Updated: Aug 25
Where to begin?
If you are reading this, you are either very interested and curious, or you think I'm a drug crazed lunatic. And hey, why wouldn't you? We've been conditioned as a society for many decades to regard psychedelics as dangerous evil drugs. In the US during the late 60's psychedelics were at the center of a counter culture, questioning authority in a tumultuous time in the US. But why were they banned? There is certainly some robust evidence sitting with the ringleaders of the prohibition of mushrooms.
The Nixon administration’s decision to criminalize marijuana, magic mushrooms and other psychedelics was more closely linked to politics than with public safety. In 1994, John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s former domestic-policy advisor and Watergate co-conspirator, told journalist Dan Baum that the War on Drugs was really an attempt to disrupt and oppress the president’s political enemies.
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people,” Ehrlichman said. “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
Since then, mushrooms have carried a stigma, and a gargantuan backpack of social baggage for decades. In retrospect, I feel like it seems absurd that alcohol, which is ranked more damaging than heroine... more damaging than cocaine, crack cocaine, tobacco, ketamine, and well pretty much all other drugs, remains relatively freely available, while other substances are criminalized. Have a quick look at the chart below and consider how ridiculous current policies are. They seem to be based on generally accepted social norms, rather than facts. Mushrooms sit at the bottom of the list when ranked as causers of harm. Incidentally, butane is on this list. REALLY?? BUTANE?? Is that a thing??
In reality, studies were being done as early as the beginning of the sixties looking into the benefits of mushrooms for mental illness, depression, and addiction. Along the way Dr. Timothy Leary seemed to hijack the focus of the research and became a central figure of the counter culture that Nixon was trying to eradicate. At that time one could argue that the focus was on macro dosing, and recreational usage.
Recreational use is not at all what more modern studies have focused on. However, there are some studies and practitioners that advocate for macrodosing mushrooms. That is, consuming larger doses for the purposes of having a psychedelic trip. Some of the benefits of macrodosing in combination with psychotherapy in certain cases, has shown that Psilocybin-assisted therapy can effectively treat major depression, treatment-resistant depression, easing end-of-life anxiety for people with cancer, PTSD, and smoking & alcohol addiction. It can also help people connect with their emotions and induce highly meaningful, mystical experiences. One of the main things that psilocybin can do to the brain, is disrupt the normal patterns of someone in rumination and repetition, often associated with anxiety and depression. It helps reset the brain, and allows for new connections to be made. This helps people get out of a rut, and put things into perspective, instead of the repetitive thought patterns of doom and gloom. In fact mushrooms do the opposite of antidepressants, and that's why they work so well. Some classes of antidepressants look at inhibiting serotonin receptors, (the numbing I'll mention in a minute) while "Psilocybin-assisted therapy might mitigate depression by increasing emotional connection," neuroscientist Leor Roseman from Imperial College London explained in a recent interview.
The latest studies out of Johns Hopkins medicine show that psilocybin treatment for major depression is effective for up to a year for most patients. This is from one single session using a medicine found in nature. Billions and billions are spent on antidepressants all over the world, and admittedly, they have helped some people. Personally, I have found taking antidepressants, a vile experience, that numbs who you are with countless side effects. The best thing I've found about them, is coming off of them as soon as possible. I have known a lot of people who have stayed on antidepressants, even thought they really dislike them, because they fear what will happen if they stop taking their medication. This is pretty much the opposite of the effects of psilocybin, which by the way, are also considered non addictive. I should qualify, that I'm not a serial antidepressant taker or depressive person, I've had times in my life, like we all do, where things seem to fall apart and you need some help.
Even more recently the Guardian has reported the most comprehensive study to date showing actual ongoing (at least in the duration of the study) reduction of alcohol consumption with people treated with psilocybin.
So far we've established that the vilifying of mushrooms was perpetuated as means of social control, and that the actual science behind their use for medicinal purposes exists, and in some cases, at this stage in the research, are more beneficial than the heavily engineered drugs from major pharmaceuticals. At this point I'm wondering if the people who thought I was a drug crazed lunatic, are possibly changing their minds? Well read on and lets see where I get to.
So this brings us to microdosing. Microdosing psilocybin is the consumption of low doses of mushrooms to the point where their effects are sub perceptible. That is, you are absolutely not getting high. You are not tripping at all, there are no psychedelic experiences, they are consumed and you go about your day. What's the point? Well as with macrodosing, people who microdose have reported:
Ability to focus
increased energy and pleasure in life
Reduced symptoms of mental illness (like trauma, depression, and anxiety) and ADHD
Increased sense of wellbeing
Reduction in use of addictive substances & behaviors such as eating disorders
Improved migraine symptoms
Ease the painful symptoms associated with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
The reported benefits are not insignificant. Is there robust quantifiable evidence behind all of the benefits? Well the studies have just not been completed yet. While there is significant scientific evidence showing that there are benefits to microdosing, there is still a lot of work to be done. Unfortunately, when all mushrooms were criminalized, research into their benefits virtually stopped overnight.
