Microdosing is when you take a small amount of a psychedelic drug—usually about 10-20% of a full dose—and then go about your day normally. Proponents say that microdosing enhances your creativity, focus, mood, and mental health without causing psychedelic effects. However, research on the benefits of microdosing is mixed.
Most people microdose either psilocybin (mushrooms) or LSD (acid). It’s more difficult to microdose Ayahuasca, although it’s technically possible.
Here’s a look at Ayahuasca microdosing, as well as its possible benefits and drawbacks.
What is Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is a psychedelic brew originally from South America. It’s made from plants that contain two important ingredients:
- N,N—Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a powerful hallucinogen
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), compounds that prevent your body from breaking DMT down
As a result, the DMT in Ayahuasca stays in your system for several hours, causing an extended psychedelic experience (often called a “trip”).
Ayahuasca’s effects may include: 1
- Ego death (a feeling of oneness with the world around you)
- Visual and auditory hallucinations
- Altered sense of time
- Mystical experiences (the perception that you’re communicating with spiritual beings, a sense of enlightenment, etc.)
- Increased empathy
- Increased self-awareness
- Loss of psychological control (could be a positive or negative experience)
Traditionally, you take Ayahuasca as part of a traditional ceremony. A shaman prepares the brew from South American jungle plants—a process that takes several days—and then leads you through the Ayahuasca experience, which may also include chanting, music, tobacco pipe smoking, and other ceremonial practices.
What is microdosing?
Microdosing is when you take a small amount of a psychedelic—usually around 10-20% of a full dose. In most cases, a microdose won’t cause any hallucinations or changes in your perception. You’ll hardly feel it, if at all, and will be able to go about your day normally.
In a 2020 survey, people reported that they microdose for three main reasons: 2
- Mental health (40% of people)
- Personal development (31%)
- Mental focus (18%)
However, research on microdosing is mixed. Several studies have found that the benefits of microdosing seem to be placebo effect—people only feel benefits because they expect to feel them—and that a microdose is too small to cause any measurable changes in your brain. 3,4
Other research suggests that microdosing does measurably change your brain chemistry, although its effect on participants’ behavior was either unclear or a mix of positive and negative changes (for example, some participants cycled between slightly elevated mood and bouts of mild anxiety). 5,6
It’s not yet clear whether microdosing has real benefits. Nonetheless, many people claim it’s helpful, and there seem to be few to no side effects.
Can you microdose Ayahuasca?
While it is technically possible to microdose Ayahuasca, it’s hard to do and is exceedingly rare, especially in the United States.
A few things make Ayahuasca microdosing difficult.
- Ayahuasca tea doesn’t last. Ayahuasca takes multiple days to make and you have to drink the brew fresh—its potency degrades as it sits. If you want to microdose consistently, you’d have to almost always have a pot of Ayahuasca boiling.
- Ingredients for Ayahuasca are difficult to find, especially in the United States. You make Ayahuasca from very specific vines and leaves native to the Amazonian jungle, and you have to process them with care—usually, an Ayahuasca recipe is passed down by indigenous Amazonian shamans and you need hands-on training to make it properly.
- Dosing is difficult. Even if you do get a consistent supply of Ayahuasca, it’s difficult to dose it precisely. Potency varies depending on the plants you use, how fresh they are, how you brew the Ayahuasca, and how long you let it cook. In most Ayahuasca ceremonies, you continue drinking the brew until you feel its psychedelic effects, but in the case of a microdose, where you don’t want to feel any psychedelic effects, it’s harder to judge how much Ayahuasca to drink.
For these reasons, microdosing Ayahuasca can be difficult.
That said, some people do microdose a version of Ayahuasca in countries outside the U.S., where the materials and cultural knowledge to brew it are more widespread.
Andrés Campos is an Ayahuascaquero who leads ceremonies at Casa de la Luz, an Ayahuasca retreat in Costa Rica. He says:
“You can microdose a part of the Ayahuasca brew. In this case the Banisteriopsis caapi. It can be taken in powder as a dietary supplement or make a brew without the DMT-containing plant that you can take in drops every day. This was used by indigenous communities as it is described just using teaspoons.
Microdosing the full Ayahuasca brew (with chacruna) doesn’t show the consistency needed to heal and can lead to unwanted effects, like feeling tired in the morning, headaches, small trips, and nausea. I am sure it works for some people but is not what I have witnessed.”
Microdosing Other Psychedelics
If you intend to experiment with microdosing, you’d be better off choosing a psychedelic other than Ayahuasca. Keep in mind that possession of any psychedelic drug is illegal and could lead to pentalties and jail time.
The two most common psychedelics for microdosing are psilocybin mushrooms and LSD.
Microdosing psilocybin mushrooms
Psilocybin mushrooms are a common choice for microdosing. Because they’re a natural product, psilocybin content varies from mushroom to mushroom. However, you can still dose psilocybin mushrooms fairly accurately.
A standard full dose of psilocybin mushrooms is an eighth of an ounce (about 3.5 grams).
