You know that saying “less is more?” Well, we don’t know who came up with it or when it was coined, but we have reason to believe that they may have been talking about microdosing marijuana.
Indeed, as more and more users start to see and realize for themselves the massive health benefits of microdosing cannabis (whether CBD or regular weed), it’s becoming increasingly evident that yes, perhaps less actually is more.
In this article, we’ll talk about the (relatively) new phenomenon of microdosing, how it’s overtaking the cannabis-using world and replacing the need to get “stoned,” and how it can effectively be used to treat a host of medical conditions, including relief from acute pain.
What is Microdosing, and how is it Different to Regular Cannabis Consumption?
The traditional “method” of marijuana consumption includes smoking or eating as much as you can, with the simple idea of getting as high as you can. And then, of course, eating everything in sight like a rabid coyote that hasn’t seen food in a month.
As unfortunate as it is to say it, however, this is one of the reasons why weed has garnered such a negative reputation amongst the masses over the decades; people see marijuana users as “stoners,” burnouts, and lazy, unproductive potheads.
Fortunately, though, the cannabis-using world is starting to see some massive turnaround with regard to the way that people use the herb. Sure, you can still go out and get as high as you want to, but the fact of the matter is that nowadays more and more people are started to use the drug in ways that it was intended to. That is to say, we are now using it more and more frequently as a medicine and natural therapeutic remedy, rather than just as a means to escape reality for a little bit. And of course, the more recognition marijuana gets in the actual health and science sector, the more we will begin to learn about its actual medicinal properties.
One of the things we’ve already learned – and are continuing to learn right now – is that marijuana appears to be more effective for therapeutic purposes when taken in very small doses – much, much smaller than the “average” person uses to get high.
For example, Dr. Dustin Sulak, who we frequently reference and who is pretty much regarded as one of medicinal cannabis’ “wise men,” claims that up to ¼ of his patients treat their medical conditions with fewer than 3 mg of THC compound. It’s tough to explain exactly how much this is in terms of a “joints” or a “bowl,” but it’s not much — easily less than a “standard” size joint.
When you think about it, this is actually pretty phenomenal; the majority of marijuana users – whether recreational or medical – are believed to use far more of the herb than their body needs. And using too much weed is not just a matter of wasting flower, either – ingesting more cannabinoids (specifically THC) than your internal system can handle is actually believed to be counterproductive in that it can cause paranoia, lethargy, and tolerance.
When microdosed though (which can be loosely defined as administering numerous amounts of small marijuana doses throughout the day), it appears that one can achieve all of the desired therapeutic benefits of cannabis, without having to deal with negative side effects or substantial disruptions in cognitive behavior.
Benefits and Health Advantages of Microdosing
One of the major health benefits of microdosing is that you really spare the excessive use and abuse on your lungs (if you’re a marijuana smoker, that is). While people try and argue all the time that smoking marijuana is ‘healthier’ than smoking cigarettes, the basis of the debate is negligible – they’re both unhealthy.
Thus, if you drastically cut back on your daily inhalation, your lungs will likely serve to benefit massively down the road in terms of long-term health.
Also, it sounds kind of silly to say it, but microdosing also helps in curbing excessive appetites. Granted a lot of people use marijuana in order to spark their appetite, but a lot of people also don’t need their appetite sparked. When you burn through a few bowls and then go and crush Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and the potato chip aisle at your local 7-11, you’re not doing your body an favors, regardless of the health benefits that cannabis has. By microdosing, you substantially reduce the likelihood of encountering enjoyable-yet-unhealthy bouts of the “munchies.”
Additionally, like we just mentioned a moment ago, microdosing also reduces the likelihood of encountering negative side effects from smoking, such as paranoia, anxiety, and extreme lethargy. These undesirable effects usually arrive from overstimulating the central nervous system, which doesn’t happen if marijuana is administered in low doses.
And lastly, it’s largely understood that microdosing reduces the development of tolerance, which is a temporary condition wherein your body requires more and more amounts of THC in order to feel the desired effects. In addition to saving you loads of money on actual product, reducing tolerance also allows you to reap the therapeutic benefits of cannabis on a more consistent, substantial level.
How do I Know How Much a “Microdose” is?
Of course, one of the most difficult things about microdosing is figuring out how much a “microdose” actually is. Like we said earlier, a good target to shoot for is anywhere between 1 and 3 mg of THC (or CBD if you’re using a CBD tincture) per dose. However, this general number can vary wildly from individual to individual, given the fact that everyone’s biochemical makeup is different. While one person may find superb relief from just 1 or 2 mg of THC, for example, another one may require 10, 20, 30, or even more mg to achieve the same effects.
