Introduction to Microdose Mushrooms
Microdose mushrooms / microdosing psilocybin is typically a 30-day system of ingesting small, sub-perceptual, amounts of psychoactive mushroom species for the intent of improving positive long-term psychological and neurological improvements. These fractional doses, compared to *creative* or *therapeutic* dose amounts, are designed to produce positive benefits without drastically altering your everyday consciousness — if you are hallucinating, or feeling “high”, you’ve ingested too much.
The Proposed Benefits of Microdosing
Through the incorporation of a microdosing system, proposed and anecdotal benefits include improved mood, empathy, cognitive flexibility, convergent and divergent thinking, single-solution problem solving, focus, and creativity.
Subjects report that after completing a cycle of microdosing, they feel fundamental and lasting benefits, especially in regards to mood, empathy, flexibility, equanimity, and an enhanced interconnectedness of the physical world.
Has This Been Scientifically Proven?
While there has been an re-surgence in scientific research and published papers over the last decade, most notably led by the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins University, there is still limited clinical data on psilocybin due to its designation as a Schedule-1 Substance.
The overwhelming majority of these recent studies have focused on high-dosage therapy and its therapeutic effects on depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and existential distress caused by life-threatening disease, with very promising preliminary results.
A recent study, organized by the Dutch Psychedelic Society and led by a researcher from Leiden University in The Netherlands, set out to, “explore the cognitive-enhancing potential of microdosing psychedelics in healthy adults” (Prochazkova, Lippelt, Colzato, Kuchar, Sjoerds, Hommel. 2018). The study was designed to give subjects, “two creativity-related problem-solving tasks,” before and after microdosing. Their results concluded that, “both convergent and divergent thinking performance was improved after a non-blinded microdose, whereas fluid intelligence was unaffected.”
Why All the Hype?
Due to these institutional studies on psilocybin and its methodical and academic re-introduction of psychedelics into the popular culture, many influential books, articles, press, and films have been closely evaluating the results. This, along with the infectious zeal of anecdotal evidence spread throughout the internet, has affirmed that psychedelics are no longer just for the fringe, the hippies, or the drop-outs.
Longtime psychedelics researcher, Dr. James Fadiman’s 2011 book, ‘The Psychedelic Explorers Guide’, introduced a new generation to the potential efficacy of psychedelic therapeutics; igniting a far-reaching discourse around the benefits of microdosing. This was, now quite famously, picked up on early by coders in Silicone Valley who experimented with microdosing as a way to focus and heighten their creativity while they wrote code and solved creative problems. This provided a respected and contemporary face to a new trend which the mainstream media has amplified. Chatter across the internet turned into a din as those self-testing with Microdosing regimens relayed their individual strategies, recipes, and experiences.
The release of Ayelet Waldman’s book in 2017, ‘A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life’, relays Waldman’s struggles and resolutions as a middle-aged wife and mother of four. This propelled the microdosing seed further into the mainstream psyche — essentially green-lighting moms across America that microdosing could be the secret weapon they yearned for — just as long as they could figure out a way to get their hands on the proper ingredients.
Waldman’s experience didn’t just offer another band-aid in the fight against psychological disorders, instead it offered the potential for longterm management and benefits without longterm medication. The Guardian reporting on Waldman’s book in 2017, “(Waldman) believes that during her experiment her neuroplasticity was enhanced, and that this didn’t only enable her to work for hours at a time, to achieve a real sense of “flow” at her desk, but that it also made her happier and less impulsive.”
Michael Pollan, the best-selling author known for his books about the socio-cultural impacts of food, dove headfirst into the science of psychedelics in his 2018 book, “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence”, which offers a rigorous look into the annals of psychedelic research along with firsthand accounts of his own psychedelic experimentation. Making what now seems like a natural progression from analyzing food and its affects on our culture, environment and bodies, into the realm of our psyche — Pollan highights what psychedelics researcher Bob Jesse calls, “the betterment of well people.”
In the wake of these influential and highly respected books, institutional rigor continues to right the wrongs that devastated initial psychedelics research in the 1950’s and 1960’s, prior to the government’s classifying psilocybin as a Schedule 1 Drug. Psychedelics are re-emerging as one of the most exciting aids in the study of psychiatric and neurological conditions.
The Microdose Mushrooms Regimen: The Fadiman System vs. The Stamets Stack
There are currently two similar, yet differing, popular systems being experimented with as microdosing regimens. The first which we refer to as The Fadiman System and the other as The Stamets Stack.
The Fadiman System to Microdose Mushrooms
Since the release of Fadiman’s book he has been collecting data from thousands of non-clinical *Self-Study Psychedelic Researchers* and has published a Phase I, informal report, “Microdose Research,” in The Psychedelic Press, V. 15, pp.53-59
Arising from this research, Fadiman has developed an early protocol for a 30-day microdose self-study:
KEY: Microdose once every 3 days.
Day 1: Administer Dose
Be alert and if desired, keep a journal as to how you are feeling throughout the day.
Day 2: No Dose
While psychoactive compounds are only active for a few hours, their effects tends to linger into the next day.
Day 3: No Dose
An *off* day, which is important in order to not build up a tolerance to the psilocybin.
And then repeat.
How much per microdose?
0.1 – 0.3g of dried psilocybe mushrooms, often ground up and made into single serving vegetable cellulose capsules.
Total Doses per cycle: 10 – 11 doses which means a cycle will last 30 days which enables the whole mushroom to be more evenly distributed within each dose. See our article “How to Pick the Best Shrooms” to learn more about the different varieties and potency’s of mushrooms.
