What is Cannabis Microdosing, and Can it Help Your Life?
Ten years ago, having cannabis three times a day through a self-administered routine seemed like crazy talk and typical ‘stoner’ behavior. Now, it might just be an impactful way of making daily life more comfortable with few negatives attached to it.
Enter the act of microdosing! By taking doses of cannabis so low, the psychoactive effects aren’t felt and regular actions aren’t adversely affected. No red sleepy eyes, no lethargy and mental fog, and no pain. Instead, taking almost as little as possible might be the way forwards.
The Ideal ‘Microdose’ is Around 1-3mg of THC/CBD
Many different ways of microdosing exist: Smoking, vaporizing, edibles, and tinctures can all be used. Microdosing is good for relaxation, mental focus, pain reduction, and increased creativity!
A practice gaining traction in professional industries, especially amongst Silicon Valley gurus, microdosing is a new trend that’s rising rapidly. While more traditional psychedelics like LSD and mushrooms have been the primary doctrine of choice for microdosers, cannabis also provides a viable alternative with its own set of supposed benefits.
We go into depth all about cannabis microdosing, how it works, the good and bad sides, and how to even do it! Check out the info below.
What is Microdosing Exactly?
Microdosing is the act of taking a sub-perceptual dose while still gaining a lot of therapeutic values. Having just enough to feel the slightest of effects is what’s called a “threshold dose”, and a big key towards microdosing.
In general, cannabis microdosing only requires roughly 1-3mg for it to be effective. You might’ve seen people eating entire edibles with doses 100 times this amount and people smoking multiple joints per day to get their therapeutic dose in.
This isn’t wrong to do perse, but microdosing may play a role into cracking the code for therapeutic effects at minute doses. Less is more is a saying that rings especially true here, and might reinvent the way you look at your stash.
How Does Microdosing and “Tolerance” Work?
Most users have definitely experienced a tolerance before. What three puffs used to do now requires a joint or two to set you sideways on the couch.
While frequent users can consume a comparatively huge amount without being noticeably inebriated, an amateur or light user would certainly be in for a tough time. This is of course due to a tolerance build-up.
By exposing the CB1 receptor sites to cannabinoids frequently, the brain retaliates by normalizing CB1 site activity. Reducing the number of receptors, weakening the effects, and even altering gene expression is the brains ways of maintaining homeostasis.
In fact, a daily smoker has less CB1 receptors available in their brain than non-smokers due to this function. That’s not to say they’re gone for good however. The commonly known ‘T-break’ helps bring this back to normal.
Have a Tolerance Break, or ‘T-break’
Significant upregulation and rejuvenation of these receptors occurs within 2 days of abstinence and continues over a 4 week period. The length of time it takes to fully normalize is widely debated. It’s commonly accepted that one month is the right amount of time for the entire process to occur. Other factors play a strong role in this as well. Dose and frequency, usage history, and your own genetics play a determining factor in tolerance resets.
To microdose with cannabis, it’s advised to undergo a full tolerance break in order for the cannabinoid receptors to reach normalcy again. Won’t your tolerance go back up again once you start microdosing cannabis though?
As you’re not oversaturating your receptors and putting so much strain on them, the need for the brain to adjust and accommodate an overwhelming amount of cannabinoids is lessened. Microdosing properly shouldn’t build a tolerance, though exceeding the minute amounts will slowly but surely grow your tolerance. It’s a fine line to maintain.
What are the Benefits of Cannabis Microdosing?
It’s no secret by now that cannabis and its two main ingredients – THC and CBD, have tremendous therapeutic, medical, and recreational value. While these tiny doses may not be conductive to the recreational aspect, we couldn’t say the same about the clinical values. These are the most common benefits anecdotally reported by those who microdose. The benefits vary from person to person from a wide variety of factors;
Many people report a marked reduction in anxiety in both isolated and social settings. This can be attributed to the anxiolytic properties of both THC and CBD. Tying into that, many users report deeper sleep due to reduced stress and the cannabinoids potential for inducing sleep.
Cannabinoids have also been shown to be effective at reducing inflammation and pain for both acute and chronic conditions. This also ties into the above point.
Not to mention that the lower dose carries drastically lower side effects across the board. Motor and cognitive function remain similar to sobriety, no dry mouth and eyes, no sleepiness, and less health risk overall.
Many subjects report an increase in mental focus without the use of stimulating drugs like caffeine or Adderall. Microdosing cannabis is also great to do before workouts, as it supposedly helps people focus inwards onto themselves and blast through a session with better mind-muscle connection.
Last but certainly not least, workers in a creative field such as artists and musicians encounter a heightened ability to call on their creative juices. This could also be due to increased focus and relaxed mind.
Negatives of Microdosing
Though microdosing doesn’t have negative points associated to it yet, we really don’t know the long-term effect of it on the brain. We understand how the brain interacts with cannabis in short timespans, but are still in the dark when it comes to frequent use over one, five, or fifteen years. Social stigma and drug screening may also be a concern to make note of. Does your job employ drug tests? Though the doses are small, prolonged use may yield positive results in a urine or hair follicle test. Perhaps your workplace has a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs/alcohol unless prescribed. Ensure you’re in the clear to do so before considering microdosing.
