Microdosing psilocybin mushrooms has quickly become a popular approach for treating a variety of psychological and somatic disorders. This includes, but is certainly not limited to depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzeihmer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
In this article we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about microdosing psilocybin mushrooms, including dosage, frequency, and potential cognitive and psychological benefits. We’ll also explore the different types of established protocols that are most often employed in creating a microdosing regimen.
Our discussion will include instructions on exactly how one prepares a microdose, the different options for consumption, and how we can prepare our minds and bodies for its experiences. We’ll also go over some dietary supplements that can be used to enhance the neurological benefits of a psilocybin microdose, and how microdosing may be beneficial pre and/or post a macrodose trip.
Later, we’ll touch on the criteria for safely journeying with psilocybin microdoses, medical contraindications, and why certain people may not feel the effects of psilocybin. For those that don’t feel its effects, we’ll review what you can do to experience the mood and cognitive enhancements of a psilocybin or ‘magic’ mushroom microdose.
DISCLAIMER: We are not medical professionals. We are a harm reduction company that provides information for educational purposes and you should always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your medications, diet, and before taking any supplements.
What is a Psychedelic Microdose?
Much attention has been directed onto high-dose psychedelic experiences, also known as a macrodose. However, recent research has surfaced interest in the low-dose use of psychedelics, referred to as a microdose.
More broadly, the concept of a microdose can be applied to any drug. In the realm of psychedelics, the most common medicines used for microdosing purposes are psilocybin mushrooms and LSD or Lysergic acid diethylamide. Today we’ll be focusing our attention on microdosing with psilocybin.
As may be inferred, a psilocybin microdose is a sub-perceptual dose of these hallucinogenic mushrooms. This means that if your dosage is accurately determined, microdosing psilocybin will not elicit any hallucinogenic effects. Because of this, you can work, socialize, and operate heavy machinery as you normally would.
Many are curious about how long you should microdose for. The answer is very simple. You should microdose for however long you feel is needed. For some people, they may feel that after one month of microdosing, they’ve established a sufficiently solid mental foundation to build off of. Others may microdose for 3-4 months at a time.
Psychedelics are not prescriptive, meaning they do not and should not abide by a one-size-fits all approach. Listen to your body and connect with your intuition. Only you can know when the time is right to discontinue your microdosing regimen.
The Benefits of Microdosing Psilocybin Mushrooms
A psilocybin microdosing protocol helps not only in treating the specific symptoms of a disorder, but can be beneficial to anyone seeking to integrate a higher level of awareness into their lives. It allows users to observe the world from a more empathic perspective, and thus assists in our personal healing journeys by reframing our conditioned states of existence.
We should note that because psychedelics are known as ‘non-specific amplifiers’ the benefits you experience are highly dependent on your individual physiology. Meaning that what becomes unveiled throughout your microdosing journey will be specific to your brain chemistry and personal life circumstances.
Microdosing has been reported to improve focus and concentration, indicating potential efficacy in the management of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It’s also been attributed to enhancements of creativity, critical thinking skills, motivation, and mental resilience in typically stress-inducing conditions.
In a 2019 study conducted by Vince Polito and Richard J. Stevenson, researchers collected the baseline measures of 93 participants. Participants were instructed to follow Fadiman’s protocol and submit daily reports. 47.1% of the daily reports were made by participants microdosing psilocybin.
The study found a clinically significant increase (p<.05) in measures of connectedness, contemplation, creativity, focus, happiness, productivity, and wellbeing. Long term measures were taken after 6 weeks of microdosing. Clinically significant reductions in depression, stress, and mind wandering were sustained.
Absorption measures also experienced a clinically significant increase from baseline. Absorption is considered as a form of focused attention which constitutes profound engagement with certain parts of an individual’s subjective experience. Thus, increased absorption levels are correlated to deeper involvements with the natural world and philosophical, contemplative engagements with art.
As many studies have come to evidence, namely a 2018 study led by Calvin Ly and colleagues, serotonergic psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms, produce potent increases in neuritogenesis and spinogenesis. Neurotogenesis and spinogenesis describes the process by which neurons sprout and develop dendritic spines and axon terminals.
Think of these neurites as the limbs of our brain cells. In many people suffering from chronic stress, psychological or neurodegenerative disorders, significant brain atrophy is noted. Atrophy is the loss of neurons and their interconnections which often lead to a decrease in brain mass, resulting in reductions of cognitive function and overall emotional dysregulation.
Thus, serotonergic psychedelics stimulate signaling pathways by creating new neurons that increase the points of contact between them, replacing dead or damaged brain cells, and strengthening overall neural connectivity.
