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Microdosing Guide

The Follow is an excerpt from a very good article.  Please go read it fully for an indepth understanding of microdosing.  More Resources are listed on the Psilocybin Page:

What is microdosing?

Psychedelics are a hallucinogenic class of psychoactive drugs known to trigger extraordinary mental activity and experiences by mimicking the effect of the body’s naturally-occurring chemical, serotonin, which affects things like mood, learning, and memory.

Some of the best-known psychedelics are mescaline, LSD, psilocybin and DMT. Unlike other types of drugs including opioids and narcotics, psychedelics are generally believed to be non-addictive.

Here’s where the “micro” part comes in.

While the experience of “tripping” on a significant amount of say, LSD, can feel extreme and even prove dangerous, microdosing is the practice of ingesting very small (“sub-perceptual”) amounts of a psychedelic drug – 5 to 10% of a “recreational” dose – in order to experience positive psychological effects without any undesirable side effects: a happier mood, increased creativity, less anxiety, greater focus.

The most commonly microdosed psychedelics are LSD and psilocybin (the active alkaloid in mushrooms , as well as a type of truffle).

Why do people microdose?

There will be a plethora of granular-level double-blind studies on microdosing in the years to come, but the science of microdosing and why people do it is still relatively nascent. However, as Dr. Fadiman outlines in this stage presentation, people have reported back that they choose to microdose for a variety of reasons. He mentions people who microdose to relieve anxiety; to feel more relaxed in social situations; to fuel their creativity – be it technological or artistic; to enjoy learning to a greater degree, and to focus better while doing so –  even to improve their stuttering. 

Now here’s something intriguing.

Some microdosers have found that microdosing actually helps to decrease their reliance on addictive habits like cigarettes or alcohol. 

Arguably, microdosing is a much safer habit than these more traditional ones – and psilocybin – which we use in Microdose Pro – is not considered to be an addictive substance. A number of people who have struggled with alcohol dependence report that microdosing literally changed their life – have a look at this John Hopkins study.

Breaking down the benefits of microdosing

Let’s dive a bit more deeper in the reported benefits of microdosing.

Improved mood

In recent studies, this was one of the three most-commonly cited reasons for microdosing, along with better focus and creativity. This study reported “a slight rebound in feelings of focus and productivity two days after dosing”. 

Also, after six weeks of microdosing, “participants reported lower levels of depression and stress”. Ayelet Waldman, in her memoir A Really Good Day, writes “for the first time in so long, I feel happy. Not giddy or out of control, just at ease with myself and the world. When I think about my husband and my children, I feel a gentle sense of love and security. I am not anxious for them or annoyed with them. When I think of my work, I feel optimistic, brimming with ideas, yet not spilling over. There’s nothing hypomanic about this mood. My mind is not racing. I feel calm and content “. 

Improved focus

May, a 64-year-old psychotherapist in Marin County, USA, says “For me, it’s just clarity. It’s like how you would feel if you had a really good, deep rest, and then woke up and were able to focus very clearly.” 

If you watched Fadiman’s presentation, above, you’ll have heard that one user chose microdosing to help them concentrate better in their classes. It may be that the potential benefit of microdosing to reduce anxiety could contribute to improving focus because the latter becomes more difficult when anxiety is heightened. 

Any other personal experiences in this aspect?

Yes, for example, Bernard Woods writes: “At one point during my first session, I looked up and realized I’d been totally engrossed in my work with no real awareness of anything else for an hour … I found myself more deeply absorbed in that zone we all hope to be in where the doer and the deed dissolve together into the pleasure of pure work.” Karen Geier, meanwhile, reports that “Dose two was the miracle dose for me. I took it and within an hour felt intense motivation. I spent six hours doing all the chores around the house that I had been putting off for weeks.“

Improved creativity

During a microdosing event organized by the Dutch Psychedelic Society, the effects of psychedelic truffles (containing psilocybin) were measured on two creativity-related problem-solving tasks, one assessing convergent thinking and the other assessing divergent thinking. 

The results? “both convergent and divergent thinking performance was improved after a non-blinded microdose, whereas fluid intelligence was unaffected.” 

The research, driven by Luisa Prochazkova of Leiden University, and published in the Psychopharmacology journal, studied the cognitive effects of microdosing psilocybin and found that “participants also had more ideas about how to solve a presented task, and were more fluent, flexible and original in the possibilities they came up with.”  

