The Art of the Minimal Effective Dose

The Art of the Minimal Effective Dose

When we think of psychedelic experiences, we think of an epic life-altering cup of tea with Jesus or Fear or Loathing in Las Vegas.

Mystical psychoactive experiences stereotypically demand that we relinquish control, locate a deep capacity for surrender and navigate moments of significant overwhelm.

Although such experiences, when carried out safely, can be profound and therapeutic, I can’t help but wonder if it’s the best way to go about it.

Do we need to be blown right through the atmosphere of our consciousness at a force of 5G to benefit from psychedelics? 

In this article, I will attempt to make a case for minimal effective versus peak experiences.


Minimal Effective Dose


The term Minimal Effective Dose can sound like an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. 

But is it? How is an ideal dose of any substance initially defined and what would be gained, if anything, from taking a minimal amount?

Research Gate defines it as:

“The minimum effective dose (MinED or MED) and defines a lower bound for therapeutically useful doses. The MinED is important because most drugs have the increasing potential for safety problems as the dose is increased. The MinED is typically studied during phase II of drug development. A concise definition of the MinED from the International Conference on Harmonization (ICH) guidelines is “the smallest dose with a discernible useful effect.” 

Dating back to 1995 this Pubmed research paper explains the term as: “Current approaches compare treatment doses against a placebo dose via selected contrasts to determine the lowest dose level at which the contrast is statistically significant.”


4-Hour Body


But it seems that the ethos of Minimal Effective Dose (MinEd or MED) took off thanks to Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Body. Since then, the fitness industry has become one of the best examples of MinEDs.

Professional athletes are increasingly cognisant of the injuries and consequences of a ‘more is better, push harder, go beyond’ workout philosophy. 

Exercise protocols like HIIT, zone 2 training and low weights/high reps are all variations of minimal effective doses. These are proving to be just as effective and with a greatly lowered risk of injury or long-term damage to the athlete.

Much like exercise, psychedelics can be recreational but ultimately they are ‘work’.

Psychedelics induce moments of deep personal reflection during and after larger doses and therefore are not typically abused or overused.



Citizen Scientists


Fellow citizen scientists have been quietly experimenting at home and participating in surveys and studies that Dr. James Fadiman and others have carried out. 

One survey revealed that it was not necessary to have a full-on trip to benefit from the magic in psychoactive mushrooms. 

More than 1,000 people from 59 countries responded to Fadiman’s survey confessing that their microdosing protocol is approximately 1/10 or even 1/20th of a recreational dose and taken no more than 3 times a week, with at least a 48-hour gap between doses.

These citizen scientists have figured out that it’s not necessary to trip or buzz every time, arguably it’s not always desired or even required. 

Sub-perceptual doses with regular breaks were reported as being deeply beneficial and effective.


Minimal Effective Group


Just over 1,000 people have prompted science to take notice. This small group of individuals has been the spark for countless articles, podcasts, and discussions on the art of microdosing psilocybin.

Ironically, this small cohort of survey respondents is the minimal effective group that generated just enough legitimacy for the practice and eventually scientific study.

When taking psilocybin truffles, the MinED or microdose is typically anywhere between 0.2gm and 2.0gm. In the case of magic mushrooms, the microdose range is even lower at 0.1gm to ±0.3gm.

How can such small and arguably imperceptible amounts have any effect, let alone so many positive ones? 

Can taking as little as 0.1 of a gram on a regular and intermittent basis promote neuroplasticity, balance our mood and help us quit addictive habits?



One month, tops


Also worth keeping in mind that when it comes to larger doses of psilocybin, there are discussions of positive benefits decreasing over time. 

This article published in Nature reads: “While both negative affect and brain response to affective stimuli were reduced 1 week after psilocybin, they rebounded at the 1-month time point, suggesting that psilocybin may have initiated a dynamic and neuroplastic process that was sustained for at least several weeks.”

Wesana Health is a pioneering mental health company that focuses mainly on healing from traumatic brain injury (TBI). Describing themselves as a data-driven life science company pioneering drug development for mental health-related conditions through psychedelic therapies.

Wesana’s unique protocol is to provide one single large dose of psilocybin in a clinic, which is then followed up by self-administered maintenance microdoses to sustain positive effects over time.

The wisdom of Kaizen


The Japanese term Kaizen explains the compounding effect beautifully; small, repeated and regular actions generate big impacts.

The philosophy of Kaizen is incredibly helpful in our personal and professional lives. Instead of trying to make radical life changes overnight, you should start with small, daily improvements.  

“Focus on getting 1% better every day. Small-scale improvements start compounding on the previous day’s accomplishment. At first, the changes will seem inconsequential. Gradually, you’ll start to notice improvements. Over time, there will be profound positive changes. One percent compounds each day and doubles every 72 days.”

Let me repeat that last line; 

“One percent compounds each day and doubles every 72 days.” 

This in itself is a deeply compelling statement and it happens to be mathematically accurate.

Scientific Evidence


While reflecting on the impact and implications of MEDs, I decided to look into the definition of homeopathy. 

It appears that the main difference between a minimal effective dose and homeopathy is that a minimal effective dose is based on scientific evidence, while homeopathy is based on theories that have not yet been scientifically proven.

As far as microdosing psilocybin is concerned, the results from the first double placebo-controlled blind study were released just a few months ago. 

Scientific study is starting to prove that the benefits of microdosing are real, not placebos, and of course, measurable.

The tortoise and the hare


Understandably, from a marketing standpoint, it’s much sexier and easier to promote peak experiences. Being shot out of a psychoactive cannon is arguably more instagrammable than a slow and measured process.

Reminiscent of the lessons learned from the tortoise and the hare, it’s becoming very clear that tiny amounts, taken at regular intervals are more effective, sustainable, and manageable than a hero’s dose. 

In part two of this article, we are unpacking the risks and potential consequences of peak psychedelic experiences.

Until then, flow strong.

Asha ✨



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Asha Sultana

Asha Sultana

I believe in the power of mushrooms and in the innate intelligence of our bodies. Fungi support human health like none other. Personally, I have used a wide variety of mushrooms to restore my health from heavy metal poisoning and its consequences. Currently living in Cape Town while raised in Canada and born in Romania. My travels have deepened my connection to natural medicines and my commitment to balanced living.

6 thoughts on “The Art of the Minimal Effective Dose”

  1. Muy interesante! Menos es más! Less is more
    El tema es sostener en el día a día el cormpomiso con las pequeñas dosis☘️💫

    1. Less is indeed more – compounding benefits over time is the secret sauce. Do you think we should tell the others? 😉

  2. Sean Van Brantegem

    Nice article Asha! I like it! Yes I think overall I have received more benefit from microdosing over a long time, than macrodosing every so often. Visions, messages and intuitions off the back of these can be hard to integrate and be misleading.

    1. Hi Sean,

      So glad you enjoyed the article and more importantly, the practice itself 🙂

      Totally agree that the integration is really when the work stars and requires a lot of care and expertise.

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