How to Microdose Psychedelic Mushrooms: A Complete Guide
Perhaps you’ve heard some of the buzz around microdosing. Silicon Valley executives are claiming that it gives them the edge they need to create the next great product.While others are espousing its benefits for managing depression and attention deficit disorder.
While all of this sounds exciting, there is also much to be cautious about. The psychedelics that people are microdosing are often illegal and unregulated. Additionally, it’s also hard to get trustworthy information about how to microdose safely.
In this guide, we’ll explain why people choose to microdose mushrooms, how to do it safely, and how to get the most out of your microdosing experience. The decision of whether or not to pursue microdosing ultimately rests with you. Reading this guide will prepare you to make the right choice.
Disclaimer: EntheoZen does not promote illegal activities nor condone the use of illegal substances. Psychedelics may be illegal where you live. It is up to you to make sure that your activities are in compliance with your local and national government.
What is microdosing?
Microdosing is the act of taking a small amount of a psychedelic substance to receive a variety of benefits. Typically, a microdose is about 1/10th of a full dose of a psychedelic.
Microdosing can be applied to any psychedelic including psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, DMT, Ayahuasca, Mescaline, Ibogaine or other substances. Usually the effects of microdosing are sub-perceptual, meaning you don’t experience the same hallucinogenic effects as a full dose. This makes microdosing easy to do during common activities such as working, driving, or socializing with friends.
Why choose to microdose mushrooms over other psychedelics?
With all the choices available, it can be difficult to decide which substance to microdose. Each psychedelic has its own unique pharmacology and effects. Every individual person also has unique differences in their neurophysiology, meaning that no two people are affected the same way.
For example, some people experience anxiety or over-stimulation when microdosing LSD, but not mushrooms. This is potentially due to the dopamine-boosting effects that LSD has, while psilocybin does not. In contrast, sometimes people find that LSD provides the kick they need to focus on work or other tasks.
Sometimes when someone has had a history of mold exposure or mold allergy, they can have an immune response to microdosing psilocybin mushrooms that results in upset stomach, fatigue and joint pain. In this case, it’s possible that mushrooms are not the ideal microdosing candidate.
Availability of the substance may also make microdosing with psilocybin mushrooms an optimal choice, as they are popular, and easy to access and even grow. They also have an impressive safety track record, compared to things like Ibogaine and Iboga which carry some cardiac risks.
Some people may also be attracted to the idea of microdosing a completely natural substance like psilocybin, versus a semi-synthetic compound like LSD. Depending on one’s individual goals and biochemistry, mushrooms may or may not be the best option for microdosing.
Mushrooms provide a significantly shorter experience than LSD, which may also make them appealing as they require less of a time commitment. LSD may also be too stimulating for some people and interfere with their sleep. People generally don’t experience these issues when microdosing mushrooms, even when they take them later in the day.
Research on psilocybin mushrooms is also outpacing research on other psychedelics, making psilocybin one of the most studied psychedelic compounds. Knowing that they have been studied extensively makes some people feel more comfortable experimenting with mushrooms.
Finally, it’s always important to consider the law.Psilocybin mushrooms are being increasingly decriminalized in cities and states across the US and in other countries, removing risks of legal prosecution for possession and consumption.
How to prepare your microdoses
Making sure you have pre-measured doses prepared will save you a lot of headache when it’s time to take your microdose. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll need to make your own psilocybin mushroom microdoses that are ready to go and easy to use.
Materials you’ll need
Getting a few materials can really make it easier to quickly create accurate microdoses. I’ll explain the basic materials you need to produce mushroom microdoses like a pro.
I recommend a nutribullet or coffee grinder to grind your dried mushrooms into a fine powder.
A milligram scale
You’ll need a scale that reads at least 2 decimal places to the right to measure quantities as small as .1 grams. If you can get 3 decimal places, even better.
A “capsule machine”
A capsule filling “machine” can save you a lot of time by making the capsule filling process efficient.
Size 00 capsules
I recommend either vegetarian or gelatin caps. You should buy size 00 capsules so that they are are big enough to fit a full microdose.
