LSD conjures up all kinds of colorful images. Tie-dye shirts, jam band concerts, and other aspects of acid culture come to mind. Sure, it may be responsible for Silicon Valley productivity benders or Hunter S. Thompson-type road trips but can it do more? New studies suggest that it can. And the studies are growing more credible each year.

How LSD Can Help: Microdosing 101

Microdosing is a practice where users take a very small dose of LSD regularly over time. The idea is that someone will feel the positive effects of the drug while skipping the usual consciousness-altering effects. Just how much of a dose is considered a microdose? In the study referenced for the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, researchers used amounts between seven and 13 micrograms for LSD and .1 to .4 grams for dried psilocybin mushrooms. Users are advised to take this every three or four days.

The idea has been around for decades. The Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman, who created LSD way back in 1936, first suggested the idea. Through succeeding years, others have agreed. But the practice of microdosing is not without its share of controversy. The latest study aims to add some clarity to its potential benefits.

Boosting Mood And Productivity

Microdosing supporters praise the drug’s benefits for relieving depression, lessening anxiety and helping people be more focused and productive. It is also said to allow users to enjoy a new found energy and a better overall outlook. And proponents also say that it can improve relationships.

These benefits are part of why the practice has become a part of Silicon Valley culture. Users look to it for relief from stressful, intense days or as a way to give a productivity edge in a hyper-competitive environment.

Early Research

Early research into this phenomenon was nothing if not enthusiastic. Well-known psychedelic supporter James Fadiman epitomizes this effort. He has been studying LSD and microdosing for decades. He offers lectures, has written extensively and has co-founded the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology which later became known as Sofia University.

As part of his work, Fadiman collects, organizes, and studies the stories of microdosing from those who have tried it. He’s created a body of information based on this work which he shares with anyone who is interested. He provides details about what he knows concerning dosage amounts, various rates of use, and how long the chemical stays in users bodies. The information is available through a number of sources including through his own website as well as through other information sources that are focused on the practice. On these websites he also allows people to provide their experiences to him and to share in his research process.

Research Is Evolving

Critics say that the earliest research isn’t necessarily conclusive as it includes self-reported information from volunteers. They say that it is even possible that some of the participants’ benefits had resulted from a placebo effect. Nonetheless, there is an extended community who are fans of psychedelic study and research are encouraged. Many of them believe that traditional medicine regimens are often found lacking and wonder if microdosing could be a better treatment.

As supporters are crying out for information, more focused and disciplined research is beginning to emerge. In 2018, a group of psychologists at Goldsmiths, University of London published a first placebo-controlled study using test subjects that hadn’t been exposed to LSD in 5 years. The research appeared to verify that correctly microdosed participants don’t feel the effects of the drug. It also supported the theory that microdosing changes the brain. While this, in itself, is intriguing more research needs to happen to pin down exactly what changes occur and how they can benefit users.

So…How Long Does Microdosing Last?

According to practitioners, the effects of microdosing last for up to three days depending on the amount, the type, and how your body reacts to it. Generally speaking, the smaller amount of drugs in a microdose last for less time, about 2 to 4 hours but proponents say that if it is applied correctly, users won’t feel the effects.

Usage recommendations offer other clues about how long the drugs last. Fadiman and others suggest that the first day users will feel the effects most strongly, with the effects decreasing by half each day. Keep in mind, that the effects are always going to vary for any user based on their overall biology.

How Long Does LSD Last?

So, if microdosing only lasts for a limited time, are those rumors about LSD staying in your body long term? Is the myth about the drug staying in your spine true? There are lots of stories about flashbacks (the good, the bad, and the ugly) that reoccur and sometimes, the effects go dormant for a while and reoccur as a surprise, we’ve got some information about myths versus reality.

Generally, LSD has a 2 to 4-hour half-life, indicating that it takes that amount of time to metabolize half the amount of the drug. Most sensation wears off within a day. The effects of the drug are generally detected in human blood for 6-10 hours and in urine for 2 to 4 days. It is said to be able to be detected by a hair follicle test within 90 days.

More Information Is Needed

Scientists and psychedelic supporters are interested in the research but more information is needed. Over time, it is hopeful that it is understood if it can help, how it can help, and if it is harmful. In the meantime, users are suggested to approach this process with caution, be aware of risks of abuse not to use it if they feel unsure. Advocates and supporters believe the goal is not to put anyone at risk of problems but to support a better, more productive, and happier life.