Micro Dosing Psilocybin
The Ultimate Guide to Microdosing Psilocybin
Microdosing psilocybin is the practice of taking 1/10th to 1/20th of a full “journey” dose of psychedelic mushrooms, aka magic mushrooms or simply “shrooms.” The phrase was coined in 2011 by longtime psychedelic researcher James Fadiman, PhD, in his book, The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, and has since become a cultural phenomenon.
The Microdosing Mushrooms Experience: What Does Microdosing Psilocybin Feel Like?
Unlike a full dose of Psilocybin, a microdose is meant to be sub-perceptual, or barely noticeable. And so, the aim of a microdose is not to achieve a transcendental state or to see your life from a different perspective, as is common with higher doses of shrooms. Nor are visual distortions like patterning or trails part of the microdosing experience. It’s really more about a slight opening or enhancement of the senses, which translates for many folks into an increased sense of presence in their everyday activities.
“I feel more aware while microdosing, not only externally. Colors are more vivid, plants and nature fascinate me much more and I feel like I can see more details. Internally I’m aware of my thought processes, my emotions, really feeling all the feels!” a 34-year-old woman who typically microdoses 0.3 grams of psilocybin tells Daytryp. “My mood overall is definitely improved, although I do find that more uncomfortable emotions, like sadness, frustration, nervousness, etc, still very much exist and are felt deeply & they are easier to move through on the medicine.”
Why Do People Microdose Shrooms? Benefits of Microdosing Psilocybin Mushrooms
The reasons people microdose are as varied as the individuals themselves, but there are some overall trends. Many of the 89 people who filled out a survey Daytryp created reported microdosing for some kind of mental health reason, like depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, ADD/ADHD, addiction, and even pain management.
Another common reason folks microdose is for enhanced creativity and focus. For example, a lot of people find they make new connections on microdosing days that they wouldn’t normally make. Similarly, many people report that microdosing helps them quiet their mental chatter and focus more deeply on a task at hand, or possibly even enter a “flow state” where they’re so engaged in an activity they lose track of time.
Finding a flow state is one of the main reasons microdosing is gaining popularity among artists, musicians, writers, programmers, and even athletes who find that the practice helps them get out of their heads and become more embodied in their workouts.
When we learned about athletes who microdose, I also found out that there’s a growing number of folks who have suffered concussions and other types of traumatic brain injury who are looking to microdosing psilocybin for its potential to stimulate neuroplasticity and overall brain health. A 2018 study on rat models found that higher doses of psilocybin promote structural and functional neural plasticity, which the authors theorize could be part of how psychedelic-assisted therapy works for depression and related disorders. A handful of folks also reported microdosing out of curiosity and for fun, while others use it to get off anti-depressants, alcohol and opiates, although one should do that in a more supervised setting with a medical doctor, psychiatrist or other medical specialist.
Dose: How Much is a Microdose of Mushrooms?
Microdoses of mushrooms are tiny, so 0.1 grams (or 100 milligrams) can make a big difference between a sub-perceptual microdose and beginning to trip slightly. When we first heard about microdosing mushrooms and learned that it was about 1/10th of a full dose, I tried 0.6 grams and it was too much for me at the time—too distracting for a work day, anyway. That’s because the threshold between a microdose and a low dose is thin, and the exact number for when it’s crossed is different for every individual.
But how do you find that threshold? First of all, it’s important to mention that different strains, species, and even batches of mushrooms vary in strength, so even though we’re about to lay out some number ranges, it’s always best to start low and find your personal threshold when testing out a new batch. Secondly, everyone’s biology is slightly different, so what might be a microdose for one person might be way too strong of an experience for another and vice versa. Lastly, different levels of microdoses can produce different effects, which can be better or worse for specific types of activities or obligations.
“I feel more aware while microdosing, not only externally—colors are more vivid, plants and nature fascinate me even more, I feel like I can see more details—but internally as well I’m aware of my thought processes, my emotions & really just feeling all the feels!”
However, in general, microdoses of mushrooms are somewhere in the range of 0.1 to 0.5 grams of dried mushrooms. For microdosing dried Psilocybe cubensis, like the strain Golden Teachers, many folks find benefit in the 0.2 to 0.5 gram range. What we’ve found personally is that a microdose over 0.25 grams is noticeable, especially the first two hours or so when I experience a “come-up” that resembles a full dose of magic mushrooms. It feels like my heart starts to beat a bit faster, I get butterflies in my stomach, and sometimes that turns into nausea and anxiety, especially if I have a lot of work to get done, because now in that slightly altered state it seems impossible to stare at a computer screen and focus.
Generally though, it seems many folks are microdosing around 0.3 grams to avoid that come-up feeling and any other distracting effects. In fact, in this dose range, many of the survey participants reported their concentration being increased rather than impaired, comparing the feeling to a strong cup of coffee.
Of course, not everyone looks to microdosing as a productivity hack, and not everyone is as sensitive to the come-up as I am and the handful of my survey participants who reported a similar sensation. What we’ve heard from daytryppers seeking depression relief is that they benefit from doses in the 0.2 to 0.3 gram range without any noticeable alterations or distractions to their day-to-day—but again, this is very subjective to the individual, so it’s always best to start low and figure out your own personal, optimal microdosing ritual.
How Long Does a Microdose Last?
Generally, microdosing lasts nearly the same amount of time as a full dose of mushrooms, so somewhere between four and six hours. Interestingly, in the survey we created about microdosing psilocybin, many folks didn’t report a specific length of hours when I asked them how long a microdosed lasted, but instead reported they felt the effects for the entire day. Plus, there’s a pretty common trend among microdosers, who say they continue to feel positive effects into the following day.
