Macrodosing vs. Microdosing: What's the Difference?

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

In recent years, the use of psychedelics for therapeutic and recreational purposes has gained significant attention due to the psychedelic renaissance. Two popular approaches within this realm are macrodosing and microdosing. While both involve the consumption of psychedelics, they differ in dosage, intended purpose, and effects. In this article, we will delve into the details of macrodosing and microdosing, highlighting their distinctions, benefits, and considerations.

When comparing macrodosing and microdosing, there are several distinguishing factors between these two approaches to consuming psychedelics. The most apparent contrast lies in the dosage, with microdosing involving very small amounts or doses and macrodosing representing the traditional method of consuming larger doses.

However, it is crucial to note that the disparity in dosage between macrodosing and microdosing is substantial, resulting in distinctly different experiences. Moreover, the outcomes of these two approaches also tend to vary significantly.

What is Macrodosing?

Macrodosing refers to consuming a substantial dose of psychedelics, such as LSD or magic mushrooms. It involves taking a dose that produces noticeable and often intense effects, leading to altered perceptions, heightened sensory experiences, and profound introspection. Macrodosing is typically undertaken for recreational purposes or to achieve significant therapeutic breakthroughs.

Macrodosing can induce intense hallucinations, emotional shifts, and introspective journeys. It is often sought after by individuals looking for profound insights, spiritual experiences, or enhanced creativity. However, due to its potent effects, macrodosing is not recommended for everyone, and caution must be exercised.

What is Microdosing?

Microdosing, on the other hand, involves consuming sub-perceptual doses of psychedelics. Unlike macrodosing, where the effects are profound and often overwhelming, microdosing aims to achieve subtle enhancements without significant perceptual alterations. A microdose is typically around one-tenth to one-twentieth of a typical macrodose.

Microdosing is usually carried out over an extended period, with individuals taking regular, small doses of psychedelics. The effects of microdosing are often described as a subtle shift in perception, improved mood, increased focus, and enhanced creativity. It is believed to have the potential to boost cognitive function, alleviate symptoms of anxiety or depression, and improve overall well-being.

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Macrodosing vs. Microdosing: Understanding The Dosages

Macrodosing typically leads to significant shifts in perception, cognition, and emotions. It encompasses a dosage range that extends from the threshold dose, where perceptual changes become evident, to the heroic dose, which may induce effects such as ego death.

In contrast, a microdose is typically described as a fraction of a standard recreational dose of a substance, ranging from one-tenth to one-twentieth. While microdosing commonly involves classic psychedelics like LSD, DMT, and magic mushrooms, and mescaline, it is also possible to microdose non-classic psychedelics such as 4-AcO-DMT, as well as other psychoactive drugs like cannabis and MDMA.

A microdose is intended to be below the threshold of perception, ensuring that it does not induce visual distortions or the observation of geometric patterns, regardless of whether one’s eyes are open or closed. Due to its minimal dosage, a microdose is not expected to elicit other commonly associated psychedelic effects, such as mystical experiences or intense emotional states.

Individual Dosing Differs

Determining the exact demarcation between macrodosing and microdosing is a challenging task. At what precise juncture do perceptual effects manifest? How can we differentiate between the enhancement of aesthetics (where the world appears more pleasant and vibrant on a microdose) and actual perceptual distortions? Does the perception of heightened brightness and colors imply a dosage exceeding the boundaries of microdosing? Regrettably, there are no straightforward answers to these inquiries.

In addition, it is imperative to recognize that the characterization of a microdose can diverge among individuals. This divergence arises due to the inherent differences in sensitivity that individuals possess towards psychedelic substances.

The dosage required for an individual to achieve the desired effects from microdosing can vary significantly based on their sensitivity to these compounds. A highly sensitive individual may find that they need to consume a much smaller dose compared to a higher dose for someone else. Conversely, what might be considered an optimal microdose for someone else could potentially surpass the threshold dose for this particular individual.

Although macrodosing and microdosing can be conceptually differentiated, in practice, the task becomes considerably more challenging.

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Macrodosing vs. Microdosing: The Different Effects

A key aspect to consider when comparing macrodosing and microdosing is the distinctive array of experiences that each approach entails.