A reliable source of quality psilocybin mushrooms
Of course, the most important item is the psilocybin mushrooms. You can source your mushrooms from a seller (dealer), grow your own, or even forage for them in the wild.
Measuring your microdoses
The first thing you’ll want to do is decide what dose you want each of your microdoses to be. The ideal dosage can vary depending on your sensitivity, the potency of the mushrooms and type of activities you plan to do while microdosing. In general, a microdose is usually 5-10% of a full “macro” dose of a psychedelic.
So if a typical full dose of psilocybin mushrooms is 3.5 grams (1/8 of an oz), then a microdose would be about.35 grams. Some batches or varieties of mushrooms can be quite strong, and an appropriate microdose may be closer to .2 grams.
One thing to consider is that you can always create smaller doses and then double them up, by taking 2 capsules, if you want a stronger effect. This might be a good idea to make sure you don’t end up with a bunch of capsules that are too strong for you.
Once you have decided what the dosage will be, you’ll need to figure out how many capsules you are going to make. This will likely be somewhat dependent on how many capsules your “capsule machine” can hold at once.
For example, your capsule machine may hold 24 capsules at once. If you’re aiming to have each microdose contain .2 grams, then the starting quantity of mushrooms would be based on that. Simply multiply the number of capsules you can make at a time by the amount in grams per dose. In this example you would multiple .2×24 capsules which equals 4.8 grams.
Because some dust will inevitably stick to surfaces and such, you’ll want to add a little buffer rounding up to 5 grams. Be sure to tare the scale to reset it to zero before weighing your mushrooms.
Next you’ll take your roughly 5 grams of mushrooms, put them into a NutriBullet or grinder, and powder them until they are as fine and powderized as possible.
Load up the capsule machine with your capsules as the directions advise. Put the longer capsule pieces in the machine and the shorter capsule tops in a bowl for easy access later on. Make sure to have a plate underneath the capsule machine so if you drop any powder, you can easily recover it.
Filling The Mushroom Capsules
Once you have loaded your capsules into the capsule machine, carefully pour your mushroom powder onto the capsule machine and use the plastic card provided to gently push the mushroom powder into the capsules. Be sure that you fill the capsules evenly. There may be empty space in them even once all the powder has been used, so be sure not to fill up some capsules and have others be empty. Do you best to make them all as even as possible.
If you need to, you can compress the powder into the capsules using the lid of the capsule machine to pack them down. This will make more room in the capsule so you can continue adding powder to it.
Keep adding powder to the capsules until all of the powder is gone. You may run out of space in the capsule before you finish pouring all of your powder. This is okay too. Once your capsules are full, you can manually cap them with the other capsule pieces that you set aside in the bowl.
When you are done filling your capsules, cap 2-3 capsules with the short capsule tops before capping the rest. Weigh these capsules individually once you’re done to verify the weight of the mushroom inside. This is done to make sure that there is consistency between the weights of these 3 test capsules. Once you can confirm that the 3 or so capsules that you weighed seem to be similar enough in their weight, go ahead and cap the rest, completing them.
If your capsules come out as very different weights to each other, you may want to check your open capsules and make sure you have filled them and compressed them evenly so there isn’t a lot of variation between their weights.
Keep in mind the capsule itself, when empty, weighs about .1 grams if you use the 00 size. Usually a 00 size capsule can only hold a maximum of .5 grams. If you’re targeting a microdose smaller than that, then you should have no problem getting all the contents in. Just be sure to compress the powder until you get your desired amount in the capsule.
Capsules versus powder
While the majority of people who microdose mushrooms prefer to have pre-measured capsules, some people prefer to keep their mushrooms in a powder form for microdosing purposes.
One advantage to using powder rather than pre-weighed capsules is that it allows you more flexibility to change the dosage. Some people might want to experiment with smaller or higher doses for different activities or finding that personal sweet spot.
The drawbacks to using powdered mushrooms are that it’s difficult to travel with, it requires a scale for accurate measurement, it can be messy, and it can potentially degrade faster due to oxygen exposure.
Storing and Labeling
Whether you have capsules or powdered mushroom microdoses, You’ll want to be sure to store them somewhere cool, dry and out of light. You can store them in the fridge if you like, or in a plastic vitamin bottle in a dark drawer.
