Microdosing refers to the practice of taking a miniscule amount of a psychedelic substance -- usually one-20th to one-10th of a full dose. This guide will focus on microdosing with psilocybin mushrooms, but you may find parts of the text applicable to microdosing with other types of substances such as LSD, ketamine, iboga, mescaline, and cannabis.
Microdosing can help you get in touch with your Inner Healing Intelligence, which knows exactly what’s necessary for your health and happiness. Psychedelic substances can be reliable and powerful allies to remind you of your innate capacity to heal yourself. Some people may refer to a microdose as a “spiritual vitamin.”
People microdose for a variety of reasons. Common intentions include spiritual growth, alleviating anxiety or depression, and entering flow states. Microdosing is most effective as part of a holistic, healthy lifestyle that prioritizes service, community, and truth.
Taking a full dose of psilocybin mushrooms or truffles may be an ideal option if you have proper integration support and can afford to take at least one or two days away from your normal routine. On the other hand, microdosing can be a gentle method to enhance your life without disruption to your daily activities.
There are several reasons why you may choose to microdose instead of macrodose. Compared to taking a full dose, microdosing:
Technically, a microdose is sub-perceptual, which means the effects are unnoticeable. In reality, however, many people can and want to feel the impacts of a microdose. Some of the most commonly reported effects of microdosing are:
Janet Chang, a mental health advocate who tracked her results during a one-year microdosing experiment, remarks: “Over the year I microdosed, I became a more empathetic, compassionate, and affectionate person. I began to live with more acceptance, gratitude, and presence of mind. My workaholic lifestyle turned into one of spontaneity, creativity, self-expression, and lightheartedness. I continued to live out my values, feeling even more connected than before.”
Redditor /u/trichechus writes: “I’m on day 6 now of microdosing ~0.08 to 0.12g.
The difference is subtle yet profound.
Nothing in my life has changed, yet everything has. The empty void that sucks the life out of everything I do is still there, but somehow I can see how beautiful it is and it doesn’t impede what I do. I feel how that vacuum is actually part of my ability to connect deeply with others and the world, that it’s one side of the coin, and the other side is God. These are all things I ‘knew’ consciously through mindfulness but couldn’t feel in my being. Now it’s being embodied.
I am more present, I don’t overthink, I am in my body. I can simply be without worrying about everything. I feel inspired to do more with my life for the betterment of the world. I am interconnected.
All of this happens at such a subtle, unconscious level. So even though my day-to-day hasn’t changed, I feel like I am the person I’m meant to be, when the gunk is cleared away.”
Another journeyer says: “I've been MD for about 3 months and I have never felt better. I have diagnosed depression and anxiety and was prescribed lexapro but after reading about how hard it is to get off antidepressants I opted to try MD.
My energy levels are back to normal, I used to want to sleep all the time and never wanted to go out. I've been a lot more productive at work and home, I've even had enough energy to go back to the gym. It's such a mood booster too, I am always a bit chattier on the days I MD (I MD 0.2g about 2-3 days a week).”
Many microdosers claim the practice allows them to more easily enter flow states and “be in the zone.” Mikhaly Csíkszentmihályi, the originator of the idea of flow, describes it as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost." Microdosing seems to be a perfect tool for some people to experience a determined, focused mindset free from distractions and negative thoughts.
Microdosing may open you up to more cyclical, instead of linear, thinking. You may find yourself being more curious and less dogmatic. You may find yourself listening more and talking less. You may start to question your assumptions and all the things you thought you knew.
Everybody reacts differently to various doses; some people consider .3 grams (or more) of dried mushrooms a microdose, whereas others are more comfortable with a smaller dose in the range of .05 - .08 grams. The species or strain of mushrooms you consume also affects dosage, as some are stronger than others. For example, the azurescens species or the penis envy strain of the cubensis species are noted for being much stronger than the average cubensis strain.
It may take a few trials to find your ideal dose. You may find it beneficial to maintain a journal or log during the first few weeks of your microdosing journey, so you can reflect on the results and make adjustments as needed. When in doubt, it’s usually better to start small and work your way up.
During your exploration phase, it may be helpful to take your doses in a space where you feel completely comfortable, safe, and free. Until you have a clear understanding of how psilocybin affects you, it may be wise to prepare for your microdose just as if you were preparing for a larger dose, just in case the effects are stronger than you imagined. Although having an ideal setting is not as crucial for a microdose as for a full dose, you may find it beneficial to avoid certain uncontrolled situations that may make you feel vulnerable (work, social, public transportation, etc.) when you first start experimenting. Definitely do not drive or operate heavy machinery when you are microdosing.
There are many ways to take a microdose. Everybody has a different preference. There are no rights and wrongs.
Most people like to grind dried mushrooms into a fine powder, and then either encapsulate the powder (with or without other healthy ingredients) or mix it into a smoothie or other liquid.
