Creative renaissance – Microdosing LSD in Silicon Valley

In our fast-paced world, it has become rather common for everyone (or at least most people) to look for ways to enhance productivity.  Every day, we find new methods of increasing productivity to levels in which we can actually stay up to speed in this competitive world.  

From technological tools to natural energy boosters (for a more personal use) we can see them all around us on a daily basis.  Think about it, for most of us a cup of coffee was enough to keep us awake, or at least give us that extra “push” to finish our work day, right?  Yet today we see people using energy drinks, vitamins, testosterone boosters, etc.

Lately, this need to improve our performance in everyday life and especially at work has made many people look beyond the more traditional cup of coffee, energy drinks, and food and start paying attention to new trends that are slowly but surely gaining ground.

One of these, and to be honest the most shocking one (at least for some), has attracted people’s attention especially after it was featured in Rolling Stone Magazine in late 2015 in an article called “How LSD Microdosing Became the Hot New Business Trip”.

I understand there are many social barriers with such a controversial topic as LSD, but let’s look at the facts before we jump to conclusions.  I always like to start from the beginning in order to get a much clearer picture of a specific topic.  Thus, let’s start with LSD from the best place to start:

Origin of LSD and Bicycle day.

One wouldn’t expect a drug to have a “noble” and “scientific” birth.  After all, drugs are bad (or, so we are told).  This is precisely where we can start noticing some of the peculiarities of LSD compared to other “more obscure” drugs known today.

Contrary to what most people would believe, LSD was not developed in a basement while hiding from the police. It was actually developed by a Chemist, Albert Hoffman, who worked at Sandoz Laboratories, in Basel. This Swiss scientist didn’t just stumble into the drug by accident, well at least not completely.  

Actually, he was working on a research project which involved a type of parasitic fungus that grows on rye (ergot).  This fungus had been said to poison hundreds during the middle ages.  Ergot itself, however, was not just known for these deaths, it was also commonly used by midwives back then as a means of speeding up labor, thus making childbirth safer for mothers.  This practice by midwives, however, was later discontinued since doctors determined that using a high dose would actually endanger the baby.

Ergot was the origin of lysergic acid, which was isolated from it in the Rockefeller Institute in New York, in the 1930’s.  This was used in Hoffman’s research while developing several drugs to lower blood pressure and improve brain functions in the elderly.  

During his research, Hoffman derived Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD-25), which at first seemed like a stimulant for breathing and blood circulation.  After some more research, however, Hoffman found nothing special with this and discontinued the study.

Some years later (5 to be exact), Hoffman was not completely convinced about his previous findings with LSD-25 and decided to explore this a bit further.  While synthesizing another batch for testing, accidentally his skin came in contact with it and somehow he must have carried it to his mouth (this was determined later as the most likely cause, since LSD can’t be absorbed through the skin), which caused him to stop his work and go home early that day since he felt indisposed.

In his own words, Hoffman felt “…affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness.”

He later goes on to describe what he went through as a “dreamlike state”   and “…uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors.

The effects experienced by Hoffman become more interesting when we see that he describes his condition as “…not unpleasant, intoxicated-like condition characterized by extremely stimulated imagination.”

Bicycle day

A couple of days later (April 19, 1943), Hoffman, who continued to be intrigued by his experience, decided to purposely dose himself with LSD-25 and find out exactly what had happened to him the previous day. The dose he decided to take was 250 micrograms (which is much higher than the 30-100ug (microgram) dose considered to be typical today). who continued to be intrigued by his experience,

As you’d expect (due to the high dose  taken), the results were not all that pleasant at first and Hoffman asked his assistant to escort him home on a bicycle (motor vehicles were restricted during the war), where his assistant had to call a doctor.  Nothing was found to be wrong with him other than extremely dilated pupils, and as time passed, Hoffman experienced the same not unpleasant condition he had gone through the previous day. This day is still remembered today as Bicycle Day.

Of course, as a scientist, Hoffman reported his findings and Sandoz experimented, first with animals and later with both mentally ill patients and healthy subjects.  The results of this research were convincing enough for Sandoz to patent LSD and sell it as Delysid.

Delysid tablets were sold to be used in analytical psychotherapy with great success.  Sandoz even went to the extent of suggesting psychiatrist to use the drug themselves to better understand their patients when using it.

Slowly the use of this drug became more common and by the early 1960’s there had been hundreds of papers written and published about the many uses for the drug.

Although the drug proved to be of great value for psychoanalysis it was soon to discontinued by Sandoz as it became very popular among youth and a great movement opposing it rose.


As with any drug considered to be illegal, it is not often that we get to stop and think about the benefits that it can provide.

Far too often this discussion stops at the short term effects of using it, like hallucinations, disconnecting from reality, colors etc.  Perhaps we should shift our focus to the long term effects as it was conceived by Albert Hoffman.

Keep in mind, as soon as Hoffman discovered it in the early 1940’s he immediately thought of its psychiatric applications.  This train of thought, contrary to what many would think, is still strong today among the scientific community, where we can find hundreds, if not thousands, of research papers written on the effects and uses of LSD.

Even as recently as 2007, Swiss medical authorities allowed for psychotherapeutic experiments with patients suffering from cancer in its terminal stage (among other terminal diseases).  This was the first study of the effects of LSD on humans in over 40 years.

The results of this study showed an amazing 100% success rate with patients experiencing a considerable reduction of anxiety for up to 12 months following the experiment.  This, of course, opens up another window to discuss the use of LSD under the proper conditions and not in the wrong hands.