Be sure to label your microdoses. It’s very common for people to accidentally take a microdose thinking it’s some other supplement or pill. You don’t have to blatantly label them as “illegal drugs right here” but at least attempt to create some label code or drawing to help you identify what they are so that they don’t get consumed by accident.
It’s especially important to not have them in any container that children might assume is something of interest to them. The best route is to make them look like boring grown-up pills with a label that indicates to you what they are. You may also want to consider recycling a child safe pharmaceutical bottle for this purpose.
When should I take a microdose?
Because microdosing is still in its infancy, there are no official right or wrong ways to do it. However, there are some useful suggestions by experienced microdosers and experts who study microdosing.
Frequency and Schedule
The frequency and schedule in which you choose to microdose is completely up to you. You may find that listening to your body and intuitively developing your own schedule feel right. For those who wish to follow an existing method, below are the two most popular microdosing protocols.
James Fadiman’s protocol
James Fadiman is considered the “godfather of microdosing”. He is an American psychologist and author of Psychedelic Explorers Guide. Fadiman pioneered the very first microdosing research by collecting survey results from thousands of microdosers. The Fadiman protocol consists of microdosing once every 3 days, or roughly 2 times a week.
Paul Stamets protocol
Paul Stamets is a world-famous mycologist, known for his passion for medicinal mushrooms. He developed a microdosing regimen that is geared towards cognitive health and memory-loss prevention.
The Stamets protocol involves microdosing daily for 5 days in a row, and then taking 2 days off. He also recommends combining the psilocybin microdoses with 10-15 grams of powdered Lion’s Mane mushroom and 150 mg of Niacin in the form of nicotinic acid.
Stamets proposes that there is a synergistic effect of combining these supplements with the psilocybin microdose to enhance brain health. One thing to note is that the nicotinic acid version of niacin (vitamin B3) will cause a flushing sensation that can be somewhat uncomfortable. It can temporarily make the skin red, hot and itchy.. The experience is short lived, usually lasting 10-15 minutes and is not harmful in any way.
Time of day
The best time of day to take your microdose depends on the outcome you are looking for. Most people like to take it earlier in the day so that it does not disrupt their sleep quality. Be sure to give yourself at least 5-6 hours before bed to take your microdose.
Set and setting
Even though a microdose is only a fraction of a full psychedelic dose, the set and setting are still crucial elements to making sure you have a positive microdosing experience. Microdosing could cause you to feel emotionally sensitive or more permeable to energies than usual, so it’s important to be mindful of the situations and environments where you take your microdose.
When microdosing, you might have emotions or thoughts bubble up unexpectedly, so it’s important to consider your mental state and the situation in which you are microdosing.
If you have dinner plans to meet your girlfriend’s parents for the first time, and you feel nervous, you might not want to take a microdose. If you have a hike with friends planned, and you know it’s a great group and a beautiful hike, that might be a great time to take a microdose. If you’re feeling emotionally raw and volatile, maybe now is not a good time to take a microdose. If you’re feeling stuck and numb, maybe it is a good time to take a microdose.
In general, it’s good to avoid situations that give you anxiety, or have potential to be stressful, or require difficult decisions. That being said, there may be some situations where the microdose can ease your anxiety, such as in party settings where social anxiety may actually be relieved with a microdose. Only you can know what’s right for you.
A good rule of thumb is to begin microdosing in situations where you’re very likely to have a good time. As you get more familiar with how your body and brain react to the substances, you can try more challenging situations, like processing difficult emotions.
Combining Mushroom microdosing with other modalities
Many microdosers are big believers in combining microdosing with other spiritual and healing practices. Microdosing mushrooms with engaging in these practices may have synergistic effects and enhance beneficial results.
Yoga while microdosing is a great way to come back to your breath. Microdosing while doing yoga often could help you to have more body awareness by developing something called proprioception, which is the brain’s ability to consciously sense internal processes such as your heartbeat and breath. Plus, microdosing can increase flexibility in your muscles too!
Microdosing can help to open us up emotionally so that we can more effectively share our thoughts and feelings, and then process them in a healthy way. Microdosing either between or during talk therapy sessions may help us to be more present and to integrate the therapy into our daily lives more effectively.
