Microdosing has been around for at least two decades. Claims that doing it regularly will advance your career are a fairly recent one, however, and top media outlets have discoursed about it extensively. In articles and on TV, these journalists ask interviewees if taking crumb-sized portions of hallucinogens is the ultimate productivity hack everyone says it is. Ahead, we’ll discuss what psychonauts have to say about how microdosing can help your career.
Microdosing’s Early Beginnings
Microdosing’s Early Beginnings
Microdosing is when you consume very low quantities of psychedelics such as magic mushrooms or LSD, usually about one tenth of a recreational dose. People say that when you do it, you get certain effects that are valued in the workplace and skip the high associated with full recreational doses – highs that can get in the way of productivity and career advancement.
For the origins of psychedelic microdosing, we can look to James Fadiman and his 2011 book “The Psychedelics Explorer Guide.” Fadiman stated in the book that the practice had started as early as the 2000’s after journaling people’s experiences.
The Silicon Valley Trend
Silicon Valley is home to companies such as Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter, and players there quickly find out that it is epitome of hustle culture. Likewise, the workforce in these companies are filled with super-intelligent and talented Type-A professionals, all desperately trying to find the edge and innovation to earn early employees and founders big bucks.
Therefore, when it comes to the buzz over the Silicon Valley trend of microdosing, it isn’t so much about feeling good and more about optimization in the workplace and career clarity. These white-collar workers and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, particularly the 35 and older crowd, say they microdose hallucinogens because of the work-optimizing effects it gives them.
They say they become more creative, focused and energetic without tripping, a perfect recipe for meeting workplace competition and the demands their jobs place on them.
3 Anecdotal Case Studies
What started out as an underground practice in Silicon Valley is catching on in workplaces around the world. Furthermore, people are constantly documenting how these miniscule doses of psychedelics are enhancing cognition in forums and in media settings everywhere. What follows are three stories from psychonauts who credit microdosing with anything from starting your own business to bursts of creativity, to overcoming adversity in life.
1. LSD Enhanced Her Life and Career
Diane is a business owner who found acid to be her cognitive microdosing drug of choice. She believes that doing it is a “useful and harmless” way to enhance your life and career. She told FT Weekend Magazine that microdosing helped her establish her startup business, and that she turns to a tenth of a hit of acid instead of her usual coffee whenever she needs motivation.
During her interview with the mag, she discussed how microdosing helped her be a better entrepreneur, saying that it enhanced her creativity, improved her productivity and assisted her with focus. She added that she is now able to concentrate when developing corporate strategy and really whizzes “through user design sessions.”
Diane went on to explain,
“When I’m microdosing at networking events or social happy-hour mixers, they go well. I have really good conversations as I am that little more ‘on’, more focused on what the person is saying. It enhances connections and heightens empathy.”
2. ‘Shrooms Help Olympic Competitor Start Over
You don’t usually associate Olympic competitors with psychonaut status, but former Olympic competitor Janet Chang experimented with taking sub-threshold dosages of magic mushrooms for a year in Southeast Asia.
After Chang sustained a spinal injury that sidelined her Olympic speed skating career, she said she experienced a low part in her life and a related identity crisis. She said that microdosing ‘shrooms influenced her life during that time for the better, especially since she was struggling post injury to define a new role in the workforce.
Chang blogged about her Magic Mushroom experiment on Medium, writing that she took the varying tiny dosages listed below during her journey:
- 0.15–0.2g (microdose)
- 0.2–0.4g (slightly higher than a microdose)
- 0.5g (the creative level)
You can compare the dosages she took to the range Double Blind says is the norm for dried Psilocybe cubensis:
- 0.1 – 0.5 grams (microdose)
- 0.5 – 2 grams (low dose)*
- 2 – 3.5 grams (moderate dose)
- 3.5 – 5 grams and above (high dose)
It is important to note that a beginning tripping dose, also known as a ‘museum dose,’ is around two grams.
During her self-study, Chang found that she was more productive and effective at a dose of 0.5g. She went on to write that the effect didn’t translate well to mundane errands or manual tasks such as assembling furniture.
Of the experience overall, Janet Chang wrote,
“My life became more emotionally attuned, social, happy, and carefree, and less rigid, serious, and fear-driven. Many friends of mine remarked that I was more relaxed and calm, and that I had more energy. I had better check-ins with my boss and clients, and they all seemed more impressed with my work than before.”
3. ‘Shrooms Made Me More Creative
Microdosing is growing in popularity, with the r/Microdosing community alone standing at 120K and counting. There is a lot of clinical research on taking full doses psychedelics but research on microdosing is in its infancy.
Because of this, those on Reddit track how their minds and bodies respond to it, submitting reports to clinical researchers and discussing effects with other Redditors.
This tribe of like-minded people frequently bounces ideas, results and exploits off each other in eye-opening strings. For an example, consider the conversation string that one artistic microdoser spawned with a tribe of like-minded Redditors. The back-and-forth started after he/she discussed the benefits encountered while microdosing on Golden Teacher ‘shrooms.
A month ago, jnbnc2020 wrote, “Wish me luck! First time doing anything more than a microdose 1.5g home-grown Golden Teachers. Too hot to do much more than sit around this evening….so gonna give it a go!”
To which ilovelife007 responded, “Keep us updated. Was thinking of giving microdosing a shot but don’t know the right dose.”
After receiving the message from ilovelife007, jbnc2020 wrote that they “settled on .23 or so for my microdoses….more than that seemed to add some anxiety to the mix.”
After which Millionpoundhands responded, “Look in to James Fadiman.” Later jbnc2020 responded writing, “Agree….Fadiman was a huge help in approaching the microdosing thing.”
At the end of the four-week period, jnbnc2020 updated everyone writing that he/sh0065 is,
“Feeling more creative since starting my microdosing journey…combined a recent sunset photo with a spore print I took today from a non-magical Vomiter mushroom….while a frequently accidentally-consumed poisonous mushroom….they sure make purty prints!”
What Does the Research Say?
The three anecdotal case studies on microdosing above are certainly not unique, and because of the large scale of user experiences reported, the research community has started to take notice and act.
For instance, research findings published on The Royal Society supports evidence that say something is definitely going on, documenting that psilocybin is disruptive to the brain and reorganizes its normal organization.
The aforementioned research indicates that the brain does not merely become a randomized system after receiving a psilocybin injection, but instead, retains some organizational characteristics that differ from its normal state. In their summary, the scientists stated that further work is required to identify the functional significance.
Psilocybin, the main psychoactive component of ‘shrooms, causes the area of the brain’s functional patterns to undergo dramatic changes that you can see in placebo versus post-psilocybin illustration below. As you can see, the neuro-image on the right practically lights up!
Credit: Royal Society Publishing
Similar scientific studies on microdosing psychedelics either show promise or the results are undetermined. All those involved in the clinical studies say that further research is needed, and that they are in the process of receiving funding.
Using psychedelics to help your career seems to have merit, even though the jury is still out in the scientific community. On the other hand, influential psychonauts swear by its mind-expanding properties, including productivity guru Tim Ferriss. If this workforce hack was all placebo effect or ineffective, it seems doubtful that entrepreneurs such as Ferriss would have built the empires they have.
Perhaps we can also get answers to the mystery from the 2019 qualitative study of psychedelic microdosing discussions on YouTube. Those researchers concluded the practice could potentially provide some of the same benefits for certain conditions with fewer of the adverse reactions that’s associated with higher dosages. The researchers also went on to say that study results also indicated that additional benefits (and risks) could be gained with repeated and extended exposure.