As a side note, Prochazkova mused after the study, “microdosing could be further investigated for its therapeutic efficacy to help individuals who suffer from rigid thought patterns or behavior, such as individuals with depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder” – the latter being very much a condition of the author of this article.

Improved self-efficacy

Many microdosers have said that microdosing helps them live a healthier lifestyle – more enjoyment of exercise, better dietary habits, less reliance on other substances or habits, like alcohol. 

After years of struggling with alcohol dependence Karen Shaw started microdosing psilocybin. She began in line with a pattern recommended by James Fadiman, taking a sub-perceptible dose of psilocybin mushrooms twice-weekly over six weeks. What she discovered, in time, was that “I started drinking less. I’ve not stopped. I might have a glass of wine, or some cannabis, a joint after work. But I don’t drink to excess. I don’t like getting drunk anymore. It’s not something I enjoy.”

And for the two-boxes-a-day people?  

Although more research is needed, studies have also shown that microdosing can help longtime smokers kick the habit. Along with alcohol dependence, John Hopkins has been looking into this possibility with volunteers. A recent study published by Plus One noted “a perception of microdosing as a general panacea that is able to improve virtually all aspects of an individual’s life”. All 98 participants expected their benefits to be “large and wide-ranging”. 

Improved energy

O.K., so again, research into the many possible benefits of microdosing is nascent – often we must go by individuals’ blogs, rather than ‘hard science’ (whose findings take time to be tested, reviewed and accepted) – but Dutch graphic designer Dennis van der Meijden – and by most accounts, the Netherlands appears to be the world leader in terms of individuals trialing and reporting back to their online followers on microdosing – has this to say about energy: microdosing makes him energetic enough to skip coffee – “as if I’m kicked in some sort of orbit for that day”. 

That could be a help at the gym.

Well, Ross Stevenson, on Medium, has this to say about his workouts: “I’m able to workout smarter in a shorter time frame; I have more energy in my day to day and don’t feel like I’m as broken as usual; My conditioning and muscle mass has improved not diminished; I’m actually excited and look forward to my workouts more than ever. My sessions have become more like a physical meditation which allows me to calm my mind and body.” Here’s an ongoing discussion about microdosing for better workouts. 

Better social skills

What has been your experience of social anxiety/social phobia? Have you ever had intense feelings of anxiety, fear, and discomfort in social settings? It can be a crippling experience for those who find themselves agonizing about going or not going to weddings, lunches with friends or meetings with colleagues (even on Zoom) – or agonizing over “how it went” afterward, if they did brave the occasion in question. 

Until now professional therapy, in tandem with prescribed antidepressants containing SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) has mostly been used to help individuals with serious anxiety conditions.

You may well know people who try to destress with alcohol.

Millions of people around the world rely on alcohol to quell their social anxiety but microdosing psychedelics is arguably a healthier and less addictive option. Globally, every year, 3 million people die as a result of alcohol abuse. 

On the other hand, the potential of psychedelics to treat anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses has been the focus of specialists including psychologist William Richards for over half a century, and his feeling is that these substances are “ not toxic. They’re not addictive … And they can be profoundly helpful.

It’s all about the serotonin

As reports, a Swiss study put participants who had microdosed psilocybin into a game involving selective participation and exclusion and found that “the psilocybin was blocking the process of social anxiety as well as increasing serotonin levels” (low levels of serotonin in the brain have been known to cause depression or anxiety). 

Psychedelics of various sorts including psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA have been used in the “hippie” or counter-culture for decades but today their potential effects on anxiety and depression are being studied at reputed institutions. 

Reduced symptoms during period for women

A number of women who have had difficult periods report that their periods are now normal. We got a note from a woman in her 20s who said that during the month she microdosed, her periods, which are usually extraordinarily difficult and painful, were now normal.

Other potential benefits of microdosing

The potential of the substance psilocybin to help cancer patients is receiving ongoing scrutiny. A study was run on its effects in cancer patients with life-threatening diagnoses, who were understandably going through depression and/or anxiety. 

The randomized, double-blind, cross-over trial investigated the effects of a low (placebo-like) dose vs a significantly higher dose. The research showed that the latter resulted in the “decrease of depressed mood and anxiety, along with increases in quality of life, life meaning, and optimism, and decreases in death anxiety.” 