Psilocybin mushrooms and meditation have similar effects on the brain when compared in FMRI brain scan studies. Many compare psychedelic states to those experienced in meditation, and vise versa, so it’s no wonder people started to combine these 2 powerful tools. Many people report enhanced meditation practice when combining microdosing with mindfulness.
Microdosing works directly on your brain’s neurotransmitter systems. By attaching to existing receptors in your brain, microdosing causes a cascade of state shifting neurotransmitters to be released.
To support this process in a sustainable way, many sophisticated microdosers add nutritional supplements to their microdosing regime. B vitamins, magnesium and antioxidants can all help resource your brain for the increased output that microdosing can enable.
We recommend our TransZen mood enhancement and stress support supplement as the perfect support to a microdosing regiment. With 17 natural ingredients to nourish, balance and optimize your brain, TransZen ensures that the days between your microdosing sessions will be as productive and positive and the days that you take your dose.
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The Mushroom Microdose Experience
The experience of microdosing mushrooms can be widely varied. There are a number of common sensations and effects reported by those who microdose. Some find it has cognitive enhancing effects, while others find it eases their anxiety. Others use it to spur creativity and out-of-the-box problem solving skills. The microdosing experience comes in many flavors.
What does microdosing mushrooms feel like?
At this point, hopefully you’ve gotten the idea that experiences with psychedelics, especially microdosing can be quite variable. Some people may report a number of sensations or changes in disposition when microdosing mushrooms.
When microdosing, you might feel pain relief, reduced anxiety, energized, or a warmth in your fingers and toes. You might feel happy and euphoric, focused and attentive, emotional, anxious, or creative. You might find yourself more at ease, more mindful of details, more distracted, more present, more tolerant, or more sensitive. You might feel at peace with the world, less derailed by stress, or more easily triggered.
The experience really ranges far and wide, even amongst individuals depending on the day. The only way to really know what microdosing feels like, is to try it.
What are the benefits of microdosing mushrooms?
While microdosing fans claim that the practice can help just about anything, there are several areas of life that are likely to most benefit from a microdosing regiment.
With mental health conditions on the rise, many people are interested in alternatives to medications in an effort to avoid side effects or because they are not responding to conventional treatment. Microdosing has tremendous anecdotal evidence for being useful to improve conditions such as depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, PTSD and addiction.
One important thing to note though is that those with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are advised against microdosing or taking psychedelics in general, as psychedelics can trigger psychosis or manic episodes in some vulnerable individuals.
Thus far, much of the research on psychedelics has been on their psychological benefits, but there is actually some evidence that they are healthy for us in other ways too. For example, preliminary research suggests that psychedelics like psilocybin may have anti-inflammatory and immune modulating properties. This makes microdosing mushrooms a potential intervention for pain, and other inflammatory-related conditions such as autoimmune diseases.
Productivity and work
Many microdosers find that microdosing mushrooms helps them improve their attention and focus, allowing them to be more efficient in their work. Some also report that microdosing helps them have the confidence to step into leadership roles at work and manage projects and people in more effective ways.
Creativity and flow states
Many people microdose mushrooms to enhance their creative thinking. . Microdosing not only helps people with creative problem solving, but can also catalyze new inspiration and expression for artists, musicians and other creators.
Those interested in activities that can evoke a flow state may also find microdosing to improve their ability to perform in athletic sports, dance, surfing, writing, or playing music etc.
Some microdosers report major improvement in their ability to relate to others including their family, coworkers and even children. Some Microdosers describe that they are able to be more patient, present and compassionate when spending time with their children. Also reported in many survey results and on Reddit, was enhanced sexual connection and sexual experiences with a partner.
For some, microdosing mushrooms can be a life changing experience. It’s important to remember that psilocybin is a powerful psychotropic substance with a complicated legal status. It’s important to take proper precautions before starting any microdosing regiment.
Is microdosing mushrooms safe?
In general, psychedelic mushrooms appear to be pretty safe with no known toxicity to the body or damage to the organs. That being said, more research is needed to confirm that mushrooms are safe long term.
