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Should You Feel a Psychedelic Microdose & Does It Still Work If You Don’t?

Microdosing psychedelics can be effective even without perceptual effects, due to biochemical changes like increased neuroplasticity. However, minor perceptual shifts may enhance creativity and aid in breaking old habits, suggesting they are integral to its therapeutic potential.

The interest in microdosing psychedelics has been growing rapidly in recent years, capturing the attention of researchers, mental health professionals, and the general public. Microdosing involves taking small, sub-hallucinogenic doses of substances like psilocybin (found in magic mushrooms) or LSD, with the aim of reaping the potential benefits without experiencing the full-blown psychedelic effects. 

This practice has been reported to enhance creativity, improve mood, increase focus, and reduce anxiety, among other benefits. However, there is an ongoing debate about whether feeling the effects of a microdose is necessary for it to be effective. This article explores both perspectives on this topic and examines the various factors that influence the perception and efficacy of microdosing.

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Key Takeaways

  • Microdosing can provide benefits even without perceptual effects, thanks to biochemical changes like increased neuroplasticity and enhanced brain connectivity.
  • Minor perceptual shifts induced by microdosing can enhance creativity and help break old habits, suggesting they are integral to its effectiveness.
  • A balanced approach, considering both biochemical changes and perceptual shifts, maximizes the therapeutic potential of microdosing.
  • Psychedelic Passage: Your Psychedelic Concierge — The easy, legal way to find trustworthy psilocybin guides, facilitators and psychedelic ‘coaching’ near you in the United States.

Understanding Microdosing

Definition of Microdosing

Microdosing refers to the practice of consuming very low doses of a psychedelic substance, typically around 1/10th to 1/20th of a typical recreational dose. The goal is to achieve subtle effects that enhance daily functioning without inducing overt psychedelic experiences. 

Traditionally, microdoses were believed to be sub-perceptual, meaning that the individual should not consciously feel any effects. This concept aimed to avoid the risks associated with larger doses, such as overwhelming hallucinations or significant disruptions to daily activities.

However, this definition has evolved. Experts now argue that it is more accurate to describe microdoses as sub-hallucinogenic rather than sub-perceptual. This shift acknowledges that some perceptual changes, albeit minor, may be beneficial and integral to the microdosing experience. 

The term sub-hallucinogenic implies that while the effects should not be strong enough to cause hallucinations or a traditional “trip,” they should still be perceptible to some degree. This nuance ties directly into the ongoing debate about the necessity of feeling the effects for microdosing to be effective.

Common Substances Used for Microdosing

The most commonly used substances for microdosing are psilocybin, found in magic mushrooms, and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide). Both substances have been shown to affect serotonin receptors in the brain, which can influence mood, cognition, and perception. 

Psilocybin mushrooms come in various strains, each with unique properties, while LSD is typically synthesized in a laboratory. Other substances that are sometimes used for microdosing include mescaline, DMT, and ibogaine, though these are less common.

Factors Affecting Perception of Microdose Effects


Finding the right dosage is crucial for effective microdosing. Individual sensitivity and response can vary widely, so what works for one person may not work for another. Factors such as body weight, metabolism, and previous experience with psychedelics can all influence how a microdose is felt. It often requires careful experimentation and adjustment to find the optimal dose that provides benefits without producing noticeable psychedelic effects.

Medication Interactions

The effectiveness of microdosing can be influenced by other medications an individual is taking. For instance, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other antidepressants are known to diminish the effects of psychedelics. This is because both SSRIs and psychedelics interact with serotonin receptors in the brain, and the presence of SSRIs can reduce the impact of psychedelics. 

Understanding these interactions is essential for those considering microdosing while on medication. Consulting with a psychedelic professional can provide guidance on how to adjust dosages and timing to optimize the benefits of microdosing.

Administration Factors

The timing and method of ingestion can also influence the effects of a microdose. Taking the substance on an empty stomach versus with food can affect absorption and onset time. Additionally, keeping a journal to track dosages, timing, and effects can help refine the microdosing regimen.

The Two Perspectives

Perspective 1: Benefits Without Perceptual Effects

The first perspective argues that even if you don’t consciously feel the effects of a microdose, it can still act in your brain to provide benefits. This view is supported by research on the biochemical changes induced by psychedelics, such as increased neuroplasticity and enhanced connectivity in the brain. These changes can facilitate new ways of thinking and improve mental flexibility, potentially leading to long-term benefits in mood, creativity, focus, and anxiety reduction.

Biochemical Changes

Psychedelics, even in microdoses, can cause significant biochemical changes in the brain. Research has shown that psychedelics like psilocybin and LSD can increase the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a protein that plays a crucial role in the growth, maintenance, and survival of neurons. 

