THIRD WAVE PODCAST
Is Microdosing Right For You? This Entrepreneur’s Experiment May Help You Decide
Janet Chang, digital marketer and entrepreneur, talks to us about her experiences with microdosing. With a background in professional sports and personal development, Janet has applied her own style of testing and tracking to her microdosing experiment. We hear about the benefits and pitfalls she discovered after microdosing psilocybin mushrooms at work for a year.
- Janet’s background in personal development gave her the tools to rigorously track her progress with microdosing
- She found numerous benefits to her work and personal life
- Janet recommends the high-dose psychedelic experience as a way of healing trauma and for getting the most out of microdosing
Janet Chang has an eclectic background. Professional sportsperson, bestselling author, digital marketer, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Janet is well aware of how to get ahead in life and in business. It’s no surprise than Janet decided to investigate the growing world of microdosing psychedelics.
Inspired by her experiences with moderate doses of psychedelics (including psilocybin, LSD and ayahuasca), Janet began her microdosing experiment in April 2016. She describes how transformative her psychedelic experiences were – and how she wanted to microdose in order to have a constant reminder of the lessons she learned on psychedelics, without impacting her ability to go to work.
Janet was also inspired to rigorously track her microdosing progress. Having previously performed similar self-improvement experiments, Janet was well prepared to track the changes that microdosing was making to her work and personal life.
Every day, Janet kept track of every aspect of her life, from her ability to make sales calls to her relationships with friends. She microdosed for a whole year, taking from 0.2-0.4 grams of psilocybin mushrooms every few days.
Overall, Janet reported that microdosing boosted her productivity in certain areas (such as her ability to make sales), but negatively impacted it in others. She reported feeling an increase in empathy, and describes situations where she could connect with friends and co-workers in ways she’d never been able to before.
Janet would recommend microdosing for most people – however, she believes that some people require a high-dose experience to heal past trauma, before they can start to effectively microdose.
It’s Janet’s belief in the healing benefits of a high-dose psychedelic experience that has led her to create the Lighthouse Project. She hopes to take consenting young adults to a traditional psychedelic ceremony, providing college or high school graduates with a “rite of passage” that will help them live compassionate, full lives.
“Humans have become so alienated from the environments we spend the most time in. We are removed from loving communities. So accelerating our individual potential can help bring us back to our natural selves.
“I’m aiming now to help the next generation of youth to be spiritually enlightened by the time they graduate college.”
0:00:28 Paul Austin: Welcome back to The Third Wave Podcast, listeners again, I’m your host, Paul Austin, if this is your first time listening I just wanna welcome you to The Third Wave podcast, where we have conversations with people about how we can reintegrate psychedelics into our global culture and society. In today’s podcast I am speaking to Janet Chang, who’s a digital marketer and entrepreneur and I’ll get a little bit more into who Janet is in a little bit but before I go any further though, let’s just hop right into This Week In Psychedelics. It was a pretty limited week but let’s jump in anyway.
0:01:01 PA: So number one, a study showed that cannabinoids can reduce the frequency of chronic migraines and these findings mirror the fact that psychedelics can be used to treat cluster headaches and we have a really good article on Third Wave’s website about psychedelics for cluster headaches, if that’s something that you or someone you know might be interested in.
0:01:20 PA: The second little bit of This Week In Psychedelics, is Psymposia published a really good series on Robert Widdowson, manufacture of MDMA in the 1980s. He was forced to flee to Belize before turning himself in in 2010 and was then prosecuted for his crime. So there’s a really good, I believe it’s a three-part series on Psymposia about him. If you’re interested in that story go ahead and check it out. We’ll have a link on our website directing people to it.
0:01:48 PA: One other thing as well, This Week In Psychedelics is The Guardian just published a really good piece about the study that Johns Hopkins is doing for psilocybin and religious leaders. Basically, they’re seen if by giving high doses of psilocybin to certain religious leaders, priests, ministers, rabbis, Imans, Hindu priests if that can help these leaders to go beyond some of the more dogmatic aspects of their belief system and revitalize their own leadership style and belief in the word that they are spreading and the message that they are evangelicalizing to other people and this study has been going on for quite some time, but the piece was just recently published this week in The Guardian so I’d recommend checking that piece out if you’re interested in the study that’s going on at Johns Hopkins about basically mystical experiences in religious leaders.
0:02:39 PA: I also now they’re having a difficult time in finding people to enroll in that study so if you or someone you know might be interested in that, it would maybe be cool to reach out to them to see if the person that you know could partake in that.
0:02:51 PA: So moving forward now, the brief intro. I interviewed Janet Chang, who is a digital marketer and entrepreneur and she tells us about her experiences with microdosing. Janet has a background in professional sports and personal development and has applied her own style of testing and tracking to her microdosing experiment. In the podcast, we talk about the benefits and pitfalls that she discovered after microdosing psilocybin mushrooms at work for several months.
0:03:17 PA: Janet recently presented at the Quantified Self Conference in Amsterdam, in I believe mid-June where she presented her Quantified Self results. She also gave a really good presentation at a San Francisco based meetup about, I think, Peak Performance and Optimization where she also discussed her results from microdosing psilocybin mushrooms. There have also been now a couple of articles published, one in New Scientist and the other in I believe the Daily Mail about her experiment and what she learned from it and what she did with it.
0:03:48 PA: So Janet and I did this podcast interview in person in New York City when I was there about a month ago. I rented out a breather room for the both of us and we got a chance to sit down and talk to each other from across the table so it was a great opportunity to get to know her and hear her story about microdosing psilocybin mushroom. I know a lot of the people who listen this podcast are definitely interested in microdosing, microdosing is certainly entering the cultural zeitgeist, in conversation. I was having a brief chat with someone at the Breaking Convention Conference last weekend about how microdosing really encapsulates our cultural conversation as a millennial generation. It kind of sits at the delta of so many different things. The move away from pharmaceuticals, the reevaluation of previously elicit substances, the understanding of biohacking and optimization, it really, really sits at a lot of interesting points and I think that’s why it’s taking off in popularity among many other reasons.
