.

    Fadiman is doing his best to change that. Even if that means skirting the law and drawing from anecdotal evidence, it's a start, no?

    He's cautious in his descriptions. In his view, there is really no one specific “normal" LSD dose range. It's all dependent on what you're looking for. For a recreational romp to the Laugh Farm and back, try 50 micrograms (mcg). For a creative nudge, go with 100 mcg. For a life-changing therapeutic session, anywhere from 100 to 250 mcg should do the trick. For an up-close, long-lasting dance with “the Divine," 400 mcg will have you on your way. To venture beyond that threshold, Fadiman cautions, is not without serious risks the user must be prepared to confront from the outset.To plumb below perceptual levels? Not so much.

    For Fadiman, 10 micrograms of LSD constitutes a micro-dose, or "tener." That's about one-fifth of what's considered a typical psilocybin dose, or about one-tenth of the amount of acid you gobbled down at, oh I don't know, Bonnaroo 2006. But that's not what we're after here.

    “Micro-dosing turns out to be a totally different world,” Fadiman told curious crowds at the fifth-annual Horizons psychedelic quorum last year in New York City. He went on:
    As someone said, the rocks don’t glow, even a little bit. But what many people are reporting is, at the end of the day, they say, ‘That was a really good day.’ You know, that kind of day when things kind of work. You’re doing a task you normally couldn’t stand for two hours, but you do it for three or four. You eat properly. Maybe you do one more set of reps. Just a good day. That seems to be what we’re discovering.
    It's not brain busting, in other words. It's not hallucinatory. It's not, well, psychedelic. "It's not a major event," Fadiman recently told Creative Insight.

    What is still very much a major event is the succesful procurement of research-grade psychedelics to be used in clinical trials. Fadiman has had no such luck convincing the National Insitute on Drug Abuse, the sole proprietor of research-grade supplies of currently illicit drugs. He also can't establish proper lab conditions without facing criminal charges. The workaround? His volunteers must access the Schedule 1 drug on their own, and then parse the stuff into micro-hits of either 50 or 100 micrograms. Then they self adminster, and finally self-report. And then they repeat.

    It has to be at least somewhat strange for a guy who once headed up a landmark, government-sanctioned experiment on psychedelics in creative problem solving. In 1966, at age 27, Fadiman and a few other researchers dosed an all-male group of mathematicians, engineers, architects, psychologists, physicists, and artists with 50 to 100 microgram doses of LSD and mescaline in a monthslong study. The Food and Drug Administration gave them access to the psychedelics, which proved instrumental in breakthroughs on complex problems the subjects had been briefed and working on prior to going under the influence.

    Before this, clinical psychedelic research in the US seemed targeted on how a drug like LSD spurred artistic creativity--that's when it wasn't taking dark turns into the Army's so-called psychedelic Manhattan project, which saw subjects unwittingly dosed with PCP, sarin, and BZ. Not surprisingly, those who had the misfortune of unknowingly being swept up on that national shitstain didn't fill out questionnaires every few weeks, unlike the subjects in Fadiman's problem-solving project.

    Which brings us back to the low-dose logs that have been streaming into Fadiman from across the country going on three years now. The confessionials, call them data, are revealing. Per Doody:
    One physician reported that micro-dosing got him “in touch with a deep place of ease and beauty.” A vocalist said she could better hear and channel music. In general, study participants functioned normally in their work and relationships, Fadiman has said, but with increased focus, creativity, and emotional clarity.
    If it all sounds promising, it's still impossible to hold it all up to the rigors of a proper clinical trial. Despite more and more similar anecdotal evidence cropping up--this Low-Dose Appreciation Thread, which is unrelated to Fadiman's microdose project, has from 2006 to the present day been a place for those self-adminstering sub-perceptual doses of LSD and other psychedlics to log their experiences--Fadiman has not yet presented his crowd-sourced anecdotal data in a comprehensive way.

    It has a nice ring to it--less is more. For now, though, there are something like 400,000 reasons why we're still left with less of what we'd need to say with assurity that a little will go a long way.