Effects Of Macrodosing

The subjective effects of macrodosing surpass those of microdosing in terms of their magnitude and influence.

Visual Effects

  • Distorted depth perception: Altered sense of depth and distance between objects.

  • Shifting colors: Colors appearing to change or fluctuate.

  • Tracers: Trails or afterimages left by moving objects.

  • Enhanced colors: Perception of intensified and vivid hues in the visual field.

  • Geometric hallucinations: Visual perception of intricate and complex geometric patterns.

  • Morphing of objects: Objects appearing to change shape, size, or form.

Auditory Effects


  • Heightened perception or sensory experiences

  • Amplified effects or intensification

  • Augmentation of cognitive functions


  • Altered perception of reality or sensory input

  • Modification of thought patterns or cognitive processes

  • Distorted sense of time or space


  • Perceptual experiences without external stimuli

  • Visual, auditory, or sensory illusions

  • Altered states of consciousness or imagined sensations

Cognitive Effects


  • Enhanced self-reflection and introspective thinking

  • Heightened awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, and inner experiences


  • Altered beliefs or perceptions, often temporary and non-reality-based

  • Distorted interpretations of oneself, others, or the surrounding environment

Increased music appreciation

  • Heightened enjoyment and emotional connection to music

  • Enhanced perception of musical nuances and subtleties

Increased sense of humor and laughter

  • Heightened amusement and tendency to find things funny

  • More frequent laughter and elevated appreciation of humor

Thought acceleration

  • Faster thinking processes and mental agility

  • Quick generation and flow of thoughts and ideas

Time distortion

  • Altered perception of time passage, either sped up or slowed down

  • Distorted sense of time intervals and duration

Emotional Effects

Positive Emotions:

  • Euphoria: Intense feelings of happiness and elation.

  • Bliss: Profound state of joy and contentment.

  • Joy: Genuine delight and pleasure.

Empathy and Compassion:

  • Empathy: Enhanced ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

  • Compassion: Deep concern and care for the well-being of others.

Negative Emotions:

  • Anxiety: Unsettling sense of unease or apprehension.

  • Fear: Distinct feeling of being afraid or threatened.

  • Panic: Overwhelming and uncontrollable sense of fear or terror.

Profound Experiences:

  • Ego dissolution: Dissolution or transcendence of the sense of self.

  • Transcendence of time and space: Experience of going beyond conventional notions of time and space.

  • Connection to the sacred: Sense of encountering the holy, sacred, or divine.

  • Unity and interconnectedness: Feelings of unity and interconnection with everything around.

  • Ineffability: Difficulty in expressing or describing the experience in words.

Macroscopic Dosing Benefits:

  • Improvement or recovery from conditions such as depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, alcoholism, and drug addiction.

  • Enhanced open-mindedness and receptiveness to new ideas and perspectives.

  • Heightened connection and appreciation of nature, also known as nature-relatedness.

  • Reduction or elimination of the fear of death.

  • Strengthened sense of purpose and meaning in life.

  • Increased authenticity in self-expression and behavior.

  • Access to a wider range of positive emotions, including joy, gratitude, awe, and compassion towards oneself and others.

  • Integration of the psychedelic experience into daily life, potentially through practices like meditation, leading to a more spiritual lifestyle.

  • Motivation and inspiration to make significant changes in various aspects of life, such as relationships, career, hobbies, personal projects, goals, diet, and habits.

Related: The Benefits of Macrodosing

Effects Of Microdosing

The Potential of Microdosing:

While microdosing may not induce the typical psychedelic experiences, it holds promise for various other effects and benefits. However, the existing evidence base regarding the actual advantages of microdosing remains inconclusive.

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A recent study conducted by Imperial College London in 2021 suggested that the observed benefits of microdosing could be attributed to the placebo effect. However, several other placebo-controlled studies have indicated that microdoses of LSD do have genuine effects beyond placebo.

Furthermore, research has revealed that individuals who engage in microdosing tend to exhibit higher scores on certain well-being and cognition assessments compared to those who do not microdose. These findings imply the potential for positive impacts on mental and cognitive functioning associated with microdosing.

