A How-To Guide to Microdosing Cannabis
It is a common misunderstanding that one must feel “high” or intoxicated in order to reap the therapeutic benefits associated with cannabis consumption. But…::drumroll::… this is not necessarily the case! More and more individuals are becoming familiar with the concept of microdosing, which is the use of very small or sub-therapeutic doses of cannabis to gain medicinal benefit without mind-altering effects. In fact, when dosed properly, microdoses of cannabis can be consumed throughout the day without impediment to productivity and focus, allowing the consumer to reap the value of consumption without psychological impairment.
In the pharmaceutical world, microdosing is certainly not a new concept. It is a general practice to prescribe a dose of drugs using the minimal amount necessary to elicit a therapeutic effect. Think about any medication that requires titration or an increase in dose over time, such as antidepressants, or can be taken in a variety of doses depending on the endstate needed, like over-the-counter versus prescription-strength ibuprofen. On the flip side, the “dose makes the poison,” meaning, too much of anything, no matter how beneficial it’s perceived, can lead to serious, adverse effects. Cannabis is no different, and all of these aspects are important when delivering the right amount of cannabis for the intended purpose. So how do we get there, and can we use even less?
Did you know?
Microdosing is used in pre-clinical studies to analyze a drug’s concentration-time effect, giving researchers a starting point for initiation of a clinical trial. It allows scientists to analyze how a drug affects the way a cell functions in its presence, allowing for the collection of real, human pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic information. Over time, an equal and effective amount of the drug will be present in the bloodstream, and by gathering these data, the lowest effective therapeutic dose can be determined. In the end, a consumer can reap constant and consistent benefits while minimizing unintended and unwanted adverse effects.
Many also associate microdosing with the recreational use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD and mushrooms. Many have found positive and sustaining effects on symptoms related to depression and anxiety. Positively, the consumption of cannabis is following suit, with practitioners and patients using the lowest effective dose of THC to help individuals suffering from chronic pain and mood-related disorders.
At this point, you may be asking yourself… what do I need to know about microdosing cannabis, and how do I get started?
Is microdosing the right thing for me?
- Microdosing is a great way for new patients to engage with cannabis for the first time. In addition, it is also ideal for consumers who need to remain focused, alert and mentally clear, but choose to consume cannabis throughout the day for whatever their intended treatment plan is.
What are the major benefits of microdosing?
- As stated above, microdosing allows consumers to function while simultaneously benefitting from the therapeutic value of using cannabis. Benefits include pain relief, stress reduction, mental clarity, and mood enhancement. In addition, new consumers can more confidently engage with cannabis without the fear of over-medicating and having a negative experience due to some of THC’s adverse effects. By utilizing a variety of CBD-to-THC ratios, a new consumer can find their ideal starting dose with less stress, and therefore have an overall better experience while tailoring the amount consumed to their individual needs.
Do all microdoses contain THC? Or, can microdosing be applied to CBD and hemp oil, too?
- The concept of microdosing does technically focus on the use of THC, but it is not always warranted or necessary depending on the pathological condition of focus because a variety of cannabinoids have therapeutic value. If a consumer is using CBD, whether it be from hemp or cannabis, like any other cannabinoid or drug, the lowest effective dose is ideal. Keep in mind that CBD does have an effect on mood and can be pharmacologically considered psychoactive, though not intoxicating.
So… How do I get started?
Step 1: Choose your method of consumption.
- Microdosing is easiest when using an ingestible formulation of cannabis, like an edible or tincture, because they are easier to dose, but other formulations can be used as well, such as vape cartridges. Look around and ask your local budtender for a reputable product that produces consistent and reliable products, such as Darwin Brands in Arizona.
Step 2: Choose your dose.
- Start low and go slow, especially if you are new to cannabis or are aware that you have a low tolerance for THC. Don’t be afraid to begin with 1 mg of THC to see how you personally react. If you consume an edible, it may take up to two hours to notice any effects, so it is recommended to refrain from consuming more before then.
Step 3: Construct a dosing schedule.
- This will be different for orally-ingested products versus inhaled or other formulations that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream, like vaporized oil and transdermals. Once you figure out your preferred formulation and how much of that formulation you need to consume to get the effects you seek, make a note of how long the effects take to kick in, as well as how long they last. You can then design a schedule based on your personal dosing needs.
What are examples of some reliable products to try?
- Darwin Brands’ Origin Series Caramel Hard Candies come in a dose of 20 mg CBD with 2 mg THC, a wonderful starting place for those looking for a balanced and clear-headed experience without the intoxicating effects. Because the caramels contain 20 mg of CBD, the typical adverse effects associated with THC, such as paranoia and anxiety, is highly mitigated.
If 20 mg of CBD is too much, Darwin also offers their Seriously Good Gummies in a dose containing 10 mg CBD and 2 mg THC. One great benefit of their edibles is the homogeneity that results from their strict production process. Feel free to cut them in half and expect half the dose!
By: Jennifer Corso, BA, MA
Biochemical Exercise Physiologist