If you are interested in learning more about microdosing--the how, the why, and some ways to optimize the practice and make it work for you, read on!
First of all, what is microdosing?
This practice involves taking a "micro" dose of a psychedelic for its therapeutic benefits. These psychedelics include psilocybin mushrooms (what I will be talking about in this blog post), LSD, MDMA, and some others.
A microdose ranges from 50mg to 200mg, about 1/10 of a dose that will give you a psychedelic experience. This dose will not cause any psychoactive effects, but most individuals can feel a difference-- a boost in mood, focus, and mental clarity. It is important to understand that microdosing does not cause tripping-- you remain fully capable of carrying on with your life as usual.
Some individuals are more sensitive to psilocybin than others. This can be due to body composition, current level of health both physically and mentally, stress levels, and a variety of factors. If you try a dose that causes you to feel jittery, like you had an extra shot of espresso, you may want to lower the dose! It may take some experimentation to land on what the perfect dose and frequency is for YOUR body.
Microdosing is not a daily practice. Figuring out a dosing schedule that works for you based on what you are currently going through, the sensitivity you have to the medicine, and that works for your lifestyle will be important. Taking a dose every day would cause you to build up a tolerance, and the goal is to keep the dose as low as possible while still experiencing the benefits!
I now offer four different doses to choose from-- 75mg, 100mg, 130mg, and 150mg. Each person has a different reaction/tolerance to psychedelics. This could be due to size/weight, metabolism, energetic sensitivity, pre-existing conditions, the state of the nervous system, and more. There are also slight variations in strength/potency of mushrooms batch-t0-batch, and of course depending on the strain. I use Golden Teacher mushrooms for my micrdoses as they are a great introductory strain that has mild to moderate potency, and a more gentle profile generally.
The average person (based on my experience after offering them to others for almost two years) finds that 100mg or 130mg seems to hit the right spot. With that being said, you don't know how they will feel for you until you try! If you know that you are someone with a sensitive constitution, you may wish to start low and work your way up only if needed. I offer a microdose sampler if you wish to try all of them before starting on a protocol!
The dose that you take will also depend on what you're wanting to get out of your microdosing practice. I have found that individuals who use their microdoses to spark creativity and productivity often go for a slightly higher and perhaps more stimulating dose. But don't fall into the trap of feeling that you need to take a substance in order to be productive/creative and get things done. Sometimes that lack of motivation you're feeling is a sign from your body that you need to slow down, focus on what brings you pleasure, and give yourself a break from the constant need to "do" and produce.
Let's talk schedules
THE FADIMAN PROTOCOL
The schedule that I most often follow for myself (along with intuitive microdosing) is named after Dr. James Fadiman-- a pioneer for microdosing in the medical community. One day on, two days off. So you're dosing every third day.
Day 1: dose day
Day 2: transition day
Day 3: normal day
Day 4: dose day
On the first day you feel the full effects of the dose, the second day you experience half of the effects (what I like to call the afterglow), and the third day is a tolerance break.
THE STAMETS STACK
Paul Stamets, mycologist and microdosing advocate recommends a schedule involving four days on, three days off.
Day 1: dose day
Day 2: dose day
Day 3: dose day
Day 4: dose day
Day 5: normal day
Day 6: normal day
Day 7: normal day
Stamets believes that dosing for four days consecutively will provide a cumulative effect from the psychedelics that may be more effective for some individuals. The three days off are important tolerance breaks so that the medicine continues to work. Stamets also suggests taking microdoses as a "stack" by taking them alongside lions mane mushroom and niacin (vitamin B3).
Lions mane mushroom is a medicinal mushroom (not psychedelic) that is incredible for brain health and cognition, inflammation, and immunity. It is effective when taken alone, but these effects are amplified when taken with psilocybin. The two together can help build new neurons and neural pathways. The purpose of niacin in this case is to dilate the blood vessels (yes, the dreaded "niacin flush"), and carry the psilocybin and other helpful compounds across the blood-brain barrier and into the brain tissue where we want it most!
