With anxiety disorders affecting up to 40 million American adults, prescriptions for varying forms of pharmaceutical drugs are at an all-time high. The trouble is, many of these drugs are ineffective, harmful, and highly expensive. Naturally, this is turning the attention of millions of Americans to cannabis as a reliable, alternative treatment option. And with weed now legal for medicinal use in 29 states (and for recreational use in eight), it appears that some serious winds of change are about to start blowing in.
Of course, one major problem associated with cannabis is the propensity for users to get ‘high’ due to the psychoactive THC content. But what if there was a way to enjoy marijuana and control this high? Well, thanks to the relatively new phenomenon of microdosing, you can now have your weed and smoke it in an effective, efficient, and responsible manner.
What is Microdosing?
As the name implies, microdosing weed involves taking extremely small hits throughout the day. The amount is enough to feel a perceptible sensation, but not enough to get high. Before his death in 2008, Albert Hofmann (the creator of LSD) said that microdosing would become the most important area of psychedelic research. And since then, the majority of doctors and research scientists have seemingly agreed – even if the concept has been rather slow to catch on.
According to Michelle Ross, for example (founder of the IMPACT Network), relatively few people even know about microdosing. Instead, they continue to obliterate their systems with high-THC cannabis under the assumption that, when it comes to treating their specific medical condition, “more is better.” As it goes, though, an increasing body of medical research is suggesting quite the contrary; when it comes to weed, they say, less can definitely be more.
In a 2012 study by Portenoy et al. which was published in the Journal of Pain, 263 cancer patients completed a five-week study where they were given either low doses (1-4 sprays per day), medium doses (6-10 sprays per day) or high doses (11-16 sprays per day) of nabiximols, which is a synthetic THC/CBD compound. The study found that overall, the patients who received the lowest dose experienced the least amount of pain while the high dose patients experienced the most pain.
Traditionally, microdosing has been most commonly associated with LSD, but medical experts are now believing that lower doses of THC could be beneficial for a wide range of medical patients. According to Dustin Sulak, for example, an osteopathic physician in Maine, raising the dose can sometimes lead to diminished health benefits, and can even be counterproductive. He cited cannabis for anxiety as a specific example, claiming that high levels of THC can actually cause it rather than subdue it.
In terms of the cannabis-using population, the process of microdosing is most ideal for patients who are using marijuana medically for the first time, or for those that have been been casual or infrequent smokers. That being said, however, even experienced smokers with a relatively high tolerance could be shocked at the therapeutic effects of microdosing. The bottom line is that if you’ve been smoking loads of weed with a high THC content, you’ve likely not only been failing to address your symptoms, but you may in fact be inducing or instigating such side effects as anxiety or paranoia.
Benefits of Microdosing
Microdosing can lead to different scenarios depending on your needs and lifestyle. For instance, professionals and creative types may discover that microdosing enables them to be more productive while still maintaining a clear mind. For others, it could simply be a method of unwinding after a long day’s work. It’s well known, in fact, that Silicon Valley developers commonly will microdose psychedelics (such as LSD) as a means of sparking inspiration.
To summarize, here are several key benefits of microdosing weed:
- Pain Relief & Inflammation Reduction: Tiny hits of THC can activate your endocannabinoid system, which leads to a wealth of pain relieving benefits without the psychoactive high.
- Nausea: You can treat nausea with small doses of cannabis. Numerous chemotherapy studies have shown that reduced doses of marijuana immediately decrease the feeling of nausea, and can be a far more effective treatment than pills.
- Insomnia: Everyone knows that marijuana is fantastic for insomnia, but if you take a powerful dose of THC, you could actually be inducing something called couchlock – not a good scenario if you intend to get up for work in the morning. Microdosing, on the other hand, helps you relax and ease into a deep and natural sleep. (And many users actually say that edibles work best for treating insomnia).
How Does Microdosing Help Anxiety Specifically?
There is a lengthy list of studies that showcase the benefits of cannabis for anxiety and depression. What most people fail to realize, however, is that large doses of THC can be counterproductive for this purpose. Like we mentioned earlier, rather than alleviating your anxiety, too much weed can actually exacerbate it.
In low doses, THC has proven to be a real boon if you suffer from an anxiety disorder. Even a small puff of sativa can improve your mood without the psychoactive effects. Also, the rise of CBD products for anxiety has more or less been an admission of sorts that too much THC is bad for anxiety ( in case you’re unaware, CBD is capable of counteracting the psychoactive effects of THC).
