Let’s get weird on a Wednesday, because why not?
Before we get weird though, a brief disclaimer: This information is being presented for harm reduction purposes only. I in no way encourage anyone to do drugs or anything illegal. This article is intended to provide safety information to assist those interested in microdosing psilocybin in a safe and legal setting.
In Oakland as well as other cities and states, psilocybin mushrooms as well as other naturally occurring psychedelics have been decriminalized. More and more research is coming out about the benefits psychedelics can have on mental health. Especially in the Bay Area, the concept of microdosing is becoming increasingly commonplace not just for hippies, but for CEOs and tech workers looking to gain a competitive mental edge. After many years of an unfairly bad reputation largely due to Nixon-era propaganda, psilocybin mushrooms are finally entering a well-deserved spotlight as something helpful, not harmful.
Over the past two years I have had the opportunity to safely and legally microdose, and the experience has completely changed my life in incredibly positive ways. I feel compelled to share my experience to help guide others who might be curious. Now that many of us are spending more time at home with an increased desire to take care of ourselves and be healthy, this is in many ways an opportune time to try microdosing.
The first thing I would like to say is that for safety’s sake, PLEASE only try microdosing on a day off, when you are at home or in nature, when you do not have to drive or operate heavy machinery. Due to the variable nature of this naturally occurring substance, your experience may vary, so please make sure you are in an environment that will be safe for you and others. Especially if this is a new experience for you, it is good to have someone you trust with you to keep you feeling extra safe. Even though this is just a microdose, which is supposed to feel fairly subliminal, there is always the possibility of feeling some intensity to your experience, so please always err on the side of safety!
So why microdose, anyway? Many of those who have tried it report overcoming anxiety and depression, increases in creativity and clarity, motivation to make positive life changes, and an overall feeling of wellbeing and happiness. Some researchers, such as superstar mycologist Paul Stamets, even assert that microdosing psilocybin stimulates a process called epigenetic neurogenesis, during which our brains actually develop new pathways. And psychedelics have recently been discovered to stimulate neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to form new connections between neurons. So yes, there is a scientific basis to Silicon Valley’s use of psychedelics to work smarter.
In a 2017 lecture, Stamets proposed that epigenetic neurogenesis could potentially be stimulated by a nootropic stack (a combination of vitamins designed to enhance cognitive function) involving psilocybin. His recommendation is:
.1 to 1 gram psilocybin containing mushrooms
100-200mg niacin (with flush to encourage the push past the blood-brain barrier)
200-500mg lion’s mane mushroom (memory support for lasting changes)
I ended up trying various options within the .1 to 1 gram of psilocybin mushrooms, combined with 100mg of niacin and 300mg of lion’s mane mushroom. I would recommend starting at the lowest dose of everything so that you can gently become familiar with how it makes you feel. Stamets suggests a weekly protocol of five days on, two days off, but I only ended up doing that a couple times while on vacation, and usually tried it once or twice per week, taking some weeks off, over the course of about two years. Most of the time I took the full stack, but sometimes it was just a microdose by itself. Please note that not everyone finds a niacin flush pleasant (your skin will turn red and tingly for about 20 minutes), but I personally didn’t mind it.
When I first started, I was struggling with depression and anxiety that made every day a challenge. I had the desire to make healthier changes to my physical lifestyle, and to try to turn around my mental health, but I wasn’t motivated to act on it. It was like my life had been feeling dull and grey, and all of a sudden I started seeing colors again. All of my experiences with microdosing were magical, starting with day one. At first the changes in me were subtle. Like Ayelet Waldman, I just had a really good day. I noticed that the sun felt brighter and the grass looked greener and I found myself present and thankful in each moment. I started appreciating so many things I had never even stopped to notice before, like plants and clouds. I started craving things that made me feel wholeheartedly good, like healthy plant-based foods and exercise. Yes, I went from dragging myself to the gym to getting excited to work out in new ways each day! Over time, I gradually lost interest in things that I knew weren’t good for me to begin with, like drinking alcohol and consuming processed foods. I stopped wanting to eat meat, completely lost interest in watching TV, started meditating, and made a habit of spending as much time as I could in nature. One by one, I just felt compelled to make changes to my lifestyle that made me feel better and better.
The trippiest thing was that I didn’t just notice these changes on the days I microdosed; I had a healthier, happier attitude every other day, too. There was never a comedown or hangover or side effect or drawback; I just started feeling healthier and happier and more grateful for everything. My anxiety and depression melted away, replaced with confidence and happiness. I became inspired by life again. My inner voice became kinder and more loving to myself as well as everyone around me. I am now the happiest I have ever been in my life, and I feel that these changes will last because they just feel like part of who I am.
So there you have it, I went from an angsty depressed mess to a happy healthy daily-yoga-doing vegan who fully appreciates and enjoys life. I’m not entirely sure why so many people who try mushrooms also end up as yoga-practicing vegans, but it’s definitely a thing. I think it honestly just makes you want to care about and appreciate your life and the planet. Utilizing psilocybin just might be the key to making positive changes in ourselves that will create a positive impact on our world.
(PS: the top image is an earring from Wild Yam Co! If you like beautiful handmade mushroom and crystal magic, definitely check out the goods.)