20 Minute Thoughts… Micro-Dosing

In the quagmire of a world consumed by the pro-life vs. pro-choice, pro-legalization vs. decriminalization vs. prohibition, and pro-euthanasia vs. pro-suffering (or pro-life if I'm being charitable), it can be worrying to learn that people do what the hell they want, have done for centuries, and will do for centuries more.

Yet, it really shouldn't surprise anyone that dangerous legal synthetic highs are used in the void left by legal marijuana in New Zealand since prohibition elsewhere has ended in communities drinking jet fuel and illegal moonshine. Propriety is often used as an excuse to claim that alcohol or drugs are bad, but it seems to me that it is another case of ‘if I can’t see or smell it, it’s not there’. Wealthy communities are home to craft beer and wine stores, while lower income areas are filled with gambling bars and crates of low-grade beer. If you have never tried Double Brown… just don’t. I call Waikato Draft ‘river water’, and not for any good reason.

Basically, even if as some of the conservative commentators say, the war on drugs was never fought properly, I would argue that any such war has been and would continue to be pointless. People innovate, get their high elsewhere, and hide their world from outsiders.

Micro-dosing has been touted as the next step in bringing illicit drugs into the light, though there is a lack of resounding evidence. However, the concept is not actually new in any way. A Native American told me that his culture had been micro-dosing for centuries, that he found it funny micro-dosing has become popular now, and that drugs must be surrounded by a ceremony to be safe. In other words for the more secular, there must be rigorous procedures.

Now all those middle class socially acceptable drug abusers can point your fingers in derision, just be careful not to drop that double brandy or a Cuban cigar. I would say ‘pot, kettle, black’, but I'm pretty sure that whiskey and water cure for a chest infection is a bullshit excuse, so the proverbial ‘pot’ has melted atop the hypocrisy.

I try and get my dose of cider at least once a week (no micro-dosing is involved). I prefer a Granny-Smith imbibed poison. There is no performance enhancement attached, only a pleasurable experience. (This is not the actual specimen. I'm writing this at 1am on a Wednesday, so I chose a stock image instead).

Many in the drug science community are claiming the idea ‘micro-dosing’ for themselves. New companies have come up with ‘neurotropic supplements’, which are like vitamins for the brain. Most are made from natural ingredients and claim to help with problem-solving, sentence construction, general alertness, and cognition. I have no idea whether they are as effective as the companies who make them claim they are, but it is another example of people dosing themselves to get an edge.

That is micro-dosing, the premise that we take a tiny dose of something that otherwise might be detrimental to us in high volumes, to gain an edge. LSD has been touted as a new way to boost focus, MDMA at low doses is supposed to help with PTSD, Marijuana is being treated as the wonder drug in many places.

Elsewhere, though not an example of micro-dosing as such, Kava has been linked to better sleep, propounded to help with anxiety, depression, and pain management. Kava is a mild soporific and may be a valid non-addictive alternative to Benzodiazepine. In other cases, reptile loving adventurers habitually inject themselves with small doses of toxic snake venom, as a morning pick-me-up (this is not advised, and it is not safe).

All those examples cannot be ignored, but neither should they be hailed as the next step in drug administration. Having said that, people will do it anyway, so we might as well explore the possible benefits.

It should be said that the whole idea of micro-dosing is not strictly radical. Medicine has been doing it for hundreds of years. That is why there are instructions on bottles which tell you to take two a day, once after breakfast and once before bed. Aspirin is an example of a drug derived from natural sources, a tree bark, that has been synthesized and measured carefully to ensure correct dosage. Medicine — even with the thorn in its side which is bad-pharma — is not playing catch-up with micro-dosing, which they would probably just call dosing.

A final note is to all those who are mistaking what I am saying for support of homoeopathy or any of that other water nonsense. Micro-dosing is dosing at safe levels, it is turning something that is far too toxic for safe human consumption into something that has benefits. Water will not cure cancer, but codeine — an opiate — is routinely added to paracetamol in low volumes so that the pain relief is more effective, and it works. I, a long sufferer of hideous migraines, can testify to it efficacy. As long as you don’t have a system that dolls out strong opiates for everything then it will not be a problem. Such a problem is caused by the system, not by sensible dosing.

It is not beyond fathoming that illicit drugs like LSD and MDMA may soon be commonplace in medicine. They could revolutionize treatment, perhaps changing our relationship with drugs forever, or not at all. I don’t know. Its just a thought.

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