Some eat mushrooms raw, while others chew them dried. Tea, chocolates, gummies, and tinctures are other delivery methods.
There are various microdosing protocols and schedules. To find one that works best for you, be open to experimenting and listening to your body and intuition. There’s no need to rigidly follow a protocol just because it’s popular or promoted by someone famous.
Here are a few examples of schedules and protocols:
Microdosing every day is not suggested. The off-days reduce the effects of tolerance that can build up over time, and give you the opportunity to practice working with and processing emotions without the direct aid of a substance. Microdosing helps us become aware of the root causes of unhappiness and pain, and to live a wholesome lifestyle that avoids these causes, but it’s best not to become dependent on any substance. In fact, under certain conditions, you may decide to take an “off-week” or “off-month.”
Some people recommend “stacking” other ingredients with psilocybin. Stamets suggests adding lion's mane and niacin to the microdose, as they are known to work well with the main ingredient. As one fan says, “psilocybin mushrooms promotes neuroplasticity and new neural connections, lion’s mane promotes the creation of new nerve and brain cells and niacin drives these two medicines to the furthest reaches of the nervous system. Together they work synergistically to create a compound effect that enhances learning, cognition, neuroregeneration and many other things.”
The addition of niacin has its advocates and detractors. Advocates suggest that the “flushing” characteristic of niacin provides a built-in control against over- or misuse of psilocybin and opens the blood vessels to allow the other ingredients to move through the body more quickly and fully. Detractors argue that the possibility of experiencing an uncomfortable “flush,” or feeling unsettled or unwell as a result of the niacin, outweighs the benefits.
To their microdoses, others may add:
This is a common and complex question, and there seems to be no definitive answers or formal studies conducted. To stay safe, please consult your doctor before starting any microdosing regimen, especially if you have a history of mental illness or medication use. Here is an excellent article that gives an overview of psilocybin’s interaction with various medications.
Some people feel that microdosing helps to wean and/or stay off various medications, including antidepressants. Some report that antidepressant medications dull or even nullify the effects of microdosing. If you do decide to microdose while on these medications, you will most likely need a higher dose to feel desired effects.
Some find that microdosing psilocybin is a healthier, more natural alternative to consuming various pharmaceutical agents. Microdosing may be worth a try before committing to a pharmaceutical regimen.
Please note that microdosing does not guarantee happiness. Some people find it extremely difficult to come or stay off certain medications, even if this is their main intent. Those who have taken these medications for years may find various intense, painful, or difficult repressed emotions coming to the surface, and may feel the desire to return to their medications. And it’s ok. The process of coming off these medications, if that is what you wish to do, may be an uncomfortable ordeal lasting several months. Microdosing forces us to face uncomfortable emotions and thoughts, and not to run or hide from them. It’s natural to contract from time to time when dealing with darkness in the mind.
Taking a microdose on an empty stomach will lead to faster metabolization and more intense effects. Taking a dose right after a heavy meal will slow down or weaken your body’s reaction as the mushroom competes with other substances to be digested and assimilated into the system. The emptier your stomach and healthier your diet, the less of a dose you will need to achieve the desired effects.
When microdosing, some people may experience what they perceive to be adverse side effects. Psilocybin can act as a truth serum that reveals your innermost thoughts, and some of these thoughts may be painful or otherwise unpleasant to encounter. You may feel like running away, hiding or distracting yourself when these thoughts appear. You may feel the urge to blame the medicine for unwanted emotions, but one of microdosing’s major lessons is to take responsibility for your responses to circumstances. You can choose to resist reality or relinquish control and surrender. The latter choice leads to freedom and joy.
Some report that microdosing makes them feel tired or drowsy. Some complain of headaches or nausea. Because microdosing works on every aspect of the body/mind system, assume that energetic and emotional shifts will affect the body in sometimes mysterious ways.
For some, microdosing may amplify their anxiety, instead of decreasing it. The medicine makes you sensitive to your emotions and the energies around you. Psilocybin can shake up your sense of self, and make you feel vulnerable. Sometimes while microdosing, you may experience more fear, a natural response to the unknown. The more you face and overcome this fear, the more confident and grounded you will be. Fear is a natural part of expanding your comfort zone.
You may lose productivity and a certain type of linear focus while taking a microdose. The medicine seems to weaken the analytical part of the mind and activate the feeling part. This shift may affect one’s ability to focus on a screen, a conversation, words, or numbers. Microdosing may cause you to feel spaced out and confused for a period of time. You may feel like you are losing control. These experiences can give the thinking mind a rest and reveal and alleviate the causes of stress or anxiety.
Microdosing may change your idea of what medicine is and what the healing process looks and feels like. There are bound to be moments of unpleasantness as the “gunk” comes to the surface. The less spiritual or contemplative work one has done, the more difficult you may find it to face these unpleasant emotions.
