In light of the craze surrounding what has become known as ‘microdosing’, the Coffeeshop info Centre investigates whether this approach has anything to offer for cannabis enthusiasts. The results may actually be a surprise for many readers, as they can teach us something about the way that weed works its magic on the mind.
The Origins Of Microdosing
Although it seems to be all the rage in places like Silicon Valley and the fast-paced higher grounds of business life and tech development around the globe, microdosing is actually not a new concept. It was originally developed as a research method by psychologists halfway through the twentieth century, to find out more about the subtle effects that small doses of hallucinogenic drugs like LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin found in magic mushrooms have on human behaviour. Although the research project pretty much imploded after the Sixties saw a worldwide police clampdown on these hallucinogenic drugs, a few preliminary results were obtained in these early stages. These hinted at a potential for microdosing to boost creative thinking and problem-solving, extend attention span, and even lift symptoms of depression and anxiety. This avenue of research was largely abandoned for political reasons, but in the first decades of this century, microdosing resurfaced in an unexpected setting.
The theory behind microdosing is relatively simple: take a drug with a psychological effect and use it in a dosage too small to actually trigger any noticeable effect. This is called the perceptual threshold. Interestingly, even though you will not notice any direct effects of microdosing on substance X or Y, you may still notice overall improvement of your mood, your mental wellbeing, and your level of alertness, for instance. This offers some serious benefits for people with demanding jobs, for example, without any of the drawbacks such as seeing life-sized blue gnomes walk on the ceiling all day long. Sure enough, microdosing recently became a trend among the golden boys and girls of big tech firms and similar circles.
So would the technique of microdosing work with cannabis as it supposedly does for LSD and similar drugs? In fact, evidence indicates that it might. This is because marijuana seems to work through what scientists call a biphasic health effect. Basically, biphasic means that cannabis works in two phases: in a low-dose phase, it can have a number of positive effects, while in phase two involving higher doses, the effects can wear off or even turn around 180 degrees. This implies that taking enough puffs to get you high may be too much for the most beneficial effects to occur.
Example: Cannabis And Stress
Let’s look at an example of how low doses of cannabis can have more desirable effects than higher doses of the same stuff. In a recent experiment, subjects were asked to use cannabis before undergoing a fake job interview to measure their stress levels. It turned out that subjects who had been given low doses of THC were feeling more relaxed and less anxious during the interviews than those who had been given higher doses. In fact, even before the interviews started, the high-dosage group reported feeling nervous while the low-dosage group said they felt more at ease. This would support the theory of a biphasic effect for cannabis when it comes to relieving stress.
In other studies, people suffering from serious medical conditions were given THC in lower or higher doses to suppress pain and general unease during treatment. It turned out that the microdosing group benefited more from the pain-suppression effects than the high-dosage group of patients. Although microdosing weed will not let you experience any noticeable effect straight away, it can have a gradual and subtle effect on the long run – or at least, that’s what these results suggest.
Why Would Microdosing Work?
After entering the bloodstream, THC causes its familiar ‘high’ effects by interacting with receptors in the nervous system. If you take in a lot of THC in one go, this will get you stoned. If you take small amounts of THC over an extended period, however, a considerable part of it will not interact with any receptors, as it is stored in your fatty tissues instead. This ‘residual THC’ is then gradually re-released into your bloodstream as your metabolism burns the fat storing the THC. In theory, this slow and gradual re-release could sustain the subtle positive effects of THC without triggering any ‘heavy-dosage’ effects that would make you feel high. Now, different people use cannabis for different reasons, looking for different effects. For some, it’s a creativity booster, while others use it for stress relief and yet others claim that it helps them stay focused. The point of microdosing, however, would be to optimise those positive effects without ‘spoiling’ them by getting you stoned, couch-locked and apathetic. So could it work with weed?
Could You Microdose Weed For Yourself?
In theory, yes, it could definitely work for you, as these studies imply. The trick is finding a way to keep THC levels in your bloodstream down to a minimum while keeping those low levels constant at the same time. You can do this in several ways. You could of course roll joints like you normally would, only using just about one tenth of your regular amount of weed. Another option would be buying pre-rolled joints that you know contain a minimum dose of THC, but that would make you dependent of your supplier. Eating edibles such as space cake or hash brownies is not advisable, as these are difficult to portion and can take a very long time to trigger an effect, increasing the risk of exceeding the microdosing threshold. A better option would be using a sophisticated vaporiser. This is not only better for your lungs than smoking weed by regular means, but it also helps you control the exact amount of weed burned in the vaper. Alternatively, you could opt for a small one-hit pipe and only use small quantities of weed, but the latest generation of vaporisers are much more reliable when trying to reach microdosing accuracy.
Let Us Know How You Do(se)
Of course, we are keen to find out about your personal experiences with microdosing weed. Does it work for you, or do you think it’s a complete waste of time and good ganja? Could it all be just one big placebo effect, or do you actually benefit from your microdosing regime? Feel free to share your thoughts on the matter and if you have any experiences of your own, please let us know what the effects were and how it helped you improve your cannabis experience!