Other research, meanwhile, showed that cancer patients who were treated with just a single dose of psilocybin, combined with psychotherapy, showed improvement in levels of emotional and existential distress nearly five years after receiving the therapy.

Microdosing Pro has found that more of its customers are women than men. What are the possible reasons for this? 

As reported on The Cut, here’s an insight from Dr. Fadiman:

“A number of women who have had difficult periods report that their periods are now normal. We got a note from a woman in her 20s who said that during the month she microdosed, her periods, which are usually extraordinarily difficult and painful, were now normal.” Many people think women are more inclined than men to pursue a healthier lifestyle, meaning they could look to microdosing to help with their exercise routine, or to help them quit unhealthy addictions. Women are also known to have higher empathy levels than men, and the possible benefit of microdosing to improve interpersonal relationships should not be overlooked.

 Janet Chang, again: “I became more tolerant and compassionate towards people. I would chat with convenience store owners, give smiles to strangers walking down the street, and once had a 4-hour conversation with my coffee shop baristas while I waited in an airport.” And later she writes, “Over the years I microdosed, I became a more empathetic, compassionate, and affectionate person. I began to live with more acceptance, gratitude, and presence of mind.”

Microdosing protocols 

A protocol is any constructed system or process that can be followed, whether by humans or computers. When it comes to microdosing, protocols have been developed to guide “best practice” in terms of users’ microdosing schedules – exactly how much of a psychedelic to take, in what form, and when. 

Having a schedule is important because it is not recommended to microdose every day, or continuously. For one thing, the effects of a microdose can last for two or three days – “the afterglow” – making it unnecessary to microdose every day. 

Doing so could also result in a build-up in tolerance to the substance being microdosed, making it become less effective. Finally, it’s good to be able to objectively compare how you feel on “on” days (the day you microdose) as opposed to “off” days (the third day of the cycle, before your next “on” day.

Fadiman Protocol

Developed, of course, by James Fadiman, this protocol was initially developed for research purposes and is now widely followed by the microdosing community. In this protocol or approach, people microdose once every three days over the course of a month. The protocol suggests taking smaller microdoses initially in the first two weeks, then increasing the dose in the next couple of weeks. 

Is there any special time of day for microdosing?

Fadiman advises taking each microdose before 10 a.m – “Taking it later may make it harder to fall asleep.” After the month, people can continue to microdose periodically instead of habitually, on an “as-needed” basis – for example, when seeking to reduce anxiety or increase focus in the run-up to a big exam. 

Stamets Protocol

Paul Stamets is one of the most reputed mycologists in the world. He has written six books on mushrooms, delivered an eye-opening TED talk, and created a different protocol from Fadiman’s advising a dosing protocol of five days on, two days off; again so as not to build up a  tolerance. 

Stamets’ Protocol revolves around a specific blend of substances which he developed – niacin, lion’s mane mushroom, and psilocybin. Stamets calls this “the stacking formula for epigenetic neurogenesis”. 

Custom protocols 

It should be mentioned that neither Stamets’ nor Fadiman’s protocol is immovable – microdosing affects different people in different ways and, ultimately, a microdoser should figure out what kind of microdosing pattern works best for them, based on ongoing observation. 

The best intention to take with these protocols is primarily to avoid the scenario of microdosing too often, which is both unnecessary and contradictory to the very nature of microdosing. It’s also important not to have too much, per individual dose.

In general, each microdose is just 1/10 to 1/20 of a “normal” dose or 10 to 20 micrograms. Wired has some usual figures here. Always seek out advice on dosage amounts if you are not sure how much to ingest.

The bottom line: listen to your body

It’s worthwhile following a protocol such as Fadiman’s or Stamets’, but you also need to monitor your body’s reactions to the microdosing and make adjustments accordingly. 

As Dr. Jingshu Zhu related to, “I first followed Dr. James Fadiman’s suggestion … However, as my body is quite small (50kg, 158 cm) and very sensitive, my sweet spot was lower than average (less than 0.1g dried truffles, or 0.3g fresh ones), and the 2-day gap was sometimes too short for me. It’s very important to listen to your body and customize the dosage and frequency accordingly.”

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