Even though many people get great benefit from microdosing mushrooms, others might actually find the experience uncomfortable and unpleasant. It’s not uncommon for someone to experience anxiety or feelings of depression after taking a microdose. This can come from shifts in their brain chemistry, or an increased insensitivity to their environment or true emotions.
While it’s also possible that while some people will have an increased focus for work, others may find it harder to focus and be more distracted and lethargic.
It is also possible for those who have mold sensitivity or have a history of toxic mold exposure to have an immune reaction to psychedelic mushrooms that can leave them feeling inflamed, experiencing joint pain, or an allergic response. If you have a sensitivity to fungus and mold, perhaps consider microdosing LSD instead.
Long term safety
While there isn’t any compelling evidence that using psilocybin mushrooms over a long period of time is dangerous, there is still the possibility that it may have negative consequences. There have been no long-term studies of the use of psychedelics, especially in the context of microdosing.
Because psilocybin mushrooms do bind to the 5HT2B serotonin receptor, there is concern that it could contribute to the development of valvular heart disease, as seen with other pharmaceutical drugs that also bind to the 5ht2B receptor. It’s unclear if psilocybin affects the receptor the same way as other drugs of concern, or if the dosage and level of receptor stimulation plays a role.
More research is needed to draw any conclusions about the long-term safety of microdosing psilocybin.
Mental health risk factors
Microdosing is not for everyone. Some people may be vulnerable to psychedelics triggering episodes of psychosis, schizophrenia or mania. Those who have been diagnosed or are at risk of developing a severe mental health condition such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and psychosis should not microdose mushrooms for their own safety and wellbeing.
It is possible that after clinical studies are able to explore psychedelic use for these difficult-to-treat conditions, that eventually afflicted individuals will be able to benefit from psychedelics and microdosing while under the care of a skilled psychiatrist.
Even individuals who do not have severe mental health conditions should always consider that microdosing mushrooms may increase emotional sensitivity and in the wrong environment or setting, and that being on a microdose could contribute to a traumatic psychological experience.
What are the most common mistakes made when microdosing mushrooms?
While microdosing mushrooms can be done in a variety of ways. There’s still some key things to keep in mind to ensure you have a positive experience. The best idea is always to learn from others and don’t make the same mistakes they did.
The most common mistake people make, often when first starting out, is to take more than they anticipated. This can happen either because they are still calibrating an appropriate dosage for themselves, or they have a new batch with higher potency than expected, or perhaps they just don’t know what dose they are supposed to be taking.
While accidentally macrodosing almost always turns out okay, it can be quite uncomfortable to realize that you’re now having a full LSD experience at 8 am during your weekly corporate meeting.
If you accidentally macrodose when you intended to microdose, stay calm and remember that it will eventually wear off. Try to ground yourself and evaluate if you can continue on with that day’s activities,and come up with some ways that you can bring yourself back to center if you feel overwhelmed.
Perhaps you eat lunch alone that day instead of with coworkers. Perhaps you end up laying down a bit and letting some of it pass. If you get to a point where you feel way in over your head and that you might be a danger to yourself or others, call a trusted friend and see if they can pick you and take you to a safe and comfortable place to ride it out.
Even though accidental macrodoses can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, they can also be surprisingly fun and insightful at times.
Set and Setting matters
Set and setting refers to the participant’s mindset when taking a psychedelic and the setting they are in when they have their experience. Choosing the right set and setting is one of the cornerstones of psychedelic harm reduction, but most people don’t consider the importance of set and setting when microdosing.
Even though normal, everyday functioning is easier while microdosing than macrodosing, microdosing can still produce challenging experiences and make us vulnerable to upsetting or triggering situations.
If you’ve just broken up with your boyfriend, you might feel too emotional to microdose and have lunch with him for the first time since the break up. You might find that christmas shopping is even more overwhelming and anxiety-provoking while on a microdose.
Make sure to set yourself up for success and microdose in situations where you feel safe and comfortable.
Microdosing is not for everyone
One important thing to remember is that microdosing mushrooms is not for everyone. Not everyone wants to or should do it.