0:04:39 PA: So getting to hear from someone who is basically an expert in microdosing because she was so focused on properly tracking how it affected her, I think will be great for all of you listeners. Enjoy the podcast, if you do enjoy the podcast, leave us a review on iTunes, please, pretty, pretty, pretty please. We have about 18 reviews right now, that’s decent but I know we could do better so if you do enjoy the podcast, please leave a review and just maybe share it with a friend or two as well. That’s a really good way to continue to share the news about the third wave of psychedelics, you can get it in the hands of other people who you think might be interested.
0:05:25 PA: Also another announcement for Third Wave, we have released a microdosing online course, so if you want to learn basically, not only all the basics of microdosing, like how to properly use it, how to source things safely, how to set up a basic protocol but if you more importantly wanna know how you can utilize it to it’s maximum ability for your specific situation, then I think you’re going to be interested in our microdosing online course. If you go to our website, we have an email list that we’re building, specific to the course so that once we start to roll out more announcements about all the various details you can have access to those details for the announcement. So enjoy the podcast with Janet Chang and I’ll see you guys after for the show.
0:06:27 PA: Janet Chang, you know you’re presenting at the Quantified Self Conference in Amsterdam, June 17 and 18, about microdosing. How did you get into microdosing? So where does your story begin in terms of self-tracking with psilocybin microdosing?
0:06:43 Janet Chang: It started in April of last year so it’s been a little bit over 12 months since then, calendar time but I did end the experiment earlier this year, just to have a good 12 months of data and my motivation for conducting a microdosing experiment was inspired from my experiences with moderate to higher doses or generally recognized as regular party doses of psilocybin, of LSD, of Ayahuasca in Peru and all of those experiences, for that one year we’re incredibly, incredibly transformative for me, on a deeply emotional and spiritual level that so much that I changed the direction of my life and my career as a result and so what I wanted to do was have that constant reminder of there are new possibilities available to me every day in every single moment, in every single conversation; that is a result of my own agency, my choice in the moment and to keep that reminder to myself I wanted to endeavor in microdoses of these substances rather than the full dose on say Saturday during the day and then having Sunday dedicated to recuperation and reflection from such a mind-blowing and just out of this world experience.
0:08:23 JC: I felt I had reached an apex point at which I didn’t need to continue having those transformations and more… “Okay, I have all the lessons now. Now I want to apply these lessons on daily basis. What can I do to remind myself that I did learn these lessons and they are here and I know what they are and I know what I’m doing?” And so that was the best way to go about this and not impact my daily routine, my work schedule. I was working in a corporate position so it was very important for me to maintain composure and emotionally, socially, professionally, all of that had to stay stable in order for me to just keep on doing the work that I was doing on a high standard.
0:09:11 PA: And so, obviously all this tracking right, the quantified self type of approach, was this is the first time that you had done this or did you have kind of a background of self-tracking with other things?
0:09:23 JC: Yeah, so what’s interesting is that I did come in with the perspective of someone who had done experiments before in different areas. So for example, I spent three years… I had a chronic medical condition called Panhypopituitarism. It’s quite a mouthful but means across the pituitary gland in the brain, the signaling hormones are not secreted in the appropriate amount to signal to say the thyroid gland, the adrenal glands, above the kidneys and the reproductive system, in order for the endocrine system, the hormone system in the body to work and so, I was heavily debilitated physically as a result and was out of work.
0:10:08 JC: So I was told by these doctors that, these MDs from Stanford, from UCLA, from the top medical institutions of the States that my condition either didn’t exist or was not curable and so I had no choice but to conduct my own experiments because I knew just having been a competitive athlete in Olympic sport, in triathlons, in cross country running, in track and field, just all of these different areas, I knew my body really well. I had my sleep, my diet, my exercise dialed in, so optimized at the point at which I started experiencing symptoms so there was something going on.
0:10:53 JC: I knew there was something more than what these doctors were saying to me and I wasn’t going to trust the conventional advice, “Listen to your doctor” or “Listen to your lawyer” or “Listen to your boss” or whatever and I wanted to see if there was something more and so I did and three years later, all of a sudden, as a result of this systematic process, I was able to cure essentially my condition and I have no symptoms whatsoever as long as I continue maintaining the regime of supplementation and prescription medication and lifestyle factors that all went into this and found to be effective.
0:11:30 JC: So having that confidence and just systematically going through the process of three steps; one is, I call it TRE, as in T-R-E, T-track, R-research, E-experiment and then continue that cycle, TRE, TRE, TRE, until you find the grand solution for your body. It’s personalized to you. It doesn’t work for anyone else, it does work for you and that’s what matters.
0:11:55 JC: Going into the experiment I thought, “Well, I don’t have any particular goals that I want to reach with this experiment. I just want to know what happens. What is the nature of this substance taken in microdoses?” So that’s my mindset going into that.
0:12:10 PA: And so that’s your mind to go in into it, is you just wanna understand how it’s affecting you?
0:12:14 JC: Exactly.
0:12:15 PA: Were there specific ways in which you were curious about how it affected you, in terms of energy, in terms of cognitive function? What were some of those specific ways that you were curious? “Okay, if I start a microdosing regiment, how is it going to affect my day-to-day experience?”
0:12:17 JC: Yeah and that’s a good question. So I wanted to keep it open-ended and be open to any of the outputs that could result from experimentation from different doses. For example, I started at 0.2 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, taking only the stems, the material from the stem so as not to conflate that with the amount of psilocybin which is higher concentration in the caps of the mushroom and then from there, looking at well I’m personally interested in things like empathy, emotional intelligence and awareness and myself just being able to be more in touch with those moment by moment, although it is accessible to me easily after the fact, usually when we’re having a conversation or trying to build a relationship with someone that we care about, whether it be socially or at work. It helps to know how I’m feeling in the moment so as to respond appropriately so those are some of the things.
0:13:31 JC: Also having productivity, additional productivity and effectiveness at work was important to me and I found that actually was not as productive in certain areas so I found it was just really interesting as I kept it open-ended, what are the areas in which I am more productive? Well, conducting sales meetings and doing marketing outreach was more easy for me than it was before and when I tracked the metrics of performance, I performed about 20% better than I did without the micro-dosing on the days that I was not so I had several weeks of data, four weeks at least of data leading up to the experiment where I was not taking anything and I had maintained a consistent supplement schedule so that was pretty consistent before hand and it was a reliable baseline and then I started taking 0.2g to 0.4g and that’s when everything started changing and I could notice that change subjectively but I wanted to keep myself honest which is why you see here that my data is readily recorded everyday, every single moment that I’m observing any, either negative or positive symptoms?