Addressing the Limitations of Microdosing Studies:

It is important to acknowledge that studies relying on surveys alone do not establish a causal relationship between microdosing and the reported differences. There could be confounding factors at play, such as individuals with better mental health being more inclined to microdose, or an unidentified common cause that both promotes microdosing and enhances creativity.

Benefits of Microdosing Shrooms:

When it comes to microdosing shrooms, individuals have reported various positive effects, including:

  • Enhanced energy levels

  • Improved mood

  • Reductions in symptoms of depression, anxiety, and rumination

  • Heightened concentration

  • Increased productivity

  • Positive impacts on relationships

  • Strengthened connection to self

  • Boosted creativity

  • Positive influence on lifestyle habits

Microdosing magic mushrooms has been associated with these potential benefits, as reported by individuals who have engaged in this practice.

RELATED: Are There Benefits To Microdosing Magic Mushrooms?

Macrodosing vs. Microdosing: What The Science Says

The evidence supporting the effectiveness of microdosing differs from that of macrodosing, as previously mentioned.

While there are numerous compelling anecdotal reports from microdosers highlighting the transformative effects of tiny doses of psychedelics on their mental health, relationships, and personal growth, it remains unclear to what extent these benefits are influenced by the placebo effect.

In contrast, macrodosing has been the subject of several rigorous placebo-controlled studies, demonstrating significant therapeutic benefits. Now, let’s delve into some of the most noteworthy studies examining both microdosing and macrodosing.

Research On Macrodosing

Significant research on the therapeutic application of high doses of psychedelics, when combined with psychotherapy, has shown promising outcomes in various areas.

Mushroom-assisted therapy has demonstrated effectiveness in treating major depression, treatment-resistant depression, end-of-life anxiety, PTSD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and smoking addiction. Additionally, it facilitates emotional connection and can lead to profoundly meaningful and mystical experiences.

Ibogaine has been effective in supporting individuals in their recovery from stimulant, opiate, and alcohol addiction, while also significantly reducing withdrawal symptoms.

Ketamine treatment has shown success in addressing major depression, treatment-resistant depression, suicidality, and treatment-resistant PTSD.

MDMA therapy has shown positive results in helping patients with PTSD, social anxiety, alcoholism, and relationship difficulties.

Ayahuasca has shown potential in improving symptoms of depression and PTSD, as well as aiding in addiction recovery.

These findings highlight the potential of utilizing psychedelics in combination with therapy to address a range of mental health conditions and promote healing and well-being.

Research On Microdosing

The efficacy of microdosing has been explored through double-blind randomized controlled trials (RCTs), which are considered the gold standard in research. These studies have uncovered valuable insights:

  • In a 2020 study from the Journal of Psychopharmacology, it was discovered that a microdose of LSD could result in a reduction in people’s perception of pain.

  • According to a 2020 study published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, microdoses have the potential to enhance positive mood, friendliness, and attention. However, it is worth noting that increased confusion and anxiety may also occur.

  • A 2019 study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry revealed that microdoses of LSD produced subjective effects that were dose-dependent. However, these microdoses did not significantly impact working memory, cognitive functioning, and, in fact, creativity was found to be impaired.

These findings shed light on the effects of microdosing and provide valuable insights into its potential benefits and considerations.

It is important to mention that some research findings indicate that doses of 20 micrograms (mcg) of LSD can produce effects beyond those of a typical microdose. This dosage may be considered too high for many individuals seeking a microdosing experience.

Apart from studies that utilize placebo controls, other research also suggests the potential benefits of microdosing:

  • A 2021 study in Psychopharmacology discovered that microdosers tend to exhibit higher scores in measures of wisdom, open-mindedness, creativity, and lower scores in measures of unhealthy beliefs and negative emotions, when compared to non-microdosers.

  • Findings from a 2019 study in PLOS One indicate that microdosing can contribute to a reduction in depression and mind wandering, while simultaneously increasing levels of neuroticism.

  • According to a 2021 study published in Scientific Reports, adults who engage in microdosing report lower levels of anxiety and depression compared to non-microdosers.

