The Essential Guide to Microdosing Psilocybin Mushrooms

Microdosing Psilocybin Mushrooms

Psilocybin: [3-(2-Dimethylaminoethyl)-1H-indol-4-yl] dihydrogen phosphate

C12H17N2O4P

Disclaimer: Psilocybin is a potentially illegal substance, and we do not encourage or condone the use of this substance where it is against the law. This guide is designed to ensure the safety of those who decide to use the substance legally.

WHAT IS PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOM MICRODOSING?

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Microdosing is the act of consuming sub-perceptual amounts of psychedelics, like LSD or psilocybin mushrooms.

Sub-perceptual means the effects are subtle but can have a noticeable influence on your life.

Typically, microdosers integrate sub-perceptual doses into their weekly routine. They often report higher levels of creativity, more energy, increased focus, and improved relational skills. Some enthusiasts also report microdosing mushrooms helps to heighten spiritual awareness and enhance all five senses. Many people microdose mushrooms in order to treat depression or anxiety, often with remarkable results.

In fact, The Beckley Foundation is spearheading the push for the legalization of psilocybin mushrooms, backed by long-term positive effects found in their research conducted on treatment-resistant depression patients. Recently, Oakland, California decriminalized all plant medicines including psilocybin mushrooms, a move that followed Denver Colorado’s successful referendum to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms.

Eminent researchers in the psychedelic space have also found largely positive effects of psilocybin mushrooms on mood disorders and anxiety.

Even addictions, such as smoking, can be overcome with psilocybin. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have achieved an 80 percent abstinence rate with a group of longtime smokers, in the context of a cognitive behavioral therapy treatment.

Aside from psychological issues, mushrooms (and LSD) have been found to be  “comparable to or more efficacious than most conventional medications” in treating cluster headaches. Many people have experienced extended periods of remission after taking them.

With all these encouraging results, there’s good reason to believe that microdosing mushrooms would bring about life changes of a similarly positive quality.

THE HISTORY OF MICRODOSING

While the modern history of psychedelics reaches back to the 1950s, interest in microdosing saw a major revitalization with the publishing of Dr. James Fadiman’s The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys in 2011.

Dr. Fadiman’s book explores microdosing as a subculture of psychedelic use. While a number of indigenous cultures, as well as modern professionals, have utilized microdosing as a way to unlock a host of benefits, Dr. Fadiman’s book formally introduced the term “microdosing” into the psychedelic mainstream.

But Dr. Fadiman’s book didn’t just contribute a piece of terminology; it awakened the curiosity and imaginations of millions of people fascinated by the reports of experienced microdosers. It also provided a host of practical information for anyone that wanted to give it a try, much of which has been integrated into this course.

Dr. Fadiman’s ongoing research into microdosing serves as one of the few modern studies into the effects of microdosing specifically (most other research deals with larger doses for specific therapeutic outcomes).

Following the publication of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, the next major boost in the public’s awareness of microdosing came from a podcast interview Dr. Fadiman gave with Tim Ferriss in March of 2015.

Ferriss, who rose to fame after authoring the bestseller The Four Hour Work Week, has an enormous audience of individuals interested in entrepreneurship, “biohacking,” self-experimentation, psychology, spirituality, and an array of additional subject matters that would predispose them to an interest in the benefits of microdosing.

His podcast interview with Dr. Fadiman blasted the core messages about microdosing contained in The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide from a soapbox loud enough to significantly increase a basic awareness of the concept.

Soon after its air date, listeners of Ferriss’ podcast were not only starting to experiment with microdosing on their own; they were discussing it and sharing their curiosity with their own personal networks. Consequently, journalists began writing articles about microdosing, leading to even greater awareness and interest.

The most recent source of interest in microdosing came from Ayelet Waldman’s 2016 book A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in my Mood, My Marriage, and My Life.

Waldman’s book discusses her 30-day protocol of microdosing with LSD to address a variety of psychological symptoms primarily caused by hormonal changes related to menopause.

Prior to microdosing, Waldman’s mood swings had become so severe as to put her marriage and relationship with her children at risk.

Afterward, in an interview with The Third Wave, she said, “This month changed my life, and I am sad every day that I can’t keep doing it legally.”

Now, tens of thousands of people around the globe are being turned on to microdosing – whether it’s for treating mental health problems, boosting creativity, or giving entrepreneurs new directions.