A psilocybin microdose would be anywhere from 10-20% (0.35-0.7 grams) of a full dose of mushrooms. In that dosing range, you may experience very mild changes in your consciousness, but you’ll probably be able to go through your day as usual.
Keep in mind that mushroom stems contain more psilocybin than mushroom caps do and that if you see a large amount of blue bruising on a mushroom’s stem, that mushroom may be particularly high in psilocybin, and you may want to err on the side of a lighter dose.
LSD usually comes on blotter paper, with a full dose of 100 micrograms per paper square.
A microdose of LSD would be 10-20% of a square (10-20 micrograms of LSD)—not much more than a tiny corner of an already small piece of paper. If you decide to microdose LSD, you may want to use an Exacto knife or similarly precise tool to cut off your microdose.
We aren’t encouraging you to take these drugs, but if you choose to do so, the above guidelines may help you avoid harm.
Microdosing frequently asked questions about microdosing
How much is a microdose?
A psychedelic microdose is usually 10-20% of a full dose. The specific amount varies depending on the psychedelic you take. For example, a psilocybin microdose is usually 0.35-0.70 grams of mushrooms, while an LSD microdose is 10-20 micrograms of LSD or 10-20% of a piece of blotter paper.
What are the benefits of microdosing?
People who microdose claim that it gives them enhanced focus, productivity, creativity, and a boost in mood. However, research on microdosing is mixed. Some studies have found that microdosing changes your brain in measurable ways, while others show no difference between microdosing and placebo.
Are there side effects to microdosing?
Microdosing may cause mild anxiety. However, there are no known major side effects to microdosing and it seems to be reasonably safe. Keep in mind that we’re not doctors and this is not medical advice, and that microdosing is currently illegal and you do it at your own risk.
Things to know about Ayahuasca microdosing
What is Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is a psychedelic brew native to South America. It’s made from plants native to the Amazon jungle and contains DMT, a powerful psychedelic, as well as compounds that stop your body from breaking DMT down. Most people take Ayahuasca in the context of a traditional Ayahuasca ceremony.
What is microdosing?
- Microdosing involves taking a small amount of a psychedelic, usually at a low enough dose that you don’t experience hallucinogenic effects.
- People who microdose claim it improves mental focus, creativity, mood, and productivity.
- However, research on microdosing is mixed.
- Several studies suggest that microdosing may be mostly or entirely placebo effect.
- Other studies have found that microdosing measurably changes brain function.
- There are few to no known side effects of microdosing psychedelics.
Can you microdose Ayahuasca?
- While it’s technically possible to microdose Ayahuasca, doing so is very difficult for several reasons.
- Ayahuasca takes multiple days to brew and you have to drink it fresh.
- You also have to have access to rare jungle plants found in the Amazon rainforest.
- It’s difficult to dose Ayahuasca accurately.
- Potency varies depending on the plants you use, how fresh they are, how long you cook them, and the other ingredients you add to the brew.
- For these reasons, almost nobody microdoses Ayahuasca.
Microdosing other psychedelics
Psilocybin mushrooms and LSD are the two most common psychedelics people use for microdosing. A standard microdose for psilocybin is 0.35-0.70 grams of mushrooms, while a standard LSD microdose is 10-20 micrograms, or 10-20% of a piece of blotter paper.
While it’s technically possible to microdose Ayahuasca, it’s very inconvenient to do. You have to drink Ayahuasca fresh after brewing it, which takes several days and uses South American jungle plants that are hard to find in the United States. On top of all that, Ayahuasca is difficult to dose precisely.
If you want to microdose a psychedelic, you may want to choose psilocybin or LSD instead. They’re easier to acquire and dose accurately and are what most people choose for microdosing.
1. Hamill J, Hallak J, Dursun SM, Baker G. Ayahuasca: psychological and physiologic effects, pharmacology and potential uses in addiction and mental illness. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2019;17(2):108-128. doi:10.2174/1570159X16666180125095902
2. Lea T, Amada N, Jungaberle H, Schecke H, Klein M. Microdosing psychedelics: Motivations, subjective effects and harm reduction. Int J Drug Policy. 2020;75:102600. doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.11.008
3. Szigeti B, Kartner L, Blemings A, et al. Self-blinding citizen science to explore psychedelic microdosing. eLife. 2021;10. doi:10.7554/eLife.62878
4. Marschall J, Fejer G, Lempe P, et al. Psilocybin microdosing does not affect emotion-related symptoms and processing: A preregistered field and lab-based study. J Psychopharmacol (Oxford). 2022;36(1):97-113. doi:10.1177/02698811211050556
5. Murray CH, Tare I, Perry CM, Malina M, Lee R, de Wit H. Low doses of LSD reduce broadband oscillatory power and modulate event-related potentials in healthy adults. Psychopharmacology (Berl). Published online October 6, 2021. doi:10.1007/s00213-021-05991-9
6. Kuypers KPC. The therapeutic potential of microdosing psychedelics in depression. Ther Adv Psychopharmacol. 2020;10:2045125320950567. doi:10.1177/2045125320950567