Aside from the mental health risks to those with certain psychological conditions, microdosing just might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s absolutely okay. Nothing works for everyone. Microdosing might not be compatible with some people’s brain chemistry, moral values, or lifestyle.
Legality of psilocybin Mushrooms
Psilocybin mushrooms are still illegal to consume, buy, sell and possess in most countries, but decriminalization and legalization efforts are increasing rapidly. There are some regions where psilocybin is completely legal such as the Netherlands and Jamaica, with other countries such as Brazil and the British Virgin Islands having more fuzzy laws, where evidently it’s legal to possess and consume psilocybin mushrooms, while the mushrooms are still technically illegal.
Many countries also have regions where growing psilocybin mushrooms is not penalized, though the laws may say they are technically illegal to consume or possess. Some examples include costa rica, canada, indonesia, mexico,spain, portugal, and thailand.
Some countries also may have laws regarding psilocybin mushrooms that are not strictly enforced. Overall, the details of legality of psilocybin mushrooms pertaining to the use, growing, sale or transport is highly variable. If you are looking for a resource to check the legal status in a specific country, we recommend checking out this wikipedia page which offers more location-specific details.
The decriminalization movement
Decriminalization of a substance is different from legalization, in that legalization removes all laws pertaining to the substance being illegal, while decriminalization will remove criminal penalties such as arrests or incarceration, while potentially maintaining fees or minor penalties for violations.
Legalization more closely resembles how alcohol and tobacco are regulated by the government, while decriminalization allows much more freedom in the marketplace for suppliers and consumers.
Recently, there have been huge efforts in many areas to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. Many cities in the United States have decriminalized psilocybin mushrooms, in addition to other entheogenic plants. Cities such as Denver CO, Oakland CA, Santa Cruz CA, and Chicago IL have recently decriminalized psilocybin and other natural psychedelics.
Efforts to decriminalize psilocybin state wide are currently underway in California and Colorado. Like marijuana though, in the United States, psilocybin is still illegal on a federal level.
Do psilocybin mushrooms show up on drug tests?
Typically, most standard drug tests are not testing for psilocybin, however more extended drug tests do have the capabilities of testing for it. Psilocybin stays in your system for 1-3 days after ingestion.
Psilocybin as medicine
Consuming psilocybin mushrooms is nothing new, but modern use for psilocybin mushrooms is likely different than what they were originally used for. As research continues to develop, the applications of psilocybin mushrooms will also continue to expand, reaching to new fields of study, new communities, and inviting new perspectives.
There is extensive evidence of use of psilocybin mushrooms for religious and ceremonial purposes in many different cultures throughout history. Archaeological evidence from the Saharan desert dating as far back as 7,000 years ago shows mushrooms depicted in prehistoric art.
There are many accounts of pre-Colombian uses of psilocybin in Aztec and Mayan cultures in regions of Mexico and Guatemala. Indigenous shamans have utilized psilocybin mushrooms for mystical and healing rituals for hundreds if not thousands of years.
Psilocybin mushrooms came into western awareness in the 1950’s, largely by Gordon Wasson’s experiences in Oaxaca with indigenous mushroom shaman, Maria Sabina. Shortly after their discovery by the west, psychedelic mushrooms became popularized and were part of the psychedelic counterculture movement of the 1960’s.
There is also some speculation, referred to as the “Stoned Ape Theory”, that the ingestion of psilocybin mushrooms by our hominid ancestors may have played a role in the rapid developmental anomaly of the modern human brain. Terrence McKenna’s book Food of the Gods presents anthropological evidence for the argument that human intellectual evolution was catalyzed by use of psilocybin mushrooms.
Pharmacology and neuroscience of psilocybin
Psilocybin is the main compound that makes psilocybin mushrooms psychoactive. When ingested, psilocybin gets converted into psilocin by the liver, which is the active metabolite that produces the psychedelic experience.
Psilocin shares structural similarity to serotonin and binds to a number of serotonin-specific (5HT) receptors in the body and brain, mimicking serotonin. Psilocin binds to several different serotonin receptor subtypes including 5HT1a, 5HT1d, 5HT2a, and 5HT2c.
Of particular interest is the activity at the 5HT2a serotonin receptor, as this appears to be a receptor that is crucial for inducing the psychedelic and therapeutic outcomes from psilocybin/psilocin.