THE SCIENCE OF PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOM MICRODOSING

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While psychedelic substances have been illegal and prohibited from study in the vast majority of countries up until the past few years, many of the world’s top experts have made incredible strides picking up on research started in the 1950s and 60s.

Although almost no research has been done on microdosing mushrooms, we know something about what large doses of psychedelics do to the brain.

Much of what we understand about how psychedelics work involves serotonin, a chemical that keeps our brains ticking. It is one of the most important neurotransmitters in the brain and affects nearly everything we do, from how we feel to how we process information.

Classic psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin share a similar structure to serotonin, and work along a similar pathway…

Many antidepressants (called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs) try to make serotonin more plentiful in the brain to make you feel better.

LSD and psilocybin mushrooms work more directly, by mimicking serotonin. This means that one of their main effects is to stimulate a serotonin receptor, located in the prefrontal cortex, called “5-HT2A.”

The stimulation of the 5-HT2A receptor leads to two very important results:

  • The production of “Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor” (BDNF). BDNF is “like Miracle-Gro for your brain. It stimulates growth, connections, and activity.” [1]
  • The increased transmission of “Glutamate.” Glutamate is the neurotransmitter most responsible for brain functions like cognition, learning, and memory. [2]

Glutamate and BDNF work together in ways we’re still understanding, but it’s become clear that having more of each leads to many of the benefits we all seek from microdosing. [3]Another thing psychedelics do is to cause parts of the brain that might not usually communicate with one another… to communicate with one another!

Psychedelics allow these unique connections to be formed by dampening the activity of an often over-used part of our brain called the “Default Mode Network” (DMN). [4]

The Default Mode Network is an area of the brain used for an array of different mental activities, including day-dreaming, self-reflection, and thinking about the past or the future. Some studies suggest that depression is linked to an overactive DMN. [5] It’s possible that a highly active DMN causes us to ruminate, over-analyze ourselves, and step out of the present moment to constantly question the past and the future.

This helps explain why these substances could be used to combat depression and anxiety, and also lead to insights and creative perspectives that otherwise remain inaccessible to us.

FLOW STATES

All of us, at some point in our lives, have experienced a flow state. The surfer effortlessly riding a big wave, the therapist perfectly in-sync with her client, the salesman working the room in an out of body experience… all are examples of people performing at their best while in flow.

Simply put, flow is truly one of the great experiences of being human.

We have no specific, non-anecdotal evidence to suggest that microdoses of psychedelics can induce flow states – but we know that moderate doses can change the function of the brain in a way very similar to that seen in flow states.

Studies show that moderate doses of psychedelics cause brain waves to shift more toward alpha oscillations, which is also seen in the transition to a flow state. [6]

Psychedelics such as psilocybin imitate the neurotransmitter serotonin when they enter the brain – and we know that serotonin is found in higher levels in flow states. Unlike LSD, however, psilocybin/psilocin appears to interact minimally and only indirectly with dopamine[7] – another neurotransmitter associated with flow states. This interaction may be especially minimal in the microdose range.[8]

Perhaps most important, psychedelics’ ability to attenuate the DMN can allow our brains to make unique connections between areas that don’t usually communicate. [4] This is crucial for allowing flow states to occur.

Since we know that moderate doses of psychedelics can induce similar effects to a flow state in the brain, it seems likely that a regular microdosing regimen will start to shift our awareness in the direction of flow.

HOW DO YOU MICRODOSE WITH PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMS?

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Microdosing mushrooms is the act of taking “sub-perceptual” doses of this psychedelic, meaning the dose level is not high enough to cause substantial deviations from reality.

Ideally, a mushroom microdose will not cause a substantial change in mood, disposition, or mindset. Instead, its effect will be subtle but present.

Preparing psilocybin mushrooms for microdosing involves more steps than microdosing with LSD, but is still straightforward!

Fresh and dried psilocybin mushrooms will contain different quantities of psilocybin. Not only that, but different strains of mushrooms will have different psilocybin contents. Even different parts of the mushroom contain slightly different amounts of psilocybin!

As such, we recommend drying a batch of psilocybin mushrooms, grinding them into a powder, and measuring out around 0.1g of powder as your starter microdose. You can then adjust the amount accordingly after your first attempt. When you take an amount that makes you feel some changes (most notably drowsiness, as it’s the first effect that comes on in a psilocybin trip), roll back to the dose just under it, and you will have found your mushroom microdose sweet spot.