But there are a lot of people out there studying them. Dr Paul Stamets is one such person at the forefront of the research. In particular he has developed a formula of microdosing Lions Mane mushroom, Niacin & psilocybin mushroom, in what he calls the Stamets Stack. He claims, through his research that this combination creates neurogenesis in the brain.
"Lion’s mane and psilocybin mushrooms have a complementary relationship that optimizes returns.
Niacin is in the stack for deliverability. Stamets reports that the majority of neurogenesis occurs in the extremities; since niacin works as a flushing agent and carries GABA across the blood-brain barrier, it helps with the distribution of the mushroom molecules. From the combination of these three substances, Stamets hypothesizes the benefits of this nootropic stack"
“This unique combination of compounds can be incorporated into other therapies with such combinations providing unique advantages for medically significant advancements in repairing neurons, removing amyloid plaques, improving mental health, cognition, agility, and improving overall the ecology of consciousness.”
Following on from this, the most recent study has shown "psilocybin microdosers demonstrating greater observed improvements in mood and mental health at one month, relative to non-microdosing protocols."
So apart from the anecdotal evidence, there is increasing empirical evidence supporting the anecdotal.
So what about me?
Well as some of you know, I've been on a journey to simplify my life and seek out a lifestyle and experiences that support being happy. This was all brought on from traumatic, life changing events 4 years ago, which saw me as a shadow of my former self. There were weeks that I did not leave my apartment, or speak to people. That's all another story entirely, but I think it's safe to say it was rock bottom. I've come a long way since then, but there was certainly clouds of regret, self hatred, anxiety and maybe minor depression lingering under the surface. Then I started microdosing.
I was nervous the first day or 2. I chose a version of the Stamets stack to microdose, and I think
on the first day, I did feel a tiny bit out of sorts for about an hour. The Niacin in the Stamets stack can cause you to feel flushed for a short time, but then it goes away quickly. Well, now I have been taking 2 supplements, at different times depending on my mood or what I have planned in any given day. One of the supplements is the Pure Energy microdose from Eat Me! Mushrooms, a combination of psilocybin, panax ginseng, and ginger, and the other is their Brain Power Formula, which is the Stamets stack. The Pure Energy Blend, has definitely given me boundless energy, sharp cognitive abilities and focus.
While the Brain Power Formula has really intensified my overall mental clarity, and mental health. I've found using the 2 different blends at different times has worked well for me.
What about all the other benefits?
Well I can categorically, without a doubt say that everything that I've mentioned so far about the purported benefits of microdosing, is my experience. I am happy. I am happy every day. I really don't get stressed or anxious at all. I take difficult situations as they come and I work through them rationally. I don't get overwhelmed. I don't ruminate, I don't fixate, I don't worry. I drink less, I sleep more, I'm focused. I'm not sure if you heard me the first time. I AM HAPPY!
It's been 2 months of microdosing and I haven't had a bad day since. I have not had a bad day in 2 months! I don't have those lingering clouds hanging over me anymore.
And one of the things that I love about microdosing is that I have them when I feel like taking them. I don't have the fear of utter collapse or the greasy confusion of missing a day taking antidepressants. There's none of that. If I feel good, and I don't remember to take one, that's fine. I don't feel chained to anything. So overall, everything just feels great in my life and I am in a great place. A lot of this I attribute to how I've changed my life, and quite honestly, a lot of it I attribute to microdosing.
Is psilocybin for everyone? Probably not, I'd say everyone is different. And I am sure that despite the evidence, mushrooms are going to carry their stigma with them for a long time. And I'm sure some people will be concerned about the safety of the supply. That is why I chose to get mine from Eat Me! Mushrooms. They are a small and personal operation, who grow, formulate, and produce everything to a very high standard and have professionals working for them. They are passionate and are focused on the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin, more than a fly by night operation, flogging dubiously obtained mushrooms of questionable quality for hedonistic, recreational pursuits.
Here is the link for Eat Me! Mushrooms. www.eatmemushrooms.ca
Also please check out the film Fantastic Fungi on Netflix. This film is probably what got me curious about microdosing. Dr Paul Stamets is featured in the film quite a bit.