Serotonergic psychedelics have also been shown to reduce activity in the Default Mode Network (DMN). The DMN is a brain region responsible for curating our sense of self, our sense of ‘I’-ness. It is activated in absence of our focused attention on our outer environment, when we direct our attention inwardly.
The DMN maintains the internal narratives that amass our self conceptualizations. In people with psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, OCD, and ADHD, the DMN is shown to experience significant hyperactivity.
By reducing activity in the DMN, serotonergic psychedelics also decrease hyper-rumination. In people with anxiety, this rumanition is often associated with thinking patterns of stress, panic, or worry. Those with depression often ruminate on negative self perceptions.
People with OCD may experience heightened DMN activity due to habituated fixations. Whereas someone with ADHD experiences DMN overactivity in correlation with the inability to focus on goal-oriented tasks. In people suffering from addiction, reduced DMN activity can be attributed to a reduction in compulsive drug-seeking behaviors.
In a 2008 study led by Roland R. Griffiths et al, 36 participants of a previous double-blind study were contacted for a 14 month follow up. In the initial study, the participants were given a 30mg dose of psilocybin and their responses regarding the experience’s personal and spiritual meaning were recorded.
This follow up study evaluated the sustainability of the initial study’s results. For reference, immediately after the session screenings, 22 of the participants were found to have a complete mystical experience, and 14 months later, 21 of the 22 volunteers continued to meet the criteria.
The Mystical Experience Questionnaire accounts for measures of internal and external unity, sacredness, intuitive knowledge, and deeply felt positive mood. At the 14 month follow up, 58% of participants rated the psilocybin experience as one of the five most meaningful experiences of their lives and 67% rated it as one of the five most spiritually impactful.
64% of participants indicated that the experience increased their well being and overall life satisfaction, with 61% reporting a moderate to extreme positive change in behavior. The study’s findings are commensurate with the large body of anecdotal reports that attribute similar benefits to microdoses of psilocybin.
These benefits include enhanced psychological openness, emotional connection to others, heightened gratitude and the ability to live more presently. A deeper connection to nature and an increased aesthetic involvement with art, serve as clinical evidence for the enhancement of sensory perceptions that many report on a microdose.
Microdosing Prior to & After a Macrodose Experience
Many of our clients raise questions about the potential benefits of microdosing before and/or after a large-dose psilocybin experience. What we find is that microdosing can be of great value when preparing for and integrating a therapeutic psychedelic experience.
For one, microdosing before a high-dose ceremony may help you become acquainted with the spirit of the medicine. It allows you to get a better understanding of your physiological response to the drug. As we’ll discuss a bit later, some people can’t feel the effects of psychedelics due to several potential factors.
Thus, gaining familiarity with your body’s response to psychedelics in a low dose, can allow you to assess changes that may need to be made for experiencing the full perceptual experience of a high psilocybin dose. Microdosing before a ceremony also allows us to understand our individual tolerance to the drug.
It can help us get a feel for the different states of awareness that our minds can venture into. Establishing this trusting relationship with the plant medicine can help us feel safer during the large-dose experience, encouraging a quicker and more fluid surrender into the psychedelic journey.
Many people who are in the process of tapering off of their SSRIs or antidepressants, find immense value in adopting a microdosing regimen. This is because psychedelics can buffer the discontinuation side effects of these pharmaceutical medications by maintaining and later increasing our serotonin levels as the antidepressants continue to clear from our system.
Many also find that microdosing after a macrodose ceremony allows them to maintain the emotional and behavioral momentum catalyzed during the journey. It can help people experience a gentler and more supported transition into their day-to-day routines.
A 2019 study led by Ling-Xiao Shao found that a single macrodose of psilocybin can increase dendritic spine size and density. Thus, adopting a microdosing regimen after a large-dose experience would continue the stimulation of neuroplasticity in the brain, just in smaller increments.
How to Determine Your Dosage
When determining your dosage, it’s important that you keep in mind how your perception should and shouldn’t be affected by the medicine. A microdose should be sub-perceptual, meaning that although enhancements to mood and cognition may be observed, you should feel generally sober throughout the day.
Your microdose should not impair your ability to tend to normal everyday tasks. The general rule of thumb is that you should start by taking 0.1 grams of the psilocybin mushrooms on day 1. If the effects are not felt as desired, increase your dosage by 0.05 grams each microdosing day until you reach your threshold.
