The drive to be successful while also maintaining a work/life balance, and the fear of missing out on either, is a strong motivator. It’s no great surprise that when something seems to help, it tends to catch on. Microdosing, the practice of ingesting psychedelic substances in sub-perceptible quantities, has experienced massive growth in popularity in recent years, making its way from fringe alternative medicine to a new practice of workplace performance enhancement. A 2017 Financial Times article is just one of many documented examples of microdosing finding its way into wider work and wellness cultures. Harm reduction is, understandably, at the forefront of the conversation about microdosing among professionals.
Healing and Optimizing
To try and understand this better, I reached out to Dr. Molly Maloof, a GP from San Francisco mentioned in that same Financial Times article. Dr. Maloof offers harm reduction advice to patients interested in microdosing with psychedelics. She also focuses on personalized nutrition, and works as an advisor and strategy consultant to companies in and around San Francisco working in the biotechnology, digital health, nutrition, and food industries. She agreed to field some questions about microdosing, and gave me some intriguing answers.
1. When and how did you become aware of microdosing as a trend?
I have been known for my foresight, and I have been studying psychedelics since I was in my early 20’s. So when microdosing came along, I first heard about it through the entrepreneurial communities I was a part of. Founders were telling me that they were microdosing to improve their performance. Later I discovered (while I was interviewing James Fadiman at a Biohackers meetup at an Amazon.com coworking space on Market Street in San Francisco) that individuals were using these medicines to find their purpose or heal their minds from anxiety or depression.
2. Tell us a bit about the sort of patient you see interested in microdosing psychedelics?
People often contact me through my Instagram handle: @drmolly.co after I post scientific research on psychedelics. People report to me all the time how much microdosing has changed their life and different ways they do it. It’s super commonplace in Silicon Valley. People outside of San Francisco or LA often message me that they have trouble finding sources. Sadly, I cannot recommend to them any pharmaceutical grade products (aside from ketamine prescription through licensed doctors) and the website Thirdwave so they can educate themselves. We need microdosing options that are from reliable sources that have been approved by the FDA. These are coming.
3. To what degree are you seeing microdosing integrated into wider wellness practices?
I think a lot of people are self-medicating for mood, focus and attention issues. But, some people are microdosing to enhance human performance and improve their ability to drop into flow states more effectively.
4. What harm reduction advice would you typically give to a patient interested in or currently engaging in microdosing psychedelics?
The most important harm reduction strategies are to find a good source and know your dose and follow the perennial statement, “Start low, go slow, titrate up.”
5. What are some of the risks involved?
The risks are related to the sourcing first and foremost. Because it is an unregulated market a lot of people are not dealing with pharmaceutical grade medicine. This can lead to errors in dosing and unwanted side effects.
6. How do you see microdosing moving forward? What would your ideal vision of legalized psychedelics look like for patients and practitioners, and for the medical and wellness fields as a whole?
I would love to see more pharmaceutical companies offering legalized microdosing protocols for mental health and in fact I believe we will see plenty of companies come out in this space in the next 10 – 20 years. It’s a very bright future for psychedelics because there is so much investment going into this space and there will likely be a rainbow of options of different medicines available to treat different disorders. I personally would like to see a future where microdosing is something people can be prescribed to optimize health but currently the FDA does not approve performance or health enhancing drugs. Their paradigm is sickness fixing and we need to change that.
The Microdosing Shift
Microdosing is clearly here to stay. Improved mood, focus, attention, and the ability to effectively enter flow states and increase productivity and wellness side-by-side are achievable goals. Their pursuit is not without risk but is based on a growing community and store of knowledge. Unfortunately, the practice of microdosing is still illegal, and if Dr. Maloof’s desired future is to come to pass, a shifting and widening of regulatory frameworks are necessary. The growing interest in psychedelics makes this possible, but the work is still only just beginning. We’re looking forward to following the journey.