How to Microdose Cannabis Properly
Depending on how you decide to take your microdose, the frequency at which you dose may vary. There are four main routes of administration (ROA) for microdosing cannabis. Smoking, vaping, edibles, and tinctures. They all pose different benefits and negatives to them – time for effects to be felt, control of dose, and availability.
Smoking is by far the most common way of consuming cannabis. Primarily used for recreational purposes, a chunk of medical cannabis users opt to smoke their herb as well. However, smoking carries the most side-effects of the different ROA’s.
The therapeutic effects from smoking appear almost instantly, though the full range of therapeutic effects could take up to 15 minutes to surface. Smoking may also be difficult in most settings as the powerful odor and the fact you need to burn some herb is a detriment.
For microdosing, it’s one of the least advised methods. It’s exceedingly difficult to control the dose and reliable results are hard to achieve via smoking. The effects from smoking are felt for roughly 4 hours.
Vaporizing is a more common method for microdosing, removing many of the negative side-effects and health risks that smoking presents. Dry herb vaporizers exist for use with the raw cannabis, while wax and oil vaporizers use a more concentrated form.
Taking between 5-20 minutes for full effects to be reached, vaporizing as a method to microdose can be effective. As many vaporizers are portable and handheld, it can be much easier to administer a dose in any situation. Do still be mindful of the oftentimes noticeable odor emitted when doing so.
For microdosing, vaporizing still isn’t the most preferred form as it still suffers from the difficulty to control the dose accurately. Precise dilutions can be made with concentrates to administer low doses with a single puff, though mistakes can be made and going over the tiny threshold dose can occur. The effects from vaporizing also last for roughly 4 hours.
Edibles for microdosing are becoming more popular, yet it’s still a form in its infancy. While a whole brownie may contain 100mg of THC, dividing that up into 50 tiny chunks is nigh impossible, especially considering the cannabinoids may not be evenly distributed.
Edibles take quite a while for effects to kick in, generally taking anywhere between 30 minutes up to two hours. The slow relief from edibles also puts people off, as they’d rather get the benefits much sooner.
Some edibles are formulated to contain microdose quantities of herb, though they can still be inconsistent when we’re dealing with 1-3mg doses, making edibles an okay route of administration. The effects last roughly 8+ hours with an edible, which reduces or eliminates the need for re-dosing.
Tinctures are by and large the most effective form for cannabis microdosing. With solutions getting down to half a milligram/500µg per drop, accurately adjusting and dosing your remedy is no problem at all.
Taken sublingually (under the tongue), tinctures can take effect from anywhere between 15-45 minutes. Faster than edibles but slower than inhalation, tinctures find a middle ground between the other methods. Dosing is also quite easy, since laying a few drops under your tongue takes no time at all.
Tinctures with different THC:CBD ratios exist for those who want to really fine-tune their experience, and other methods like mouth sprays are starting to show up on the market. For microdosing, your best bet is definitely with tinctures. Tinctures, like edibles, last for roughly 8+ hours, so redosing is not needed as frequently as methods of inhalation.
Pick the Right Strain
If you choose to smoke or vaporize your herb, picking the best strain for microdosing can be a tough task.
With literally thousands of significantly different strains being available now, it can be hard to get started. Everyone’s biology and metal state work differently, and while one strain or type of cannabis may work for your best friend, a different will perform better for you.
While it’s commonly thought indicas put you to sleep and sativas are great for energy, a lot more of that depends on the exact strain itself. The specific cannabinoid content and terpene profile will vary from strain to strain and provide different effects.
Choose a strain which can benefit your exact situation most, or have multiple different ones on hand for different circumstances. Also consider the THC:CBD ratio. There are a lot of factors to consider, so consult your local guru or search engine for more help!
The Final Verdict: Microdosing With Cannabis
There are many reasons to begin cannabis microdosing and not many against it. If you feel as though you function perfectly fine without microdosing, then there’s not really much need for it anyways! If you’re a frequent or occasional user anyways, it’s worth a shot to see if a quality of life increase occurs too.
Though it’s satisfying to have a lung-busting rip and letting out a cloud of smoke or vapor, the cost saved through microdosing is significant. What used to look like a weekends supply of herb now translates to a month’s supply of daily supplements.
Of course, microdosing doesn’t need to be daily and some only microdose every few days or when a burst of focus or creativity is required. Microdosing also doesn’t build a tolerance to recreational use, so you’re still free to have a session in the weekend and get blasted from it. Allow your tolerance to reset after that though to make sure dosing again is effective!
The tides have been shifting slowly, making cannabis a socially accepted thing after being prohibited for decades. It may be a step towards dialing in a more comfortable daily life without repercussion, or it might not really do anything for you.