0:14:45 PA: So how did you record the data? What process did you use to then understand what was actually going on? Was it a Fitbit or an Oura Ring or how were you tracking some of these things to understand the context in which you were improving?
0:15:00 JC: What I really wish I could have tracked with that I didn’t because it wasn’t out was the Muse headband one of those EEG monitors for the brain. I didn’t get a chance to do that but I did get a chance to track my subjective responses and performance metrics outside of the one that was quantifiable at work. Everything else was basically subjective, like what is my… I want to improve my subjective experience of the world, of my life, of my emotions. I want to experience an elevated mood for example and I think everyone does so using those generally accepted as a positive characteristics, I was tracking to what degree and whether I was as a binary and also the direction so positive-negative and on a dozen different factors and I would email myself so that the data that I was collecting subjectively was, number one easily trackable because I always have my smart phone with me, I can email myself any time.
0:16:00 JC: Number two was it would be time-stamped so I know the date that I recorded and the time in which it was happening so I make sure to record as soon as I got access to my phone, that I could finish a meeting and go back and email myself and so that kept a very tight record of everything that was happening.
0:16:19 PA: So could you walk us through… I’m trying to tie some of these things together. You come from a background where you had previously used some aspect of self-tracking to fix something or address something that was not necessarily addressable with conventional medicine, so you were able to customize that to yourself and then you took that experience and you applied it to psilocybin microdosing by looking at the specific amount you were taking and then by looking at these experiences that you’re having in life for example like the sales calls and then being able to understand how it was improving those experiences for you.
0:17:00 PA: Could you walk us through a story of when you were microdosing, whether that’s a single time or during your protocol at some point where it just became very clear to you that this was having a positive effect and that it was something that you would continue to do but not only continue to do but want to publicly speak about. Was there any sort of crystallizing moment for you or it was it like just kind of an eventual unraveling of your experience?
0:17:31 JC: I think to answer your question, I immediately felt it was different within the first week and I knew this from the calm down periods after major doses so it was very similar, it was just less strong of an effect but it was in effect nonetheless because I was taking every day instead of say, taking a larger dose and then not taking anything for the following weeks, so one of my earlier journal entries and just read that out. I said, “Since last week with the microdosing, I started feeling more connected than ever before. I still feel this way with all my friends. First and foremost, my biggest problem has been solved. Being able to help people with a problem that I have expertise in, even when they previously said they don’t want to be helped or are not seeking any of my assistants.” So showing a lot of resistance and this notation that I made was in reference to my experiences as an endurance training coach and CrossFit coach back in the day when I was in school and noticing how my clients had…
0:18:40 JC: They came to me asking for help. That was my role as a coach and they knew that, it was very explicit unlike being just friends with someone and just having this chat over coffee like “Oh, what’s going on in your life?” and they tell me “Yeah, I wanna get a new job but I don’t know how to do that.” or whatever it was or “I need some marketing help.” and I found that in any kind of “coaching moment”, there was always that moment where I had to determine if they were actually serious because most people, 95% of the people, they come out and ask you and then you tell them the solution and then they freak the fuck out, excuse my language.
0:19:17 JC: They freak out because “Oh, oh my God! Now I have to do the hard work of getting over my fears and anxieties around being overweight.” or being always the slowest runner in school or being terrible at fashion and getting over that or social anxiety, all these things. So I would notice that repeatedly with my friends as well because we all have insecurities and we don’t want people poking holes in our plans, our life plans. We want people to support us and maybe just tell us nice things and say “No, you don’t look fat in dress.” Or “No, you look like you’re doing really well.” Even though it’s clearly not the case and they know it’s not the case. So sensitive areas like that had been solved somehow and I don’t know how, by the increase in empathy, my hypothesis, the increase in my empathy and ability to emotionally connect in the moment with one other person.
0:20:13 JC: So that’s just one little thing and then yeah, persuading. There’s more entries on being persuasive, communicating with people that I have their best interest in mind because I do. Making sure that my best intentions are being fairly communicated and these are… The reason I mentioned these and they might not be fully relevant to another person listening to this because I’ve heard people have other anxieties or other challenges in their life repeatedly that… Just that one thing that’s your Achilles heel and you even mentioned about having ADHD makes it hard for you to focus at work and so that’s something that you’ve had to work on probably over many years and find a way to work around that and for me, the same thing with social anxiety or with communication verbally.
0:21:04 JC: I was born with what’s called auditory processing disorder and was almost diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, which it didn’t come out to be that but it came across that way. It came across very awkward. It came across very… I don’t know about this person’s intentions like, are they actually looking out for me or… I don’t know. I don’t feel connected with this person. That’s the feedback that I received over and over until I decided to do something about it and so these improvements in sales, these improvements in my personal relationships and friendships really meant a lot to me so within that one week I was willing to continue down this path of experimenting.
0:21:43 PA: And this is something that I’ll just kind of comment on as we’re talking about microdosing ’cause I’ve been doing a couple of calls with people who will set them up and have these questions and the conclusion that I seem to continue to come to is, by and large, microdosing seems to accelerate the path that we’re already on and if that path is in misalignment with maybe who we are or the purpose or where we get fulfillment, then it can often even create more anxiety than we originally had.
0:22:08 PA: However, with your case, it sounds like you understood something about yourself and you understood that you wanted to be able to overcome that and it seems again, because… So some things that we know about microdosing for example is like, because of it’s effect on the serotonin system, it’s helping us with both adaptability, which from brain context means it’s easier to unlearn things that are destructive or negative and relearn more positive things that are actually, contribute to where we’re going and it also helps with impulse control and patience.
0:22:41 PA: And so when I have people who come, and who would talk to me about these things, that’s what I continue to notice is they’re on this path and microdosing is just helping them to get there a little bit quicker or a little bit faster because they can unlearn and relearn things faster because they’re more perceptive, because they’re now are kind of emotionally in tune and connected with other people.
