Side effects and risks of microdosing

Taking a microdose of psychedelics, means that you are taking a very small amount of it. This makes it possible to benefit from the advantages of the drug, but not to have a mind-altering effect. For example, microdosing can help improve your energy level, enhance your concentration or help you feel more comfortable. However, does taking a small dose also mean that the side effects or risks are very small? 

The risks of psychedelics are almost negligible. It is practically impossible to take a lethal dose of mushrooms, you would have to consume enormous quantities, and this has never happened. The (presumed) deadly dose for humans is estimated at a quantity of mushrooms that equals the body weight of the user.

Research into the side effects and risks of microdosing

Microdosing is increasingly being used to support health. It brings many benefits, but it's also good to think about the potential risks and side effects. Until recently, there wasn't a lot of data available, but fortunately more and more research is being done into the effects of microdosing.

James Fadiman has spent years collecting data (from 1800 people from 59 different countries) who have sent him their experiences with microdosing. From this information, and from what we know about taking higher doses of psychedelic drugs, we can draw some conclusions, such as: For most people, microdosing is safe.

Taking such a low dose, prevents you from having a bad trip. The dose does not affect your consciousness, in the sense that you will not have hallucinations. Among the people who reported their experiences to Fadiman, no one had experienced a psychosis. 

Possible disadvantages of microdosing:

  • Increase of anxiety: If you already suffer from anxiety, it can happen that your anxiety increases. In that case it is not recommended to use microdosing.
  • Fatigue: This occurs especially when microdosing magic mushrooms, which contain psilocybin. This doesn't always have to be a disadvantage, if you use microdosing for a better night's sleep. Eventually you can choose to take vitamin B12.
  • Stomach complaints/nausea: It is possible that you get nausea or stomach complaints from the use of mushrooms, this goes away after a while.
  • Symptoms in bipolar disorder: During the depressive phase, microdosing was useful to reduce symptoms. However, people with bipolar disorder advised against use during a manic phase.
  • Color blindness: men who are color blind may experience afterimages or mild hallucinations. This does not necessarily occur in everyone.
  • Headaches: Microdosing psilocybin "can" cause headaches.

Reasons not to use microdosing

Although microdosing is safe for most people, there are certain groups of people who should not do it. These include people with certain conditions or when you are on medication.

  • Lithium: if you take lithium carbonate, it is not recommended to microdose with psychedelics. It can be a risk and not enough research has been done on how these substances influence each other.
  • Anxiety disorder: If you already suffer from an anxiety disorder, microdosing can make it worse. Anxiety can be increased or you can become more aware of it. In case of depression with anxiety, microdosing can bring relief.
  • Paranoia and suspicion: The symptoms may get worse, but this is very rare.
  • Psychosis: if you have ever had a psychosis or still suffer from one, it is not recommended. A high dose of a psychedelic can cause a psychosis. For this reason a micro-dose is also not recommended.

You shouldn't be taking microdoses if you:

  • You are 18 years old or younger
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding

 

Microdosing is also not recommended in combination with alcohol or other drugs.

If you use medication and are unsure about using it in combination, we recommend first contacting your GP.

What do you have to be careful of?

Dosages

The average microdosage consists of 10% of a normal amount. This can sometimes be difficult to measure. It also happens that someone takes too much in the beginning. This can be a problem and it can affect your daily functioning. If you are taking a microdose for the first time, do it on a day off so that you can take it easy and feel what it is doing to you.

Effect when using and not using

One of the consequences of microdosing is that you feel good when you take it. For example: depressive symptoms decrease or you have more energy. But if you stop taking the drug (which is recommended to prevent tolerance), your symptoms might come back.

Building tolerance or dependence

There is no real evidence that you can build up tolerance to LSD or psilocybin, but it is assumed that you can. If you are tolerant for the drug, it means that it will have less and less effect. This can happen when you take it every day or when you use a taking routine for a long time. Another disadvantage is that you might feel dependent on the microdoses, in the sense that you might start to think that without your microdoses you wouldn't be able to feel good or be happy or creative.