Psilocybin, the active compound found in “magic mushrooms,” is receiving a lot of attention regarding its potential for therapeutic use. An increasingly popular way of consuming psilocybin is microdosing it, or consuming small amounts on a frequent basis. But what are the risks and benefits of this practice, and how does it affect your tolerance to the substance?
A study published in the Harm Reduction Journal explains that “microdosing psychedelics is the practice of consuming very low, sub-hallucinogenic doses of a psychedelic substance…” Despite the increase in this practice, there is very little research available on microdosing. According to the study, there have been “tens of thousands” of increases in online microdosing communities, justifying the need for scientific studies to better understand microdosing.
Dr. David R. Cox told the Insider that the minimum dose required for a psychedelic psilocybin experience is around 1 gram of dried mushroom, while a low microdose is around 0.1 grams. While the psychedelic experience with psilocybin may seem like a good idea, it can cause an altered state of mind, altered sensory perception, and even hallucinations, which can cause problems when in an uncontrollable environment.
Cox explains that “microdosing is done with the thought that these small doses do not produce any hallucinogenic effects” and thinking that it “may provide relief from adverse symptoms and/or facilitate improvements in one’s thinking, emotional and/or cognitive state.”
While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting the efficacy of microdosing, the “concrete evidence surrounding microdosing mushrooms is sparse since it’s a schedule I substance and the FDA has only recently approved a small number of clinical trials for psilocybin use.”
The study worked with participants to determine the benefits of microdosing, discovering reported improvements in mood, focus, creativity, and energy. The most frequently reported benefit was the improvement in mood, including “happiness, well-being, peace, calm and reductions in depressive symptoms.” The category also included “improved outlook, appreciation of life, optimism, spiritual, and emotional insights” as well as “being more in touch with emotions.”
The reported improvement in focus included conscious awareness, focus and concentration, mindfulness, and improvement in attentiveness and engagement. The improvement in creativity refers to improvements in the meta-creative process, such as divergent thinking, curiosity, openness, shifts in perspective, etc. The improvement in self-efficacy reported by the participants included the likes of ambition, motivation, productivity, sense of agency, self-care, introspection, meditation, etc.
Improvements in energy referred to a literal increase in energy as well as “alertness, wakefulness, and stimulation.” The increase in social benefits included extraversion, empathy, connection, and ease of verbal engagement (fluency). The participants who reported cognitive benefits reportedly experienced cognitive enhancement such as understanding and problem-solving as well as experiencing clarity of thought.
Other less common benefits experienced when microdosing psilocybin included a reduction in anxiety, enhanced senses, improved sleep quality, reduced migraines/headaches, the lack of side-effects, being able to control the dose, the novelty of the experience, a reduction in sensitivity to trauma, and reduced substance dependence.
In addition to exploring the benefits of microdosing, the study explains that the risks associated with microdosing psilocybin include its illegality, the social stigma attached to psychedelics, and numerous physiological discomforts such as disrupted senses, temperature dysregulation, numbing/tingling, insomnia, gastrointestinal distress, and reduced appetite.
Other risks include distractibility, absent-mindedness, increased anxiety, restlessness, jitters, fatigue, drowsiness, brain fog, discontent, sadness, irritability, over-emotionality, impaired outlook, oversharing, awkwardness, difficulty in sentence production, confusion, disorientation, racing thoughts, poor memory, dissociation, depersonalization, and self-sabotage.
Many of the risks associated with microdosing psilocybin appear to be contradictory to many of the reported benefits, but many who have consumed psilocybin, especially in microdoses, will say that most of those are unlikely. Regardless of the improbability of experiencing those adverse effects with a microdose of psilocybin, it is important that consumers are aware of the risks in order to medicate more responsibly.
Perhaps one of the biggest risks, or challenges, of microdosing is the tolerance buildup. Tolerance refers to a reduced response to a substance, so tolerance to psilocybin means that your body becomes desensitized to the psilocybin and eventually needs larger doses for the same effects. Emily Pisacreta from Double Blind stated that “tolerance to shrooms develops faster than you think” and that the tolerance associated with psilocybin “is different” than that of alcohol and opioid tolerance.
The factsheet on psilocybin by the Drug Policy Alliance explains that “the human body quickly builds a tolerance to psilocybin, such that people require much higher doses after only a few days of repeated use, making it extremely difficult to have any effect after more than four days of repeated uses.” The alliance also states that psilocybin is not considered to be “addictive nor does it cause compulsive use.”
Unfortunately, there is still little understanding behind the tolerance build-up to psilocybin. It is currently generally accepted for consumers to take a minimum of a 24-hour break before consuming again, but there is no certain time frame for the tolerance to reduce.
It is also well known that LSD interacts with the body in a similar way to psilocybin, so many experts believe that consuming LSD one day and psilocybin the next will lead to a reduction in effects from the psilocybin (and vice versa). Fortunately, your kidneys assist your body in metabolizing psilocybin quite quickly, so a 24-hour break from microdosing every couple of days may be a good way to maintain the optimal benefits with the lowest possible dose for those benefits.
Now that you have a better understanding of microdosing psilocybin, it is important that you are aware of its legal status wherever you are in the world. Consider consulting with psychedelic therapy specialists in order to avoid putting yourself at risk. Until we have more information on substances like psilocybin from clinical trials and other studies, make sure to consume responsibly.
