Truffles, shrooms and more

Microdosing for anxiety and depression

9 June 2023

Reading Time: 6 mins

Tangerine Retreat's Team

How to Microdose Mushrooms for Anxiety and Depression

For several decades, and especially in recent years, numerous scientific studies have shown that taking a single dose of psilocybin mushrooms can play a beneficial role in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression. Generally, a microdose contains 2 to 6 grams of truffles or magic mushrooms (This is particularly the case in a psilocybin retreat). But what about smaller doses?

Indeed, microdosing has sparked enthusiasm among psilocybin consumers. In this approach, the psychoactive molecule is used in low proportions with the hope of positive effects on mental health.

What is Microdosing?

Microdosing is a practice that involves consuming small doses of psychedelic substances (psilocybin or LSD) in order to experience subtle long-term effects. The goal is to avoid a full psychedelic experience and gradually benefit from an increase in serotonin levels. This is known as a sub-perceptual dose, meaning it does not produce intense hallucinogenic effects.

The Proportion of Microdosing

Microdosing refers to using a dose that represents between 5% and 20% of a full dose. For psilocybin, the quantity in a capsule typically ranges around 0.3 grams, taken at regular intervals. For example, every 48 or 72 hours.

In practice, each individual can adapt this schedule according to their needs or preferences.

American author James Fadiman is one of the advocates of microdosing. In his book “The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide,” he explains that :

“The enhanced awareness offered by psychedelics comes in many forms. At higher doses taken in safe and sacred environments, they facilitate the recognition of one’s intimate relationship with all living beings. At moderate doses, they facilitate awareness of the complex psychodynamic structures of individual consciousness. At low doses, they facilitate awareness of technical and artistic problem-solving.”

Effects of Microdosing Psilocybin

Most of the time, microdosing practitioners are not patients suffering from deep depression, as is the case with macrodosing. Instead, they are usually individuals who experience underlying anxiety or stress, recurrent episodes of depression, or a lack of motivation that prevents them from living a fully fulfilling life.

In any case, people who try microdosing are seeking two types of effects:

  • Greater personal harmony by limiting negative thoughts and anxieties.
  • Enhanced intellectual efficiency by stimulating creativity.

However, the lack of studies on microdosing leaves some doubt about its actual effectiveness. Nevertheless, many enthusiasts continue their own research, hoping for future discoveries.

Paul Stamets and Microdosing

Those of you who have seen the Netflix documentary “Fantastic Fungi” have already gained insight into Paul Stamets‘ extensive knowledge of mycology.

Recently, he has been proposing his own approach to microdosing, known as the Stamets Stack. It involves the combination of three substances with complementary neurochemical properties.

Psilocybin, Lion’s Mane, and Niacin

The combination includes psilocybin, valued for its potential effects on mood and emotional openness. It is combined with a non-psychedelic mushroom called Lion’s Mane or Yamabushitake. Lion’s Mane is a legal dietary supplement that several studies have recognized for its neuroprotective and neuroregenerative capabilities.

The microdosing of the Stamets Stack contains one final ingredient, niacin, which is more commonly known as vitamin B3. It helps the two previous compounds penetrate the nervous system to maximize their effects.

The Effects of the Stamets Stack

According to Paul Stamets, the combination of these three compounds has an overall improvement effect on the cognitive system. The author and mycologist mention a decrease in anxiety and symptoms of depression or PTSD. The Stamets Stack is believed to help the brain process emotions better while aiding in the recovery of faculties impaired by emotional shocks.

The dosing schedule for the Stamets Stack is slightly different, as Stamets suggests taking it daily for four days and then abstaining for the following three days, and so on.

While reliable experimental feedback on the Stamets Stack is still lacking, it is generally considered relatively safe unless there is a specific contraindication to psilocybin.

Psychedelic Mushrooms and Depression

As a result of innovative research, psychedelic mushrooms are increasingly gaining interest as a potential alternative to antidepressant treatment.

Experiments with High Doses

Initial experiments conducted with high doses of psilocybin have been associated with long-lasting effects on mood improvement and motivation. They explain that psilocybin could have beneficial effects on depression symptoms by regulating neurotransmitter levels. Psilocybin acts on serotonin, the neurotransmitter associated with emotion regulation, similar to antidepressant medications.

On the other hand, individuals who microdose also report mood improvements, reduced anxiety, increased creativity, and enhanced concentration.

The Example of Microdosing in Silicon Valley

In Silicon Valley, microdosing is utilized by a handful of technology professionals to enhance their performance and better cope with pressure. In a toxic environment where managers expect flawless productivity, these men and women hope to unlock their potential and gain industry recognition through the use of LSD or psilocybin. In his autobiography, Steve Jobs also shares how LSD enabled him to unleash his creativity and generate revolutionary ideas such as the Macintosh and iPod.