You can use any kind of psilocybin mushrooms for your microdosing. The most popular ones are Psilocybe cubensis, Psilocybe semilanceata, Psilocybe azurecens, Psilocybe cyanescens, and Panaeolus. Just be aware how much psilocybin content your strain has (for example, the last two are very rich in psilocybin), and adjust your microdose accordingly. You can learn about the potency levels of different Psilocybe strains at Erowid.

Read our full guide on preparing Psilocybin Mushrooms for microdosing!

There are several ways to take your mushroom microdose. The most practical oneis to measure out your dosages precisely, and fill up some empty capsules with the powder. This will ensure even distribution throughout your regimen, and will mitigate the taste issue that some people have with psilocybin mushrooms.

Another way is to prepare a psilocybin tea. You can dissolve your desired dose of mushroom powder in hot water, and even add some honey for better taste! Otherwise, you are free to experiment and mix the powder into any drink you take to start your day.

WHAT SCHEDULE SHOULD I FOLLOW?

Dr. James Fadiman, the author of the Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, recommends taking a microdose once every three days. Mornings are the best times to take your microdoses, as you will be able to feel the beneficial effects throughout your day. They should also increase your brain activation, and therefore may not be suitable to take at nighttime as they may interfere with your sleep.

Take a mushroom microdose on Day 1. Then do NOT take a microdose on Day 2 or Day 3.

Then, take another mushroom microdose on Day 4.

Observe the effects throughout this process by taking notes in a journal every day.

Continue the process of microdosing mushrooms two times per week for several weeks. Take notes throughout the entire process on both short-term, in-the-moment effects, and long-term changes in your mood, energy, and social behavior.

Follow your usual routine while microdosing mushrooms. You should not change what you do. The purpose is to enhance your day-to-day existence by integrating microdosing into your routine.

When you try microdosing for the first time, take a day off from work and social commitments. It will give you a chance to observe and notice any unusual effects before microdosing in a more public situation.

Be vigilant in observing the effects of microdosing mushrooms on the two days between microdoses. Many people perceive increased feelings of flow, creativity, and energy the day after they microdose, as well as the day of microdosing.

Microdosing mushrooms every day is not recommended. Psychedelics like psilocybin produce a tolerance, even with microdoses, so you might see diminishing returns after a few days. This is why Dr. Fadiman suggested taking a couple of days off between each dose.

Additionally, the fact that benefits can still be felt in the days following a mushroom microdose (as well as on the microdose day) is a good reason to space out your doses.

Concern for your health is another reason to avoid microdosing mushrooms every day. There is a potential heart risk of taking too many psychedelics over a long period of time. Although we don’t know how this translates when it comes to microdosing, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution, and avoid microdosing too frequently, or for longer than a few months at a time.

One other downside to microdosing mushrooms every day is normalizing a very potent substance. You can compare it to the use of coffee for productivity purposes. When you drink coffee every day, over time you need to increase the dose to get the same effect. One cup of coffee turns into two or three or four cups of coffee within 2-3 months.

It is best to leverage microdosing mushrooms as an occasional advantage, rather than a consistent go-to like coffee.

MICRODOSING RETREATS

For people who are new to psychedelics, even microdosing can be a daunting concept. But retreats are an exciting option for those who want to be introduced to psychedelics surrounded by experts in a guided, personalized setting.

The Synthesis retreat in Amsterdam is curated by microdosing experts, and is designed to offer each participant a perfect introduction to psychedelics.

Curated microdosing retreats could be an option for people looking to begin their microdosing journey, and could be the best way to translate the psychedelic experience into lessons for living a better life.

Optimize your microdosing efforts

Do you worry about taking too much, not measuring correctly, or losing control of your experience?

Enroll in our online microdosing course to have a safe, effective, and valuable microdosing experience.

BENEFITS AND RISKS

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While it’s certainly an oversimplification, people generally microdose for two different reasons: to decrease the frequency and intensity of undesirable mental states or to improve the frequency and intensity of desirable mental states.

