Psilocybin (magic mushrooms) Microdosing
Psilocybin is the psychotropic compound found in what is known as ‘magic mushrooms,’ which are a group of fungi numbering over 180 species of different mushrooms found all over the world in nature. These types of mushrooms have a long history of spiritual and healing ritual use. More recently, psilocybin has been recognized for its medicinal value in mainstream medicine to treat a variety of conditions ranging from depression, anxiety, and PTSD to cluster headaches and addiction with promising early results and recent recognition by the USD FDA of psilocybin as a “breakthrough therapy” drug for depression.
Psilocybin is a serotonergic psychedelic, meaning it is similar to the chemical makeup of serotonin and binds to serotonergic receptors, especially one subtype called the 5-HT2A receptor in the brain. It causes changes in the brain’s ‘filtering’ information system, quiets down parts of the brain including something called the default mode network. At classic doses, it causes changes in perception as well as visual changes and hallucinations which create the psychedelic experience often known as a ‘trip.’ However, in very tiny doses, known as a microdose, psilocybin extract or the mushrooms themselves are taken in quantities that do not produce noticeable psychedelic effects. Instead, it is taken in a sub perceptible or noticeable dose on a regular basis to which some people have found can help enhance elements of mental wellbeing such as energy, creative problem solving, focus, and mood, reduce anxiety as well as helping cope better with stress.
For mushrooms, this dose is usually between 0.1-0.3 grams for most people. The well-known mushroom scientist Paul Stamets suggests a protocol specifically for mushroom microdosing which is taking a microdose for 5 days in a row, then taking 2 days off and repeating this cycle to avoid building up a tolerance and continue to experience the positive effects. Although initial microdosing research results have been mixed, there is some preliminary evidence that there are biological effects at microdosing levels and that this is not a placebo but more research is needed. Enthusiasts report minimal side effects with a true microdose if any.
Risks & Cautions: psilocybin is illegal in most countries, although magic mushrooms have been decriminalized in some jurisdictions such as in CO, USA. They are legal in Brazil. In the Netherlands, although fresh and dried magic mushrooms are illegal, a legal loophole exists for psychoactive mushroom species classified as truffles, which are fully legal which has led to the setting up of therapeutic ‘personal growth’ magic mushroom wellness retreats. It is not considered addictive.