Microdosing Mushrooms for Depression and Anxiety

Microdosing mushrooms for treating depression and anxiety is increasingly gaining interest within the scientific community. Participants in several studies have often reported improvements in their emotional well-being and a reduction in anxiety symptoms.

However, the majority of these experiences are based on testimonials without direct evaluation, relying solely on the participants’ accounts.

Placebo Effect or Real Hope?

Thus far, the conclusions have been rather mixed, attributing the positive results to a placebo effect among a population already enthusiastic about consuming psychedelics.

For instance, a randomized study published in Nature evaluated 34 patients. Half of them received a microdose of psilocybin, while the other half received a placebo. While acknowledging slight changes in brain waves, scientists concluded that psilocybin did not demonstrate a definitive effect at these sub-perceptual doses and that only a higher dose could potentially offer therapeutic benefits. The observed effects in microdosing would then be primarily due to placebo expectations.

Regardless, further rigorous research is necessary. A comprehensive evaluation will help prove or refute the effectiveness and mechanisms of action of microdosing mushrooms for depression, anxiety, or as support for cognitive performance.

Potential Risks and Safety

In general, microdosing psilocybin is considered safe. However, the consumption of psychoactive substances should be approached with a certain level of knowledge, even at low doses.

Since microdoses are very small, the risks of overdose are minimal, if not nonexistent. However, initial doses can cause headaches, nausea, or a slight increase in anxiety. If bothersome symptoms or behavioral disturbances occur, it is important to discontinue the protocol immediately.

Antidepressants and Psychotic Individuals

Most importantly, psilocybin is strictly contraindicated for individuals taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) as antidepressants.

Likewise, psilocybin in all its forms is strongly discouraged for individuals suffering from psychosis. These contraindications also apply to the Stamets Stack.

Information to Know Before Starting Microdosing

For psilocybin, the challenge with microdosing lies in the fact that the potency of mushrooms can vary from one specimen or dealer to another. In the absence of precise regulations on the production of psychedelic mushrooms, microdosing is generally less precise than a ceremony involving magic truffles.

Want to start microdosing mushrooms for depression?

Before starting a psilocybin microdosing regimen, it is important to adhere to a few rules. For example, never initiate the protocol on a workday, let alone if you need to drive. Similarly, experienced individuals recommend following a regular schedule and keeping a microdosing journal to record sensations, doses, benefits, or difficulties.

In general, the body and mind are good indicators of the potential effects of microdosing. Any positive or negative reactions should be taken into account to adjust the doses or frequency.

LSD: A Complex Microdosing Endeavor

LSD is typically available in liquid form and is clandestinely prepared. It can be challenging to precisely know the dose being consumed unless one has an extremely reliable supplier. Therefore, microdosing LSD is an endeavor that requires a great deal of caution and a genuine understanding of the sourcing process.

Frequently Asked Questions about microdosing mushrooms for depression

Is Microdosing Mushrooms for Depression Safe?

If you do not have a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder, nor do you have heart or kidney failure, and you are not taking antidepressant medication, there are no known risks that would prevent you from microdosing magic mushrooms. Otherwise, it can be dangerous.

However, there is still a legal risk if you consume psilocybe capsules or extracts in a country where it is prohibited. LSD, on the other hand, is prohibited everywhere.

Does Microdosing Mushrooms Work for Depression?

At this stage of research, the answer is rather: no, microdosing does not have an effect on depression, unlike higher doses. However, studies have shown mixed results.

One study conducted in 2021 nevertheless concludes that “adults who microdose psychedelics report lower levels of anxiety and depression.”

How to Start Microdosing Mushrooms for Depression?

To start a microdosing protocol as an alternative to depression treatment, there are four steps:

  1. Educate yourself about the legality of psilocybin and the risks involved.
  2. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine if you can undertake such an approach and establish a dosing frequency.
  3. Research reliable sources for obtaining mushrooms online. Valuable information can be found on Reddit or Erowid.
  4. Find a trusted individual or healthcare professional to whom you can regularly report any potential side effects you encounter.

Is Microdosing for Depression Legal?

The legality of microdosing depends on the legality of psilocybe mushrooms in the region of the world where you reside.

In the Netherlands, Colorado, or Oregon, you can practice microdosing legally for therapeutic purposes. Spain and Italy have some tolerance for private use. France, Germany, and Belgium strictly prohibit any use, including microdosing.

How Long Does It Take for Microdosed Mushrooms to Have an Effect on Depression?

The ingestion of magic mushrooms or psychedelic truffles typically produces effects within about 30 minutes. In the case of microdosing psilocybin, you are unlikely to feel any specific changes after a single dose. If effects do occur, they will be subtle and may take a few days to manifest.

Image source : wirestock on Freepik