What is Cannabis Microdosing?

Microdosing isn't for everyone, but what exactly is it and how does it work?

Microdosing is defined as "a technique for studying the behaviour of drugs in humans through the administration of doses so low ("sub-therapeutic") they are unlikely to produce whole-body effects, but high enough to allow the cellular response to be studied." Microdosing is used by big pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs. Traditionally microdosing was practiced with certain hallucinogens--though HERB doesn't recommend experimenting with any controlled substance outside of cannabis! It should also be noted that microdosing with marijuana is quite different than other substances.

High Times writes, "microdosing with weed—compared to microdosing with stronger psychedelics, such as LSD or psilocybin—is much different. Science has shown that marijuana can safely and healthily be consumed on a daily basis; whereas stronger psychedelics are still in question....Simply put, it’s intaking very small amounts of marijuana in order to still feel perceptible sensations."

When taking small doses of cannabis, say 2.5 to 5 mg of THC at a time, the threshold for the 'high' is not surpassed and the effects are felt on a 'sub-perceptible' level. (You may experience a feeling of being on the verge of getting high.) Microdosing is not for everyone. An example would be the daily cannabis user that may experience increased levels of pain, and uses cannabis multiple times of the day for relief. Since the patient is consuming higher doses of THC for pain, they won't find much benefit in microdosing. It varies from person to person dependent on their regular use of cannabis and how much their endocannabinoid system is utilized. Writers, artists and creative types may find themselves more creative, while professionals may feel more focused and less anxious with the small amounts of cannabinoids in their system. In terms of medical issues, low amounts of cannabis have proven to be more advantageous than high doses. Reason being is people who aren’t used to THC don’t feel so overwhelmed by its psychoactive symptoms. Therefore, the process shows promise in helping relieve depression and anxiety. In our experience we've seen higher dosed THC products inducing a bit of anxiety in ourselves and other patients. This makes one think of the classic and paired 'paranoia' effect that cannabis is somewhat known for. Through microdosing, a patient or marijuana user can experience the therapuetic effects of cannabis, without the paranoia, or anxiety.

If you are a regular cannabis user, you can 'reset' your endocannabinoid system to experiment with the effects of microdosing weed. Leafly recently interviewed a few cannabis doctors in their article about microdosing. One being Dustin Sulak, an osteopathic physician based in Maine who treats many of his patients with small doses of cannabis. Sulak recommends that, "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."

Now that you're familiar with the why and effects of microdosing, lets explore the how to's. Smoking cannabis through combustion processes like a joint or a pipe are probably the most inefficient ways to microdose, but most popular way to medicate. A single hit may contain 10 mg or more of THC, making the ability to titrate an issue. Methods of consumption like ingesting low dose or small portions of edibles and tinctures, or vaporizing small amounts of flower or oil are a bit easier to measure. Try taking a small amount and see if you are aware of the effects.

Merry Jane put together some great tips to read through if you're going to be locking in your micro-dose process:

  • Avoid mixing cannabis and alcohol until you have a firm understanding of your relationship with both.

  • Pay attention to the potency of your cannabis and the ratios of CBD and THC.

  • Try strains high in CBD and low in THC to enjoy CBD’s muscle-relaxing benefits while minimizing THC’s strong psychoactivity.

  • Create therapeutic blends by combining cannabis and natural tobacco alternatives.

  • Metabolism and physiology can affect your experience. Be mindful of the ingredients in your edibles by looking for gluten-free, vegan, organic, sugar-free, and low-fat options to maintain a well-balanced diet.

  • Be patient. Finding what works for you may take a little time.

Some products to use that are great for microdosing are:

Dosist - Dose Pens - Small and discreet vaporizer pens with proprietary formulas with names like, 'sleep' and 'relief' that administer approximately 2.5 mg of vapor per hit.

Tetralabs - Goldmist - An oral spray tincture that administers approximately 2.5 mg of THC per spray.

BREEZ - 1:1 Ratio THC/CBD Cinnamon Mints - Small and easy to dose mints with a total of 5 mg each of THC and CBD.

Have fun and listen to your body. Keep a daily log of your interactions if you're really looking to dial in the benefits of microdosing. And above all else, enjoy the therapeutic benefits of cannabis!

Informational resources courtesy of High Times, Leafly, and Merry Jane.

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