Small Doses, Big Impacts: The Pros & Cons of Microdosing Schedules
Microdosing is more popular than ever, with many believing rigid schedules are the key to success. The most popular schedules are the Stamet’s Stack & Fadiman Protocol.
James Fadiman first ignited the microdosing craze with his 2011 book, The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide.
Microdosing involves taking repeated, small doses of a psychedelic drug — typically about 1/10 of the standard dose. While this frequently involves psychedelics, people sometimes use cannabis, kratom, kanna, or other substances as well.
Schedules serve a foundational function for many — some say it helps them remain consistent with their doses; others suggest adopting a schedule makes the microdoses more effective and safer.
Here, we explore 3 of the most common microdose schedules (the Fadiman Protocol, the Stamets Stack, and flex dosing), explain the philosophy behind each of them, and offer some tips to get started.
We’ll also make some arguments both for and against the use of schedules in your exploration with microdosing.
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First of All, What is a Microdosing Schedule? What Purpose Does it Serve?
A microdose schedule is a predefined regimen for taking small, functional doses of psychedelics. An example of a microdosing schedule would be to take one dose on Monday, then take a break for two days, then take another dose on Thursday, then take a break for two days, and rinse-repeat.
Schedules enable us to measure functional changes over time and help users prevent the inevitable tolerance formation that makes psychedelics stop working after just one or two doses.
There’s a lot of disagreement about what the best schedule is — but there are two major recommendations for newcomers.
These are the “Stamets stack” and “Fadiman protocol,” named after their iconic creators.
These pioneering psychonauts recommended:
Stamets — Microdose for four days followed by three days off (also includes microdosing formula recommendations).
Fadiman — Microdose every third day.
Some microdosers swear by one option, while others switch it up every few weeks or months. There's really no "right" way to do it, so we recommend trying a few schedules out until you find one that works for you.
1. The Fadiman Protocol
Dr. James Fadiman is a psychologist and author. He's also referred to as the "father of microdosing" for his work in standardizing the way people microdose psychedelics. His goal was to improve the consistency of the reports and surveys filled out online.
Fadiman noticed that everybody was taking different doses at different intervals — which made it nearly impossible to draw any accurate conclusions or patterns from the large number of DIY microdosers.
Fadiman suggested 10 μg of LSD every third day. It starts with a dose day on day 1, then a day off for the “afterglow day,” and another day of rest for further tolerance reset.
Another suggestion was to follow the schedule for just 4-8 weeks, then adjust according to your own experience (either increase the dose slightly for stronger effect or decrease for a more subtle effect.
Following the massive popularity of his book and the rise of microdosing, Fadiman ran a study on users following his protocol.
Along with noting improvements in mood and mental health, Fadiman’s study determined that microdosing was safe for a wide variety of people and situations. Additionally, it showed massive improvement among small groups, such as those with migraines or cluster headaches, traumatic brain injuries, shingles, and menstrual pain.
2. The Stamets Stack
Paul Stamets is a mycologist, author, and advocate for medicinal fungi.
His stack — dubbed “the Stamets Stack” — is both a schedule and a formula for getting the most out of microdoses of psilocybin. This formula includes Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms mixed with lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) and niacin to promote neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.
Stamets first suggested a schedule of five days on and two days off but later changed this to four days on and three days off.
Neuroplasticity is the capability of neuronal networks to restructure in the brain based on stimuli — both external and internal. Neurogenesis, on the other hand, is the creation of new neurons in the brain by neural stem cells.
It’s essential during early development but continues throughout your life, though both processes seem to slow with age.
Here’s what each ingredient of the “stack” brings to the table for these end goals:
Psilocybin Mushrooms — In research conditions, psilocybin and other psychedelics have been shown to induce neuroplasticity. A 2021 study hypothesized psychedelics’ ability to enhance neuroplasticity is the mechanism behind their therapeutic benefits.
Lion’s Mane — Lion’s Mane mushrooms contain the compounds hericenones and erinacines, which have been shown to increase nerve growth.
Niacin — Vitamin B3, or Niacin, produces an uncomfortable flushing effect when taken at the dose Stamets suggests. This is from the effects of the supplement on lowering blood pressure and increasing its flow through vasodilation. Stamets argues this can help your dose move more freely through the bloodstream and brain.
Stamets suggests a dosage of:
0.05-0.1 gram dried psilocybin-containing mushrooms
400-500 mg dried lion’s mane
25-50 mg niacin
Note: You can combine niacin and lions mane with LSD for similar benefits as well
Flexible Microdosing (No Defined Schedule)
Flexible microdosing (AKA flex dosing) involves taking microdoses whenever you feel like it. There’s no schedule and no rigid patterns associated with this method.
The benefit of flex dosing is that users can develop a routine or process that works best for them.
Other dosing schedules don’t allow for the same level of freedom flex dosing has in terms of both the dose and frequency of using psychedelics. It allows for a more personalized adaptation to individual needs, preferences, and responses, enabling a more tailored and potentially effective approach to using psychedelics.
The first step is to find your sub-threshold dose and change it as needed day-to-day. Normally, somewhere around 10% of a standard dose is a good place to start, but some people prefer a little more or a little less.
Fadiman first described the sub-threshold dose as being sub-perceptual — but this isn’t exactly true.
He later clarified the correct dosage level is sub-hallucinogenic. You should be able to feel the effects slightly, without the effects of visuals or physical elements of “coming up.”
Stamets describes the threshold dose as the “intoxication dose,” which is far clearer.
1. Choose Your Adventure
There are a LOT of different psychedelics to choose from. The most popular for microdosing are LSD and shrooms, but San Pedro, Peyote, pure mescaline, various LSD-analogs, and 4-AcO-DMT all work too.
