It has been widely documented and reported that the THC content of cannabis has been on a steady rise since the drug’s introduction to the mainstream back in the 1960s and 70s. Today, it seems that many consumers prioritise high THC content above many other factors. But this could be changing. As access to legal cannabis continues to improve in many countries around the world, many consumers are taking a new approach to cannabis: Microdosing.
Cannabis has long been associated with medicinal and recreational consumption; however, a growing number of users are now exploring the general wellness benefits of this diverse plant and its derivatives. While microdosing is generally associated with psychedelic drugs such as LSD and psilocybin, the technique is increasingly being applied to cannabis – in particular, THC. So, what is microdosing, and what could the potential benefits be when it comes to cannabis?
What is microdosing?
The general idea behind microdosing is apparent in the name: a consumer will take minor (micro) doses of cannabis (or other product) to promote its therapeutic benefits while avoiding the psychoactive effects associated with the drug.
Far from being an underground illegal drug, in recent years, cannabis has come out into the mainstream. Cannabis derivatives can now be found in a plethora of products sold legally around the world, including soft drinks, vapes, and edibles. This new era has launched the idea of cannabis wellness into the consciousness of more people than ever before. For many of these consumers, incorporating cannabis in a way that won’t interfere with their daily lives is a priority and, as such, microdosing may offer the perfect balance.
As mentioned briefly above, microdosing is a consumption method that was first applied to psychedelic drugs in order to promote creativity while limiting psychoactive effects. The story goes that this type of microdosing was developed by tech workers in Silicon Valley and from there, it has become a new global trend. But some evidence suggests that microdosing cannabis could be useful for more than simply boosting creativity.
Cannabis: Low vs high doses
Cannabis can now be prescribed for the treatment of various medical conditions in the UK and many other countries around the world; however, clinical evidence on the optimal dosing of cannabis products remains scarce. Having said that, there is growing evidence to suggest that lower doses of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD may be more effective than high doses.
For example, one study published in 2012 assessed the effects of low, medium, and high doses of a CBD/THC formulation (nabiximols) in cancer patients who were unresponsive to conventional opioid painkillers. The researchers reported that patients who had received the lowest doses of medical cannabis showed the greatest improvements in pain. In contrast, patients receiving higher doses actually experienced more pain.
These results may be surprising, but the results of various other studies also support the theory that, when it comes to cannabis, less may indeed be more.
Potential therapeutic benefits of microdosing cannabis
Stress and anxiety are significant considerations for many cannabis and CBD users. In fact, in a recent poll, anxiety was reported to be the leading reason behind CBD use in the UK. When it comes to THC, however, evidence suggests that high doses may actually be associated with heightened anxiety levels. In contrast, low doses of THC have proven to be useful in reducing feelings of anxiety. It makes sense, then, that a growing number of cannabis consumers are turning to microdosing to help tackle stress and anxiety.
Similarly, recent findings indicate that microdosing psychedelics may also be associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression.
Another study, published in 2014, assessed the impact of low doses of nabilone (a synthetic cannabinoid) in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It was reported that patients experienced significant improvements in various PTSD symptoms, including insomnia, nightmares, and chronic pain.
How does microdosing work?
While the general idea behind microdosing may be pretty straightforward, it can be difficult to know exactly what constitutes a “micro” dose of cannabis. Common advice indicates that optimum microdosing should promote the therapeutic effects of cannabis without initiating a high. Of course, the levels of THC needed to cause intoxication can vary significantly from person to person. Factors such as liver metabolism, past cannabis use, and genetics can all play a significant role in a person’s tolerance to cannabis/THC.
Therefore, it is generally advised to start low and go slow. This could mean starting with 1 mg of THC and slowly increasing the dose until you reach your “optimum dose”. Knowing exactly when you have reached your optimum dose can be difficult and you may have to exceed this dose to know when you have hit it. But how exactly do you microdose cannabis?
A huge variety of cannabis products are now available, making different consumption methods more accessible than ever before. When it comes to microdosing cannabis, the most popular products are vaporizers, tinctures, and edibles as they allow you to administer a more controlled dose than smoking – not to mention they are much healthier alternatives.
Cannabis microdosing is likely to become increasingly popular as the stigma on cannabis use slowly but surely dissipates. Education and awareness around this type of consumption is, therefore, of the utmost importance. Using cannabis products from reliable sources and taking a cautious approach is the best way to prepare for a positive cannabis microdosing experience. Exactly what type of cannabis or cannabis derivative you microdose is up to you.