Microdosing – the practice of regularly taking minuscule amounts of a substance for beneficial properties rather than to get high – is not new. But recently, microdosing cannabis has slowly crept into the mainstream.
From creative types to business leaders and even stay-at-home moms, microdosing cannabis and psychedelics have become a thing.
You might even call it trendy.
Taking a tiny dose of cannabis – 5mg or less of THC – can bedone in a lot of ways.
You can experiment with a lightly-dusted joint. But, to ensure an accurate dose and eliminate smoking risks, using THC oil and a dropper is the way to go.
Edibles do the trick as well. Each edible typically contains a clearly indicated amount of THC to enable accurate loading.
Why Microdosing Cannabis can be Beneficial
You don’t want to get buzzed. You just want the benefits, and those benefits can be plentiful. Regular cannabis microdosers report a range of positive effects.
I spoke with Malcolm Cameron, a 48-year-old farmer from Ayrshire, Scotland, who’s been microdosing THC for a little over 4 months and prefers loading with a dropper and THC oil.
“It’s given me so much relief. My back has been troubling me for years after a lifetime working the farms, and I gave microdosing a try after reading an article about it last year. I got a hold of some THC oil online and tried it. The first few days, I began to notice an improvement in my back, but it was the other changes which really surprised me – I wasn’t feeling as sluggish when I woke up in the mornings as I used to, and I found myself in a generally better mood throughout the day.”
While accounts such as these are plentiful, science has further work to do before it can step forward and give microdosing a thumbs-up.
At present, few studies have been conducted on the practice, but as the medical marijuana industry continues to expand, scientific research on microdosing is sure to follow.
Early Scientific Findings
A study published in The Journal of Pain back in 2012 involved giving patients nabiximols (trade name Sativex) in various doses.
Nabiximols is a cannabis extract produced by UK cannabis pharmaceuticals frontrunner GW Pharmaceuticals. It has an equal ratio of THC to CBD. The conclusion showed that patients who reported the greatest reduction in pain were the group who received the lowest dosage of cannabinoids[i].
More recently, a study published in May of 2020 tested patients via a single inhaled dose of delta-9 THC (0.5mg or 1mg) against others who received a placebo as a means of treating chronic pain.
The findings were encouraging, and, as with the 2012 study, those who received microdoses of delta-9 THC demonstrated a significant reduction in pain intensity. The study noted that “adverse effects were mostly mild and resolved spontaneously but that no evidence of consistent impairment in cognitive performance was found“.
This adds weight to the theory that microdosing cannabis can be a valid means of offering a reduction in chronic pain without drawbacks – but with the obvious medical caveat that the method of microdosing was important. The study concluded that smoking cannabis for therapeutic purposes is not advised due to the combustible nature of joints and even suggested that cannabis oil vaporisation presents potential health risks[ii].
An Expert Speaks on Finding your Optimal Dose
Dr. Dustin Sulak D.O. is an integrative medicine physician based in Maine, USA, and founder of healer.com. An interactive website hosting educational programs which offer tools and information to help get the most out of cannabis therapy. In his online guide for both newcomers and experienced consumers alike, he states that “a specific low dosage of THC will begin to have some of the physical and positive mental effects, like relieving pain, relaxing muscles, and calming anxiety before reaching the dose that causes adverse psychoactive effects like impairment and intoxication.”
Dr. Sulak recommends a dose of THC around the 1-2mg range to begin. “At that dose, most adults may feel a very subtle effect, but would be very unlikely to feel any adverse psychoactive effects.”
Using a THC tincture as an example delivery method, he suggests taking two drops, then waiting 30-60 minutes to see how it feels. Settle on an ideal dose, and gradually increasing the dose by one drop until finding the optimal dose. In the case of microdosing via smoking or vapourising, Dr. Sulak recommends taking one puff, then assessing after 5 minutes to determine if a second puff is necessary. With edibles, he recommends waiting an hour to monitor effects before considering a second dose.
When microdosing for health benefits, Sulak says that the method best suits healthy people looking to stay healthy. He notes that microdosing cannabis is not likely to interact with other prescription medications due to the low amounts ingested.
However, while vouching for its safety, Dr. Sulak stated that microdosing THC should be avoided during pregnancy[iii].
Creative Benefits of Microdosing Cannabis – Fact or Fallacy?
In addition to the reported health benefits, anecdotal evidence suggests microdosing can aid both productivity and creativity. Something yours truly found greatly intriguing.
As a writer with deadlines – but also a parent, husband, and musician – the possibility of using THC to enhance performance in any way, in any of those roles, sounded worth exploring – so I did.
As an occasional recreational smoker of some years, my tolerance is at the lower end of the spectrum. I was keen to see if there would be any benefit to microdosing. After initially starting too high a dose (a lightly-dusted joint still caused impairment), I found the right quantity for me simply by cutting it down to two puffs and going about my day.
Productivity was about the same, but the focus was increased, and ideas seemed to come more freely. I was able to solve problems quickly and attribute this to the minuscule amount of THC reducing stress. This allowed me to arrive at solutions with no initial period of minor panic. This was consistent over the week I took to experiment with microdosing cannabis.
I quickly adapted and found that creativity and problem-solving remained in an improved state without impairing motivation in any way. I was able to work, rest, and play more effectively during this short trial period.
Even better, I didn’t get munchies when microdosing!
The Best Strains for Microdosing Cannabis
Like I said, depending on your tolerance, how much you use and which strain you choose depend on you.
But, here are three different strains both great for turning into concentrates to vape or eat, and great in small hits:
Amnezia Haze can be a real ass-kicker when consumed fully, which makes it an excellent strain to microdose with!
This is a great yielding plant that stands out from the crowd with its abundance of resin. Meaning, it’s very suitable for making extracts and concentrates with. This strain’s scent is sour with lemon, petrol, earthy and woody notes. THC production is very high at between 22 – 26% with CBD at just 1%.
Gelat.OG Auto is an Indica dominant cross between Gelato (Girl Scout Cookies x Sunset Sherbet) and an OG Kush Auto male plant. Its buds are very dense and hard, quite dark with orange pistils, and dripping with resin. THC production is very high (up to 25%). Its effect offers a powerful sense of euphoria which evolves into extremely physically relaxing sensations. Ideal for a little hit!