I suggest stacking my microdoses with Calm & Cool Capsules, my adaptogenic formula containing lions mane, or Making Memories tincture-- a brain-boosting tincture that will give you your dose of lions mane. Niacin can be purchased at a health food store and its best to start with a dose between 50 and 100mg. You may experience a slightly uncomfortable flushing of the skin but it should only last a couple of minutes with that low dosage.
THE MICRODOSING INSTITUTE PROTOCOL The coaches at the microdosing institute have found that some people experience more benefit when the doses are taken every second day. This is especially true for individuals using microdosing for psychological challenges such as chronic depression, social anxiety, ADHD/ADD, migraines, or cluster headaches.
Day 1: dose day Day 2: transition day
Day 3: dose day Day 4: transition day
I would only recommend using this protocol if one of the other ones is not effective enough to manage your symptoms. Because of the frequency of dosing there will be an increased risk of building a tolerance and having to increase dosage to experience benefits.
TWO-DAYS-A-WEEK PROTOCOL Sometimes it is difficult for people to stick to a microdosing schedule where dose days will fall on random days each week. Some prefer a more fixed schedule that they can remember more easily, and so choosing 2 days a week for your dose days may work for you. Always keep at least 1 day between dose days.
E.g. dose on Mondays and Thursdays each week
THE INTUITIVE PROTOCOL The body is the best teacher. If you are turning to microdosing not for medical need, but rather for expanding your creativity, connection to self and source, or for its brain and health benefits, you may choose to microdose intuitively. The only rule to follow is to leave at least one day between dose days.
You may want to follow a protocol mentioned above for your first round of microdosing, and then after one or two rounds start to dose more intuitively. There really are no hard rules when it comes to microdosing. One of the ways that this medicine works in the body is by opening our awareness and encouraging more communication with sensation in the body. Go with your gut and learn/experiment with what feels best for you, mind, body, and spirit. I personally use intuition when microdosing for most of the year, and I support myself with a more consistent schedule during the winter months for my mental wellbeing!
NIGHT DOSING PROTOCOL Some individuals notice that microdosing causes fatigue in the hours following their dose, as opposed to a burst of energy. If you try one of the above protocols, or try your first dose and notice that this is how your body responds, you may want to take your dose at night instead. Night dosers have experienced more vivid dreams, and wake up feeling more refreshed. Choose a dosing schedule that works for you from the ones mentioned above, but instead of taking them early in the day take your dose at bedtime.
If you are microdosing on a very consistent basis it may be a good idea to take a 2 week to 1 month break every 3 months or so. This will reduce any tolerance built up over the previous months and give the body a break. As with any herbal formulas its good to take some time off and see how the body functions on its own, and if anything has changed! This is a mere suggestion, it is not dangerous to microdose consistently without breaks (because the "off" days are built into the schedules already), it is just my personal opinion.
Taking your first dose
I love to recommend taking your first dose on a day when you don't have a lot on your plate. If you work during the week maybe carve out some time on the weekend, or take a day to yourself if you can. This is not because you will be unable to function, it is so that you can separate yourself a little bit from the happenings of your busy life to TUNE IN to your experience in your body and mind.
There is a debate between whether or not microdosing is more effective on an empty stomach. This is something that you can experiment with yourself, but I suggest for first timers to take their dose with at least a little bit of light food to avoid any stomach upset. After you know how microdosing feels in your body, you could take your dose 15-20 minutes before breakfast to ensure it is fully absorbed!
DO NOT TAKE ON EMPTY STOMACH WITH COFFEE/CAFFEINE! Many microdosers find that consuming caffeine and their microdose together leaves them feeling really jittery and unproductive. You can by all means try combining them to see if it works for you, as every body is different, but I recommend going caffeine free for your first dose or two as you get used to it.
Why start microdosing?