Fadiman further suggests that self-studiers should take their dose before 10:00am and, “keep to their daily schedule: work, leisure, meals, medications, exercise”. It’s important to reiterate that Microdosing is meant to have sub-perceptual effects, therefor it shouldn’t affect any part of your normal daily routine. Adjust ingestion amounts until your find your sweet spot based on mushroom potency, body weight, and physiological makeup.
Paul Stamets is a highly recognized and respected cult favorite mycologist, having written numerous books on the subject and appearing in influential symposiums, TED talks, and a recent feature documentary, ‘Fantastic Fungi’. His methodology for enhancing returns of microdosing involves a regimen of 5 days of microdosing followed by 2 days of rest. Stamets has also created a “stack”, or combination of ingredients, for his Microdosing protocol which enhance each other for added benefits.
His defined nootropic stack (from the Greek *noos* ‘mind’ + *trope* ‘ turning’), includes Psilocybe Mushroom, Lion’s Mane Mushroom Extract, and Niacin — and is proposed to increase neurogenesis within the brain over time to improve and repair cognitive function.
Stamets hypothesizes that adding Lion’s Mane mushroom — which has been demonstrated to improve mild cognitive impairment and nerve growth factor synthesis in a 2009 clinical study (Mori,K., Inatomi, S., Ouchi, K., Azumi, Y., and Tuchida, T., 2009) — will amplify the benefits of the psilocybin while the Niacin acts to enhance the deliverability of the combo due to its inherent action of carrying GABA across the blood-brain barrier which distributes the mushroom molecules to the serotonin receptors.
Stamet’s Stack protocol
(Specified toward a 155 pound person. Start with less and adjust accordingly)
Microdose 5 days in a row before resting for 2 days.
1 – 10 mg Psilcybin (psilocybe mushroom @ 1% = .1 – 1 g)
500 – 200 mg Lion’s Mane Mushroom Extract (@ 1% = 5 – 20 g)
100 – 200 mg Niacin
After you have finished your month long cycle, people usually take a break and reflect on their results. Some find that the benefits are long lasting and will discontinue microdosing, while others will begin new cycles every now and then — or when they deem that it would be of benefit to them.
If you have never ingested psilocybin before, its suggested that you take a day when you are free of obligations and try a dose that would be considered a creative dose, of around 0.5 – 1g (depending on body weight). This will allow you to gently feel and understand the primary affects of psilocybin, which will then allow you to start a Microdosing regimen without anxiety and with the ability to find just the right dosage where you don’t overtly feel the effects of being *high*.
Before You Begin
If you have never ingested psilocybin before, it has been suggested that you take a day when you are free of obligations and try a dose that would be considered a creative dose, of around 0.5 – 1g (depending on body weight). This will allow you to gently feel and understand the primary affects of psilocybin which will then allow you to start a microdosing regimen without anxiety and with the ability to find just the right dosage where you don’t overtly feel the effects of being “high”.
General Psilocybe Dosage Chart
Microdose: 0.1 – 0.3g
Creative Dose: 0.5 – 1g
Heroic Dose: 2.5 – 5g
After you have finished your month long cycle, people usually take a break and reflect on their results. Some find that the benefits are long lasting and will discontinue microdosing, while others will begin new cycles every now and then when they deem that it would benefit them.
The Reflective Mind
In Yuval Noah Harari’s 2018 book, “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”, he characterizes Homo sapiens as a, “storytelling animal that thinks in stories rather than in numbers or graphs, and believes that the universe itself works like a story, replete with heroes and villains, conflicts and resolutions, climaxes and happy endings.” These stories are the linking together of words, the accumulation of past experience, and the illusory anticipation of what might occur in the future — these are the patterns in our brains — the footprints in the neuron sand of our psyche. The survival of a human depends upon the conditioned reflexes made up of the knowledge of past experience, but it precisely this conditioned thought response that keeps us contained within feedback loops and doesn’t allow us to experience the world purely through our sensory potential.
Early evidence in psilocybin study suggests that it aids in neurogenesis of the brain, along with opening up new and dynamic communication pathways throughout the brain. It has the potential to break the feedback loop, to glimpse sensory data in a pure form instead of through the lens of conditioning, and to nurture novel and fluid forms of thought.
When embarking upon a cycle of microdosing, the individual has the opportunity to reassess the world around them and to see past the social and psychological constructs that govern modern life. Whether you call it ‘the way of tao’, a ‘zen mind’, or the ‘examined life’, a reassessment of ones thought pattern, and the understanding of the illusions of the world, will allow us to not just cope with modern life, but to evolve in positive ways.
Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch of Chan Buddhism in China proclaimed, “there was nothing from the very beginning”, denoting the nothingness prior to relativity. This illustrates the clarity of a mind that is as clear and bright as a mirror, which reflects upon it the world of phenomena, but is never marred nor altered by it. For millennia man has utilized and harnessed the powers of psilocybin to glimpse past our conditioned responses, to create new patterns of conscious thought, and to guide the regeneration of understanding the universe as an indivisible whole — supreme ultimate oneness without the illusion of duality.
Safety and Dangers of Microdose Mushrooms
Fadiman’s website notes from their experience, “We specifically do not recommend that people with colorblindness, who live with diagnoses of psychotic disorders or along the autism spectrum try microdosing. People with colorblindness report lasting visual distortions from microdosing. Literature suggests people with psychotic disorders may be harmed by psychedelics. In our experience, people with diagnoses along the autism spectrum seem to require dosages that far exceed what is traditionally considered microdosing.”