The Complete Definition of Microdosing

Definition Microdosing

So it turns out that I have this potentially annoying habit of noticing the things that have NOT been said.

This is a potentially useful and insightful habit that often sheds new light on a ‘known’ topic.

Case in point, microdosing.

You may or may not know that I host a Microdosing Beginners Group Coaching call twice a month. During these calls, I go through a presentation that includes the official definition of microdosing.

After nearly two years of making this presentation to our community, the official definition continues to feel more and more incomplete and insufficient.

It’s worth mentioning that there isn’t ONE agreed-upon definition of microdosing, but there is a theme.

They all mention the minimal dosage, but not much else. 

In my opinion, the currently available definition only explains one-third of the practice and leaves more than 66% unspoken for and unexplained.

I will soon reveal what I believe is the missing two-thirds of the definition, but first, let’s see how it’s currently being defined in the mainstream.

Definition from Oxford Languages

noun: microdosing; noun: micro-dosing

“the action or practice of taking or administering very small amounts of a drug to test or benefit from its physiological action while minimizing undesirable side effects.”

Wikipedia says:

“Microdosing, or micro-dosing, is a technique for studying the behavior of drugs in humans through the administration of doses so low (“sub-therapeutic”) they are unlikely to produce whole-body effects, but high enough to allow the cellular response to be studied.”

“Psychedelic microdosing is the practice of using sub-threshold doses (microdoses) of serotonergic psychedelic drugs in an attempt to improve creativity, boost physical energy level, emotional balance, increase performance on problem-solving tasks and to treat anxiety, depression, and addiction, though there is very little evidence supporting these purported effects as of 2019. In this context, microdosing is considered an application of hormesis.”

MedicalNewsToday explains it like this:

“Importantly, this is a very small dose of the psychedelic that is not enough to produce a “trip” or the hallucinations often associated with these drugs.

As a study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology notes, a technical definition of a microdose would be a dose of a drug that is only 1% of the active dose.”

Sage Pub Medical Journal is the most accurate

Fadiman describes it as a practice ‘to use sub-threshold doses of psychedelic drugs in an attempt to enhance cognitive tasks, to boost physical energy levels, to promote emotional balance, and to treat anxiety, depression and addiction’ resulting in typically subtle though noticeable effects (Fadiman, 2011). 

Similarly, Aylet Waldman in her book (Waldman, 2017) states the same intention for microdosing but describes the process as ‘the act of integrating sub-perceptual doses of psychedelic drugs, in your weekly routine’. 

In addition, Johnstad emphasizes that ‘to microdose with a psychedelic drug means to take a dose small enough to provide no intoxication or significant alteration of consciousness’ (Johnstad, 2018).

Thus, the term ‘microdosing’ appears to consist of three components:

  1. The use of a low dose below the perceptual threshold does not impair the ‘normal’ functioning of an individual.
  2. A procedure that includes multiple dosing sessions.
  3. The intention is to improve well-being and enhance cognitive and/or emotional processes.

A concise and complete definition of microdosing

Below is the definition that I am currently working on perfecting and will be using moving forward during our microdosing group coaching sessions. 

Microdosing is the practice of consuming a microdose of a psychoactive substance intermittently and for a short term, for the benefit of overall well-being.

  • Microdosing (1/10th or 1/20th of a recreational dose)
  • is a temporary and intermittent practice (not daily)
  • for a short amount of time (a couple of months, maximum) 
  • of taking tiny doses of a psychoactive compound (psilocybin, LSD, mescaline, DMT, Ayahuasca)
  • with the intent of self-improvement, personal growth, and mental health management

The missing 2/3rds

So what do I feel is missing from the current definitions of microdosing?

The missing 2/3rds are the dosage schedule and the ultimate purpose of this practice.

None of the definitions I’ve come across mention that microdosing is not a daily practice (intermittent) and also not a permanent or even a long-term practice.

There are no microdosing protocols that I have seen that encourage taking a dose every single day. 

Even if it were a recommendation, microdosers can feel that this is not appropriate and that rest days between doses are vital to the ritual.

Also, after 2 cycles (a cycle being 6 to 8 weeks), individuals tend to microdose on an ad hoc basis known as the intuitive protocol

The other missing component is that microdosing is a practice undertaken for improved overall health, quality of life, and self-optimization.

This last feature became clear to me when the baby boomers in our community made an interesting confession.

Even though baby boomers had taken larger doses of psychedelics in their younger years, it never occurred to them to use the same substances in a lower dose for self-optimization.

Hiding in plain sight

Now that I have pointed out what was previously left unspoken, I bet you can’t unsee it now.

Imagine how many more individuals might change their perspective on psychoactive substances.

We need a complete definition of this disruptive practice.

A definition that outlines the correct use of psychedelics including their intended use; measurable benefits to their bodies, minds, and lives.

What do you guys think? 

Let me know in the comments below, email me, or join us on Facebook/Discord.

Shine bright. Do good. Flow strong.



2 thought on “The Complete Definition of Microdosing”

2 Comments. Leave new

  • defining the indefinable. microdosing will never be completely definable because of its subjective nature. The attempt to quantify to commodify will by default fail for this reason. guidance is useful but your attempt to harness nature and fully explain is doomed. Calling something an ‘intuitive protocol’ is clearly an attempt to control. we’ve been microdosing before most of you were born. we Know.

    • Asha Sultana
      14 January 2024 11:26

      Hi Sphero,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Here are my thoughts:

      Microdosing can indeed be defined as it is a practice and there are some guidelines that will serve us well to observe them.

      An attempt at explaining this practice may be ‘doomed’, but it provides a safe starting place for newbies and from there they can begin experimenting for themselves.

      There is no attempt to control by using the term ‘intuitive protocol’. It’s actually quite the opposite; it empowers the individual to do what is right for them once they have found their own ideal protocol.

      As for microdosing before many were born, yes, you are correct. This is where the term Citizen Scientists come from. When Dr. James Fadiman sent out his global survey, it is the very same Citizen Scientist microdosers that provided the guidelines, taught us more than we thought we needed to know and also lit the path for future microdosers.

      If you KNOW, then I congratulate you. Many don’t. The psychedelic renaissance means that these substances have never been so widely available in the entirety of human history. Each of us, carry the responsibility to teach anyone that asks how to proceed with caution, good information and plenty of humility.

      Lastly, there is no attempt at commodifying going on here. If we don’t demarcate signposts and landmarks, then the learning curve is longer and more prone to undesirable consequences.



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