Note: Veriheal does not support illegally consuming therapeutic substances such as psilocybin but acknowledges that it transpires because of the current illicit status, which we strive to change by advocating for research, legal access, and responsible consumption. Always consult a physician before attempting alternative therapies.
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Stephen Ward says:
May 14, 2022 at 12:43 pm
I have been microdosing for about 5 months following a car crash that caused multiple injuries and multiple embolic strokes.
I have used and I mean it, every drug in the doctors case. Not one of them had any positive effects on my nerve pain. My GP is from Australia and Malaya Chinese. He suggested to me to use CBD/THC and Psilocybin.
As a former police officer I am aware of the implications of what he said. It took my around 3 years before I tried CBD and only after seeing it worked did I venture into mushrooms.
You write and speak of negatives, i for one have seen no negative side effects other than it’s considered a class A drug for some stupid reason. Alcohol is far more dangerous and so are paracetamols. I’ll stick to CBD/THC oil and psilocybin over that junk any day.
The only time I get and respite from the injuries is with these healing modalities.
When the world wakes up to see the healing power from Psilocybin I think they’ll hang the pharmaceutical companies for lying about it.
The effects are amazing.
I have been up to .4 and had no mind altering states. The pain just reduces, my mind clears, I engage with life.
After it wears off the same pain reappears.
I would rather face arrest and court than live without the microdosing and it’s life changing effects than take any more pharmaceutical drugs.
Chane Leigh says:
May 23, 2022 at 8:57 am
Stephen, thank you very much for sharing your experience. I think it takes a lot of courage to come out and share a personal story, such as this, especially considering the amount of intolerance that still exists. You make such a powerful argument in testiment of alternative therapeutics. We mention the negatives because there are some people who will experience those, but our hope is to demonstrate just how much more worth the risk it is for the benefits. “I would rather face arrest and court than live without the microdosing and it’s life changing effects than take any more pharmaceutical drugs”- this is such an honest and brave statement, which should not have to be made just so you can live your life. Yet, here we are with pharmaceuticals ruling the health indusrty and people like yourself risking a lot for the things that actually work. I hope you are right… that we will see a day where pharmaceuticals are voided.
Smarty Two Shoes says:
July 9, 2022 at 10:32 pm
Access to mental health professionals is limited and difficult in many areas. Especially, when dealing with CPTSD and trauma. If you are on Medicare, it is even worse trying to find counseling that they will reimburse. I am tired of the pharma cocktail remedy and striking out with EMDR and Brainspotting therapies. I was losing hope. I recently started microdosing and so I can’t comment on it’s overall benefits, as of yet. What it has given me is hope again. Oddly enough, hope is very therapeutic all by itself.
August 1, 2022 at 6:06 pm
I have never taken LSD or any other hallucinogenic drugs. I have been struggling with depression (most of my life) and insomnia (21years). I have been on anti-depressants (currently not taking any anti-depressants), sleep medications (currently on Ambien), medical marijuana, acupuncture, changed my diet, changed my diet eliminating as many processed foods, vitamins, etc. I exercise regularly. I am a retired female, I am 69 years old. From what I have read, I do believe that micro-dosing is something I want to try. I have looked to connect to a clinical trial, but have not had any luck finding one. Currently, I am looking to locate psilocybin for micro-dosing. I have a friend that I trust will help me when I take the psilocybin. I need to clear my mind and I feel that this is an option that I need to try. Does anyone know if this works for insomnia?
August 4, 2022 at 11:59 pm
Nearly every perimenopause and postmenopausal woman I know has some form of anxiety. The common thread is low testosterone. Their medication‘s that help a little bit with the anxiety but they’re not going to prevent the other problems that come along with low testosterone. There’s a good chance your anxiety if you have it and depression have to do with hormones. A lot of women who are white or Asian develop osteoporosis as well as anxiety and depression due to low testosterone. No testosterone in women also puts them at greater risk for several types of cancers. The medical mafia does not want its customers using anything that can prevent or cure disease .
Microdosing with psilocybin may decrease symptoms but it may not get to the root cause. But then again, anything is better than nothing.
August 4, 2022 at 11:49 pm
It’s hard to know what to believe because in Scamerica,You don’t know who you can trust. While I believe that psilocybin has therapeutic value I have to wonder if some of that is being hyped by greedy people who want to open dispensaries. On the other hand we know that the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA are incredibly corrupt and their corruption would make even a scum bag like Adolf Hitler cringe.
When you consider that there are people who are on psychiatric drugs every day of their lives, the corporate criminal elite that run this country and most of the western world are not going to allow some thing that is a potential cure. As the saying goes, cure a patient, lose a customer.
I’ve been picking mushrooms for a little over a year and I can identify most of the edible ones and most of the poisonous ones . I’m thinking about harvesting some psilocybin mushrooms and experimenting even though I don’t have any medical condition that would require their use. I do have friends and family who suffer from anxiety and depression but all of them or female and generally depression and anxiety is caused by low testosterone . The reason they don’t give women testosterone for depression, anxiety and prevent osteoporosis and certain cancers is because there’s too much money in treating osteoporosis, anxiety, depression and cancer.
I think the government or a bunch of criminals for not allowing people to ingest things that grow on earth such as cannabis, peyote and other substances that are used in religious ceremonies although I think religion is a bunch of bullshit in most cases.
If psilocybin is the cure and the miracle drug that some people say it is, it will disrupt the crooked and corrupt F DA and it’s pharmaceutical industry masters.