If you’ve been paying attention lately, you’ve probably noticed that we’re tits deep into a modern psychedelic renaissance. There’s been a recent resurgence of interest and study into the incredible healing power of entheogens- powerful plant medicines that can alter states of consciousness causing sometimes profound and visionary experiences. Although these sacred medicines are still embraced in some parts of the world, here in the West we’re still beholden to ass-backward prohibition when it comes to naturally-occurring psychedelic plants, such as psilocybin mushrooms.
<The face Mother Nature makes when she gives us plants that hold the power to heal and grow and have transcendent experiences, and we choose to use our energy to make them illegal and fight with each other and fuck up our planet instead>
BIG HUGE DISCLAIMER! Currently, buying/selling/producing/possessing psilocybin mushrooms is illegal in many areas! Look to your own regional laws prior to making a decision on whether or not to try microdosing. Additionally, psychedelic medicine is not for everyone, and some serious side effects can occur if you’re on medications such as SSRI’s or have certain disorders in your history/in your family. All the more reason to support decriminalization efforts so that we can study these things better and keep folks safe.
What are Psilocybin Mushrooms?
Today we’re gonna talk about microdosing, specifically with psilocybin mushrooms (also known as “magic mushrooms”). Psilocybin is a naturally-occurring compound that is produced by a number of fungal species. Once these mushrooms are consumed, the body converts the psilocybin into psilocin, which can induce altered states of consciousness such as euphoria, visual hallucinations, and changes in perception of time and space in higher doses. For the purpose of this explainer, we will be talking specifically about microdosing- that is, taking a very small sub-perceptual amount to experience beneficial effects without the “high”.
What is Microdosing?
A microdose is when you take a very small amount of a substance to gain the good effects, while side-stepping the bad ones. While psilocybin mushrooms aren’t typically known for “bad” effects such as the types we see in harmful addictive drugs such as opioids, the intensity of a true psychedelic trip can bring up a lot of shit and make a person understandably impaired when it comes to going about their daily tasks. By taking a microdose (rather than a macrodose, also known as a trip dose) you can experience some of the more beneficial effects of consuming psilocybin without the impairment. In my own experience, I feel less “impaired” while microdosing than I do with a single glass of wine. I have even felt more impaired in the past on certain prescription medications that I ever have from microdosing.
The reason why microdosing is so popular is that it can produce improvements in mood, focus, and feeling in anecdotal reports. This is why there was a boom in the tech industries when it came to microdosing substances such as LSD for enhanced creativity and flow. There is currently a lot of research looking at psychedelic drugs for the treatment of mental health disorders and other chronic health issues. Our progress in understanding these plant teachers has been impeded a lot by prohibitive laws. Luckily, scientists are researching these substances again, and there has been a major push to decriminalize nature in many areas.
Finding your Dose
Microdoses are typically regarded to be about 1/10th or 1/20th of a recreational dose. This means most people end up microdosing approximately 0.1-0.3g of dried mushrooms (so 100-300 milligrams). Because psilocybin mushrooms are illegal, people are left to sort out their own doses, which has it’s own risks. Better to start small and find your dose rather than have macrodose effects when you weren’t prepared for them. Just as a sidenote- macrodoses are also very powerful and useful medicine with incredible benefits, but that’s another tale for another time!
Finding a Microdose Schedule
Again, because of the legal status of these mushrooms, people are usually left to sort out a proper MDing schedule on their own through trial and error. Luckily, there is enough interest in microdosing that there is an absolute treasure trove of anecdotal info online. Behold- some useful links!
Probably the most popular schedules are the Fadiman protocol, and the Stamets Protocol. Fadiman’s protocol is a one day on, 2 days off schedule, while Stamet’s is 4 days on, 3 days off. I personally adhere to the Fadiman protocol, because I experience an “afterglow” effect on day 2 (meaning the benefits continue even though I haven’t dosed).
Getting the Most From Your Experience
There’s evidence that taking magic mushrooms can help your brain get past some of the default programming that may be holding you back, and that it can has incredible promise for forming new neural networks in the brain (remember that colorful picture from earlier?!). These connection can help to form new habits and patterns, as well as helping us to grow and heal, mending the the ways in which we look at and approach the world. However, it’s important to realize that psychedelics on their own aren’t a miracle cure. Setting intentions, having a solid self-reflection strategy, and integrating the lessons you learn are paramount for maximum healing.
Ask yourself the following- What do I hope to get from this? What are my expectations? Am I ready to make real-life change if presented with new information about what’s best for my own growth?
Although a microdose shouldn’t be “felt” (you shouldn’t feel high on a MD, mayyyyyybe mild euphoria at most), in my personal experience you can still be “shown” things about your life and habits that can be useful. I view these as teachers and make efforts to fully “listen”. I set intentions each time I MD, and also utilize tools such as journaling and mood tracking. A daily meditation practice is also advised.
As science keeps progressing and laws become more forgiving in some areas, we will hopefully learn even more about entheogens and their rightful place in our lives. Personally, since microdosing I have developed more empathy, compassion, and connectedness in many areas of life. I’m a better parent, partner, and person. I’ve always struggled with treatment-resistant depression, and I appreciate life in a way that I never thought would be possible. When there is potential for something to be so healing and transformative, it’s hard not to get very passionate about drug reform for the betterment of our lives both in a personal sense, and for humanity at large.