Dr. Sulak recommends that new “microdosers” follow a very simple step-by-step guideline in order to determine their unique “minimum effective dose.” Basically, the goal is to find the therapeutic “sweet spot” that lies somewhere between zero effect and being flat-out stoned.
First, he recommends that all patients refrain from using cannabis for a period of 48 hours. This “resets” the endocannabinoid system, and gives it a blank canvas to start working with that will make it easier to feel effects in both the short and long term.
After the body is detoxed, he simply recommends starting out with 1 mg of active cannabinoid (either THC or CBD, but preferably THC), and paying close attention to how your body feels and responds. If you don’t notice any positive effects with a 1 mg dose, you simply wait a day, increase the dose by 1 or 2 mg, and try again. The key is being able to listen to your body so that you can recognize when your arrive at the “sweet spot.”
Then, once you do find the sweet spot, you incorporate this exact dosage as many times as necessary throughout the day in order to relieve medical symptoms or improve your mood: “You repeat this process over the next few days,” Dr. Sulak says, “increasing the dose by small increments. When you reach a point where you feel a difference after consuming, you’ve found your minimal effective dose.”
At some point, though, he says that users will notice no additional benefit from administering larger doses. This means that you’ve arrived at what’s called your “therapeutic range,” and can then go about administering the minimum dose.”
Common Problems with Microdosing
One of the most common and obvious problems with regard to microdosing marijuana is knowing how much THC or CBD you’re actually administering. If you live in a medical or recreationally legal state, this typically isn’t a problem as quality products (pre-measured oil tinctures, for example) will usually indicate how many mg of active compound there is per “serving.” However, if you don’t have this convenience, it can admittedly be tough to know exactly how much compound you’re taking at any one time.
In general, if you’re going to try microdosing, you’ll want to try and reduce your normal or “standard” doses drastically. If you typically smoke an entire joint, for example, start only taking one drag of the joint, and then put it out. This might sound ridiculous, but if you’re serious about trying microdosing for medicinal purposes, it’s what you’re going to have to do. (Keep in mind that there is a huge difference between getting high for fun, and microdosing for medicinal therapy).
Microdosing for Acute Pain
Chronic pain is actually one of the more difficult medical conditions to try and treat with microdosing, as the general nature of the condition typically requires a more substantial dose in order to be effective.
Acute (temporary) pain for minor conditions, on the other hand, is another story – it typically responds very well to the process of microdosing, even if it means having to administer upwards of three, four, five, or six doses per day.
The effectiveness of microdosing marijuana for pain relief is believed to stem from the herb’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system to reduce inflammation. All nociceptive pain (as opposed to neuropathic pain) stems from inflammation, and cannabis has been proven numerous times to function as a remarkable anti-inflammatory therapy.
Also, microdosing is believed to be preferable to “regular” dosing in that it does not overwhelm internal CB receptors in the central nervous system or other parts of the body. When you smoke a ton of weed and get really high, the body actually recognizes this is an “inappropriate” shift against homeostasis, and it will administer changes in order to correct it. Namely, it will reduce the number of active THC receptors, so that they body and mind isn’t able to be affected so drastically.
This doesn’t happen with microdosing, as the doses are so small that they don’t overwhelm receptors, and thereby don’t send the CNS into a homeostatic panic mode.
If you’re microdosing THC or CBD for pain, start out with a slightly higher dose than you would normally – say 2 mg to start off with. Listen to your body, and if you don’t notice any positive effects with a 2 mg dose, then up the dosage by 1 mg after 12 hours, until you find the “minimum effective dose.”
Final Thoughts on Microdosing for Acute Pain Treatment
In conclusion, it’s super important to remember that microdosing is world’s away from “traditional” marijuana smoking. After all, we’re not doing this to get high and abuse the drug, we’re doing it to relieve pain and use the drug as nature intended — as a medicine.
That being said, though, it’s also important to understand that none of this aforementioned information should be taken as medical advice or personal recommendations. Each and everyone’s biochemistry is different, and it may be that you don’t notice any effects at all with microdosing. Do your own research, self-dose at your own discretion, and if at all possible, speak with a physician or healthcare professional.
And lastly, keep in mind that microdosing will likely present numerous advantages and long-term health benefits down the road, especially if you’re already a daily cannabis user or a medical user with a licensed MMJ card. It will improve your lung health (if you’re a daily smoker), decrease instances of paranoia and lethargy, and decrease unhealthy stints of binge eating. Oh, and of course, it will save you money too!