Are There Any Disadvantages of Microdosing Weed?
From a purely medical perspective, microdosing weed offers maximum benefit from a minimum dose. Not only do you avoid getting high while treating your condition, but you also save money by not smoking so much! If you’re an experienced smoker, however, it can certainly be tough to give up the daily high that you’ve become accustomed to, in order to adopt – and follow – a consistent “diet” of moderation.
Ultimately, the biggest challenge is simply finding the dose that’s right for you. Various internet articles will try to give you a generic dosage, but in reality, the ‘best’ dose varies from person to person. For example, while two milligrams may be right for one person, it may be entirely ineffective for another.
What we can say is this: start off with as low a dose as you can, and go from there. (This is especially true if you’re a cannabis neophyte). Dr. Dustin Sulak has developed a protocol for microdosing weed, and his general advice to patients is to consume one mg of THC, abstain for two days, and then consume one mg of CBD on day three, preferably via an oil tincture so as to be able to make accurate measurements.
Also, to ensure maximum health, comfort, and safety, always ask yourself the following questions before consumption:
- How easy is it to breathe?
- How calm and comfortable does my body feel?
- How easy is it to generate a genuine smile?
Grade each answer on a scale of 1-10. Take the cannabis, wait 45 minutes, and grade the three answers again – if there’s no change in the scores, increase the dosage by one mg. Keep doing this until your scores change. When they do change significantly, you’ll likely have discovered your minimum effective dose, or “personal cannabis threshold.” Finally, keep increasing the dose until there is no further improvement in condition.
Microdosing Consumption Methods
In general, there are three main dosing methods:
- Edibles: This is a great option for non-smokers, and is easy to measure. However, please note that the impact of edibles is gradual, unlike smoking which hits you almost immediately.
- Smoking: While this is the classic consumption method, it is the worst choice for microdosing because it’s very difficult to get a precise measurement.
- Vaporizing: This is a better option than smoking, as you can get an accurate reading on your dosage. There are a host of oils on the market and vape kits to help you get started.
What Are The Best Microdosing Cannabis Strains?
The best marijuana strains for microdosing are sativas with a reasonable level of CBD to counteract the effects of THC. Sativas are known to be the best cannabis strains for providing an uplifting experience. Here are five excellent options:
1 – Tsunami Crush
With an almost even ratio between THC and CBD (11%), Tsunami Crush is a potent Sativa that is a cross between Sour Diesel and NYC Diesel. It’s one of the finest medicinal marijuana strains around, and it hits users with a creeping high if they consume too much.
2 – Pineapple Thai
This rare 100% Sativa cannabis strain – known for its pleasant sweet tropical pineapple aroma and sweet/spicy taste on exhalation – has 5% CBD and up to 24% THC. In order to maximize its phenomenal health benefits, microdosing is essential.
3 – Kaua’i Electric
This is another pure Sativa strain that’s native to the Hawaiian islands. It has a THC level of up to 18%, and a typical CBD content of 4% – it can hit users with an intense high if they want it to. The best place to find high-quality Kaua’i Electric in its natural realm is on the Powerline Trail, which is located close to Hawaii’s famous Mount Wai’ale’ale.
4 – Pinetrak
This sativa is a cross between Mexican and Thai sativa strains. It is a powerful cannabis strain with up to 21% THC, though the 4% CBD does helps to counteract the psychoactive effect a little bit. Pinetrak is noted for its ability to give users a rush of energy and creativity.
5 – Happy Hiker Haze
With a THC content of 22% against just 2% CBD, Happy Hiker Haze is a marijuana strain capable of giving you a rapid, euphoric head high that results in a fit of giggles. If you microdose it, though, you will feel relaxed and happy for the entire day.
Final Thoughts on Microdosing Cannabis for Anxiety
It is indeed bizarre that there isn’t a greater desire for the powers that be to spread the message of microdosing weed. After all, it prevents you from getting high, but ensures you derive all the medical and therapeutic benefits that cannabis has to offer. If you’ve been wanting to give marijuana a try to treat some medical condition, and you live in a state where weed is legal, definitely try your luck with microdosing. In fact, even if you’re a seasoned smoker, the positive results may thoroughly surprise you.