1: To reduce the frequency and intensity of undesirable states caused by various forms of “mental illness”, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety (i.e. Generalized or Social)
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Mood disorders
  • PTSD
  • Addiction

2: To increase the frequency and intensity of desirable states/outcomes:

  • Creativity
  • Energy
  • Flow states
  • Productivity/focus
  • Improved relationships/increased empathy
  • Athletic coordination
  • Leadership development

UNDESIRABLE STATES

We’re not fond of the term “Mental Illness” because it pathologizes what is often a part of one’s natural progression toward a more coherent, actualized self.

But for those struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADD/ADHD, mood disorders and/or addiction (to name a few), microdosing can create a number of positive changes.

Clinical research has shown that larger doses of psychedelics are effective at treating depressionanxiety and addiction. Anecdotal evidence backs up the idea that a regular microdosing regimen can also have healing benefits for sufferers of various mental health conditions:

“Microdosing doesn’t allow me to be anywhere else but in the present moment. This has helped me tremendously with my anxiety and depression. I am incapable of worrying about what’s going to happen next week, tomorrow, or even five minutes from now. I can function without anxiety for the first time in years. I feel that my attention span is greater, I’m concentrating like never before. When I was suffering with pain I was given a lot of prescription pain pills and was quickly becoming addicted to them. Microdosing instantly helped me stop taking the several pills a day I was taking just so I could get out of bed, and I haven’t touched them since.”

– Third Wave Survey Respondent

 

“I have fought depression for some 6-7 years since adolescence, microdosing has, so far, consistently helped me get on with my day-to-day, just as much on no MD days as MD days. This also applies to Social & General Anxiety which has been less severe but experienced for the same period.”

– Third Wave Survey Respondent

 

“I overcame my depression with microdosing because I can consistently be productive and happy with it as a creative booster. It also eliminates any anxiety I get because I never used to raise my hand in class. I smoke a lot of cannabis and it’s unhealthy to overindulge. I found microdosing to make me feel the need to be productive so I smoke much less when I microdose and don’t indulge just to smoke.”

– Third Wave Survey Respondent

DESIRABLE STATES

Many people are microdosing in an effort of self-improvement or personal development. Reports suggest that microdosing mushrooms can improve creativity, productivity and energy, which can be used at work or in other pursuits.

The creative benefits of microdosing are highly linked to the enhancement of flow states. Since microdosing mushrooms allows you to enter into a flow state with greater ease, this allows people to explore new and exciting forms of consciousness.

Click here to listen to our interview with entrepreneur Janet Chang, and hear how she microdosed to improve creativity and work performance.

Countless people microdose mushrooms to help them solve work-related problems, create new concepts, or simply to reduce procrastination.

Microdosing mushrooms can also help you outside of the work environment, by improving your social interaction skills, athletic performance and spiritual awareness.

If you’re curious about how the effects of microdosing mushrooms differ from those of microdosing LSD, click here to read our full article on the topic.

“Since microdosing I have come out of my shell. I have become more confident around other people and have formed an intimate relationship with another person where I have had difficulty in the past.”

– Third Wave Survey Respondent

 

“Microdosing LSD has been a very positive experience – it keeps me very present, focused, creative, and overall induces a deep sense of contentment! I found that taking it before going to my parents place made the family dynamic so much more enjoyable. It also has been great in terms of connecting with my partner.”

– Third Wave Survey Respondent

RISKS

By far, the riskiest thing about microdosing is the law. It’s crucial to check your local laws before microdosing, as the penalties for the possession of Psilocybin Mushrooms are still harsh in most countries. It’s still possible to microdose psilocybin mushrooms legally, and we never condone illegal activities.

Aside from the legal risks, one can consider microdosing to be a safe, non-threatening introduction to the benefits of psychedelics.

Given the tremendous safety records of psilocybin, combined with the small dose amounts, microdosing appears to be a safe, measureable way to explore the incredible possibilities that psychedelics have to offer.

As can be seen by the chart below, comparing the relative harms of common substances, psilocybin is one of the safest substances you can find, biochemically and socially speaking. It’s much safer than alcohol!

Having said that, psychedelics are powerful substances, and even microdoses have a risk potential.

Emotional turbulence or anxiety is possible while microdosing, largely due to psychedelics’ “amplifying effect.” Psilocybin tends to amplify your current mood, rather than act as a stimulant or numbing agent. For this reason, it is important to assess your mindset before consuming a microdose.