0:22:58 PA: This is my experience as well, is I focus, when I was microdosing, the end focus was to build enough of a business so that I could do and go wherever I wanted and it ended up taking me a much shorter period of time than a lot of my peers and I think part of that is just because naturally I do things quite quickly. I move quite fast but I think it also was because I was microdosing for that entire period of time so through that microdosing regimen, I was just able to learn and adapt much quicker to where I needed to be to make these adjustments so the person that I perceived myself becoming was actually the person I became. What are your thoughts on that or what are some things that you noticed in regards to that?
0:23:40 JC: Yeah, speaking of Neuroplasticity, I noticed that it is very much an experience subjectively of being… Becoming more of myself or who I envision myself to be ideally and that becomes much easier and it’s interesting to me because… Well, I wonder why we’re kept from being our ideal selves normally, without the assistance of these substances and I wonder if that has to do with early childhood traumas that we all carry with us even if we may not be diagnosable with something formal like chronic PTSD or complex PTSD but in my case, that awareness came to me when it was brought to my attention that I might very much have that. I might have the extreme version of this so when I realized that about myself, I realized “Well I didn’t know about this, about myself for years until now and I’m in my 20s.”
0:24:44 JC: My whole life I didn’t know this, as it was happening I didn’t know this so what else… If I didn’t know this and it was that extreme, then who else doesn’t know about their traumas that are less extreme and are affecting them every single day and just making them procrastinate on things that they really care about and I’ve worked with a lot of people as an instructor on this very topic. It’s… Everyone struggles with this. There are very, very few people who don’t, procrastination specifically but also just that speaks to our fears and anxieties.
0:25:19 JC: We procrastinate often because we’re afraid of doing the thing that we know is important to us. Like public speaking, a lot of people are afraid of that. A lot of people are afraid of going to a networking event or, on the flip side, being comfortable at networking events and public speaking but unable to find a romantic partner because they’re afraid of that personal connection in some way and in modern psychology now, we have different theories on attachment styles for adults and how that develops when we’re a child so again, it’s just that tying back into our childhood experiences. Not to get Freudian, not to get psycho-therapeutic, it’s not so much and there’s… People associate that with Freudian theory but there’s actually a lot of research that has gone into it recently, in psychotherapy, in the modern day that adds more legitimacy to these theories and it’s not so much well, how do you feel about what happened? Which is the traditional Freudian or Jungian approach. Jung being his prodigy but more so well, what can we do about this now, now that we know this?
0:26:22 JC: And so one way is just to take the… If you want the fast route, is to take it or another way is to go through a lot of therapy and go through a lot of personal growth work and either way it works, it’s just about for me, about the amount of time that it takes and to speak to your comment earlier about accelerating the path that you’re already on, it very much so does. I do agree with that statement.
0:26:45 JC: As for the distinction between, are you on the right path and do you really want to accelerate your current path if you might not be on the right path? Actually, I would reserve that authority to what happens to you when you take a moderate to higher dose, a clinically therapeutic dose according to Dr. James Fadiman, author of Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide. So for me, my opinion about that is yes, I was not on the right path to begin with which is why it’s been so impactful to take these larger doses but after I got there, well then I could just accelerate and move forward.
0:27:21 PA: No. I’m glad you brought that up because this is a question that I get quite a bit when I’m doing microdosing talks, is like people will say, “Hey I’ve never tried psychedelics before. Should I start with microdosing?” And typically, I’ll say, “Yeah, start with microdosing.” because it’s a very non-threatening introduction to psychedelics but having this conversation now, which is why I love doing these podcasts interviews because it’s like I always learn something new doing them, it’s like maybe you need to make sure that things are in alignment before you actually start to microdose and maybe this is more from our perspective in terms of personal growth development, kinda creativity, this actualize self. There are people who struggle with really terrible depression, for example, where starting a microdosing regiment sooner rather than later will just help because it’s an antidepressant. It’s helping them be happy.
0:28:06 PA: But for me, I was already in a position where I was pretty happy, right? I haven’t really struggled with deep depression. Things were okay, they were great and I had done enough inner work when I was 19 and 20 and 21, using oftentimes moderate to higher doses of psychedelics that I knew the path that I was already on. When you speak to these, about these things like childhood trauma so last month, we had a psychotherapist on who wrote this book called ‘Listening to Ayahuasca‘, her name is Rachel Harris and this is a lot of what she spoke about as well. Is oftentimes when we go into these high dose experiences, we’re really, really healing trauma from our childhood and not only from our childhood but also this is something that James Fadiman has really gotten into, it’s like it’s ancestral trauma, it’s this sense of transpersonal psychology which is…
0:28:58 JC: Yeah. It could be inter-generational trauma. Yeah.
0:29:00 PA: Intergenerational trauma because what we’re learning more and more about science is epigenetics and that the way that we’re raised and the way that our environment is can actually change our genes over time and I think that’s also another interesting aspect of psychedelics and microdosing is this… I won’t go so far as to say this trans-humanist aspect because I don’t think microdosing really leads to being trans-human but it does, we’re like to some degree, chemically reengineering who we are to become our actualized selfs at a faster pace and I think the world needs… And this is just my perspective, the world needs more people who understand themselves, who understand their place in the world and then because they understand themselves, we all can contribute to society or community in a way that really makes them resonate and do become full with energies.
0:29:56 JC: Yeah, I can definitely understand that viewpoint and empathize with it and I’ll add to that by saying, in my journey to understand a topic like nutrition, I’ve come to the realization that the most effective nutrition protocol for the largest group of people tends to be the one that brings us back as humans to the environment of evolutionary adaptation or the EEA as traditional anthropologists would call them.
0:30:32 PA: What’s that? What does that mean?
0:30:34 JC: EEA would be environment of evolutionary adaptation which means the environment in which we last had major or our natural environment as a species, as homo sapiens that has been completely transformed and changed as a result of agricultural revolution which then led to the industrial revolution, which is now leading to the technological revolution so with each wave of… And that’s three waves too.
0:31:03 PA: Yeah, That’s Alvin… Do you know who Alvin Toffler is? Toffler, he wrote this book called ‘The Third Wave’ which is kind of about this…
0:31:11 JC: Yeah, that reminds me, yeah and so you can read ‘Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond and get a little bit of that history where we as humans are so, so, so far removed from our EEA in such a short period of time because with Moore’s law of technological innovation, everything happens at an exponential rate so who knows where we’ll be in 10, 20 years or 50 years and we’ll still be alive because we were so far removed, we had all these industrialized diets, we had high fructose corn syrup, we had processed grains, none of which we would have consumed as humans back then, before the Agricultural Revolution, 10,000 years ago and 10,000 years is not… It’s like a blip in… It’s a drop in the bucket of evolution time. That’s… We were around million years, 10,000 years.
