Microdosing: Why is it Becoming So Popular, Substances Used For Microdosing, Side Effects

What is Microdosing?

Microdosing is the practice of taking just a tiny bit of psychedelic or illicit substances. However, the method does not only focus on taking drugs. Instead, many substances can actually be taken in this manner. A microdose is usually capped at 1/10 to 1/20 of a standard dose, meaning you take just 10 or 20 micrograms of the substance.

The fundamental objective of microdosing is the draw out only the positive effects of the substance being used to have more focus, greater emotional balance, and more energy. At the same time, microdosing cuts out the adverse effects of these substances such as hallucinations, sensory shifts, paranoia, anxiety, and other intense experiential side effects of certain drugs.(1)


Microdosing is fast becoming an experimental technique being used by people to take control over their productivity and state of mind.

Why Is Microdosing Becoming So Popular?

Microdosing is not a new trend. In fact, this concept has been around in the Silicon Valley since 2010 onwards. Initially, people started using microdosing to increase their productivity and energy levels to help tackle roadblocks in their work and to brainstorm new strategies to take their career forward.


While some people are using microdosing as a stepping stone to enhancing their professional efficiency, others are using it for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Greater levels of creativity
  • Improved focus
  • More energy
  • Being emotionally available and open
  • Relief from depression
  • Less anxiety in social situations
  • Relief from menstrual pain
  • Help in quitting coffee, dependency on pharmaceutical drugs, or other substances
  • Greater spiritual awareness

What Are The Substances Used For Microdosing?

Microdosing technically refers to the use of minute amounts of psychedelic drugs, but people are today practicing it with a huge range of substances.(2)

Here are some of the most popular substances that are being used for microdosing. However, many of these substances still carry some adverse risks, even when consumed at microdoses. These may include stomach problems and anxiety.


Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD): LSD is one of the most commonly used substances for microdosing. Many users report feeling more focused, sharper, more energetic, and more productive after having LSD. The effect is said to last for an entire day.(3)

Dimethyltryptamine (DMT): Also known as the ‘spirit molecule, the drug dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is popularly used for microdosing. It is used for its ability to help in relieving anxiety and as an aid in raising spiritual awareness.(4)

Ibogaine/Iboga: It surprises many people to know that iboga is actually a root bark that is often used as a spirit medicine by the Bwiti tribe in Central Africa. Ibogaine is the active component of iboga. When used in microdosing, both ibogaine and iboga help boost a person’s creativity levels, help regulate mood, and also kills off any cravings. Certain studies have found that it can eventually help end addiction to opioids, but more research is needed to conclusively prove this.(5)


Psilocybin (magic mushrooms): Commonly referred to just as mushrooms or magic mushrooms, psilocybin is said to act as an antidepressant for people suffering from major depression. People microdosing with this substance have reported feeling more emotionally open and more empathic. Psilocybin is also believed to help in treatment-resistant depression.(6)

Apart from these four common substances, some other substances used in microdosing include:

However, the fact is that since everyone’s bodies are different, a microdose for some might end up being a major dose for others. For some people who are highly sensitive or if the substances start accumulating in the bloodstream over time, it can result in a ‘bad trip.’ Effects of LSD microdosing are especially difficult to predict if it is taken on a regular basis.

Side Effects of Microdosing

Even when people are microdosing on such substances to experience only the positive effects, there are many instances where things have gone bad unexpectedly.

Here are some of the side effects of microdosing:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Feeling paranoid
  • Increased depression
  • Unintended tripping
  • Numbness

Apart from the physical side effects of microdosing, remember that there is always a high risk of losing your job if you are caught microdosing or carrying these substances at your workplace.


While microdosing is becoming more mainstream lately, there are still many unknown factors associated with this phenomenon, not to mention that the substances being used for this trend are ultimately mostly illegal and banned. While there are minimal studies available on the effects of microdosing on the health of a person, many medical experts are also trying to determine whether microdosing can be used to help in the treatment of many mental conditions such as treatment-resistant depression and anxiety disorders.


  1. Garlick, H. (2020). ‘It makes me enjoy playing with the kids’: is microdosing mushrooms going mainstream?. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 22 Feb. 2020].
  2. The Third Wave. (2020). Psychedelics – The Third Wave. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Feb. 2020].
  3. Johnstad, P.G., 2018. Powerful substances in tiny amounts: An interview study of psychedelic microdosing. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 35(1), pp.39-51.
  4. Winstock, A.R., Kaar, S. and Borschmann, R., 2014. Dimethyltryptamine (DMT): Prevalence, user characteristics and abuse liability in a large global sample. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 28(1), pp.49-54.
  5. Noller, G.E., Frampton, C.M. and Yazar-Klosinski, B., 2018. Ibogaine treatment outcomes for opioid dependence from a twelve-month follow-up observational study. The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse, 44(1), pp.37-46.
  6. Carhart-Harris, R.L., Roseman, L., Bolstridge, M., Demetriou, L., Pannekoek, J.N., Wall, M.B., Tanner, M., Kaelen, M., McGonigle, J., Murphy, K. and Leech, R., 2017. Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression: fMRI-measured brain mechanisms. Scientific reports, 7(1), pp.1-11.