Microdosing is the term used for administering very small amounts of a medication several times throughout the day, rather than a larger dose just once or twice a day. This method allows for using the least amount of medication that’s needed to treat illness and disease and the symptoms that go along with them.
For natural medicine, cannabis in particular, microdosing is beneficial because the smaller, regular doses can diminish some of the tolerance that is built up over time, and helps to balance some of the intoxicating effects that occur when smoking or by consuming edibles. Unlike some pharmaceutical drugs, determining the microdose needed for marijuana will not be drawn out over weeks and will not have the possible serious side effects that accompany pharmaceutical drugs.
Medication is administered to the body in dosages, whether it be in milligrams, two tablets twice a day, a tablespoon before bed or three parts per liter first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, every individual has a unique immune system. People also have different tolerance levels and therapeutic thresholds. Finding the correct dosage for a medication can take time, and with some pharmaceutical products it can take months of trial and error—time which is often accompanied by unpleasant side effects. Oftentimes with pharmaceuticals, too much of the medication is prescribed to treat symptoms, and the smallest workable dose remains unclear. Tolerance levels may increase because of this. With drug tolerance comes higher doses, more side effects and added expenses. Microdosing can help.
Medication tolerance is a problem. Doses for many prescription drugs used to treat pain, anxiety and depression need to be adjusted upward because the body becomes tolerant to the medication and more is needed to maintain a level of effectiveness. Tolerance to medications can be avoided, or lessened, through microdosing. By taking only the amount of the drug that’s needed to treat the patient, the body is not overwhelmed with more medication than it needs, which can cause brain-fog, fatigue and even worsened symptoms.
Because the dosages of medication are smaller when microdosing, the chances of building up a tolerance are much diminished. According to a 2019 article in Psychology Today written by Dr. Samoon Ahmad, a professor of psychiatry at NYU, many people who have turned to cannabis as a medication believe that the drug is not working unless the psychoactive effect is being experienced. That is false. The cannabinoids that are released into the body work efficiently with doses that are small enough to hamper the “high”, yet remedy the symptoms. This makes for a clear head, reduced pain and discomfort and offers more energy. More medication is not better, and in some cases it has been shown that a smaller dose works much better when treating pain, anxiety and depression.
In order to determine the best microdose of cannabis products, Dr. Dustin Sulak, a cannabis physician in Maine, suggests abstaining from cannabis for a couple of days prior to the process of determining the threshold for one’s own individual symptoms. Stopping the use of cannabis prior to figuring out the smallest and most beneficial dose helps to lessen any tolerance which has built up. Sulak states that just two days of abstinence from marijuana can help determine the therapeutic microdose because the process starts with the smallest possible dose. Tolerance with medications is common, but needing more to reach therapeutic levels has negative effects.
Prescription pharmaceuticals will have explicit instructions on how, when and how much medication to take. Prescriptions are normally written with standard dosages based on laboratory trials and research. Again, because everybody has a different immune system, different tolerance levels and specific symptoms with varying degrees of severity, dosing of prescription drugs is not a one-size-fits-all scenario.
Patients are prescribed medications that may be too much or too little of a dose. With microdosing, it’s much simpler to start at the bottom and work upward. There’s no sense in taking more medicine into the body than what is needed.
Medicinal marijuana comes in a variety of different products and the dosing, which follows the metric system, is precise. It offers dosing at the lowest level. Edibles and tinctures can be found in one and two milligram doses. After two days of abstinence, start introducing the body to the smallest doses and wait a couple of hours before determining how the dosage is working. Sulak suggests trying the small doses several times throughout the day, but to be certain there are several hours in between doses; how the medicinal marijuana is being consumed determines how quickly the medicine works. Documenting the process with details about what dose is being taken and how it works with treating symptoms is paramount. As needed, increase the medicine with the same small doses, adding a little, waiting to evaluate the benefits. Sulak also suggests trying any increase for two or three days before determining a higher dosage is needed. Paying attention to details and documenting how the medicine is working will lead to an active and easily reachable therapeutic threshold.
Once a dosage of medication is found to work optimally, it’s important to maintain that working level of the drug in order to have the best therapeutic value without having the highs and lows that can occur when taking too much or too little medicine.
At Earth’s Healing, the budtenders all go through extensive training that can help ease the difficulty in understanding the “how to” and “how much” when looking for the natural way to heal. Earth’s Healing Dispensary is conveniently located at 2075 E. Benson Hwy. and 78 W. River Rd., in Tucson.
Visit their website at EarthsHealing.org. See ad, page 31.