BDNF and neuroplasticity
Psilocybin mushrooms have demonstrated an ability in both invitro and invivo studies to prompt neurogenesis and the growth of new neurons, dendrites and synaptic spines. This is mediated by psilocybin’s ability to activate the Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) pathway in brain cells.
Studies show evidence of increased brain tissue density, increased neuroplasticity and repair of damaged neurons as a result of having BDNF stimulated. Psilocybin’s BDNF boosting properties may be part of the mechanism of action for their ability to improve depression, anxiety, and cognitive health.
Default mode network connectivity
Psilocybin mushrooms have been found to decrease hyperconnectivity of a brain network called the Default Mode Network (DMN). The DMN acts as a sensory filtration system, deciding which sensory information is important, and which can be ignored. This circuit allows us to run on “programs” so we do not have to consciously process all information coming into our brain.
While this neural network is very useful, it can sometimes be TOO active and have hyperconnectivity. This results in rigid thinking and rumination of negative thought patterns.
People with depression, addiction, PTSD and other psychological illnesses tend to have overactive Default Mode Networks. Psilocybin decreases the activation of this brain network, successfully disrupting rumination and rigidity and allowing the person to be liberated with a fresh perspective.
Immune modulation and inflammation
There is some evidence that psilocybin mushrooms may have anti-inflammatory and immune modulating effects. Activation of the 5HT2a receptor by similar psychedelics has been shown to reduce proinflammatory molecules in the body.
Similarly, studies have suggested that immune cells like B cells, T cells and natural killer cells may be influenced by psychedelic substances such as psilocybin. This may make psilocybin a promising candidate for treating autoimmune conditions, neurodegenerative diseases, metabolic syndromes and other inflammatory and immune related illnesses.
Therapeutic applications of Psilocybin
Depression and Anxiety
The application of psilocybin for depression and anxiety is one of the most promising medical breakthroughs being explored by scientists today. Full psilocybin doses have been found to be quite effective for improving even treatment-resistant depression and anxiety. Studies show that even a single treatment can maintain improvements in depression scores months after their treatment.
In the original psychedelic wave of the 60’s, psilocybin and other psychedelics were being explored as anti-addiction aids. After a hiatus in research, a 2015 study revisited the efficacy of psilocybin in treating alcohol addiction. Abstinence from drinking or a significant decrease in drinking were reported after subjects’ psilocybin experience.
Psilocybin mushrooms have also been investigated as a tool for smoking cessation. In a small study consisting of 15 people, 80% of participants were able to successfully quit smoking, compared to the 35% success rate when using patches, nicotine gum or stopping cold turkey.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Psilocybin mushrooms have also been explored for their use in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for improving symptoms of PTSD. Some of the ways psilocybin may facilitate a therapeutic outcome is by increasing rapport and trust with the therapist, disrupting neural networks persisting rumination of the trauma, and by reprogramming the ‘flight or flight’ stress response.
By dampening emotional reactivity, the patient is able to revisit the traumatic experience without being triggered the same way as in a default PTSD state.
Cluster headaches are often so intense that they are completely debilitating. They are reported to be incredibly painful and very little is known about the cause or how to treat them.
While there has been little research into using psychedelics like psilocybin to treat cluster headaches, there is overwhelming anecdotal and survey evidence that psilocybin is substantially more effective than any available treatment for resolving a cluster headache, even putting cluster headache sufferers into complete remission with regular use of psilocybin.
Does microdosing mushrooms really work?
With all the hype around microdosing, you may wonder, is this just a fad? Is a microdose just a trendy placebo? While there’s no question that microdosing is gaining in popularity, and yes, the placebo effect is definitely a magical and effective element to any intervention, we currently don’t have enough evidence to confirm whether microdosing mushrooms is actually effective or not.
Currently, there have been no controlled human clinical microdosing trials with mushrooms. There are a handful of clinical studies starting to examine LSD microdosing, but so far, none for psilocybin. Rat studies show potential benefits for improving depression and anxiety with DMT microdosing, but again, very few studies are underway regarding psilocybin mushrooms.
