What is microdosing?
Microdosing is utilizing a small amount of a substance to gain the benefits of the substance without impairing daily functioning. Microdosing psychedelics is gaining popularity as research continues to be released regarding the potential benefits associated with mental health. The microdosed amount of supplement and the regimen are dependent on each individual. A common regimen is to dose the micro amount once per day for three days, then take two days off. This is repeated, three days on, two days off, as long as needed. Others choose to microdose five days on (Monday through Friday) and then take two days off (weekends), while others microdose every other day or every two days. It is not harmful to stop and start microdosing, it is up to the individual to determine what works best for them. Eventually, individuals will get to a sustained mental health status where an occasional microdose can be beneficial as desired.
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in various species of fungi. This has contributed to the common name of magic mushrooms. When consumed, psilocybin is converted to the compound psilocin which activates the serotonin receptors in the brain, particularly the site 5HT2A receptors. These receptor sites mediate many different functions, some of which include mood, learning, creativity, and perception. The majority of these receptor sites are located in cells in the cortex, which moderates reasoning and rational thought. Research has also shown psilocin may impact the Default Mode Network (DMN) which is like the brain’s information highway, compiling and categorizing information as we go through daily life. It is most active when an individual is awake but not focused on a specific task, such as during daydreaming, meditation, thinking about the future, recalling memories, or focusing on others or the world around them. Current research has shown the DMN to be active in social situations when individuals are monitoring themselves and interactions with others, feeling empathy and assessing moral and ethical behaviors, including beliefs and intentions of others.
Using psilocybin does not require any chemical modification from its original state, making it fully natural. It is cultivated, harvested, dried, crushed and then consumed. It is also the most broadly researched naturally occurring psychedelic in regards to its mental health benefits.
Benefits of microdosing psilocybin:
Just as each individual is physiologically unique, they are also psychologically unique, particularly due to their life experiences. With this individuality in emotions and physiology, there will be differences in the potential benefits of using psilocybin.
Benefits that are often noticed include:
- Enhanced mood
- Feeling more connected to others & nature
- Decreased depressive symptoms
- Increased ability to focus, as well as start tasks
- Feeling more awake and present
- Increase in energy
- Helpful change in thinking, being more open to thoughts & ideas
- Enhanced creativity
- Ability to see things from a new perspective
- Reduced sense of self or ego
- Diminished frequency of migraines or cluster headaches
- General sense of well-being
- Decreased addictive or emotionally driven harmful behaviors
- Enhanced neuroplasticity, allowing for a deviance from rigid thinking and allowance of new thought formation
- Ability to titrate or potentially eliminate the use of any current mental health pharmaceuticals
- Notable positive change in individuals who experience treatment-resistant depression or PTSD, when combined with therapy
Risks or side effects:
Extensive research has concluded that there is minimal risk to using psilocybin, particularly at a microdosing level. Some individuals may initially feel tired as the psilocybin promotes mental relaxation, no longer requiring the brain to process all of the thoughts or stimuli typically activated. It is recommended that someone trying a microdose of psilocybin for the first time, take their first dose on a day they can be in a more relaxed mindset and pay attention to how they are feeling.
Can someone become addicted?
Continuous research has come to the same conclusion that the body does not become addicted to psilocybin, or other psychedelic substances. Additionally, it is safe to stop and start the use of psilocybin, or even use it on an as-needed basis. There are no related withdrawal symptoms, in part because it does not impact the body’s natural serotonin production.
How is microdosing psilocybin different from using pharmaceutical medications?
The first notable difference is that psilocybin is a completely natural substance, in contrast to all pharmaceuticals which are chemical compounds. This largely contributes to the fact that there are minimal to zero negative side effects with psilocybin use while there are extensive potential side effects with the use of pharmaceuticals. Second, psilocybin enhances neuroplasticity, which is the ability the brain has to change or re-wire how it processes information and therefore respond to stimuli. This means that utilizing psilocybin provides the ability for lasting change in the structure of thoughts. No more treatment-resistant therapy. Working with the brain is much easier than trying to force change against something rigid.
Pharmaceuticals do not impact neuroplasticity. They are simply putting a bandaid on an underlying issue. They can certainly be helpful for individuals who are hesitant to try microdosing, but microdosing is also an avenue to be able to reduce or completely eliminate the need for mental health pharmaceuticals on an individual basis.
Benefits of combining microdosing with therapy:
Based on extensive research, it has become widely accepted that individuals who are taking a pharmaceutical medication such as an SSRI, anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication, who also participate in therapy, have much higher positive outcomes. SImilarly, researchers are seeing the same benefit with psychedelic assisted therapy. Giving the brain an opportunity to change its chemical structure and neural pathways through the use of psilocybin or other psychedelics, without the addition of therapy will have limited benefit. It is important to have meaningful conversation and trusted psychotherapeutic assistance when an individual starts this process. Due to the brain’s neuroplasticity, therapy is no longer just ‘talk therapy’ and utilizing all the will power that can be mustered to try and change thinking, or respond differently, or try to see something from another person’s perspective. Therapy is now learning the tools to work in conjunction with the structural changes in the brain.
Where to start?
Using psilocybin to promote lasting change in personal thinking and behavior, leads to healthier relationships and with others and oneself. It is a journey that can be as short or long as needed by an individual. CTS has designed a therapeutic focused monthly subscription program that provides the natural substance needed to promote the long term change desired, as well as bi-monthly psychotherapeutic groups to learn the tools necessary to enhance life. Therapists are on staff 24/7 to answer questions and individual therapy is also offered. Click HERE to start your journey of healing and growth.
Research and Articles of Interest:
Adults who microdose psychedelics report health related motivations and lower levels of anxiety and depression compared to non-microdosers (November, 2021)
How does psilocybin rewire the brain? (October, 2022)
How psychedelic drug psilocybin works on brain (June, 2020)
Me, myself, bye: regional alterations in glutamate and the experience of ego dissolution with psilocybin (May, 2020)
Psilocybin microdosers demonstrate greater observed improvements in mood and mental health at one month relative to non-microdosing controls (June, 2022)