Microdosing Psilocybin

While there is a growing amount of substantiated research concerning Psilocybins effects and neurological benefits at large doses, Scientific understanding regarding ingesting psychoactive substances below the threshold of intoxication is limited to mostly anecdotal evidence. The term "Micro-dose" was coined in 2011 by Dr James Fadiman, a renowned psychologist and author, in the release of his book The Psychedelic Explorers Guide. He Defined it as approximately 1/10th of a hallucinogenic dose, or between 100 and 250mg (for Psilocybin Mushrooms) and recommended it be taken once every 3 days.

 

This dosage schedule is derived from Fadiman's understanding of psilocybins pharmacokinetic process. The majority of psilocybin is metabolized within 48 hours of ingestion, with the third day allowing the 5HTa receptors to be washed" and the serotonergic system to return to a normal state, before repeating the cycle on the 4th day. Another prominent microdosing schedule was developed by popular mycologist and psilocybin advocate Paul Stamets, under his protocol dosage occurs for 4 consecutive days, with 3 days off.

Although micro-dosing has little research behind it, preliminary studies (albeit with small sample sizes) like this one performed by the Dutch Psychedelic Society resulted in significant cognitive benefit. Subjects wrote 3 standard psychological tests before and after microdosing, scoring substantially higher on 2 out of 3 when under the sub-perceptual influence of psilocybin. The tests which subjects scored higher on after microdosing involved convergent and divergent thinking, two forms of thinking associated with creativity, while scores on the fluid intelligence test remained similar. This study also contained important caveats, primarily that taking a second test in close proximity to the first generally results in higher scores, and the absence of a placebo group. This study epitomizes the bulk of evidence concerning micro-dosing, promising enough to warrant continued research, albeit scientifically unprovable. 

Visualization of brain connections in a person given psilocybin (right) and placebo (left)

The primary benefits associated with microdosing mirror those of larger doses. Psilocybin does not have a minimum "threshold" dose for the stimulation of neurogenesis and glutamate/BDNF production. Therefore microdosing has been utilized by many professionals across varied industries, most prevalently in the technology industry, to enhance creativity, sharpen focus, and provide both mental and physical energy while not having to alter their daily routine to accommodate a psychedelic experience.

 

In a more therapeutic sense it has been postulated to dampen activity in the Default Mode Network, an area of the brain responsible for day-dreaming, self reflection, and the perception of time. The DMN is overactive in many patients suffering from depression. An overactive DMN causes an individual to excessively ruminate, over-analyze, and become removed from the present moment to question the past and the future. Its suppression may offer insight into why psilocybin is effective in the treatment of depression.

The benefits (left) and drawbacks (right) of microdosing psilocybin

Currently the largest obstacles to scientific communities endorsement of micro-dosing are the legality of psychoactive substances, and as a function of this, the lack of scientifically rigorous studies on the topic. The Quantified Citizen project (QCP)(in collaboration with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies)(MAPS) is an initiative which seeks to change this by collecting as much high-quality data as possible through the utilization of technology. They have designed a free application for both Android and IOS that allows you to track your micro-dosing regimen and anonymously submit data for researchers to utilize. In addition to recording dosage schedule on the QCP app it is greatly appreciated if you write a few additional notes about how your day went. 

Consider, for example, the amount of work you did, how productive or creative it was, and the level of ease or discomfort you felt. Notice any changes in how you are relating to others. Notice any differences from normal in mood, food, physical strength, or symptoms of any condition."

    

Recording data regarding micro-dosing on a large scale is a crucial initiative due to the fact that most studies conducted around the topic of micro-dosing thus far have had small sample sizes. Preliminary findings from these studies bear significantly positive results, however scientifically concrete evidence is needed from larger meta-analyses and studies under controlled conditions. Quantified Citizen seeks to aggregate this information from the public.

Additionally check out our Peer Reviewed Literature page for a comprehensive list of studies regarding the potential benefits of micro-dosing psilocybin, and view these video resources for graphic illustration on the concept of micro-dosing.

Joe Rogan Experience #1385 with mycologist Paul Stamets

Tim Ferris — Psychedelics,  Microdosing, and more