There’s currently a switch towards recreational drugs, with users in different locations taking very little psychedelics like magic mushrooms. The aim is to improve mental health and promote well-being. 

You might want to think of trippy visuals and vibrant colors when you hear magic mushrooms, but research indicates the presence of psychedelics that can improve mental health in these magic mushrooms. What’s more, it does not need to be taken in large doses to get the benefits it offers. 

There are different mental health benefits that one can get from microdosing psychedelics like psilocybin without hallucinating. Despite that, it’s also possible to experience adverse side effects while microdosing. 

Full-Dose Psychedelics and their Benefits

Even though so many resources link psychedelics with several beneficial effects, the prohibition of these substances across different parts of the world leads to a pause in psychedelic research. 

However, modern research into these substances has helped reveal the potential of psilocybin and LSD, especially in treating tobacco and alcohol dependence, end-of-life anxiety, and depression. Studies on MDMA have also been shown to treat post-traumatic stress disorder effectively. 

Although there are so many benefits of full-dose psychedelics, primarily for providing relief for chronic psychiatric conditions like PTSD, depression, and anxiety, lower doses are still preferable for use in milder mental health conditions. 

It’s important to note different challenges associated with full-dose psychedelics. Although the high potential benefits and low physiological risks prove promising, many psychological risks are related to full-dose experiences. 

There are different side effects associated with the use of psilocybin, especially in high doses. Sometimes, these effects may be life-threatening. The most commonly experienced side effect of using full-dose psilocybin is delayed-onset headaches. Other side effects include physiological discomfort and anxiety.

These potential adverse effects can all be mitigated, as there are a lot of proposed guidelines on the use of psychedelic substances. With microdosing, the intensity of the experience is not like that obtained from full-dose use, and the potential adverse effects are less likely to occur. 

However, the effects present in full-dose may also occur, even with the low doses used in microdosing, but to a lower extent. Studies on microdosing are still ongoing, and only a few recent research work performed to understand microdosing better. 

What is Microdosing?

Microdosing describes using psychoactive substances in low doses rather than quantities for recreational purposes. This is to ensure that the adverse effects of the substances aren’t stronger to ensure it does not alter senses. 

In addition to psilocybin, other substances to microdose include MDMA, LSD, and other psychedelics. 

Microdosing involves taking only between 1/10th to 1/20th of a recreational dose to improve emotional processes, and well-being, and enhance cognitive functions. For example, the recreational dose of dried and well-preserved Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms is around 5g. Therefore, the quantity of microdose is 0.0001g, which is a tiny amount.

How to Microdose 

Microdosing is done based on the Fadiman protocol in which you dose on the first day, enjoy the effects on the second, and by the third day, you won’t have any noticeable impact of the substance. 

The next time you’ll dose will be on the fourth, and you’ll continue the cycle for 30 days. This is an ideal strategy as it will give you enough time to understand how the substance acts on your body and appreciate its effect even more. 

Another strategy is the Stamets protocol, and for this protocol, you’ll find a microdose for four consecutive days and then go off for another three days. 

The substances are primarily taken in the morning, with a light snack, or on an empty stomach for both protocols. 

There are a few things to consider before microdosing. First, you need to be sure about its safety and legality within your region. For example, it’s illegal to possess and use psilocybin mushrooms in the United States. If you want to take psychedelics legally and safely, you might want to consider one of the following:

  • Participating in a clinical trial in the United States
  • Traveling to a region where it is legal to possess and use psychedelics
  • Engage in assisted psychotherapy with the help of a trained professional and in an area where it is legal. 

Potential Benefits of Microdosing as Seen from Different Studies. 

There is much research work to understand microdosing and its potential benefits fully. This research shows several long- and short-term benefits of microdosing psychedelics like psilocybin. 

A study by Kim P C Kuypers in 2020 to show “The Therapeutic Potential of Microdosing Psychedelics in Depression” suggests that 1 to 3mg of psilocybin and LSD can improve different cognitive processes. Examples of these processes include:

  • Reduced repetitive thinking (rumination)
  • Emotional responses
  • Convergent thinking
  • Sense of time
  • Divergent or creative thinking

In another survey on “Microdosing Psychedelics: Motivations, Subjective Effects and Harm reduction,” which was also conducted in 2020 by using people with psychedelic experience as participants, results suggested different short-term benefits of microdosing, including:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Increased connection with the environment and other people
  • Improved mood

A separate analysis carried out in 2020 on “Psychedelic Microdosing: A Subreddit Analysis” also provided evidence from different self-reported experiences with microdosing psychedelics, and the results showed similar benefits, including:

  • Improved habits
  • Boost in Creativity
  • Improved relationships and social interactions
  • Enhanced attitude toward life and mood
  • Enhanced self-insight
  • Improved healthy behaviors
  • Reduced depression
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Increased mindfulness

Microdosing for Different Mental Health Conditions

Even though only a few studies on microdosing, currently available research suggests that it offers relief for people with depression and anxiety; however, the primary point of concern is whether there are any placebo effects following the use of mushrooms. 

Here’s what recent studies suggest:

  • 2019 study provided evidence to show that the positive changes derived were more than just the effects of individual expectations. 
  • 2021 study gave evidence to suggest that microdosing may be worse than a placebo.
  • In another 2021 study, a placebo was not used. Still, the study showed that improvements were expected only in specific ways, thereby indicating that the benefits of microdosing were only centered on individual expectations. 

Whether the effect is a placebo effect or a result of expectations, many people have reported significant relief after microdosing psilocybin. 

Key Considerations Before Microdosing

Evidence shows that the body tolerates small doses of psychedelics, and they have little or no effect on the body, as seen from different studies and research. However, there are still a few risks of microdosing, and it’s essential to know these potential risks. 

According to the 2020 study, a few participants experienced some adverse effects of the substance they were microdosing. Effects like high anxiety and a cycling pattern between euphoric and depressive moods were the most common adverse effects. 

If you plan to try microdosing, you should consider this possibility and try harm reduction strategies for precaution. 

Dosing Difficulties

If you decide to microdose, you’ll need to pay attention to your setting and dosage. Plant medicines are not like Tylenol, and doses are generally different for different substances. This is why you need to be careful, so you don’t take a little too much of the substance you’re microdosing. 

Legality

Another critical thing to consider before microdosing is its legality within the region you live in. Psychedelics are not entirely legal, and in the United States, psilocybin is illegal, as mentioned earlier. You wouldn’t want to pay a fine or lose your work because of psilocybin. Remember that you’re microdosing to improve your mental health, and any of these events could alter what you’re trying to achieve. 

Disadvantages

From everything above, there are a few risks of microdosing, alongside the potential adverse side effects that you may experience. These negative side effects include the following:

  • Increased cravings for higher doses to enjoy the benefits faster. This is common in people with autism spectrum disorder
  • Increased anxiety
  • Visual distortions, especially in colorblind individuals
  • Increased physical discomfort

It’s worth mentioning that even though these adverse effects do exist, there are a couple of ways to reduce them. To minimize physical discomfort or anxiety, you can try exercising, stretching, or moving around immediately after microdosing. Alternatively, you can increase your creativity and focus by meditating after microdosing. 

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