0:31:42 JC: So then if it holds for nutrition, I wonder if it holds for us now with psychedelics with our minds, not just our bodies, minds and psyches, our hearts. In modern civilization, we are removed from loving communities. We are in nuclear families, which is again something that came from the agricultural age where we had to own land so then a man will marry a woman, have a child and pass the land down to the next generation and be removed and they would own that piece of land, they would have their own home. It’s very modular and unitized. So isolated, so socially and emotionally isolated that of course, we’re going to have all these traumas build up that even if we grew up ’emotionally healthy’, we might have traumas that we don’t even realize and then the social constructs has changed. The culture has changed so everything has changed.
0:33:02 JC: So to speak to your earlier point about we are now able to accelerate the growth, our growth to actualize our potential as individual human beings. I’d say yes to that and it’s almost like an opposite but it actually ties in. It’s, we’re going back to our actualized selves, our natural, fully actual… We were born fully actualized and it was just this… All these extraneous exposures that led us to be the shadows of ourselves that we now are.
0:33:35 PA: Well, I can’t remember if I’ve talked about this on the podcast before but a month ago I read Sapiens and Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari and he gets into a lot of these topics and I’ve had conversations with friends as well about… Basically, what you’re talking about is we’re now finding the perfect marriage between primitive wisdom and modern technology where we can take what we know from evolutionary biology and psychology in terms of not only nutrition but fitness so we know that sitting is really bad for us now. You know sitting is the new smoking.
0:34:04 PA: In terms of communities, we know that politically, humans operate best in 100 to 150 people and when we step outside that space, that’s when things get really funny and so now that we know these things, we can start… It seems like we’re starting to build tribes like Seth Godin, right?
0:34:21 JC: Yes.
0:34:21 PA: And that these tribes are basically the influencers that we’re noticing that are arising out of the internet age and one project that is mimicking that which is really interesting is a project that Google is doing, which is they basically purchased 60,000 acres close to Black Rock, in the desert of Nevada and they’re building a technosis, out to bring the brightest minds around to start addressing some of these major pressing problems that we’re having as a global species. So it’s really interesting then, when we talk about psychedelics, we almost talk about them as like a mind technology, right? Like a mind tech in a way where Terence McKenna, Stoned Ape theory, this kind of thought that humans, our consciousness evolve because we were consuming basically small amounts of mushrooms on a consistent basis. I think there’s definitely a level of legitimacy in looking at psychedelics as helping us to reconnect with this primitive wisdom that we know we have available.
0:35:20 PA: This is one of the biggest breakthroughs that I had when I did psychedelics, it was like… I remember I was tripping on LSD when I was 20 and thinking, just like the energy… This kind of ecological cycle where the sun and the energy is fed into the earth in the ground which grows food, which we then consume and anything that interrupted that cycle, anything that kind of cut into it, like processed food for example, was so obviously unhealthy and was so obviously something I would not wanna put into my body because it interrupted that cycle and I don’t really know where I’m going with this point besides that it’s a really exciting… And microdosing as a phenomenon is super interesting and exciting because it’s helping and I think a wider swath of people understand that they can use psychedelics for some of these purposes, right?
0:36:07 JC: Yeah, I do wanna loop back, an earlier point that I was going to make about different types of substances and their effect on me and why I chose psilocybin.
0:36:17 PA: Yeah, I was gonna ask you about that, why did you choose psilocybin instead of LSD, for example?
0:36:23 JC: Yeah, so I tried all of the different substances, LSD… Not all, all the popular ones. Psilocybin, LSD, MDMA, Ayahuasca and so I was left with LSD or psilocybin. MDMA having qualitatively different effects and having a terrible, terrible calm down period for me of ranging from four days to a full week or more and whereas my peers were, they were maybe having one or two days of off time afterwards so it was clear that I was going to choose between these two.
0:36:58 JC: In my anecdotal data points, I noticed that individuals will either choose psilocybin or LSD for the same purpose of personal growth and also tend to choose the same one for their microdosing and/or they will choose LSD for say engineering productivity. Engineers just have a very specific mental process that they require and LSD tends to, according to the cases that have come out, tends to help that process. I haven’t personally tried that. I had a positive but mostly it was a hedonistic time on LSD, which I wasn’t trying to go for every day, obviously. So yeah, that left psilocybin mushrooms and they were more gentle on me. I’m familiar with it. I did a lot of personal growth on them. So yeah, that was why.
0:37:47 JC: But I notice that we’ll choose either one or the other and it’s not so much like which one you should choose but that you try to find the one that works for you.
0:37:56 PA: So can we talk a little bit more about your protocol. What protocol did you set up? Were you doing it every day, were you doing it twice a week? For what period of time did you do it? Did you take breaks in the middle? What was kind of that protocol that you set up for yourself?
0:38:10 JC: Yeah. So during the 12 months, I had a few different phases. It was first defined by every two or three days and I was keeping track of everything but I wasn’t trying to be systematically on a schedule. I wanted to have it be based on my need for it and just really feel into it subjectively, have a sense of what’s going on, while having an objective sense of it after the fact through the self-sent emails and then I noticed most of the benefits from there. I had a lot of interesting… I’m from San Francisco Bay area and then I came back to New York to see some friends for about two weeks and in that two-week period, when I started microdosing, it was like I had the most interesting conversations I would never have been able to even start or know where to start. I had gotten the business card of…
0:39:04 JC: I came in to get a coffee at this coffee shop. Busy place and then started conversation with one of the baristas and then that led to three hours later, four hours later, just three to four, it was a four-hour conversation and one thing led to the next and it wasn’t like I was trying to have this conversation where the COO gave me her card and said, “Call me, and if you can really help me on the things that I really need help on, I’d love to chat.”
