Microdosing- Pop Culture Phenomenon
Both microdosing and the curative powers of psychedelics have become hot button topics in the news. But but popular does not equal effective, and microdosing for pain management may not yield the results you are looking for.
Microdosing culture is probably the most powerful vehicle moving these substances into mainstream culture today. It seems to be on everyone’s mind, and it seems everyone wants to try it to address a variety of ailments. The problem is that not many people can really agree on what exactly a microdose consists of. The only consensus seems to be that the effects of the substance should be “below perception”. This means that the effects should not be felt at all.
Daily Microdosing Could Be Risky
It is not recommended to take these substances every day, or even multiple times a week like the average microdose schedule calls for. I keep my condition in check with small barely above perceptible doses once a week, and one large “hero” loading dose once a month. Taking serotonergic psychedelics daily may also have other health consequences. Microdosing fans may have not considered them, especially the risks to their cardiac health.
Microdosing May Not Have A Significant Impact On Pain
Some individuals say they benefit greatly from microdosing, and that it has improved their mental health greatly. I am incredibly happy for them, but a certain amount of psychedelic effect is required to obtain pain relief. All of the studies I’ve looked at, whether they addressed migraine, cluster headache, or phantom limb required at least a little of that “mind bending” effect that comes with psychedelics in order to work their “magic”.
Sure, different conditions have different approaches. I would say that some of the headache condition sufferers can sometimes get away with the lightest doses and still see good results. Small changes in blood flow patterns from the vasoconstrictive properties of the psychedelics may interrupt whatever process culminates into an attack.
For the individual microdosing for phantom limb pain, CRPS, fibromyalgia, they are just not going to make use of the correct mechanism unless they cross a certain threshold. The whole point of the practice is to make your mind more flexible and capable of reinterpreting pain signals as less painful. That kind of flexibility and growth does not happen unless you introduce the kind of chaos and disorder that comes with a psychedelic experience.
A comparison of functional differences between (A) placebo and (B) hallucinogens. An illustration of the connections between neurological activity in (A) subjects given a placebo and (B) those given psilocybin. From Petri et al. (2014).
The Magic Happens After The Dust Settles
During a strong psychedelic experience, your brain goes a bit haywire. There is increased activity, and increased connectivity. The above figure illustrates the active connections between different parts of a brain at a given time. This image has been erroneously used to try to illustrate that the brain on psilocybin is somehow more connected and “using more of the brain”. The placebo brain is functioning efficiently and properly. The psilocybin brain is, well, let’s just say that this is not a state you want to be trying to function in. There is a lot of connectivity, and this individual may well be hearing colors and seeing sounds and all sorts of amazing, strange things. It may be pleasant or maybe not, but the one thing for sure is they are not rational or reasonably functional in this state.
The “magic” happens when everything starts to go back to normal. When the activity slows down and connectivity is reduced, we retain a bit of the flexibility. Theoretically, enhanced progress could be made with physical therapy like desensitization or mirror therapy because neuroplasticity has been stimulated.
Microdosing- Just Not Enough
I don’t think that microdosing with amounts truly below perception would achieve this effect. And “microdosing” daily with a dose large enough to perceive would be potentially harmful to your health. Constantly stimulating those receptors could have cardiac consequences, not to mention make you unfit for normal day to day activities.
We do discuss these mechanisms during the retreat in detail. This all being said, microdosing is a personal choice, and is likely to become a big part of pop culture in the future. It is here to stay and will probably get more and more popular with time. At the retreat, everyone takes a hefty dose at the ceremony. They go home with both the confidence to handle whatever dose they choose. They retain the skills to cultivate whatever quantity at whatever rate they need.