Some questions to ask yourself:
Do I want a long-duration or short-duration substance?
Is it important for the substance to be all-natural?
What other complimentary effects do I want the substance to offer?
Common psychedelics for microdosing and their qualities:
Mescaline — Medium duration (4–6 hours). Natural (if from cacti) or synthetic. Mild increase in energy levels.
4-AcO-DMT — Medium duration (5–6 hours). Synthetic. Neutral effect on energy/sedation.
LSA — Medium duration (5–6 hours). Natural. Has calming/sedative action.
DOX compounds — Very long-lasting (up to 36 hours). Synthetic. Energizing effects.
2. Experiment With Different Dose Levels & Routines
The threshold (intoxication) dose or ‘sweet spot’ won’t necessarily be the same every day. Factors like diet, supplementation, energy and stress levels, and individual plant or fungi samples can all affect the intensity of psychedelics.
It's wise to start with 5% of a standard dose, and gradually increase to either 10 or 15%, depending on how you feel. For LSD, this is five micrograms; for psilocybin, it's 0.05 g of dry mushroom powder.
Without regulation, it's impossible to know for sure whether a particular dose of illegally purchased LSD or a particular batch of mushrooms is the same strength as the last. If you're familiar with microdosing but starting with a new batch of supplies, it's best to start the adjustment process over.
Slowly titrate this dose up until you feel a slight intoxication — this is your threshold dose, the minimum amount to achieve an intoxicating effect. This may not be the same amount you will use for your microdose.
Try not to become too fixated on a specific dose — the point of flex dosing is that the schedule and dose can morph and evolve over time.
The same goes for dosage regimens. It might help to start out on a specific routine to get started, but feel free to change this up over time.
These are just a few examples of different ways to dose. The dosing pattern you choose should be optimized for your life — these are merely a starting point.
3. Understand Psychedelic Tolerance Formation
If you’re dosing multiple days in a row, you’re going to experience the effects of tolerance. This phenomenon is less problematic for microdosing, but is still an important factor to understand.
We've built a tolerance calculator to help readers understand how this works for LSD and magic mushrooms. This tool can also be used for other species of psilocybin-containing mushrooms and LSD-analogs like LSZ or ETH-LAD (it won't work for LSA, though).
The idea is that if you take a dose today, tolerance forms almost immediately so you’ll need to take a larger dose tomorrow to experience the same level of effects.
Tolerance goes away just as fast as it forms, so if you wait a few days between doses this won’t be an issue.
Please note these figures are estimates — tolerance formation is different for everybody.
How To Measure Microdoses Properly
To have the ability to modify your microdose, you need a system of measurement. For most substances, a microdose consists of such a small amount you’ll need sensitive methods to measure it.
The way you measure out your microdose will depend on the substance you are microdosing:
Magic Mushrooms — If using magic mushrooms, use a milligram scale to measure doses. Note: this amount will be too small to measure accurately on a gram scale, and you should not attempt to use one.
Magic Mushrooms (Capsules) — If you use capsules, you can create capsules with different weights and use them as needed. I like to have a range of 0.075 to 0.2 grams of dried psilocybin in capsules, making it easy to modify your dose day by day.
4-AcO-DMT — This pro-drug to psilocin is potent at low levels (5mg), making it difficult to measure accurately at a microdose level. Instead, use volumetric dosing, dissolving larger amounts of the substance in water and then dosing via a pipette.
LSD and Other Lysergamides (Blotter) — Blotter doses are often laid unevenly across the tab, making it difficult to dose accurately. Simply divide the potency of your tab (100 μg) by your desired dosage (10 μg) and cut the tab accordingly. Keep in mind this is not a preferred or exact method for measuring these, and you should also volumetrically do so.
LSD and Other Lysergamides (Volumetric) — Take 100 mL of distilled water and add your LSD tab. Shake occasionally for the next three days, then store the container in a cool, dark place like a fridge. If you add 100 μg of LSD, each milliliter of your water contains one microgram of LSD. You can then use a pipette to dose as you please.
What Are the Risks of Microdosing?
Never microdose stimulants or empathogens — many of these can cause long-term harm. A 2014 study demonstrated regular use of amphetamines (such as MDMA) dysregulated reward centers in the brain. There are also fears these drugs could result in heart valve defects over several months or years of persistent microdosing (unsubstantiated).
Microdosing stimulants is a dangerous practice and can cause long-term changes to brain chemistry. However, other common microdosing practices seem to have little risk — though tragically underresearched.
While generally considered a safe practice, there are some common concerns to look out for.
A 2019 study surveyed microdosers and found the most commonly reported challenges were:
Illegality — 29.5%
Physiological discomfort — 18%
Other — 10.6 %
Impaired Focus — 8.8%
Impaired Energy — 7.2%
Impaired Mood — 6.9%
Increased Anxiety — 6.7%
Increased Symptoms — 6.2%
Social Interference — 2.6%
Cognitive Interference — 2.3%
Self Interference — 1.2%
The most commonly reported side effects are headaches, cognitive issues, uncomfortable stimulation, and physical discomfort, such as nausea.
In addition to these risks, Fadiman’s Microdosing Institute has reports of red-green colorblind men experiencing tracers on microdoses. These are visual effects characterized by moving objects with visual trails.
Another small risk factor is tinnitus — Fadiman believes microdosing can worsen this condition for some. While some theorize heart complications might come from microdosing, it is purely hypothetical at this time.
Microdosing 101 (Tripsitter)
Guide to Microdosing LSD (Tripsitter)
Guide to Microdosing Magic Mushrooms (Tripsitter)
Guide to Microdosing Mescaline (Tripsitter)
Microdosing Marijuana (Tripsitter)
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