Since Psilocybin Mushrooms have the potential to amplify your current mind state, we recommend discussing the risks with your physician if you suffer from psychosis, schizophrenia or severe anxiety, before you decide to begin microdosing. When overdone, microdosing can lead to manic states, which could exacerbate underlying conditions.

Since there is no clinical research on the safety of microdosing, it’s best to avoid microdosing for extended periods of time (longer than a few months). There is a potential heart risk of taking too many large doses of psychedelics over a long period of time – although we don’t know how this translates to microdosing.

HOW DO I ACQUIRE PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMS FOR MICRODOSING?

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Psilocybin mushrooms are still illegal to buy, possess and grow in many countries. Make sure you’re aware of your local laws before you decide to microdose.

If you live somewhere that allows the cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms for personal use, consider growing your own psilocybin mushrooms.

If you live in Europe, you may have the option of purchasing Psilocybin Truffles, which are legal in the Netherlands. Remember, these are less potent than psilocybin mushrooms, and an ideal starter dose is 0.5g of dried Truffle powder.

Optimize your microdosing efforts

Do you worry about taking too much, not measuring correctly, or losing control of your experience?

Enroll in our online microdosing course to have a safe, effective, and valuable microdosing experience.

FAQ

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CAN PSILOCYBIN BE DETECTED IN A DRUG TEST?

Psilocybin and its metabolites are not included in most standard drug screens; however they are sometimes included in extended drug screens.

WHERE CAN I GET PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMS?

See our section on acquiring Psilocybin Mushrooms for microdosing.

IS MICRODOSING ILLEGAL?

Microdosing is not necessarily illegal. Several countries allow the cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms, the purchase of psilocybin truffles, or the purchase of LSD analogues. We do not condone microdosing where it is against the law, as penalties can be severe.

IS MICRODOSING SAFE?

The riskiest thing about microdosing is its potentially illegal nature. Always be aware of your local laws and don’t undertake any illegal activities.

There are no clinical research studies on microdosing in humans. However, clinical studies of larger doses of LSD and psilocybin mushrooms have shown that these substances are extremely safe.

What remains an unknown is what effects frequent microdosing could have on the body. This is why we recommend microdosing for no longer than a few months at a time.

One thing is for certain – with microdosing, there is no risk of having a “bad trip” or experiencing intense psychedelic effects. Taking a microdose is the ideal way to be introduced to psychedelics safely and comfortably.

HOW DO I GET STARTED WITH MICRODOSING?

There are lots of things to cover before you get started with microdosing – depending on the reasons you’re interested in the first place!

Sign up to our extensive microdosing course to gain access to curated materials that will help you design the ideal microdosing regimen for your needs. You’ll also gain access to an exclusive community of enthusiastic, helpful microdosers!

 

FOOTNOTES

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[1] Ayelet Waldman (2016) “A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My life

[2] Riedel, Platt & Micheau (2003) doi:10.1016/S0166-4328(02)00272-3

[3] Vollenweider & Kometer (2010) doi:10.1038/nrn2884

[4] Carhart-Harris et al. (2016) doi:10.1073/pnas.1518377113

[5] Sambataro et al. (2014) doi:10.1017/S0033291713002596

[6] Kometer et al. (2013) doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3007-12.2013

[7] Passie et al. (2002) doi:10.1080/1355621021000005937

[8] Sakashita et al. (2015) doi:10.1248/bpb.b14-00315

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Comments

  1. This kind of awareness is very good and would benefit a lot of people in the long run.
    I hope that this will progress and improve people’s lives. Thank you for sharing!

  2. The RISKS for me are way more substantial than you suggest. I want to microdose. I have on hand psilocybin from a reliable source, but I can’t do it. I have chronic severe (daily) migraines for which I take daily Naratriptan. I know there is a high likelihood of adverse reaction to taking both drugs on the same day, but I CANNOT find good information on how long I must wait between drugs, both before and after microdosing. No one seems to be addressing this issue. Any information would be appreciated.

    • Hi Travis,

      The graph presented in this article was not ours but taken from a research study in the UK looking at various drug-related harms and what substance was associated with the instance. The findings of the project illustrate that drug classification is not directly correlated with its harm score.

      We definitely support the responsible use of cannabis and wouldn’t suggest that this graph implies that cannabis should be seen negatively. I hope this helps to clarify!

      – Britt at The Third Wave