Your Guide to the Fadiman Microdosing Protocol

Discover the Fadiman Microdosing Protocol and explore the world of microdosing psychedelics like LSD and magic mushrooms.

Overview: Microdosing involves taking very low, sub-hallucinogenic doses of psychedelic substances, such as LSD or magic mushrooms, and has gained popularity in recent years. The Fadiman Microdosing Protocol, popularized by Dr. James Fadiman, suggests taking a microdose one day, two days off, and repeating.  Anecdotal reports suggest benefits in mood, focus, and creativity, but formal research is limited. Recent systematic reviews and studies have provided some insights into the potential benefits of microdosing, but more rigorous scientific investigation is needed to fully understand its effects and risks. While some studies have reported positive effects on mental health, pain perception, and awareness, the lack of placebo-controlled studies limits our knowledge of microdosing and its effects. Care must be taken to avoid potential risks, such as taking more than intended. Further research, including double-blind placebo-controlled studies, is necessary to determine whether microdosing offers genuine benefits beyond the placebo effect.

The Beginnings of Modern Microdosing

Microdosing is a novel approach to psychedelic usage that has garnered increasing attention in the Western world. As outlined by psychologist and psychedelic researcher Dr. James Fadiman in his 2011 work, ‘The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys’, microdosing refers to the practice of consuming very small, sub-perceptual doses of psychedelic substances such as LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) or psilocybin-containing mushrooms (magic mushrooms). People who engage in microdosing often follow a specific schedule.

The general idea behind microdosing is to experience the potential cognitive and creative benefits of psychedelics without the full-blown psychedelic effects. Proponents suggest that microdosing may lead to increased creativity, improved mood, enhanced focus, among other potential benefits. The intent is to potentially benefit from subtle, positive effects. 

While formal research on microdosing remains limited, Dr. Fadiman's exploration has been fueled by thousands of anecdotal reports from users. Many have reported experiencing benefits in mood enhancement, improved focus, heightened creativity, and enriched relationships. As information circulated through word-of-mouth and platforms like Reddit, the practice gained popularity, finding a niche in the competitive landscape of Silicon Valley.

In the realm of psychedelic use and research, moderate to high doses of classic psychedelics such as magic mushrooms and LSD have been associated with various positive effects. Now, researchers are exploring the possibility that microdosing these substances could offer a glimpse of the benefits associated with higher doses, while mitigating potential risks. This exploration comes at a time when interest in microdosing has expanded beyond niche communities, thanks in part to a 2015 Rolling Stone article that brought the practice into broader public awareness.

What is the Fadiman Microdosing Protocol?

Microdosing is the practice of routinely self-administering very low quantities or “sub-threshold doses” of a psychedelic substance, such as LSD or dried psilocybin mushrooms, on a fixed schedule. It  involves taking 5%-10% of a standard psychedelic dose: typically around 10-20 micrograms of LSD (roughly one- or two-tenths of a blotter tab) or 0.1 to 0.3 grams of dried psilocybin mushrooms.

The Fadiman microdosing protocol is a straightforward regimen for those interested in exploring the benefits of microdosing with psychedelics, such as LSD or magic mushrooms. In the Fadiman microdosing protocol, individuals typically take a microdose on the first day, then abstain for the next two days, and repeat the cycle.

So, in a weekly context, someone might microdose on, for example, Monday, skip Tuesday and Wednesday, and then microdose again on Thursday, continuing the pattern. Day 1 involves the administration of the reduced dose (microdosing day), followed by Day 2 for reflection and integration, and Day 3 as a sober day. The primary objective is to experience the reported benefits of microdosing without developing a tolerance.

Dr. Fadiman recommends following this protocol for a duration of 4-8 weeks, with a subsequent break of 4 weeks advised by Dr. Fadiman. The structured nature of this approach aims to optimize the positive effects while minimizing potential drawbacks associated with prolonged use.