    July 8, 2013

    Brian Anderson
    Photos: (1) Flickr, (2) Fadiman at Psychedelic Science, April 2013. "It's not how much you take," Fadiman mused, "it's how much you care." (via MAPS)


  1. tryptaphenethylamine
    Microdosing on a psychedelic, especially one that's often so hard to acquire (and for which sources can dry up before you even get to use them), just seems like a waste of the drugs potential to me, no matter what the reason for doing so. Even if a microdose made me feel good all day, a real, strong dose will make me feel better.
  2. Truffler
    It's not just about feeling good though. It may not work around the psychedelic potential of a drug, but there appears to be another potential. It apparently may or may not just open up focus and patience to get everyday activities done in a more pleasurable and better manner.

    I find this pretty interesting. It's really, really a damn shame many drugs are not available for legal research on a big scale.
  3. SwampFox56
    Cool article. However...

    I wouldn't ever touch any hallucinogen (no even Marijuana) due to the fact that I am prone to psychotic illnesses. It's been proven time and time again that all hallucinogens of this class (such as THC, Psilocybin, and LSD can induce psychotic illnesses...permanently.

    Sure, I've smoked plenty of pot in my short 18 years, but even pot can be dangerous in that respect.
  4. MikePatton
    First thing that pops in my head - if you're gonna use micro doses of LSD to help with your daily routine, wouldn't you eventually (or fairly quickly) build up the tolerance to render said doses useless?
  5. HeliOSophist
    From your perspective it may seem to be a waste of potential, but think of other people whose main goal is not to "trip balls" but to enhance everyday experience in many aspects of life: education, carrier, creativity, sex, whatever. Though just a theory of mine, I'd also say that it might help psychological issues such as depression.

    The article seems definitely exciting to me, I too have played a lot with the thought of taking sub-psychedelic doses. Sadly, I currently have no resources to do so; though this article inspires me to do an experiment on myself.
    I wonder if this would work with other psychedelics, such as mushrooms, mescaline, etc. Any thoughts on this?
    I personally would vote for mescaline, since it's active in the milligram range and it would be much easier to dose let's say 20 milligrams of mescaline than 10 micrograms of LSD.
  6. Craig_93
    In some ways that sounds great, in others it seems like it could be a form of mind control to keep you content doing a job you actually hate. Obviously I'm not saying I think it is or will be used as a form of mind control (despite attempts 40 - 50 odd years ago) but it seems a bit to much like toying with normal human emotions just to keep everyone slightly doped up enough to get through the day.

    And how would this micro-dose actually work? With LSD you build up tolerance really quickly, I guess with a micro-dose it would take longer to actully build a tolerance but it would still come quickly none the less.
  7. MikePatton
    You could say that about... Any drug really. Especially prescription drugs - what are they but tools to numb you through your boring routine? Especially Anti-depressants, After a decade on the zombie drug SSRIs (and still going) I can testify that "mind control to keep you content doing a job you actually hate" is already here. Also Benzodiazepines, or as they called them back in the day "Mama's little helpers" are a perfect match for what you described.
  8. Alien Sex Fiend
    This year, 400,000 Americans will ingest Lysergic acid diethylamide - where is this info actually coming from? cause it sounds made up
  9. bhonkers
    Never once having any clue what dosage I was taking in blotter form, the one I recall as being one of the most pleasant was a very light dose that slightly shifted reality but never tipped it over. Everything was in motion but still kept it's labelled form. The wildness of a strong dose was replaced by the calming lapping of soft waves on beach shore. More thoughtful and comfortable with feeling content in company.

    I much preferred it to the 2 tabs of strawberries that had me running down the street to find shelter with all the buildings collapsing on top of me and ending up laying watching the paint on the skirting boards drip while having severe wind pains. Mind you, that massive window shaking fart did ease the trip quite significantly. However I still preferred the small dose as something I could utilize much as I do to solve problems in creative mediation states.
  10. poonja
    I plan to experiment with microdosing using volumetric measuring. I plan to experiment with lsd and 4-aco-dmt. Every two to three days. Should be interesting
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