James fadiman and others have collected and analyzed data on microdosing from open surveys, but this is far from the type of study that we need to draw any conclusions. Surveys do provide tremendous anecdotal data which is valuable in the meantime. The future will likely give rise to an explosion of interest in microdosing research, but until then, the best we can do is review anecdotal reports, and be prepared to use ourselves as guinea pigs.
Individuals’ microdosing experiences
While formal research on microdosing might be scarce, there are abundant individual accounts from microdosers that help to reveal the landscape of microdosing’s broad effects. Below are just a few accounts from individuals who have tried microdosing mushrooms.
Productivity powerhouse – “Microdosing mushrooms really helps put me in a zone where I can somehow focus on work, yet still feel in this fluid and flowy state. I find that I have more motivation to tackle the hard things and better ability to keep my attention on one thing, without going off on tangents like usual.”
Overcoming addictive patterns – “Thanks to microdosing lsd and mushrooms (on and off over the past year) I have been able to let go of my unhealthy eating habits, quit all drugs (except psychedelics), came off all prescription medications, quit weed, quit porn and masterbation, quit coffee. And I met the most amazing women that I have ever met in my life and now we are living together and I’m trying to have my first baby at 30 years old.”
Improved emotional awareness – “When I microdose mushrooms, I do notice more awareness around my emotional state and how I respond or react to my emotions. I feel more agency in my emotional expression and am able to engage/work with my emotional response as opposed to reacting to it.”
Obtaining Psilocybin mushrooms
Getting possession of good quality psilocybin mushrooms is of course a critical first step before you can begin microdosing. Depending on the legal status of psilocybin mushrooms where you live, they may be more or less difficult to procure.
Purchasing from a supplier
The most common way that people get psychedelic mushrooms is to buy them from a “dealer”. Unless you’re living somewhere that mushrooms are legally sold in shops, such as in Amsterdam, purchasing them may put you at risk with the law. Always purchase from someone you trust, who is accountable, and preferably uses discrete encrypted messaging for safety purposes.
Foraging for wild mushrooms
It is possible to forage for your own psilocybin mushrooms in the wild. This of course has some risks as there are many poisonous mushrooms that one may mistake for psilocybin. Luckily the genus Psilocybe contains over 200 psychedelic species found in different regions and climates all over the world, and they are generally united by a very distinct feature that differentiates them from all other mushroom groups.
Psilocybin mushrooms almost always have dark blue spores and also bruise blue when handled. This is due to the psilocybin oxidizing once the cell walls are damaged and allowing oxygen into the mushroom. Always look for the blue spores and blue bruising marks to confirm a psilocybin mushroom.
It is important to note though that some psilocybin mushrooms do not have the blue bruising effect. If possible, bring a mushroom expert, or mycologist, or an identification book to verify the mushrooms you have collected are safe to ingest. Fields with cows and cow patties are usually the best spots to find psilocybin mushroom species growing naturally.
Growing your own mushrooms
Growing your own mushrooms can be a great alternative to foraging or buying them from a seller. It can also be a very fun and rewarding process, though it is very much a labor of love and can take 6-8 weeks from the start until your mushrooms are ready to consume. Typically Psilocybe cubensis are the easiest species to cultivate for beginners.
There are many kits and setups that can help you get started with growing your own mushrooms. You can also create your own by using typical household items such as jars and plastic bins. In many parts of the US, spores are legal to purchase online. You can either sterilize your own substrate or buy pre-sterilized growth mediums to start your mushroom-birthing journey. We recommend checking out this guide or buying this online step-by step course that will guide you through growing your own mushrooms.
Get Started Microdosing
To track your microdosing activity and to see how it’s helping you over time, we recommend this downloadable scheduler from our friends at The Third Wave that will help you track your microdoses and the effects.
Microdose Schedule and Tracker
If you are looking for a more thorough ally in helping you stay accountable and leading you through the microdosing process, Sign up for this extensive microdosing course
Participating in Microdosing research
If you would like to offer your microdosing experience to science, here are a couple of links to projects that you can participate in!
Additional Microdosing Resources
Reddit subforums on microdosing:
A forum dedicated to magic mushrooms. Great for help with growing.
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