Higher levels of BDNF are associated with improved cognitive function, learning, and memory. These biochemical changes can occur without the user consciously perceiving any psychedelic effects, suggesting that the benefits of microdosing can be real even if they are not immediately felt.

Increased Neuroplasticity

One of the most significant findings in psychedelic research is the ability of these substances to enhance neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections. This is crucial for learning, memory, and recovery from brain injuries. 

Enhanced neuroplasticity can help individuals break free from entrenched thought patterns and develop healthier mental habits. This means that even without feeling the microdose, the brain is undergoing beneficial changes that can lead to improved mental health and cognitive function.

Enhanced Connectivity

Psychedelics are known to enhance connectivity between different regions of the brain. Studies using brain imaging techniques like fMRI have shown that psychedelics can increase the communication between brain networks that are typically not connected. 

This enhanced connectivity can facilitate more integrated and flexible thinking, allowing individuals to approach problems from new angles and generate creative solutions. Again, these changes can occur at a biochemical level, providing benefits without the need for perceptual effects.

Long-term Benefits

The long-term benefits of microdosing, even without perceptual effects, are supported by both scientific research and anecdotal evidence. Users report sustained improvements in mood, creativity, focus, and anxiety levels. 

These benefits are likely due to the ongoing biochemical changes and enhanced connectivity in the brain. For example, improved mood and reduced anxiety can result from the brain’s increased production of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that regulate emotions.

Perspective 2: The Importance of Perceptual Shifts

The second perspective posits that it is precisely the minor perceptual shifts induced by microdosing that enable new ways of thinking. These subtle changes in perception can open up new mental pathways and enhance creativity, making it easier to break free from old habits and adopt new ones. The argument here is that these perceptual shifts, no matter how minor, are integral to the therapeutic effects of microdosing.

Mechanisms of Perceptual Shifts

Psychedelics, even in microdoses, can cause subtle changes in sensory perception, thought patterns, and emotional responses. These perceptual shifts are typically mild but noticeable and can manifest as a heightened sense of awareness, enhanced colors, or a slightly altered sense of time. These effects are not strong enough to cause hallucinations but are sufficient to create a shift in perspective that can lead to significant cognitive and emotional benefits.

Enhanced Creativity and Problem-Solving

One of the key benefits attributed to these minor perceptual shifts is enhanced creativity. By altering the brain’s default mode network (DMN), which is responsible for self-referential thoughts and mind-wandering, psychedelics can help reduce mental rigidity and promote more flexible thinking. 

This can lead to increased creativity and the ability to approach problems from new angles. Many users report that microdosing helps them think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to challenges they face in their personal and professional lives.

Breaking Free from Old Habits

Minor perceptual shifts can also help individuals break free from entrenched habits and thought patterns. By disrupting the usual way the brain processes information, microdosing can facilitate the formation of new neural pathways. This can make it easier to adopt new behaviors and ways of thinking, which is particularly beneficial for individuals looking to overcome negative habits or improve their mental health. 

For example, someone trying to quit smoking or reduce anxiety might find that the subtle shifts in perception help them see their behavior from a new perspective and develop more effective coping strategies.

Emotional Insights and Personal Growth

Psychedelics are known for their ability to enhance emotional insights and foster personal growth. Even at microdose levels, the perceptual shifts can help individuals gain a deeper understanding of their emotions and motivations. 

This can lead to increased self-awareness and the ability to make more informed decisions about their mental health and well-being. Users often report that microdosing helps them feel more connected to their emotions and more capable of addressing underlying issues that contribute to anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges.

Practical Implications

The practical implications of this perspective are profound. It suggests that for microdosing to be fully effective, users should be open to experiencing and integrating these minor perceptual shifts. This might involve a more intentional approach to microdosing, where individuals take the time to notice and reflect on the subtle changes in their perception and how these changes impact their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. 

It also means that individuals might need to adjust their expectations, recognizing that the benefits of microdosing come not just from biochemical changes but also from the ability to perceive and integrate new ways of thinking.

Does a Microdose Work Even When You Don’t Feel Sub-Hallucinogenic Effects?

We support a balanced view that recognizes the value of both biochemical changes and minor perceptual shifts induced by microdosing. Our perspective acknowledges the complexity of human brain function and the diverse ways in which psychedelics can influence it. 

The human brain is a highly intricate organ with various interconnected systems that govern cognitive processes, emotions, and perceptions. Psychedelics can affect these systems in multiple ways, making it crucial to consider both the biochemical and perceptual impacts of microdosing.

By integrating both biochemical changes and perceptual shifts, this approach maximizes the therapeutic potential of microdosing. Biochemical effects, such as increased neuroplasticity and enhanced brain connectivity, provide a stable foundation for cognitive and emotional resilience. 