0:39:32 JC: That had never happened to me in the history of my life doing business as a consultant and then I became more systematic. I had a phase where I was doing it every day and this was the time in which I was doing the sales calls and keeping track of my performance and then obviously, I took those weeks off when I was trying to establish a baseline and then the third phase, I would describe as in my most recent corporate work. That was also sporadic but this is where I actually… So I replicated the same protocol as the first one that I described where it was sporadic, it wasn’t. Like it has to be every two days or it has to be every three days but it would approximately be three to four times a week, except I was taking higher and higher doses and I was seeing if…
0:40:20 JC: So in the previous two phases, I had between 0.2g and 0.3g and then… Which is about a tenth of what I would usually take for a therapeutic dose and then I tried… I took risks because corporate… Sometimes you can just be at your desk and no one really checks on you. It’s really funny. You can basically be not doing any work and no one will know so I figured okay, I have a little bit more wiggle room than I did in the other types of work that I did. So let me try 0.4 because I had this one experience over the weekend with a friend of mine, I hadn’t seen him for a long time but he had been dating a very powerful woman that I really admired and respected and she ran a company and it did really well and she did that straight out of school, graduated from an Ivy League institution, all of these things and then dated this equally powerful man who was also in that same industry.
0:41:19 JC: So working at that same level and I always thought of him as more of a mentor than up here, even though we could have friendly conversation and so one night, we decided to go out and party, go out to a club and the funniest things happened and they were so unexpected where I really stepped into my personal power and fully actualized in the time that I was dosing at 1 gram, 1.0 gram which is way more than a micro-dose of course but much less than I normally would have taken and what I noticed from that medium-dose was that, “Wow, I am actually a powerful woman myself and I didn’t know that.” and I said certain things that when previously, I had a shot and half and just I had a feeling and I wouldn’t say it, I would just come out and say the thing that I was feeling and sometimes they were angry things. If he did something that was upsetting to me, I would say “You know that one time that you did this, that made me really upset.” and he was inebriated, it was like this typical night life experience, right? Where you just come out and say your honest things to each other and that led to a much deeper relationship where he really respected me and in ways that I never would have expected him to.
0:42:34 JC: So that was one really powerful experience that inspired me to go into this third phase where I was increasing the dose up to 0.4 some days, a few days 0.5 out of that six month experience and I will say that it’s a double edge sword. So what I was hoping to get out of this, out of say 0.4 or 0.5 is to replicate the 1.0 gram experience of being always so personally powerful and being able to communicate my emotions in a way that didn’t destroy the relationship but actually built it. What if I can do that at work, what if I can advance myself professionally more? It didn’t actually happen and the reason was that I had such a high level of anxiety come up out of nowhere, which hadn’t come up in these previous six months before this third phase so that was interesting. I was like “Huh, okay. Well, let me try to… If I’m feeling anxious, that’s going to prevent me from doing my work.”
0:43:37 JC: But at the same time, sometimes these feelings of anxiety lead to clearing out the emotion that I wouldn’t have otherwise cleared up and would have just been dissociated from the experience and not effective as well so it was kind of like choosing between being overly emotional and under emotional and so which one do I want to choose? So I just dance between that line constantly and there’s no clear conclusion from that. It’s really hard to discern from that data that I have but yeah, I had to dial it down after a few days.
0:44:10 PA: Well, why did you feel anxious? Why did those feelings of anxiety come up at work relative… Compared to maybe these personal things that were going on?
0:44:19 JC: That’s an interesting question and maybe there is a distinction between professional and personal context. I noticed that although I was more emotionally in tune, I also came to realize that not every social environment is an appropriate time to be emotionally in tune. So for example, if you’re in an environment and this turned out to be a very toxic workplace culture, I was harassed by one of my male co-workers but anyway, the point I’m trying to make is many times in corporate culture, you don’t express your emotions. You just kind of go with the flow, you do what your boss says or what your manager says or what your manager says. No one speaks against the authority and especially in the company that I was working at, and this was to the extreme.
0:45:03 JC: So by being personally empowered, it was actually threatening to other people because they didn’t have access to the same, so they couldn’t feel like they had sway over me and my actions and my actions might affect them or if I get promoted instead of someone else. So I realized this and I really couldn’t make full use of that in this professional environment but I do plan on experimenting in the future and seeing if social environment really affects the emotional experience that I’m having.
0:45:08 PA: Well and I wanna build on that point that you just mentioned because I think that’s why psychedelics are illegal, because they empower people to make their own decisions and be autonomous and that makes it harder to control and coerce people into believing certain things and certain ways. Now, that’s part of what I will talked about with micro-dosing, why I think it’s an interesting phenomenon is because we’re also seeing how workplace culture is changing. So a lot of the shit that’s been bubbling them to the surface for a long time, like for example what’s going on with Uber right now and all the stuff that’s coming out.
0:46:01 PA: It’s finally coming out so we can go and look at it and go “Oh, this is really disgusting. We need to change it.” And I think with more… My hope is that as… ’cause workplace culture is changing but it’s not quite where we want it to be yet and I think that’s also another interesting aspect and another interesting angle in terms of why I think psychedelics could be useful from a tech perspective, entrepreneurial perspective, in the Bay area is if you can create a container for people in which they can take these, then people like you who feel empowered by them, you have other people who feed off that energy and it’s a synthesis rather than a kind of threatening hierarchical…
0:46:43 JC: Antagonistic energy. Yeah, it’s such a big topic, this idea that our most respected, in some ways, institutions, corporations, academic institutions even, the police obviously are against this notion of spiritual enlightenment and self-actualization. How I would go about providing my own perspective here is that some of these corporations, their entire business models are based off of profiting on the after effects of not having self-actualized.
0:47:17 JC: For example, the medical industry is one that I’m more familiar with so I’ll speak on that. In healthcare in America, there’s a statistic somewhere, it’s either 85% or 95% of the billion dollars that we spend on healthcare every year, are due to preventable chronic illnesses, preventable so we should only be spending 5% to 15% of what we’re actually spending and that’s causing the government problems but then it’s also making the pharmaceutical industry profitable so if we took that out and say everyone went paleo, on the paleo diet and went back to a pre-agricultural human homo sapiens diet and there’s a growing movement of that since 2010 or 2012, right? And it’s making…
0:48:07 PA: I got into paleo 2010, I think was when I started paleo.