An image depicting the structured regimen for administering microdoses of psychedelics like LSD or magic mushrooms, following Dr. James Fadiman's guidelines.

How Might the Fadiman Protocol Work?

Dr. Fadiman points to something he calls the “afterglow,” a positive state some people feel even after the psychedelic substance has left their system. Western medicine finds this a bit puzzling, as the drug is no longer present, making it hard to explain.

According to Dr. Fadiman, psychedelics can cause a kind of reorganization in the brain, and taking a small dose, or microdose, might lead to a minor version of this reorganization. After about 4-8 weeks of this, where the mind is more open to change, individuals might naturally make positive changes in their lives. At that point, many may find they no longer need to continue microdosing.

Fadiman suggests that this approach could be more appealing to some than quick-fix solutions often suggested for issues like depression and anxiety, and may even be a faster option compared to traditional psychotherapy — but what does science say? 

What Does Science Say About Microdosing?

Currently, there is a notable absence of clinical research on the effects of microdosing mushrooms and other psychedelics.

Despite this, anecdotal findings present intriguing insights. Microdosers, as per anecdotal evidence, demonstrate improved performance on tests measuring divergent and convergent thinking, both associated with heightened creativity. A 2019 study indicated that microdosers reported reduced “mind wandering,” potentially contributing to increased focus.

A paper published in 2020 put forward the idea that microdosing could potentially enhance cognitive flexibility. Cognitive flexibility refers to the ability to adapt thinking and switch between concepts or tasks. The paper suggested that this enhancement might lead to a reduction in rumination, which is the repetitive and often negative thought patterns, and could potentially alleviate symptoms associated with depression.

Preliminary findings from the first placebo-controlled, self-blinded microdose study by researchers at Imperial College London suggested varied benefits tied to user expectations. While increased well-being and decreased depression and anxiety were observed, the results strongly correlated with participants' expectations. Notably, if participants thought they received a psychedelic microdose, even if it was a placebo, their test performance was significant. Conversely, when given a microdose believed to be a placebo, performance was less favorable.

In a recent study co-authored by Dr. David Luke, professor of psychology at the University of Greenwich, participants who received a microdose of LSD exhibited alterations in their sense of time, suggesting potential cognitive effects beyond the placebo effect.

A 2022 review of 44 studies on microdosing found evidence of its influence on pain perception, time perception, and awareness, with emerging indications of potential benefits for mental health, substance abuse disorders, and psychological functioning.

However, a recent placebo-controlled study with 80 participants (40 receiving LSD) observed short-term mood-boosting effects but found no significant long-term benefits, as the positive effects did not extend beyond the trial duration.

Key Takeaways: The Fadiman Microdosing Protocol

To summarize, the Fadiman Microdosing Protocol, proposed by psychologist Dr. James Fadiman, involves regularly taking very low doses of psychedelic substances like LSD or magic mushrooms on a fixed schedule.

Typically, individuals administer 5%-10% of a standard psychedelic dose, such as 10-20 micrograms of LSD or 0.1 to 0.3 grams of dried psilocybin mushrooms. The protocol suggests a regimen where users take a microdose on the first day, abstain for the next two days, and then repeat the cycle.

This structured approach aims to optimize the reported benefits of microdosing, such as enhanced mood, creativity, and focus, while minimizing potential risks and tolerance development. Dr. Fadiman recommends following this protocol for 4-8 weeks, with a subsequent 4-week break, to potentially experience positive changes in one's life.

While the Fadiman Microdosing Protocol and the practice of microdosing have gained popularity and have shown some potential benefits, further research is needed to fully understand their effects and risks.

Despite anecdotal reports and limited empirical studies suggesting potential benefits in creativity, mood, and focus, further research, especially double-blind placebo-controlled studies, is crucial. The current evidence is largely based on anecdotal reports and limited empirical studies, and more rigorous scientific investigation is necessary to determine whether microdosing offers genuine therapeutic benefits beyond the placebo effect.

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