When it comes to cannabis consumption, sometimes, less can be more. Whether you’re new to cannabis or planning on switching up your routine, microdosing is an excellent way to get some of the benefits without the psychoactive effects. If your cannabis experience aligns with chilling at the beach, a hike through the BC mountain ranges, or just a more productive day, then microdosing could be an option worth considering.
Microdosing vs Macrodosing
Macrodosing (consuming large amounts of cannabis) is a preference for people looking for the high commonly associated with cannabis use. High THC strains are the way to go here. However, if you're looking to gain the benefits of certain cannabinoids and terpenes with a low dose of THC, then microdosing is a great option.
on average anything under 10mg of THC is considered a microdose
Like any cannabis experience, microdosing is subjective due to individual factors, from metabolism and body mass to tolerance levels and chosen strain. Everybody’s endocannabinoid system is unique as well, so microdosing can take some trial and error to find your optimal experience. Regular users of cannabis often incorporate a tolerance break to ‘reset’ the endocannabinoid system for 48 hours before starting a microdosing routine.
Actual dosage differs from person to person, on average anything under 10mg of THC is considered a microdose. If you’re new to cannabis or it’s been a while, start with 1mg or 2.5mg and gradually increase in increments until you find the dose that provides the desired experience.
The Science Behind Microdosing Cannabis
Microdosing is commonly used as a term to describe taking small amounts of psychedelics such as LSD, in the last decade its gained popularity among Silicon Valley workers who wanted a burst of creativity while keeping things at a ‘sub-perceptual’ level (i.e. not a ‘high’). People microdose cannabis for similar reasons but often include pain relief and anxiety management to their list of aspired effects; others claim a general sense of well-being. Most incorporate it daily as a supplement as the low levels of THC and CBD can sharpen focus rather than hinder concentration.
cancer patients who received a low dose of a THC/CBD showed the most significant reduction in pain
Some studies show that cannabis is bimodal (or biphasic), which means it has one effect at a low dose and an opposite effect at a high dose, for example; for some people THC can help suppress anxiety in small doses but increase it in higher doses. Proponents of microdosing find that small amounts of cannabis can increase productivity and focus, making it an ideal way to start the day. Another benefit can be an afternoon pick-me-up similar to popping a vitamin or grabbing a coffee to beat the 3pm slump.
Success stories are mainly anecdotal, but a 2012 study suggested that cancer patients who received a low dose of a THC/CBD showed the most significant reduction in pain whereas patients on higher doses showed an increase in pain. This result may be due to the possible anxiety-inducing effects of high levels of THC.
Methods of Microdosing Cannabis
Method of consumption can affect the ability to microdose. Smoking cannabis can make it harder to control the dose, so it’s a good idea to start off with one puff and gauge your reaction. Vaping gives a more a precise dosage with temperature control that can set which cannabinoids and terpenes you want to be activated, as they vaporize at various temperatures.
Healthcare Practitioners often recommend oils in pre-measured capsules or that use droppers to enable a more precise dosage. Bear in mind these will take longer to take effect, whereas inhaling cannabis is felt within minutes. Opting for a high-CBD strain means there will be less chance of perceptible psychoactive effects. If you intend to use THC, it's a good idea to have CBD oil on hand to mitigate any uncomfortable high before any work presentation or final exam.
Benefits of Microdosing Cannabis
Bethany Rae, founder & CEO of the cannabis lifestyle website Flower & Freedom, has been microdosing THC for four years as part of her daily routine. “I find microdosing to be the best way to try a new strain or product for the first time to reduce the chance of being overwhelmed by THC,” says Bethany. “Regularly consuming cannabis helps prevent me from reaching for over-the-counter painkillers, so being able to receive the anti-inflammation properties of both THC and CBD without being mentally distracted from my day is the sweet spot I'm seeking.”
"I do find that CBD can smooth out the THC experience"
For consumers such as Bethany, microdosing delivers the desired effects without less desirable side effects based on the situation. “Cannabis is biphasic, so for me, this means it could uplift me from depression, or it could exacerbate depression, depending on my choices,” says Bethany. “I microdose THC almost daily in the form of a 25:1 CBD:THC oil drop product. Here I’m usually seeking the anti-anxiety properties and because I also use cannabis for pain management the small amount of THC can help increase the bioavailability of the CBD, while not creating an overwhelming amount of euphoria right at the beginning of my day. A typical dose for me is 0.25ml, which is approximately 6mg CBD and 1.2mg THC.
“I prefer products that are CBD forward (high CBD) or balanced with both THC and CBD over high THC. It really depends on why I’m consuming cannabis and the intention that I have. I do find that CBD can smooth out the THC experience and, as someone who is familiar with anxiety, I am sensitive to high levels of THC. Microdosing is the ultimate commitment to the ‘start low go slow’ approach to cannabis consumption."
When trying microdosing for the first time, start off small and be patient. Avoid alcohol and any instances where you might be operating any machinery. Try it at home before you find your titration and establish a daily routine to make the most of your experience.
Special thanks to Bethany Rae for providing insight to this article. You can follow her on twitter here.