Now, as we mentioned earlier, some people have a difficult time experiencing the effects of psychedelic substances. In some cases, it may take several weeks of microdosing to feel the effects. Picture the journey of microdosing with psilocybin as a slow peeling of an onion’s layers.
Oftentimes, some people require more layers of our conditioned reality to be peeled in order to start perceiving life with more presence. For those who have a history with psychotropic medications, there’s a chance that your serotonin levels are depleted or hindered by the medication.
In such a case, you may need to adjust your dosage to 0.5 grams in order to feel the effects. Note that if you plan on tapering off of your medications, your tolerance to psychedelic substances will naturally decrease and at that point, you may begin to feel the effects from a lower dose. For more information, check out our article on the psilocybin-blunting effects of SSRIs and antidepressants.
How to Prepare Your Microdose
Preparing your microdose is very simple and fairly straightforward. Besides your psilocybin-containing mushrooms, there’s a couple of tools that will help ensure you’re consistently taking the appropriate dosage.
- A digital jewelry scale that measures in tenths (0.01) or hundredths (0.001)
- A coffee grinder (optional)
- Gelatin or vegan capsules (optional)
First you should decide what form you’d like to take your microdose in. Some people find it helpful to purchase psilocybin microdosing capsules. If you choose to go down this route, all you have to do is purchase a bottle with the dosage per capsule that you desire.
If the idea of microdosing capsules interests you, but you’re looking for alternative options, you can always prepare the microdosing capsules yourself by purchasing empty gelatin or vegan capsules. You can then use a coffee grinder to grind up your psilocybin mushrooms.
Once you’ve finished that step, all you have to do is use a digital jewelry scale to weigh out the dose you’d like to put into each capsule. Then, simply fill the capsule with your standardized dose and enjoy your mushroom medicine.
If you’re using a container to hold your finely ground mushroom powder on the scale, make sure that you use the “Tare” or “T” function to negate the weight of the capsule or container. Of course, always make sure that your scale is set to grams.
The last option for preparing your microdose is to simply break off a piece of the whole mushroom and weigh in on your scale. Continue taking off small pieces of the mushroom chunk until the scale displays your desired dosage.
At this point, you can eat the mushroom piece as it is, or take it down with some water. Though this option is much less complicated, it doesn’t guarantee consistent dosage since the psilocybin is often dispersed unequally within a whole mushroom. Grinding your mushroom into a powder can offer more consistency.
How to Prepare Yourself for a Psilocybin Microdose
Now that we’ve discussed how your microdose might be prepared, it’s important that we go over how you can prepare yourself for a microdosing experience. Though a microdose is sub-perceptual, intention-setting applies to this experience just as much as it applies to a macrodose journey.
As we mentioned earlier, psychedelics are non-specific amplifiers, therefore it’s important that we give ourselves the time to understand why we are microdosing that day. Luckily, we’ve already written an article on how to create an intention for your psychedelic experience. In brief, all it takes is at least 5 minutes of self reflection before taking your microdose.
In the morning, take some time to sit down and get in touch with your present state. What emotion or mental state do you feel you would benefit from today? Is there something you’d like to reflect on more deeply and consciously? Perhaps you’re microdosing to optimize performance at work.
Once you’ve gotten clear on your intention(s), write them down. Often, it can be beneficial to formulate your intention as an affirmation in order to fortify your ongoing progress rather than contexting your purpose as a goal for the future.
For example, instead of writing your intention as “I’m going to reduce my anxiety and depression”, it may resonate with you more to write it as “I am experiencing calmness and ease of mind. I am choosing to live in the present and acknowledge my gratitude for (xyz).”
A general rule of thumb is to focus your intention on the experience you do want to have, rather than what you don’t. Lastly, to ensure that your body fully absorbs the microdose, take your microdose on an empty stomach, at least one hour before eating your first meal of the day.
The Most Popular Microdosing Protocols
As we briefly discussed, there are several well-known protocols that offer structured regimens for microdosing. Each of them have key differences regarding how often you should take a microdose. These protocols have variances in the number of “off” days you have. “Off” days are days when you don’t take the microdose. Generally, the healthiest protocols embed 1-3 off days between doses.
Primarily, this is considered best practice because it caters to our body’s natural tolerance-building mechanisms. These rest days in between doses allow us to feel the full effects of the microdose without building a tolerance to them. The three protocols we’ll be reviewing today are: The Fadiman Protocol, The Stamets Stack, and intuitive microdosing.
The Fadiman Protocol
The Fadiman Protocol is arguably one of the most favored microdosing regimens amongst the psychonaut community. It was created by Dr. James Fadiman who formulated the protocol with specific off days for journeyers to gain a clear understanding on the effects that your microdosing protocol is producing.
