Exploring Psychedelic Microdosing

Recently I’ve taken an interest in microdosing, specifically with magic mushrooms. I began learning about it a few months ago and then learned even more at the Psychedelic Science conference in June. I’ve also had some recent conversations with people I know who’ve been microdosing, all of them reporting positive long-term effects. Most use mushrooms for microdosing, although one prefers microdosing with LSD.

The point of microdosing is to take a very small amount of a psychedelic substance in order to access some neurological gains without any obvious psychedelic effects or impairments. Those gains can be both short-term and long-term, with some people reporting ongoing benefits even after they stop all microdosing.

Some people say that the standard is to microdose at a level where you can’t consciously discern any effects, at least not in the moment-by-moment experience as you go through your day. Others seem to want some detectable improvements like feeling a noticeable mood boost, but nothing negative that would interfere with their normal daily functioning.

Based on what researchers have been reporting, microdosing seems to yield the biggest gains for people who are depressed, anxiety-prone, or dealing with PTSD. That’s not me, so that isn’t part of my motivation for exploring it. I have, however, met and talked to people who claim to have used microdosing with positive results in reducing their depression and anxiety.

I’ve also heard anecdotal evidence of other benefits, such as with creativity and motivation. Truly there’s a long list of benefits people have reported, including a reduction in pre-menstrual symptoms.

Could this all be due to the placebo effect? Yes, as I shared from the recent PS2023 conference, that could indeed be a big part of it, especially if the doses are so small as to not create any obvious effects. The way I think about it is: The lower the dosage, the more you’re leaning on the placebo effect. The higher the dosage, the more obvious it becomes that you’re going beyond the placebo effect.

Since the placebo effect is still real and beneficial, for many people that’s a good enough reason to microdose – it activates the placebo effect, which can still be very helpful. Then you can play around with that effect, such as by setting different kinds of intentions for how you want the microdose to benefit you. Since psychedelics can have such a wide range of impacts, microdosing may grant access to an extremely flexible version of the placebo effect. It’s not just an antidepressant or a pain reliever – it could be a motivation booster, a creativity enhancer, or perhaps whatever you want it to be. At least that’s the potential promise of microdosing.

On the other hand, some people prefer to explore in the range between microdosing and minidosing. With minidosing you are inviting some mild psychedelic effects to come through, but you can still function well since you aren’t taking so much that you’re fully tripping. It may be unwise to drive or operate machinery when you’re increasing the dosage to that level, but it could be an interesting range to explore for its effects on creativity, personal insights, and decision making.

I’ve seen mixed reports from people who’ve explored in the range where some obvious effects are coming through. Some people like it and find it beneficial; they appreciate how it stretches their thinking and makes them more resourceful. Others find that it brings in some negative side effects like a reduction in focus and concentration.

I think that how we explore the range between microdosing and minidosing depends on our intentions and how the substance affects us. I could see a modest microdose being appropriate for increasing motivation to flow through a batch of routine tasks, whereas a slightly stronger dose might be better suited to a deeply introspective journaling session focused on generating novel solutions to tricky problems.

Initial Testing

I decided to start testing microdosing shortly after returning from my 3-week UK trip. I began on Wednesday last week, and I did 4 days in a row. Now I’m taking 3 days off, and then I’ll continue cycling with 4 days on, 3 days off.

All microdosing protocols include days and weeks off. The reason is that if you take magic mushrooms daily, you will quickly build a tolerance, and then you’d have to keep taking larger and larger amounts to get the same effect. So it’s unwise to take them daily, even when microdosing.

I decided to follow the protocol recommended by Paul Stamets. In the past I believe he recommended cycles of 5 days on, 2 days off. But I found a more recent recommendation from him for 4 days on, 3 days off. That fits nicely into the span of the week, so it seemed like a reasonable way to begin.

This cycle runs for 4 weeks, and then 2 weeks are taken off completely. Then repeat if desired. I’m not sure how long I’ll do this, but I’d like to go for several weeks at least if the results are promising and I’m not having any negative side effects. As far as experiments go, this one is pretty easy. It’s not like I have to not eat for several weeks in a row like I did in 2017. 😉

I began very sloppily here since I didn’t have a proper microscale for measuring such small amounts of mushrooms. So I just used a kitchen scale to measure a larger amount, and then I eyeballed it select a small nibble of shrooms that were roughly in the range of 0.1 to 0.3g (100 – 300mg). That’s the range I’ve seen recommended for microdosing, although some people prefer to go even lower, like around 50mg.

So I did the first 4 days this way – very imprecisely – just to get the ball rolling. On the first day, I crushed the dried shrooms with my fingers and make them into some tea with ginger and mint. Another day I mixed them with ground espresso and made an Americano with them. The other two days I just ate them straight.

Along the way I read that it’s best to have a microdose on an empty stomach, like 30 minutes before any food, since taking it with food can diminish the effects, so I’ll make that refinement going forward.

It’s too soon to tell if there’s much contrast between microdosing and not, but I did have some very good and productive days there, and I feel good about continuing. On Friday I had a long list of tasks that I didn’t feel particularly motivated to do – a large batch of admin items mostly. I figured I’d get through about half of them that day, but I ended up completing the entire list. The previous two days were also very productive, a bit better than average. My mind felt very calm and clear. But I wasn’t doing any creative work during those days, so I’m curious to see if there’s an effect when I write something.