There are many potential benefits of adopting a microdosing practice, and the list seems to keep getting longer as more and more studies are conducted. What a time to be alive! Here are some of the main benefits that I have experienced or have received as feedback:
increased mental clarity and focus
improved mood, more positivity and optimism
a sense of deeper connection to self and the world
a sense of open-heartedness
less severity of perimonpausal/menopausal symptoms
reduction of migraines and cluster headaches
less aptitude towards addictive behaviours/patterns
reduction/elimination of withdrawal symptoms when going off of antidepressants/anti anxiety medications
improved mental wellness for individuals with treatment-resistant depression
improved ability to cope with and heal from trauma
Because psilocybin is a heart-opening medicine, it is important to understand that emotions may start to come up for you when you start microdosing! If you are used to being stoic, not letting your emotions "get the best of you", or have had trauma that causes you to suppress difficult emotions be aware that they may start to work their way out of the body. Find someone or something that can support you if something gets stirred up.
Although there are a ton of purported health benefits of microdosing, it is no magical cure-all. Yes, it can boost creativity and keep you focused and energized, but if you are using microdosing to work through trauma or depression, the work is still in your hands. Setting an intention for your microdosing practice is something I encourage so that you dive deeper and honour the medicine that you are taking-- it's not just another pill.
What I love about the heart-opening quality of mushrooms is that it can soften us a little bit and remind us of our power and our connection to ourselves, each other, and Source. With intention, they can help bring us to a place of integration and embodiment of all that we have come to know. For years I struggled with depression and low self-worth, reading all of the books, listening to all of the podcasts and spiritual teachers and basically doing all. the. things, and yet I wasn't in a place of awareness to actually use any of that information to create a shift in my perspective and in my life. Microdosing, among other things has started to encourage that shift and it comes from a place of ease rather than force.
Here are some practices I encourage you to explore to optimize the effectiveness of your microdosing:
Take your microdoses alongside other herbal formulas based on your state of health and goals! My top recommendations are to take them with Calm & Cool, Making Memories, Adrenal Aid, or Gin-Zing Capsules. I also love to drink Anahata heart opening tea on dose days to soothe the heart and soften to whatever comes up.
Start journalling! It may be helpful to write down any changes you notice in your experience when you start microdosing. Sometimes we get so busy and caught up with our day-to-day lives that we may not notice that we are in a better mood, have had more energy, less headaches, etc. Taking a quick minute to write down how you're feeling for the first couple of weeks will help you determine if this practice is benefiting you.
Reprogramming the subconscious mind. Psychedelics have the ability to close the gap between the subconscious and conscious mind, helping us to become more aware of our patterns and programming. Most if not all of us have some unhelpful and unproductive programming in there that needs to be replaced with beliefs that serve who we are becoming, and microdosing may make us more apt to making those shifts. I recommend working with a coach like Brenda Johnston (Instagram @_brendajohnston), working through To Be Magnetic work, going to therapy, using nighttime hypnosis, etc. to dig in deep!
Start to improve your nutrition! Nutrition is hands down the foundation for good health, both physical and mental. Start to weed out some harmful foods from the diet that create excess toxicity in the body and introduce more whole, colourful, high-vibrational foods that nourish the system on a deeper level. Plant medicines, whether they are psychedelic or not, work best in a clean and clear system. When we remove some of the energetic layers/barriers that are created when we fail to nourish ourselves, we experience a deeper level of healing from our medicines.
Lastly, a little note about the safety of microdosing. Psilocybin mushrooms are a very safe substance, much safer for the body and mind than alcohol. They have no toxicity (yes, if you eat a bunch of them you will trip out), and they will eventually be excreted from the body without causing physical damage. Because microdoses contain such a small amount of the mushroom and are not taken on a daily basis it is highly unlikely for them to cause any problems.
Some individuals worry about interactions with their medications, specifically medications that work on neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. This study shows that SSRIs combined with psilocybin is safe. There are individuals with treatment resistant depression that choose to try both antidepressants and psilocybin at the same time, and there are others that use microdosing as a way of tapering off of their medication in order to reduce or eliminate withdrawal symptoms. I know that all of the research emerging on microdosing and psychedelic therapy might make you want to quit your medications cold turkey and adopt this new approach, but it is important to follow a slow tapering protocol to protect the nervous system and not put the body into shock.
If you have any questions, concerns, or comments please feel free to reach out to me and I will do my best to provide you with support! This post is by no means telling everyone they SHOULD be microdosing, it is simply to give more information to those who are purchasing microdoses or considering them.