These additional studies provide further insights into the potential benefits associated with microdosing, expanding our understanding of its effects on various aspects of mental well-being.

macrodosing magic muchrooms

Macrodoses And Microdoses Are Taken In Different Contexts

One crucial distinction between microdosing and macrodosing is the unique contexts in which these doses are taken.

When engaging in microdosing, the profound alteration of your mind is minimal. This allows you to seamlessly proceed with your daily activities as usual. A microdose should not hinder your ability to function, work, or interact with others.

Conversely, if you opt for a macrodose, it’s important to acknowledge that you cannot expect to work or engage in conversations in the same manner as you typically would. While a threshold or light dose of a psychedelic may enable you to carry out everyday tasks without anyone noticing your altered state, higher doses are more likely to draw your focus solely to the psychedelic effects.

Macrodoses themselves are often consumed in various contexts, influenced by factors such as dosage and personal preferences. For instance, a low dose might be suitable for engaging in creative activities, while a heroic dose would be better suited for profound introspection.

By delving into the depths of macrodosing versus microdosing, you now have a clearer understanding of the purposes these distinct dosages can serve and the current scientific understanding of their effectiveness.

If your goal in using psychedelics is to facilitate significant improvements in your mental health, macrodosing in a supportive setting would be the more dependable choice.

When to Choose Macrodosing

Macrodosing is typically chosen in specific situations or for particular goals. Some individuals seek macrodosing to explore the depths of their consciousness, gain profound insights, or engage in spiritual experiences. It can be a transformative journey that challenges one’s perspectives and helps in personal growth. Macrodosing can also be used recreationally by those looking for intense psychedelic experiences.

However, it is crucial to approach macrodosing responsibly. It should be undertaken in a safe and controlled environment with proper preparation and support. It is not recommended for individuals with a history of mental health issues or those who are not adequately prepared for the potentially intense effects.

When to Choose Microdosing

Microdosing is suitable for individuals who seek subtle enhancements in their day-to-day lives. It can be beneficial for those looking to improve focus, boost creativity, alleviate mild anxiety or depression, or enhance overall well-being. Microdosing is often integrated into one’s routine over an extended period, with individuals taking regular small doses at specific intervals.

Microdosing can be particularly helpful for professionals, artists, or individuals seeking cognitive enhancements without significant alterations in perception. It is important to note that microdosing should not be seen as a cure-all solution, and its effects may vary between individuals. It is always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating microdosing into one’s routine.


To summarize, macrodosing and microdosing represent two distinct approaches to the use of psychedelics. Macrodosing involves consuming substantial doses to induce intense experiences and gain profound insights. It is often sought after for recreational or spiritual purposes. On the other hand, microdosing involves taking small sub-perceptual doses to enhance day-to-day functioning, mood, and creativity.

Both approaches have their unique benefits and considerations, and the choice between macrodosing and or microdosing psychedelics depends on individual preferences, goals, and the context in which they are used. It is essential to approach the use of psychedelics with caution, responsible decision-making, and awareness of the potential risks and benefits.


  1. Is macrodosing legal?

    The legality of macrodosing depends on the specific psychedelic substance and the jurisdiction in which you reside. It is important to research and understand the legal regulations regarding psychedelics in your location.

  2. Can microdosing be used for recreational purposes?

    Microdosing is typically not used for recreational purposes as its effects are subtle and not intended to induce intense psychedelic experiences. It is more commonly employed for cognitive enhancement and well-being.

  3. Are there any risks associated with macrodosing?

    Macrodosing can carry certain risks, especially for individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions. The intense effects and altered states of consciousness can be overwhelming for some individuals, potentially leading to challenging experiences. It is advisable to approach macrodosing with caution and in a supportive environment.

  4. Can microdosing enhance creativity?

    Microdosing has been reported to enhance creativity in some individuals. By subtly altering perception and cognition, it may facilitate new connections and perspectives, leading to increased creative thinking.

  5. How long do the effects of macrodosing last?

    The duration of macrodosing effects can vary depending on the specific substance and dosage. Generally, the effects can last anywhere from 6 to 12 hours, with residual effects potentially extending beyond that timeframe.

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