It takes time to build a relationship with the medicine, which is alive and organic. Microdosing is not like taking certain pharmaceutical medications; instead of numbing emotions and allowing you to coast and ignore the root causes of your unhappiness, mushrooms require you to become aware of and actively change the causes of your states of mind.
Patience along with a commitment to long-term thinking, healthy living, and reevaluating relationships are necessary factors for the medicine to work its magic. Some people see desired results right away, whereas others start recognizing significant results only after reflecting upon several months of microdosing.
The higher your expectations, the more likely you will be disappointed in the results of microdosing. The medicine merely reflects your relationship with the world. If you expect something outside of yourself to bring you instant or eternal happiness, you will be disillusioned. This disillusionment is part of the spiritual path. Sometimes, one must learn repeatedly that all phenomena, no matter how pleasant or unpleasant, are temporary. Holding onto ideas, philosophies, or desires that do not align with the truth only prolongs one’s never-ending search for something better and more pleasant and less painful. When you let go of expectations, the world opens up and becomes more wonder-ful.
If you accidentally take too much, it can help to move the body, eat something, get out into nature, or just lay down and rest until you feel ready to return to your normal routine. Remind yourself that the journey will end and the medicine is showing you whatever you need to see.
The legal status of psilocybin remains a challenge for many. In most jurisdictions (with exceptions in the Netherlands, Jamaica, Brazil, and a few other places), the possession, cultivation and processing of psilocybin (as well as other psychedelics) are criminalized.
However, movements calling for the decriminalization of psilocybin and other substances are gaining steam. Denver has decriminalized psilocybin, while Oakland, Santa Cruz, Ann Arbor, and Washington D.C. have decriminalized all entheogens. Oregon has decriminalized most substances and also passed an initiative in November 2020 legalizing psilocybin therapy (the bill is currently in a two-year development phase). Canada’s government has tolerated the sale of psilocybin mushrooms through the internet and in-person dispensaries, and there are widespread calls across the nation to decriminalize simple possession of controlled substances.
With the growing number of positive testimonials about microdosing, many are taking matters into their own hands and finding ways to access the medicine. If you do enough research and read documents like this, you may discover a safe way to find mushrooms.
Microdosing is a gradual process of unraveling and loosening the tensions in the body and mind, while taking higher doses will bring emotions to the surface in a much more intense and accelerated fashion. Once you start seeing the benefits of microdosing, you may naturally want to explore taking a higher dose. You may even find yourself skipping the microdoses altogether and going straight to bigger doses. Again, there is no right and wrong way to approach the medicine.
There are many written guides online that help you prepare for a higher dose. Here is one example. It’s important to note that taking a higher dose will require more stringent preparation and integration protocols to ensure a safe and healing journey. Set and setting become increasingly important as the dosage becomes larger. You may want to consider a guide or companion to accompany you during your higher dose journey.
Psychedelic retreats are a wonderful opportunity to experience a cohesive, supportive group setting with passionate, skilled professionals (also referred to as guides, therapists, tripsitters, or spaceholders). Here are two links (one, two) that list psilocybin retreats and guides. While most retreats are focused on providing high-dose psychedelic journeys, there are organizations such as Rise Wellness that focus exclusively on the microdosing experiences.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES -- for those who wish to further delve into the world of microdosing.
The Third Wave -- information and resources on microdosing
How One Year of Microdosing Helped My Career, Relationships, and Happiness -- Medium article by Janet Chang outlining her learnings after one year of microdosing
Microdosing’s Guide and Explainer -- The Cut article that surveys microdosing
Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide -- James Fadiman’s book
‘Microdosing’ is touted by ’shroomers and Reddit users. Science is starting to test their claims — and finding some truth -- Stat article highlighting microdosing study conducted by Leiden University in the Netherlands that shows that microdosing may increase creativity.
Self-Rated Effectiveness of Microdosing With Psychedelics for Mental and Physical Health Problems Among Microdosers -- study conducted by Maastricht University in the Netherlands concluding that microdosing may be more effective than conventionally offered treatment options.
What You Should Know about Microdosing for Anxiety -- Double Blind article surveying the idea of microdosing various substances to alleviate anxiety
The Paul Stamets Microdosing Stacking Protocol/Qi Gong Combined Practise Experiment -- Medium article by Nick Sun discussing his experience microdosing with the combination of psilocybin/lion’s mane/niacin
Go With The Flow -- Wired interview with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi about flow states
/r/microdosing -- subreddit dedicated to microdosing
Can You Take Shrooms on Antidepressants? -- Synthesis article on psilocybin’s interactions with various medications
Rise Wellness Retreat -- Jamaican retreat focused on microdosing psilocybin
Psychedelic Experience -- mushroom retreat and guide listings
How to Prepare for Your Psilocybin Journey -- Basic Preparation Guidelines
Where Can I Get Psilocybin? -- article detailing ways to access the medicine
Paul Stamets Microdosing Video -- Clip from Stamets’ interview with Joe Rogan in which he discusses his recommended stack.
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