Microdosing psychedelics has inspired thousands of people to work with their mental health. Much of the buzz has been centred around psilocybin and LSD. But taking small amounts of a substance for benefits is commonplace across many drugs.
It can be thought of as taking an aspirin for pain. You don't notice it's there, except that it helps. Ketamine is a powerful anesthetic at high doses. Even low-dose ketamine, the current practice for using ketamine for mental health, has powerful disassociative effects.
Here we explore the alternative - very low dose ketamine. In this article, you can learn how to microdose ketamine safely and hear one woman’s story about overcoming her eating disorder with ketamine.
Can you Microdose Ketamine?
A very low dose or ultra low dose of ketamine is a microdose. Compared to ketamine nasal sprays administered by doctors or ketamine infusions in clinics, very low doses are self-administered and work without psychedelic experiences.
Taking a ketamine microdose means not going through side effects like the "comedown" that happens after taking a dissociative dose. A large dose of ketamine can be a powerful but draining experience, but very low doses allow people to function in their daily lives.
Ketamine infusions or nasal sprays are not a one-time thing. Typically people working with dissociative doses of ketamine for mental health treatment return to baseline after around two weeks. This means returning to the clinic to continue treatment.
In contrast, the idea behind very low-dose ketamine is that, in combination with support allows for continuous, daily changes where treatment starts from within.
Is Microdosing Ketamine Dangerous?
One of the biggest concerns about taking ketamine is safety. When working with a protocol like the one created by Joyous, where the dosage is carefully controlled daily. As long as participants stick with their recommended doses, side effects like addiction are not an issue.
Ketamine works on a dose response curve. This means that, for mental health concerns, ketamine is only effective until a specific dose, but once someone goes over that dose, ketamine will no longer be effective. Like taking any medication, microdosing ketamine can only be done safely with proper supervision to ensure the dose is correct.
Starting with very low doses of ketamine also helps people to learn how they respond to it. By starting very small and working with the correct tools to optimize the dose, ketamine microdoses have helped people with their mental health - like Diane.
Ketamine Microdosing for Eating Disorder - Diane's Story
Many people are using ketamine microdoses for depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and many other conditions. One example is taking a very low dose of ketamine for eating disorders.
Diane has battled an eating disorder for most of her life. She grew up overweight and was constantly teased and called names growing up. The effect was being obsessed with her weight and almost a lifetime of never being satisfied with her appearance.
It wasn’t until she discovered a very low-dose ketamine treatment that she found relief. After finding the Joyous protocol on Facebook. Diane had already tried every antidepressant available to her, so she decided she had nothing to lose by microdosing ketamine.
"From day one, it was like, amazing. When I was taking an antidepressant and antianxiety medication, it was just getting me to work and home. Before, I was just numbing, you know, I didn't have any feelings. I was like robotic. Now I feel like I'm alive."
Diane explains that she was addicted to being thin. She became caught in a cycle of diet pills, getting too skinny, ending up in the hospital, gaining weight, and getting out, only to go immediately back to diet pills. The experience almost took her life after too many pills gave her a heart attack.
"The antidepressants and the benzos, they did help me feel better, but just they just got me to work like a zombie," she says. With very low dose ketamine, Diane is "now connecting with people... my energy is better and more people are coming in. And I just feel more secure."
From her newly opened hair salon, Diane shows off her Christmas decorations. The salon is hers, opened up a year ago after managing to beat a methamphetamine addiction - part of a constant desire to stay thin. She remembers how Adderall made her feel "Yucky" and all the side effects of antidepressants interrupted her life.
But that is behind her now. "I'm also working on myself," she says. She talks about how part of her treatment involves helping her with self-improvement and repeats how amazing it is to be making changes at 56.
As Diane got older, she knew that diet pills and other drugs were going to have dangerous health consequences. "I said, no way I would die... I have kids, I love them." That is when she got serious about really making changes. But it wasn't easy. Even with taking substances, her food habits still flip-flopped from dieting to overeating.
But since going through her very low dose protocol, Diane has stopped thinking she needs to keep dieting. "I'm just seeing that I'm happy. I'm eating less. I'm not looking for food for comfort." In fact, her transformation has been so profound she has encouraged family members to try the Joyous protocol. "I'm even doing better haircuts!" she laughs.
When asked what ketamine feels like, she says it doesn't feel like she is taking anything and points out that after the life she has lived, she would know. "I can't quite put my finger on it. It's just a glimmer of greatness."
How Does Microdosing Ketamine Work?
Diane's story is one of many at Joyous. It can be hard to see ourselves clearly when healing and working on ourselves, so the Joyous protocol uses friends and family to track progress.
Those very low doses Joyous gives are what is known as psycholytic and a completely different approach than disassociative low-dose ketamine. At a psycholytic dose, people can still function in their daily lives. It can make working on oneself more manageable without being limited to a narrow window of opportunity.
On a psycholytic dose, people can work, go to therapy, meditate and learn whatever other self-care practices they need. A psycholytic dose is also an opportunity for mental health practitioners to work with patients in an open state.
How To Microdose Ketamine
Taking very low doses of ketamine is a new concept. Like taking any substance, microdosing safely is essential. For these reasons, Joyous created a carefully monitored daily microdosing regime.
Joyous sends lozenges which are small cubes, to dissolve in your mouth. The dosage is adjusted daily based on how you respond to the very low dose. The microdose starts small until the ideal individual effects are achieved. The process is guided by an app, alongside real people offering meaningful support to the journey towards self-improvement.
Like in Diane's case, working on oneself is the key to change. Very low dose ketamine has helped some people shift their mental state enough to make space for new changes in their lives. But having real support from health and wellness professionals, alongside family and friends, is needed too. With the right support systems, the momentum to develop the practices and skills needed to create a new life is less of a challenge.
The Joyous protocol was designed with this in mind. Ketamine is only one part of the program. Developing self-compassion is key, along with the understanding change can only come from inside each one of us. But the path to the life that we want can be found.
Can a Very Low Does of Ketamine Help Mental Health?
Beginning and healing journey is a big process. Mental health issues can be difficult to overcome, and it is one of the challenges of our time. Because it is clear the modern healthcare system has limitations, treatments like microdosing ketamine are becoming attractive to more and more people.
Whether you are considering ketamine for anxiety, depression, or an eating disorder or simply want to optimize your life, there are many ways to get there. Microdosing ketamine might seem like a surprising path, but current times call for an open mind to how we can heal.
Diane can attest. While conventional treatments kept her alive and going through life, she wanted something different. She didn't give up, and for her, microdosing ketamine is working. She knew that it was time to change. Her family sees that she is happy. She is doing things she has never done before, like reading poetry and feeling its impact.
There is a Buddhist saying that Diane used in her journey to wellness. Without mud, no lotus flowers can grow. She tried many paths, and took many years to find a solution. But now she says, "I had to go through the mud. And now I'm finally getting some Lotus."