Along this study, another research has been done where we can see positive results.  Such is the case of research published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2012 where LSD was found to help decrease substance abuse in alcohol and cocaine addiction programs.

As these, we can find many other positive results of research conducted on the use of LSD.

Perhaps the most surprising results where we can see benefits derived from the use of LSD don’t come from scientific work, but from real life results by people who, most would not see as a “typical user”.

Just to mention a few examples of people most of us are familiar with that have used this hallucinogen at least at one point in their lives, are:

Kary Mullins:  Nobel Prize-winning biochemist born in North Carolina.  His contribution to science was making valuable improvements to Polymerase Chain Reaction Technique.

Francis Crick:  British Molecular Biologist, Biophysicist, and Neuroscientist noted for being one of the discoverers of the structure of the DNA molecule.  Is said to have told his colleagues that he perceived the double-helix shape of the molecule while on LSD.

But the list is not “just scientists”, actually much to our surprise, we can mention more “common people” that have experienced first-hand the benefits of LSD.

Jack Nicholson:  American actor/filmmaker who really needs little introduction, described his experience as “a beautiful and eye opening one.”


Steve Jobs: Of course, this American entrepreneur and inventor needs no introduction at all (unless you have been living under a rock for the past 50 years, that is).  He went as far as saying that experimenting with LSD was “one of the two most important things he had done in his life.”


As these, we can go on mentioning more famous and well-known people of our time and previous ones, who have undergone what most of them refer to as an “eye-opening experience”.

Side effects.

Of course, it would be useless to try to convince you that there isn’t a downside to taking LSD.  In fact, even Albert Hoffman accepted it when he said that LSD could be dangerous in the wrong hands.  

Some of the most commonly known risks of taking a high dosage of LSD include  Extreme changes in mood (from “spaced-out” to terror), disassociation from reality, an urge to keep taking more to re-experience the same sensation etc, however LSD is not considered to be an addictive substance since it does not cause uncontrollable drug-seeking behavior. However, LSD does produce tolerance, so some users who take the drug repeatedly must take higher doses to achieve the same effect which is not recommended.

That being said, we also must mention that if taken under a controlled environment and at minimum doses, the effects are claimed to be quite the opposite.  


As described in the previously mentioned article from the Rolling Stone Magazine, micro-dosing with LSD has become a popular trend that many people are starting to pay attention to.  

In order to fully understand what all the hype is about, we have to define a couple of concepts that are basic for this.

First of all, let’s establish what “micro-dosing” means.  For some this might seem an obvious definition but trust me, it is something we must fully comprehend in order to understand what we are talking about.  We are not talking just about a small dose, no, in fact, a Microdose is said to be “sub-perceptual”.  That is a dose so low that it is unlikely to produce effects in the whole body. However, it is high enough to allow cellular response.


Alongside this, we must also establish what effects are pursued by micro-dosing.  Yes, some of you may be thinking what is the use of taking a drug in such a small dose that is will not cause any effects.  Well, perhaps we should think back at the original use Dr. Hoffman intended the drug to have.  That is to have effects on the psyche.  Let’s remember back on “the first bicycle day”, when Albert Hoffman was riding on his way home.  Most certainly the effects he experienced with the massive amount of LSD he took were not the best ones, however, as the effects wore off, he did experience the “not unpleasant” effects again.  This is precisely what the micro dosing pursues.

Microdosing is nothing more than a way to introduce this psychedelic into your routine to achieve higher levels of creativity, focus, and energy.  Some even go to the extent of claiming that is has improved their relational skills.

By no means do I intend to provide here a guide for microdosing with LSD. I’m sure you will be able to find plenty of information on that out there where you will be able to find suggested doses (remember we are all different and doses will vary according to each individual), and even infographics.
I do intend to call your attention to this new trend, which has been called by some a “psychedelic renaissance”.   Perhaps this is, at some point, could become not just a passing trend but actually bring some light into questions yet to be answered like: How can we fully use our brains?  What types of consciousness are possible?  Is this the new way to improve productivity?

Surprisingly, it takes very little effort to research and find that the experience reported by Rolling Stone Magazine is not an isolated one and cases where people claim to use microdosing to achieve unexpected levels of awareness and energy at work are very common.  

In today’s work environment, where it is expected you give 100% every day, maybe “energy drinks” just don’t cut the job anymore.  Perhaps microdosing is a way to be able to think outside the box society has created around us.  

What if it’s not a problem of finding the right answers for the questions in front of us, but rather, finding the right questions to ask?

I don’t claim to have an answer for this, instead, would prefer for all of you reading to keep an open mind when it comes to the use of LSD as an “awareness enhancer”.

A recent study on this matter by the Imperial College London provides great insight that cannot be taken for granted.  About the findings, Dr. Carhart-Harris explained: “We observed brain changes under LSD that suggested our volunteers were ‘seeing with their eyes shut’ – albeit they were seeing things from their imagination rather than from the outside world.  We saw that many more areas of the brain than normal were contributing to visual processing under LSD – even though the volunteers’ eyes were closed. Furthermore, the size of this effect correlated with volunteers’ ratings of complex, dreamlike visions. “

Perhaps this ability to see “with their eyes shut” is what we need more people to do in today’s world to achieve a new level of creativity in a time, where most people think everything has been invented?

In the following chart you can see where LSD compares to other substances.


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