Finding the right dose of cannabis can give you the therapeutic benefits of the plant without interfering with your daily routine.
According to the NIH National Cancer Institute, cannabis may provide a variety of health and wellness benefits, including relief of pain, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and loss of appetite. But if consumed in excess, the psychotropic or mind-altering effects can interfere with your ability to function throughout your day.
Enter a new trend: Microdosing.
Microdosing, or consuming low doses of THC repeatedly over time, has experienced a surge of popularity recently. The moderated consumption method is said to date back to the 70s, when Swiss scientist Dr. Albert Hofmann regularly ingested small doses – or hits – of LSD believing it could provide therapeutic value.
Turns out, the concept of smaller doses translates well to cannabis. For many women, low doses of THC are a part of their regular health routine to manage stress, anxiety and other ailments.
“When I started thinking about what cannabis could do for me beyond being a fun way to relax and a party drug, I realized that when I smoked, I was less anxious, more optimistic, less depressed, and in less pain from various injuries and ailments,” said Carrie Rice, a nonprofit consultant. “I decided to try to find out what the exact dosage would be for me to get the best of all of these factors.”
How Much THC is in a Microdose?
How much constitutes a microdose is relative to the consumer. A typical microdose is somewhere between one and 10 milligrams. However, a person’s weight, sensitivity to medications, and tolerance level means a less-frequent consumer might find 2.5 milligrams of THC is just right while 15 milligrams may be perfect for someone else.
Edibles are a common form of cannabis that can be used for microdosing. Medicated edible products are often available in measured incremental amounts so you can figure out the dose that is right for you. For example, a 100 milligram chocolate bar may come in ten 10-milligram pieces you can break off. To microdose, you may want to start with half of that – 5 milligrams – or even one-fourth for a 2.5-milligram microdose.
Ingesting microdoses of THC can be done through a variety of methods including cookies and crackers and beverages such as teas but while you can modify portions, they may be less precise in terms of dosing. Tinctures can be easy to microdose if you have a dropper with milliliter markers. The manufactured ingestible products like mints, tablets and capsules tend to be more precise in terms of potency and easier to determine a dose, however, you want to purchase a lower dose because they are harder to cut up.
While you can microdose by smoking or vaping cannabis, the doses can be more challenging to measure. One puff or two or more? A few vape pens, like the Ario Vape, provide more precise temperature control to release specific cannabinoids and terpenes based on temperature increments.
It’s easy to miss the mark on your ideal dose when inhaling cannabis, so start by taking in less and gradually increase your intake until you obtain the effects you’re seeking. Because the effects from inhaling cannabis are nearly immediate, you can quickly gauge when you begin to feel something. Stop consuming once you experience a pleasant calm and before it turns into a deeper, “stoned” feeling.
Who Should Microdose?
Microdosing is for anyone who wants to reap the benefits of consuming cannabis without triggering the psychoactive or lethargic effects that can come with higher doses. Microdosing is popular for fueling creativity and inspiration as well as productivity and focus to get work done and meet deadlines.
In some cases, cannabis has been used to replace pharmaceuticals that have undesirable side effects. You should not consume cannabis if you are taking medications until you research potential interactions. You should also think twice about discontinuing any medications you are currently taking in favor of cannabis without reliable, professional guidance.
How Much Should I Take?
If you’re going the edibles route, the rule is to always “start low and go slow.” Take a small amount and be patient. Edibles can take much longer than smoking or vaping to take effect – up to 30 or 45 minutes while your stomach digests and liver processes the THC. Tinctures taken under your tongue will hit you faster.
Be patient. You’ll need to go through some trial and error to figure out the appropriate dosage for you. Some people only need a couple of milligrams, while others may consume an entire 100mg THC bar and claim to feel little effects.
“I found that if I don’t use cannabis every day, a 25 milligram dosage of an edible on an empty stomach produced a day of optimism, low pain, and relaxation,” Carrie explains. “I discovered that if I hit a decent quality oil out of a vape pen – as much as 75% THC – in the middle of my work day, I could immediately calm down before I ended up yelling at someone.”
While 5 milligrams of THC in a product you purchase should always equal 5 milligrams, be cautious when trying new products. You never know how anything you ingest will affect your body and brain. Because of the different absorption rates of edibles depending on how they are made and how you digest them, you might feel the effects of a THC tea quickly but require three THC mints to feel the same effects.
Carrie tried several different intake methods as well as different strains with different cannabinoid profiles to find the right microdose.
“I compared THC and CBD. I compared Indica, Sativa, and hybrids. I tried vape pens, edibles, and regular bud. I kept records of dosages based on my study.”
Over time, Carrie figured out that CBD alone didn’t help with her pain but a 1:1 ratio of THC:CBD was perfect for her. She also discovered that straight Sativa made her more anxious and straight Indica made her too sleepy, so she sought out Sativa-dominant hybrid strains for eating, smoking, and vaping.
“Now I’m generally happy with what’s available, although it’s still very expensive to maintain. I think I found my magic dosage,” says Carrie.
Keep a journal of your experiments, record the time of day you ingest, note your mood before and after consumption, and detail the effects you feel – both positive and negative. Track the THC and CBD ratios of the products you consume as well as the strains, if you know them.
Most dispensaries will clearly identify strains and even provide you with a printout of test results that outline the percentages of each main compound contained in the product. Eventually, you’ll be able to determine what form of cannabis and what dose works for you.
If you’re new to cannabis, microdosing can be a great introduction to the benefits of the plant without experiencing an extreme effect. By giving your body smaller amounts of cannabis, you can gain the benefits of cannabis without that feeling of “getting high.”
About the Writer:
Dayna Schmidt-Johnson is a digital marketer based in Chicago. She works with a content-first attitude as she builds websites, blogs and email campaigns. She is thrilled to add Ellementa to her expanding cannabis portfolio that also includes Chicago Artizen, Quantum 9, THSuite and CannaVExpo.