0:48:09 JC: It’s only growing, yeah and back in 2008, I never thought anyone would believe this and then New York Times came out with it’s first article bashing paleo actually in 2014. So there is still progress to be made but now it’s much better and not so much relegated to ‘caveman diet’ which is a derogatory… Has derogatory connotations in nature, which is unfortunate, bad marketing for paleo but I digress. What was I saying before?
0:48:39 PA: Basically healthcare, right? So it’s so inflated the amount of money that we spend on it.
0:48:43 JC: If we take out those chronic illnesses and actually help people be more aware of their emotions, be more aware of their life situation, then they’ll be more aware of their bodies and how it’s not functioning properly and so then they’ll endeavor to do say, quantified self-type experiments and figure out the solution and then they won’t have all these chronic illnesses as they get older and arthritis and heart disease and diabetes and all…
0:49:09 PA: Cancer, even cancer…
0:49:10 JC: Cancer is…
0:49:10 PA: Is largely preventable, I think.
0:49:12 JC: Is now being considered preventable or certain types of cancers.
0:49:15 PA: Certain types, yeah.
0:49:16 JC: Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s is one of the top three most costly or most common chronic illnesses in the United States. So all of these are preventable and then where would all these companies be? And where when our jobs be? What would people be doing with their time? Maybe creating too much art and then that’s not okay and the police don’t like art and they will just go by the rules and they feel unsafe and it’s funny because if they were self-actualized, they wouldn’t feel unsafe in the first place so these are all compensation mechanisms, emotionally defense mechanisms to support the existing world view. To support a feeling of stability that “Okay, we know where we’re doing in this world.” Almost like we’re living in the matrix. I thought about this the other day, “We’re living in a matrix.” We really are and then being outside the matrix is hard. Being a psychedelic explorer, so to speak, is because then you have to balance your ‘success’ and worldly material needs in the matrix and your reputation and your status and your socio-economic class, which impact your ability to stay materially solvent and financially stable, which is like a human physical need and the desire to explore these other realms, the third wave and the spiritual enlightenment and everything that entails.
0:50:43 JC: So it’s quite a balancing act. It’s going to be challenging for these new innovators coming out in our time, in this third wave and I think the reason we have a third wave is because the first two, they only got so far and it, then it got shut down and then so we’ll see how much we can do for the next generation and I hope that we can really get funding for these research studies to really have it be vetted by academia. I think that can be very powerful.
0:51:12 PA: Because it’s working within the system to change the system in itself. A lot of this, what we’re doing with psychedelics I think is like… At least for me, it’s like I’m playing the game so that I don’t have to play it anymore, so that I can change the rules of how we play the game and I think this again ties into our conversation about evolution, like the EEA, adaptability thing that you were talking about is, I think the only way that we can make these substances, this sense of awakening, this sense of consciousness expansion less threatening is by changing the actual political system that we operate within and I think that’s a step that a lot of people don’t wanna take because nation states have given us so much security for so much time but that’s the inevitable path that we’re on. Is like we need a new political system that is more adaptable to the needs of the people.
0:51:56 PA: And like what you were saying, in the second wave or whatever, we didn’t have the tech available yet and now we do. The tech then was psychedelics, in a way and the tech then was drugs and was only drugs in a way that helped us to understand this consciousness expanding activities. You had meditation as well but… And now we can finally… We can contextualize those because of the internet, into pursuits that are actually productive in changing kind of culture as a whole, rather than it being couched in this counter-cultural framework, us versus them. Now, the culture is largely becoming about tech and as one of those…
0:51:58 JC: I see. So you’re saying technology can be the cultural and marketing frame, a safe one to use as a way to gain mind share into most consumers and into the political system and make it readily acceptable by our institutions that hey, it’s just another piece of technology, what’s wrong with that? You already have technology, you already have software technology and now the Internet of Things, hardware technology powering our homes. Like the Nest or the smart refrigerators, all of these are a result of technological advances. We’re just taking in a very old traditional methodology and bringing it to a wider audience under the frame of this is technology, this is old technology but it is technology and it will help us and yeah, that sounds safer to me and what I would add to that is not only the political side but the the consumer side.
0:53:41 JC: Oftentimes I observed that it’s easier to sell the personal benefits that an individual might gain by personalizing it to their situation so if they have relationship problems, talk about that or if they have issues with fertility, it’s gonna be about that or about just traumas explicit traumas, a lifetime of depression or anxiety and mental health is really important.
0:54:09 JC: So yeah, It is really important and it’s inspired me to start a project of a non-profit flavor, which is to help the next generation of youth be spiritually in line by the time they graduate college or even by the time they graduate high school. There is debate though and controversy around the time at which you should expose an adolescent to psychedelic substances. There are still cases of initiation ceremonies in West Africa, specifically in Gabon where they’re doing, it’s the Bwiti Tribe, using iboga which is a different psychedelic kind of like Ayahuasca, to initiate their youth to be fully adults and that happens in the teenage stage.
0:55:00 JC: So if that’s happening, it’s okay but institutionally it might not be considered okay in certain westernized countries but I do see a potential and I think that’s where we’re going to have the biggest impact. Is having an ability to affect the next generation so that then at least they won’t be affected by the traumas and all the build up of modern civilization that we’ve had to deal with in the past 50, 60 years. They’ll finally be free and will be better off as a result.
0:55:30 PA: I wanna wrap up, at least by telling… You can tell the listeners what’s next for you and then where can they find more information about you and your experiment with microdosing psilocybin.
0:55:43 JC: Yeah. So the current project as I was eluding to earlier is called The Lighthouse Project. It’s still to be determined in terms of the scope of… Or impact or intended scope of impact and basically entails having adolescents or young adults transcend their culturally handed down realities and just go out into the world using these ceremonial experiences in either Peru or a place where it’s going to be sacred, it’s going to be recognized for what it is as medicine. As medicine for healing any of the wounds that we might have that will prevent us from being self-actualized as adults, if we have them experience this.
0:56:29 JC: So one idea is to do a pilot project of 10 individuals, 10 young adults or teenagers coming out of high school and then as long as they have their parental approval and everything’s okay financially, then we could have that happen within the next year, if we stick by that timeline and then have the support of a professional psychotherapist and peer mentors and coaches to guide them along the way and have that be a rite of passage. The new rite of passage, for our country or other countries around the world. So that’s really exciting. That’s what’s next for me and as you know, I’m speaking in Amsterdam to give a full account of the micro-dosing experiment.
