What is microdosing?
Microdosing is the act of taking what would have previously been thought of as sub-therapeutic doses of a medicine at regular intervals throughout the day. With higher doses, sometimes undesired side effects can occur.
Microdosing allows patients to reap the medicinal benefits to alleviate their symptoms without these unwanted effects. With cannabis, and its primary psychoactive ingredient, THC, there is an interesting relationship between dosing strength and effect. This differs from many other more traditional pharmaceutical medicines.
For symptoms such as pain and anxiety, THC seems to have an effectiveness curve. At pre-dosing or extreme low dosing, there is little to no benefit. Then, as the dosage is increased to sub-therapeutic or microdosing levels, it begins to alleviate these symptoms. With most other medicines, increasing the dosage beyond this point yields increased effectiveness. If you have a headache, you take an aspirin. If you have a bad headache, you take two aspirin.
However, for THC there is a point beyond which its pain relieving properties wane; increased dosages may instead lead to a decrease in effectiveness. Similarly for anxiety, at low and microdoses, THC can be an effective anti-anxiety medication. Yet, at higher doses it can have the opposite effect, causing increased anxiety and even paranoia. Microdosing can alleviate these effectiveness-curve problems, while simultaneously helping patients to remain clear-headed so that they feel productive, sharp, and functional throughout the day.
How to microdose
Finding the optimal dose can take some experimentation as every person will have a different tolerance and sensitivity to both THC and CBD, as well as differences within their own endocannabinoid system and their metabolism.
A typical starting microdose is between 1 and 3 milligrams of THC. Ideally, this would be paired with an equal (1:1) dose of CBD to take advantage of both compounds’ entourage effect. The entourage effect describes how different compounds and terpenes within cannabis work together to create a specific effect. Therefore, different strains will give a different feeling and have different medicinal properties, despite having the same THC content.
The idea behind microdosing is that patients can achieve the medicinal benefits they seek, such as pain or anxiety relief, improved appetite, or suppression of nausea, without feeling the psychoactive effects from the THC. This allows people to relieve their symptoms with little to no noticeable side effects.
The key when selecting the appropriate dose is to start low and go slow. Start at a dose of between 1 and 3 milligrams of THC and take this for three to five days. If symptoms persist, increase by 1-2 milligrams and continue again for three to five days. Once the desired level of relief is achieved, continue at that level. If symptoms return, increase slightly, but remember to keep your dosage just at or under the level where psychoactive effects become apparent. You should feel better, but not “high.”