Is Microdosing Pot a Future Treatment for Pain, Insomnia and Anxiety?

Less being more may sound like a thought typical stoners might have, but that is exactly what science is now proving true. Doctors who prescribe medical marijuana to patients are fast learning that most of them respond better to lower, more frequent doses of pot than to higher, less regular ones. This is becoming increasingly noticeable, and as word spreads of its benefits, more people are microdosing.


Marijuana is now legal in 30 states, including the District of Columbia, all of whom allow use of it for either medical or recreational purposes. People within these states are microdosing more and more, usually via edibles and for various health reasons, from easing anxiety, depression, and chronic pain to treating headaches, gastrointestinal upset and even premenstrual stress.


The list of medical uses for marijuana is proving endless. More evidence is emerging every day. Others nibble on pot goodies to kill their insomnia or enhance their creativity, especially when they have to focus on a major work project. Who uses pot to work, though? It may sound crazy and impractical, but experts insist that there is great merit in microdosing for any health conscious individual, even at work.


Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the psychoactive chemical responsible for the psychological effects of marijuana. THC is what gets users high, and it can reduce anxiety and relieve pain. It does this by stimulating the body’s own endocannabinoid system, which is a network of receptors playing crucial roles in our mood and physiology.


However, too much THC is distressing, uncomfortable, and even paranoiac. This is what Dustin Sulak says, a prominent expert on microdosing and an integrative physician in Falmouth, Maine. This is the benefit of taking smaller doses, between two and five milligrams. Some edibles contain 100 milligrams, so you get all the rewards of microdosing without any negatives, and it will not make you high.


Julie Holland, a psychiatrist in New York City puts it into other, more understandable words. She says, “You will see the strongest response at low doses and again at high doses, but at high doses, there are often unpleasant side effects. Most experts agree that microdosing is a safe method of marijuana consumption, but they unanimously warn of widespread research limitations.


However, several studies now prove the effectiveness of cannabis for treating pain, insomnia, and anxiety. If you wish to replace either prescription anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, or painkiller medications with marijuana or to treat yourself using a combination of both, it is important to discuss your options with your physician or therapist first.


If you do decide to try cannabis for these afflictions, it is important to start slowly and at very low doses to determine how your body responds to it. Low dose edibles are among the safest choices, and you should read the labels carefully to know how many milligrams of THC they contain. Concentrated oils and tinctures are the easiest to administer. Simply drop some onto your tongue or mix it into your food.


Cannabis oils and tinctures allow you to get a more precise dosage than you would smoking a joint or eating it, as Bonni Goldstein, M.D. and marijuana physician explains. She advises avoiding edibles, such as cupcakes, brownies, or cookies, as they often contain 10 milligrams or more of THC. Although you can break them into smaller doses, it is impossible to dose accurately that way.

More importantly, quality is everything. Scoring some pot from a friend of your cousin’s girlfriend is ill advised and you should rather avoid it. To ensure that the THC listed on the label is actually in the product, you should procure it from a licensed dispensary state-regulated for safety and quality, or from a reputable caregiver licensed by the state to grow limited amounts of marijuana.

Because cannabis affects everyone differently, a two-milligram chocolate dose may help you focus and accomplish your goals, but it may put your friend to sleep. Finding the right dose for you involves some experimentation, but integrative physician Dustin Sulak, D.O., offers this blueprint for finding your ideal cannabis dosage:

  1. It is important to take an “inventory” of your body before you consume marijuana. On a scale of 1 to 10, rate your breathing, your level of comfort sitting still, the simplicity of smiling, and, if you are microdosing to treat pain, insomnia or anxiety, then note how your symptoms feel each day.
  2. Consume just one milligram of THC and wait 90 minutes. Use either an oil or a tincture, or you can halve a 2.5-milligram edible. When the 90 minutes is up, redo your inner inventory.
  3. Repeat this process twice every day, once in the morning and once in the evening, for at least three days. This will give your body the time it needs to acclimatize itself to the THC. On day four, if your scores remain unchanged, then increase your dose by one milligram.
  4. Every three days, add another milligram to your dosage until you find the dose that improves your symptoms effectively. That is your optimal dose, and for most people, it is between three and five milligrams. If you starting feeling psychoactive effects, meaning that you feel stoned, then decrease your dose by a milligram.

Plenty of scientific and anecdotal evidence exists showing the efficacy of marijuana for treating chronic pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia. Microdosing is the most effective way to treat these conditions, and the trend of taking smaller doses is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, microdosing will likely become the future of medical marijuana consumption.

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