This protocol is a very helpful tool for first time microdosers as it allows you to gauge and compare the differences between your sober and microdosing state. It adopts a 3-day microdosing cycle and as with any protocol, only you can determine how long you want to microdose for.
You can continue any microdosing cycle for 4 to 8 weeks, or indefinitely. If you feel that a tolerance is building after some time, you can reset it by taking a 2 to 4 week rest period.
Day 1: 1st microdose
Day 2: Transition day (not taking a dose, but residual effects are still sensed)
Day 3: Normal day (not taking a dose)
Day 4: 2nd microdose
To offer some clarity, if you take your first dose on a Monday, you wouldn’t take a dose on Tuesday or Wednesday. Your second dose would be on Thursday. Then you would rest on Friday and Saturday, and take your third dose on Sunday. Your next dose would be on Wednesday and so on.
The Stamets Stack
The Stamets Stack was coined by Paul Stamets, an amateur mycologist who has dedicated his life to studying the medicinal properties of hallucinogenic and non-hallucinogenic mushrooms. His microdosing protocol involves “stacking” several supplements to create a nootropic stack.
- 0.1 grams of Psilocybe cubensis mushroom
- 5-20 grams of whole or powdered Lion’s Mane OR 50-200mg of Lion’s Mane extract
- 75-200 mg of Niacin (Vitamin B3)
Days 1-4: Microdosing days
Days 5-7: Transition days
Days 8-11: Microdosing days
Days 12-14: Transition Days
The benefits of Lion’s Mane and niacin are founded on the idea that Lion’s Mane, like psilocybin, helps to promote neurogenesis and stimulate nerve growth. It’s believed anti-inflammatory properties also complement the stack.
Paul’s research states that because niacin works as a flushing agent, it pushes the Lions Mane and psilocybin compounds to the extremities of our neurons and through the brain blood barrier, further promoting neural repair.
Some people may be sensitive to niacin. It’s often known to cause flushing of the skin which may feel itchy or like a slight burn. These side effects subside after a few hours. As we said, psychedelics are not prescriptive in any way, therefore you always have the choice to use the ingredients in the Stamets Stack with the Fadiman Protocol, or vice versa.
Often, after people have experienced a few cycles of one or more of the protocols above, they’ll choose to switch to a more intuitive routine of microdosing. Depending on your needs and environment, you can choose to microdose whenever you feel it’s necessary.
One crucial caveat is that you should always leave one full day of being completely sober between microdoses, or at very least, reserve 2 consecutive days out of any 7-day period to remain sober. Healing requires that we periodically assess our natural states and work to intentionally integrate the tools offered to us into our daily lives.
Is Microdosing Safe?
Rarely ever do people report having negative or adverse effects from a microdose. Most find a renewed sense of living and a mental clarity that they haven’t experienced for a while. However, sometimes people experience a hallucinogenic effect if they take too high of a dose.
Fatigue may come as a result of heightened neural activity and more life or physical activity. As mentioned, a tolerance may build after prolonged use. Taking intermittent breaks and reset weeks helps to combat this.
Some people have reported mild nausea after ingesting their microdose. In some cases, taking ginger or activated charcoal will ameliorate this. Your body temperature may fluctuate more than normally. If you have a heart or respiratory condition, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or have experienced psychosis, consult your doctor before using any psychedelic substances.
People with color blindness sometimes report seeing minor visual hallucinations or rays of “after-images”. For some, lack of proper integrative support may cause internal resistance when trying to process and navigate these new perceptions, consciousness levels, and insights relating to their inner and outer worlds.
Psychedelics are not addictive. Though anything can be habit forming, if you’re guided by intentionality, intuition, and proper support, microdosing psilocybin mushrooms can be one of those most naturally healing practices.
Explore How it Feels to Be Connected
By now, you might find yourself jumping at the idea of embarking on a microdosing journey. We understand you and we will continue servicing you and your healing journey in any way that we can. Our carefully curated network of psychedelic facilitators are located around the country.
We offer microdosing coaching services as well as guided psychedelic ceremonies that can even be experienced from the comfort of your own home. To get connected with a psychedelic facilitator near you or to simply inquire further about at-home microdosing, we empower you to book a consultation with us.
We’re here to be a resource to you whether or not you’re looking to journey with us. That being said, we’d love to extend an invitation to check our resources page. There you’ll find an extensive bibliotheca of informative articles just like this one to satiate all of your psychedelic curiosities. Well our fellow psychonauts, that’s all for now. Safe journeying!