Microdosing involves taking small amounts of a psychedelic drug—usually between 10-20% of a full dose. Those in favor of microdosing claim it improves mood, focus, mental health, and more. Recently, people have endorsed microdosing for productivity.
Studies on microdosing are mixed. Some research suggests that microdosing can improve brain function and mental health. However, most well-controlled research has found that microdosing is no different from placebo.
Nonetheless, a growing number of people are microdosing psychedelics, especially for focus and productivity. Does microdosing for productivity really work? Here’s what the science says.
What is Microdosing?
Microdosing involves taking a small amount of a psychedelic drug—usually between 10-20% of a full dose.
The idea with microdosing is that taking a small dose of a psychedelic can make you function better in daily life. Because microdosing doesn’t make you hallucinate, it usually doesn’t disrupt your normal routine. You can still work, socialize, think clearly, and so on—and according to its proponents, microdosing actually makes you more effective in life.
In a 2020 survey, 525 people reported that they microdose for three primary reasons: 1
- Mental health (40% of people)
- Personal development (31%)
- Cognitive enhancement (18%)
A growing number of people are microdosing for cognitive enhancement. They claim microdosing makes you more productive and improves focus.
Is that true? Does microdosing really enhance productivity? Let’s take a look at the research so far.
Can Microdosing Help with Productivity?
Research on microdosing for productivity is mixed. There have been a few studies exploring how microdosing changes cognitive performance.
A 2019 online survey had 98 people microdose psychedelics, then fill out questionnaires about their productivity and focus. People reported increased productivity and better focus. However, self-reported surveys have a high risk of bias, so the results may not be reliable. 2
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled 2020 study, researchers gave microdoses of LSD to 24 participants. Microdosing LSD enhanced attention, but impaired working memory and concentration, and did not improve overall productivity. 3
Several other double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have found that microdosing is no different from placebo when it comes to enhancing cognition or productivity. 4,5,6
Results on microdosing for productivity are mixed—although most well-controlled studies have found that microdosing has no significant effect on cognitive performance.
Even so, microdosing for productivity is popular, and more and more people claim that microdosing gives them an edge at work. It could be placebo effect, or it could really make a difference in mental performance. Research on microdosing is still young, so it’s impossible to make definitive conclusions at this point.
What Psychedelics are Used for Productivity?
Because microdosing is illegal—and thus difficult to track—there’s no formal answer to which psychedelics are most common for productivity.
However, survey research suggests that LSD and psilocybin are popular for microdosing. 1
LSD and psilocybin are likely so common because they’re both widely sold, and are easier to portion into microdoses than other psychedelics (like DMT or Ayahuasca).
Things to Consider Before Microdosing Psychedelics
Safety and tolerability studies suggest that for healthy people, microdosing psychedelics comes with few to no side effects or medical risks. 6,7
However, if you’re considering microdosing psychedelics, there are a few other risks to keep in mind.
The first is legality. Psychedelic drugs are illegal in much of the world. In the United States, psychedelics are Schedule I drugs, meaning possessing or using them is a federal crime punishable by prison time. You can check the legal status of psychedelics in your area on this legislation map.
The second risk to consider is impurity. Psychedelics on their own are fairly low-risk, from a physiological standpoint. However, because psychedelics are illegal and unregulated, sellers have no purity standards, and the drugs can be cut with other, more dangerous substances.
We aren’t recommending that you take psychedelics, as that would be illegal. However, if you do decide to microdose, make sure you trust your source, or choose a psychedelic that is difficult to fake (like dried psilocybin mushrooms).
Finally, consider the ramifications of taking a psychedelic at work or showing up with a drug in your system. If you’re caught, you may lose your job.
Make sure you’re comfortable with the risks—both legal and otherwise—before you try microdosing.
Frequently Asked Questions about Microdosing for Productivity
Here are some frequently asked questions about microdosing for productivity.
Does microdosing increase productivity?
Research is mixed on microdosing for productivity. Online surveys and a couple small studies suggest that microdosing may make you more productive. However, most well-controlled microdosing research has found that microdosing psychedelics has no effect on productivity, focus, or cognition.
How do you microdose for productivity?
A microdose is usually 10-20% of a full psychedelic dose. That translates to 10-20 micrograms of LSD or 0.35-0.70 grams of dried psilocybin mushrooms. Remember that psychedelics are illegal in the United States, and that research on microdosing for productivity is mixed, with most studies finding no effect.
Is Microdosing The New Productivity Hack?
Microdosing is an increasingly popular way to take psychedelics. A lot of people claim that microdosing psychedelics can increase productivity, focus, mood, and more.
Research on microdosing is mixed, with most well-controlled studies suggesting that microdosing doesn’t have a noticeable effect on the brain.
Nonetheless, a growing number of people are trying microdosing, and many of them claim that it makes them more effective in daily life.
If you’re going to try microdosing, make sure you’re aware of the risks. Keep in mind that psychedelics are illegal to use or possess, and only buy psychedelics from a source you trust.
1. 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
2. Polito V, Stevenson RJ. A systematic study of microdosing psychedelics. PLoS ONE. 2019;14(2):e0211023. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0211023
3. Hutten NRPW, Mason NL, Dolder PC, et al. Mood and cognition after administration of low LSD doses in healthy volunteers: A placebo controlled dose-effect finding study. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2020;41:81-91. doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2020.10.002
4. van Elk M, Fejer G, Lempe P, et al. Effects of psilocybin microdosing on awe and aesthetic experiences: a preregistered field and lab-based study. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2022;239(6):1705-1720. doi:10.1007/s00213-021-05857-0
5. de Wit H, Molla HM, Bershad A, Bremmer M, Lee R. Repeated low doses of LSD in healthy adults: A placebo-controlled, dose-response study. Addict Biol. 2022;27(2):e13143. doi:10.1111/adb.13143
6. Bershad AK, Schepers ST, Bremmer MP, Lee R, de Wit H. Acute Subjective and Behavioral Effects of Microdoses of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide in Healthy Human Volunteers. Biol Psychiatry. 2019;86(10):792-800. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2019.05.019
7. Fadiman J, Korb S. Might microdosing psychedelics be safe and beneficial? an initial exploration. J Psychoactive Drugs. 2019;51(2):118-122. doi:10.1080/02791072.2019.1593561