These changes support the brain’s ability to form new neural connections, which can improve learning, memory, and mental flexibility. For instance, elevated levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) promote neuronal growth and survival, contributing to long-term mental health benefits. This biochemical foundation helps individuals build stronger, healthier brain networks that support overall well-being.

In contrast, perceptual shifts offer immediate, experiential insights and breakthroughs that can reinforce and amplify these biochemical benefits. These subtle changes in perception can disrupt habitual thought patterns and open up new ways of thinking. 

For example, a slight alteration in sensory perception or time awareness can prompt creative problem-solving and innovative thinking. Perceptual shifts can also provide emotional clarity, helping individuals understand and process their feelings more effectively. These immediate, tangible experiences can be particularly motivating and empowering, making it easier for individuals to adopt and maintain positive changes in their lives.

Furthermore, this balanced approach accommodates individual variability. People respond differently to psychedelics due to factors like genetic makeup, mental health status, and past experiences with psychedelics. This variability means that some individuals may be more sensitive to the biochemical changes induced by microdosing, noticing improvements in cognitive function without perceptual shifts. 

Despite the value of this balanced approach, we still believe that it is important to feel the effects of microdosing to some extent. The minor perceptual shifts induced by microdosing are not just beneficial add-ons but can be crucial components of the therapeutic process. The perceptual shifts can make the cognitive and emotional benefits more tangible and accessible, helping individuals connect with and internalize these changes. 

These shifts also help individuals become more aware of their thoughts and emotions, providing insights that are hard to achieve through biochemical changes alone. Feeling the effects, even subtly, allows users to engage more fully with their experiences, making the therapeutic outcomes more pronounced and meaningful.

Individuals are encouraged to experiment with different dosages, timing, and substances, keeping detailed records of their experiences to identify what works best for them. Consulting with psychedelic professionals ensures that this experimentation is safe and informed, while staying updated on the latest research helps individuals make evidence-based decisions.

Addressing Concerns: “I’m on Antidepressants, but Want to Take Mushrooms”

Influence of Antidepressants on Psychedelic Effectiveness

Antidepressants, particularly SSRIs, can affect the way psychedelics work in the brain. While this can complicate the microdosing experience, it does not make it impossible. 

There are potential benefits to microdosing while on antidepressants, such as improved mood and reduced anxiety, but these outcomes can vary. It’s important to understand how antidepressants can influence the effectiveness of psychedelics and to adjust the microdosing regimen accordingly.

Recommended Reading: Should I Stop Using Antidepressants For Psychedelic Therapy? 

Practical Tips for Microdosing on Antidepressants

  1. Consult with a Psychedelic Professional: It’s crucial to discuss your plans with a psychedelic healthcare provider to ensure safety and compatibility with your current medications. They can provide personalized advice and monitor your progress.
  2. Adjust Dosage and Timing: You might need to adjust the dosage or timing of your microdose to achieve the desired effects. For example, taking a microdose at a different time of day than your antidepressant may help mitigate interactions.
  3. Try Different Strains or Products: Different strains of psilocybin mushrooms or formulations of LSD can have varying effects. Experimenting with different options can help you find what works best for you while minimizing interactions with antidepressants.

Exploring Different Strains and Products

Overview of Psilocybin Mushroom Strains

Various strains of psilocybin mushrooms have unique effects. For instance, some strains may be more potent and stimulating, while others are more calming. Understanding the differences between strains can help users choose the one that best suits their needs. Some popular strains include:

  • Golden Teacher: Known for its balanced effects.
  • B+: Often described as a gentle and well-rounded strain, suitable for beginners.
  • Penis Envy: Noted for its potency.

Recommended Reading: Best Psilocybin Mushroom Strains For Microdosing: Full Guide

Importance of Product Consistency and Formulation

Consistency in product formulation is important to ensure reliable dosing and effects. Variations in potency and purity can lead to unpredictable outcomes. Using standardized products or working with reputable sources can help maintain consistency and optimize the microdosing experience.

Tips for Experimenting with Different Strains or Products

  1. Start Small: Begin with a low dose and gradually increase it until you find the optimal level that provides benefits without perceptual effects.
  2. Keep a Journal: Document your experiences, noting any changes in mood, creativity, focus, and anxiety levels. This can help you track progress and make informed adjustments.
  3. Be Patient: Finding the right strain and dosage can take time, so patience is essential. Allow yourself the flexibility to experiment and adjust your regimen as needed.

Explore More on Microdosing Psychedelics

For a deeper understanding and practical insights into microdosing, explore these related articles and guides:

Dive into these resources to enhance your knowledge and practice of microdosing psychedelics.

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