Micro dosing goes mainstream

Taking minute amounts of a psychoactive substance, like mushrooms or LSD, has long been used for medicinal or therapeutic purposes, but people are increasingly using this method to help them focus, relax or be creative.
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Of those who used psychedelics in the past 12 months, one in four were micro dosing, the 2021 Global Drug Survey has found. Brands are starting to cater to micro dosers, but there are still some barriers to consider. That includes regulatory barriers, plus making sure that those consuming these substances are doing so in a safe and ethical way. 

While there's plenty of research into the mental wellbeing benefits of micro dosing, regulators and governments have been reluctant to push ahead on legalizing these substances. On a US state level, there was a flurry of legislative activity in 2021: voters in Detroit opted to decriminalize psychedelics, following in the footsteps of Oregon, which legalized their use the year before. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has proposed legislation to explore clinical studies of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. California and Texas have also proposed legislation that decriminalizes the use of psychoactive substances. 

One of the main ways that people are engaging with psychedelics is through guided retreats. In a controlled environment, individuals can access the benefits of psychedelic substances without necessarily needing to manage their intake themselves. MycoMeditations offers a ‘psilocybin-assisted retreat’ in Jamaica, where, over a week, people attend three high-dose psilocybin sessions alongside therapy. In Amsterdam, Synthesis allows people to experiment with moderate to high doses of truffle mushrooms on a three-day retreat. 

The DIY approach

With retreats, those running them can be in charge of and constantly monitor the intake of psychedelics and the resulting effects. But a new crop of psilocybin-based products are coming to the fore, for people to use by themselves. This puts the individual in charge of their own intakes, doses and, by extension, safety. 

Take Earth Resonance, a 30-day micro dosing starter pack featuring lion's mane mushrooms and sclerotia, a natural psilocybe. The brand also offers an option for high-frequency consumption, as well as an option to hire a professional coach to remotely guide the user along the micro dosing journey. 

Giving people the keys to managing their own intake comes with risk, especially since an overdose can be dangerous. That means that brands creating these psilocybin-based products have to manage user experience, even from afar. 

For instance, Blisssed, an Amsterdam-based brand, packs a micro dose of dried and ground magic truffles into a consumable capsule format. Taking one capsule a day helps users automatically control their intake, and the brand also outlines six protocols – or consumption methods – for people to figure out a schedule that works for them. Similarly, Mojo is a brand of soft chews that are laced with functional mushrooms. Adults are advised to take between half a chew and two chews per serving, with effects taking place between 30 minutes and eight hours after consumption. 

New opportunities

As the industry slowly shifts towards allowing individuals to control their own intake and as legislation catches up, there are a number of ways that businesses could facilitate this trend. For those micro dosing alone, there's the potential for the development of communities or clubs, both as a way to educate new users on micro dosing in a safe environment and to provide a social space around the practice. 

Workplaces might even start dipping their toes into the world of micro dosing, introducing programs to help employees focus or get into creative thinking spaces. And, as we've seen with the recreational cannabis industry, there could also be a rise in demand for peripheral products that help people manage a micro dosing schedule, such as calendars and mood-tracking diaries.

This article was first published in Courier issue 46, April/May 2022. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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