0:57:14 PA: That’s this weekend.
0:57:16 JC: This weekend, yeah.
0:57:17 PA: Okay, June 17, 18 ’cause this podcast will probably be published in a little bit.
0:57:20 JC: Yeah, so it’ll be out by then and to learn more, my websites as of this moment are janetchang.com and then jlcinnovations.com. It might change; one or the other might be connected to the other by the time of the publication of this podcast but those are the two links you can find me and then I’m on Twitter @JanetLChang.
0:57:47 PA: Perfect. Good. Well thanks for joining us and…
0:57:49 JC: Thank you.
0:57:50 PA: And doing this whole thing. It was a lot of fun.
0:57:52 JC: Yeah, likewise. Thank you.
0:58:09 PA: So welcome back to The Third Wave podcast. This is the ending part where I’ll answer a couple of questions that people have from the community. If you have questions yourself that you would like us to answer, please leave them on our Facebook page or Twitter or send us an email and we’ll be happy to answer those questions for you, about anything related to psychedelics, with the psychedelic experience or even anything that you think I might be interested in answering on the show about things that I’ve spoken about before, things that might fall into the larger cultural conversation that is shifting towards an understanding of conscious behavior and practices.
0:58:42 PA: So the first question is from [unclear speech]. I’m about to turn 20 but I’ve heard that drug use before the age of 25 can severely damage your brain. Is it true that microdosing might not be smart for younger people?
0:58:56 PA: Well one, I think it’s important to emphasize that the brain isn’t done developing until the age of 25. To say that drug use before that point in time severely damages it, I think would be an over statement if not an outright lie and this is more or less the message that we do hear from certain circles, especially in the propaganda camp when it comes to illicit drugs. However, the drinking age for alcohol is 18, the drinking age in most places, it’s 18. In Canada it’s 19, the United States, it’s 21. So and I think from a public health perspective, if any drug use at all severely hampered the development of the brain, it would actually the the prescription of legal drugs like ADHD medications and antidepressants and antipsychotics to children as young as four years old. That is probably the bigger problem, an issue to focus on.
0:59:43 PA: In terms of someone who is 20 and interested in microdosing, the amount of ‘damage’ that could be done to the brain, relative to someone who’s been on medication since they were five is probably very significantly less. In fact, microdosing does show potential for triggering neurogenesis and enabling neuroplasticity. I wouldn’t go be so conclusive as to say that it’s a good thing to do for people who are younger, largely because the brain is not yet developed. However, relative to other things that are already going on with millions of people, microdosing is probably not near as harmful as things like alcohol and pharmaceuticals, tobacco and probably other illicit drugs, especially addictive illicit drugs like cocaine, crystal meth and some of these things.
1:00:26 PA: So relative to all other substances, it’s probably fairly safe I would imagine. However, at the same time, do exercise caution if you are below the age of 25 because we simply don’t have the research and so we don’t really know.
1:00:39 PA: One thing to add to that is there’s a reason that psychedelics have been used for thousands of years by indigenous groups, especially with children who are quite young and that’s because psychedelics can safely initiate some sort of transcendent experience where people can go beyond the self and beyond the ego and into this sense of connection and community and so I think, by and large, psychedelic use is quite safe and in fact, this need for initiation, this need to really go through that process that we subconsciously feel and desire, is the reason why many people who get interested in psychedelics but also things like cannabis, usually start around the age of 13 to 14 to 15 because that’s about the age that we are transitioning from being boys or girls into men or women and I think that’s, unfortunately, having this lack of initiation is why we basically have a 13-year-old as our president, particularly in the United States, is lacking these rituals for initiation.
1:01:32 PA: Second question is from Katrin Francis. Are there negative side effects of microdosing over a long period of time, over a year?
1:01:38 PA: The short answer to that is we don’t know. The longer answer to that is we don’t know and hopefully research helps us to understand what might be going on. Now, what we do know about microdosing psychedelics is it’s not addictive. There can be some sort of attachment to it because obviously this process of taking psychedelics is nice, it feels great, especially with microdosing. You’re a little bit more on top of things, you have a little bit more energy, you’re a little bit happier with what’s going on in the serotonin system.
1:02:07 PA: I’ve been microdosing for about two years now, on and off. I did it for the first seven months twice a week, then I took three or four months off, then I would do it just every now and then and then I was back doing twice a week and now it’s just kind of like whenever I can get my dirty little paws on it. Then I haven’t really noticed any negative side effects besides one, which is the ability to slow down and that’s I think, particularly with people who are microdosing LSD because of its dopaminergic effect.
1:02:33 PA: I think being cautious about doing it too much and making sure you set aside time and space to take breaks and just disconnect and detach because, especially with the projects that I involve myself in as an entrepreneur, with this easier access to flow states, I find myself working a lot more than I was in the past because flow is a great state to be in and if I can access that through work, then I wanna spend more time doing it.
1:02:56 PA: However, there are some negative, I think side effects in doing that is, one is you somewhat, at least for me, I lost a little bit track of how to really enjoy life outside of work and outside of really getting involved in projects and there was an aspect of this emotional feeling side to me that I more or less shut off. So I think in terms of the physical dangerous side effects, it depends on the person’s context and situation.
1:03:21 PA: It seems like people who struggle with general anxiety, they typically don’t get a lot out of microdosing. It seems like people who struggle with depression, that when they are microdosing it’s helping but when they stop microdosing some of these issues of depression come back. So it’s really hard to know and it would depend on your specific situation. That’s kind of a longer answer, so to say.
1:03:40 PA: If any of you who are listening have microdosed for over a year, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts if you wanna tweet at me @paulaustinmd or @thethirdwave, @thirdwaveishere and just share with us a bit about that and maybe send us an email if you have any further observations or or comments on how microdosing over a long period of time has affected you.
1:04:01 PA: So that’ll wrap it up. Just two questions for this week. Again, if you enjoyed the show, we’d really appreciate you leaving a review on iTunes, it would mean a lot to us and enjoy the rest of your Sunday.
This Week in Psychedelics
A new Psymposia series on Robert Widdowson, manufacturer of MDMA in the 80s.