At the moment, most of the information available about microdosing is anecdotal, self-reported by individuals, as science catches up to what psychedelic community has been exploring for decades. It will be some time before medical research proves the basics of what many of us already know to be true. Perhaps we will get lucky with some unexpected findings, but I suspect it will be another 5-10 years before the more intricate effects of microdosing are fully understood, and backed up with scientific evidence. A prospective study on the long term effects of microdosing would also be very useful.
In the meantime, we can share experiences and personal journeys to try to ascertain what the long terms effects of microdosing LSD, psilocybin, and other psychedelics are. We may already know the many self-reported benefits of microdosing, and it’s interesting to note the absence of reports of long term negative effects of microdosing with LSD and magic mushrooms. Sub-perceptual doses of psychedelics are extremely low, with physiological effects barely noticeable by the user, and for this reason we tend to assume that they are not causing damage to our brain or body.
We must also consider what bearing our individual values have on whether or not an effect is perceived as negative, positive, or somewhere in between. Like with full-trips, personal preference plays a part. To paraphrase Terence McKenna, it’s an aesthetic inclination whether or not you enjoy having your world deconstructed before you. I can think of nothing more therapeutic, but others seem to have suffered as a result of a similar experience, and take a long time to recover/integrate it.
The long term microdosing effects that I’ve experienced
Since I started microdosing around 3 years ago, I’ve noticed various changes that have occurred in the way I experience life and the way I engage in different aspects of it. These include changes in relationships, exercise, reaction times, hand-eye co-ordination, mental focus, energy levels, sleep, and decision-making, amongst other things.
There are a few long term effects of microdosing that I want to go into more detail about.
Deep meditation and microdosing
Perhaps most importantly, the way I experience altered states of consciousness (such as meditation) has changed significantly. Deep meditation has become much easier to initiate and I can now slip into a deep meditative state within 5-10 minutes, whereas it used to take me at least 30 minutes (and didn’t always work). Now, it is more like a switch I can flip when I need to. I should probably take advantage of it more. but it’s very reassuring to know it’s there when I need it.
I believe the benefits of meditation are strongest when you can move beyond technique, or practices. Zazen meditation was always my preference, and I don’t feel that meditation practices that encourage focusing on any particular thing, are conducive to comfortably entering deeper states – but that’s me.
The interesting thing about the long term effects of microdosing on meditation is that it seems to help program the body/mind to do this naturally, rather than need to follow a formula. It’s just as natural to be fully relaxed, without trying to direct the experience and control what the mind is doing. When this happens, deeper states happen quicker, because the ‘self’ is not getting involved trying to control the experience.
Deeper states of meditation are a mystical experience, comparable to psychedelics at lower doses, and very different to a mindfulness approach to meditation. At a certain point, conceptual thoughts, feelings, and emotions disappear, and the experience moves more towards flowing sensation, symbols, energy, light, and the lack of feeling contained within the human skin.
Adrenal responses, fear, and social interactions
I’ve never been someone who suffers with anxiety, it’s not a routine state of being for me. I’m aware that for some people it is, although when people say they suffer from anxiety, I feel it lacks detail and clarity about what’s really going on. But that’s another topic.
We do all experience fear and apprehension, in different situations. How fear is experienced is interesting, because it can either be experienced by a person who is trying to bring an end to the fear as quickly as possible (and usually making it worse), or in a way in which the fear arises and dissipates without the person trying to direct it, and bring it to an end.
In the most simple way, since microdosing, I feel fear or apprehension far less often than before – and when I do, it is nowhere near as intense as it used to be. It now feels more like a smooth energy wave rather with appropriate reactions from my mind and body, rather than a jolt followed by a series of overreactions.
In the past, I may have found that in stressful situations, my heart rate would rise and the physiological response would be quite strong. Now, I still get stressed sometimes, I still get angry sometimes, but the anger is more channelled and focused. When anger or other heightened emotions get the better of you, it’s often due to fighting the fact that the emotion/feeling has arisen and feeling that somehow that feeling isn’t right. Every feeling we experience is natural, because we are capable of it. It’s how we respond to the original stimulus that can make the biggest difference, and microdosing seems to help smooth this process.
Other things of note, and permanent effects of microdosing
I tend to take a microdose when it feels right for me, rather than following a specific schedule. Microdosing every third day has become a popular starting point that many recommend, but I’m not convinced it is necessary or the best thing for everyone. Over time, microdosing weekly, or even bi-weekly or monthly can produce very good results, and it has worked well for me. Eventually, if the benefits hold, you should not feel you need to microdose forever, or at least as often. I wrote more about this in my microdosing without microdosing post.
Other permanent effects I’ve noticed include more enjoyment of cannabis, better sex (not necessarily whilst microdosing), and I’ve become better at making decisions/not regretting decisions. Bizarrely, my reactions times have improved massively, as has my hand-eye co-ordination. I’m not sure how this happened, but I often find myself catching objects before I’ve completely registered that they’ve fallen – the research definitely needs to look into this!
There are so many other benefits that I can’t go into detail about them all in this one post – I might focus on some others at a later date. As for negative effects, I’m yet to notice any I could really class as negative, although I’m sure there are some old-school psychologists that would disagree, at least I hope so..