I also noticed some extra happy feelings on the first two days, similar to when I eat all raw. Sometimes I sensed mild perceptual differences, as if the world looked a little more 3D than usual, like I was more aware of the depth of field in front of me. On the second day I did some intensive journaling and felt super clear about some decisions.

Today is my second non-microdosing day in a row, and it’s going well so far. I have heard some people say that they actually feel better effects on their off days than on their active microdosing days. I’m just getting started with this, so I’ll need more time to figure that out, but my mind is feeling very good. Even if it’s just a little bit of the placebo effect, I certainly don’t mind it when I’m enjoying a nice flow of action.

I do like the overall promise of microdosing, and I sense that it could be a useful method for helping to stretch my mind a bit more in various directions, allowing me to nudge my thinking and actions down fresh pathways with greater ease and less resistance.

Some people say that microdosing brings them closer to the person they were meant to be. I can see why that may be so.

Refining the Approach

Now that I’ve gotten started, I want to refine the approach and be more precise about it, especially in terms of dialing in the dosages. I don’t know what my optimal microdosing amount will be, but I imagine that it will be in the range of 100 to 300mg.

This weekend I acquired some extra pieces to help me, including a microscale, so I can more precisely measure tiny amounts. I didn’t realize they were so inexpensive – about $15. I don’t want to recommend one since I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but I basically went with one of the top ones listed on Amazon. I think they’re probably all pretty comparable. I don’t need precision down to 0.001g for this. I also got some vegan capsules (size 00), so I can make my own mixtures.

I intend to test the Stamets Stack, which combines magic mushrooms with Lion’s Mane and niacin. You can Google that if you want to learn more about it and what the benefits are supposed to be, but basically it’s intended to increase the neurological benefits of microdosing, helping small amounts to go further.

I think I’ll make a few capsules with 100mg, some with 200mg, and some with 300mg of powdered magic mushrooms. I’ll probably use 100mg of niacin per capsule, and then I’ll fill the rest with powdered Lion’s Mane. I should have all that ready in time for my next microdose this Wednesday, so I can begin Week 2 with more precision.

Initially I want to experiment with taking these different amounts to see what the effects are. Then I might settle into a preferred level for the long run. But I think it’s likely that I may find different doses appropriate for different kinds of experiences, so even long-term, I may not limit myself to a fixed dosage each microdosing day.

I might also make a few 500mg capsules, which gets more into minidose territory, to see what the effects are at that level. There may be some occasions where that’s a good fit, like if I want to have a deeply introspective day, and I don’t mind if some mild psychedelic effects are coming through as well. I work from home most days, so I don’t need to worry about commuting, business meetings, and other Golgafrinchan activities. I’d prefer not to feel semi-trippy during Zoom calls though, although that would likely be fine if it happened during one of the Mystery Mixer calls we do in Conscious Growth Club (since that format is meant to be fully co-creative).

I’m happy to share more updates about this as I continue to explore. In the meantime if you’re curious about it, it’s easy to find articles, stories, and videos of people sharing their microdosing results and experiences online.

I wonder if readers will notice any differences in my writing in the weeks ahead. This is the first post I’ve written while exploring microdosing (although on one of the off days). I’ll be sure to try writing some posts on active microdosing days as well.

Readers’ Reactions to My Psychedelic Writings

You may be curious to know how people have been reacting to my recent writings about exploring psychedelics this year. Technically I already wrote about exploring ayahuasca back in 2019 and another psychedelic experience in 2022, so this isn’t the first year I’ve written about such topics. But I am writing more about it this year because I’m exploring more.

I’ve actually received zero criticism about this topic. Nothing. Not a single critical comment.

Maybe I’ve conditioned my audience not to bother, but I don’t think it’s that. When doing research on this and looking at the comments, like on YouTube, they tend to be overwhelmingly noncritical too. What I’ve seen elsewhere aligns with the same kind of feedback I’ve been receiving personally.

I have received a lot of non-critical feedback on this – definitely not crickets – and it’s almost all from people sharing about their own experiences with psychedelics, however abundant or limited. Many people shared tips and advice, such as for reducing nausea when taking mushrooms. There’s been some of back-and-forth conversation with people on this too. I very much appreciate and enjoy this type of feedback. It’s intelligent, helpful, and clearly well-intentioned.

It’s clear that many people are curious about this, and it feels purposeful to explore this and to share about the journey. Sometimes I may not be able to share all of the details, but I promise to be honest in what I’m able to share. I know that as I’ve been looking into this, I really appreciated hearing people’s honest reports about their experiences. This is a complex space, and honesty is so crucial here.

My heart also goes out to people who really need viable alternatives to endless pharmaceuticals, where the intentionality behind the drugs isn’t aligned with people’s long-term health and well-being. Many people are finding renewed hope in emerging psychedelic therapies, especially in overcoming depression, anxiety, and addiction.

What I like about psychedelics is that they provide such a flexible canvas for exploring self-development. It’s not really the substances that appeal to me. I’m interested in the gateway they offer to a world of greater conscious intentionality. I regard psychedelics as intentionality amplifiers.

Psychedelics can be extremely humbling and also empowering. They can show us the results and consequences of our past intentionality, and they can give us glimpses of what we could experience by shifting our intentionality in new directions. One of my goals is to continue cultivating a deeply trusting relationship with intentional psychedelic exploration, as an extension of cultivating deep trust in life. Microdosing seems like an excellent way to build a stronger baseline level of trust.