Best Mushroom Strain for Microdosing?
As more research on the effects of different magic mushroom strains and species emerge, we’ll likely have more info on strains that are better or worse for microdosing. However, as of now, the most popular species for microdosing (and shrooming in general) is Psilocybe cubensis, with the majority of my survey participants reporting to use the strain Golden Teachers.
The P. cubensis strains B+, Amazonia, Ecuadorian, Golden Emperor, and Penis Envy were also reported as popular options for microdosing. It’s important to note, Penis Envy can be much stronger than other strains of P. cubensis, so you might need an even smaller microdose than other strains.
Other species mentioned were Liberty Caps (Psilocybe semilanceata) and Atlantis truffles (the sclerotia of Psilocybe atlantis). Interestingly, some of the more advanced microdosers reported that they’ve found that some strains and species make them more tired than others, but it can be subjective to the individual and dose-dependent.
How Does Microdosing Psilocybin Work?
Research studies are showing some really interesting effects of microdosing, such as how microdosers score higher on tests of divergent and convergent thinking, both indicators of creativity. A 2020 study also found that microdosers report lower levels of “mind wandering,” which perhaps explains their increased focus and concentration. And even more recently, a 2021 study speculated on the possibility of microdoses increasing “cognitive flexibility,” which could lead to decreased rumination and an improvement in depression symptoms. For a detailed article on how psilocybin works on the brain, click here!
Are There Microdosing Disadvantages? Microdosing Mushrooms Side Effects
As mentioned in the dose section above, one of the most common microdose side effects or disadvantages is when folks accidentally take a little too much. So for some that can mean tripping slightly, like seeing some patterning and swaying visually when you rest your eyes, but for others it can be less about seeing visuals and more about feeling a little too altered to focus on tasks at hand or go about your daily business.
Other common side effects reported in the survey include nausea, anxiety, and jitteriness, especially during the first hour or two when the microdose kicks in. Some daytryppers also reported a little trouble winding down for bed and sleeping, especially if they took the microdose in the late afternoon. However, with that being said, other daytryppers noticed a deeper, more relaxed sleep and some actually take their dose in the evening as a sleeping aid.
This is in line with what some of our survey participants reported as well, that microdosing helps them be more present with their feelings, both positive and negative: “I’m able to actually cry and ‘let it out’ when I microdose. I rarely can do this because of how shut off I am from my emotions when I’m sober. I microdose to help me know what I need to work on and work toward,” a 23 year old woman told Daytryp. “I also experience a more full range of emotions.”
Similarly, Danielle Simone Brand, author of Weed Mom, explains that microdoses of mushrooms make her feel “amplified,” and so her focus is increased, but so is everything else. For her, it can be good for honing in on a project, but she also finds thoughts and feelings are intensified, which can translate into impatience with her family.
How to Microdose Mushrooms?
Although microdosing is fairly straightforward compared to taking higher doses of mushrooms, where prepping your set and setting is critical to having a good trip, there are still some things you can do to maximize benefits. For one, it seems like intentions play a large role in how individuals’ experience microdosing. We recommend making time to set an intention or goal for your microdose day or routine.
Even though many daytryppers microdose and go about their regular routine, we still recommend you experiment for the first time or the first time with a new dose or new batch of mushrooms on a day when you don’t have a ton of responsibilities in order to get a feel for how microdosing affects you.
Lastly, it’s important to check to make sure you’re not on any medications or supplements that could interact with psilocybin (check out Fadiman and Korb’s research on this here). We also recommend taking your microdose in the early part of the day, and be extra cautious with caffeine and cannabis intake because for some folks, they tend to exasperate any rushy or anxious feelings.
Microdosing Protocols: The Fadiman Protocol or the Stamets Protocol?
A couple of experts have formulated their own protocols to help folks avoid tolerance build up when microdosing mushrooms and other types of psychedelics. The Fadiman Protocol, suggested by James Fadiman, calls for microdosing every fourth day for about six weeks, and so your routine would look something like this:
Day One: Microdose
Day Two: Off day (when a lot of folks still report positive effects)
Day Three: Off day (to get it totally out of your system)
Day Four: Microdose again
Mushroom expert, Paul Stamets, also has developed his own protocol specifically for microdosing Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms. He recommends folks microdose for five days in a row then take two days off. He also recommends combining microdoses of psilocybin containing mushrooms with the supplements Niacin (a form of Vitamin B3) and Lion’s Mane (a non-psychedelic medicinal mushroom).
It’s not totally necessary to follow either of these protocols too strictly, but they do seem to help some folks get out of ruts and improve their mood. Many of of the microdosers I interviewed for my book and surveyed for this story started out trying one of these two protocols, but ended up microdosing less frequently as needed.
Whatever you decide to do, it can really help to keep a journal that keeps track of your dose, other substance intake (including caffeine and cannabis), mood, sleep, energy levels and any sort of effects you feel from the microdose. This can help you figure out your best protocol and dose and to decide if microdosing is the right tool for you.
Due to the comparative ease of cultivation (at least, those not requiring decomposing wood or dung to grow), the vast majority of recognized strains all fall under the umbrella of the P. cubensis species. Although the exact number is difficult to determine, and new strains are consistently being created, mycologists estimate that there are around 150 distinctly identifiable P. cubensis strains. This article cannot possibly cover them all, so we will mention three of the most prominent strains: Golden Teacher, Penis Envy & Amazonian. If you are interested in delving further into the differences among strains, check out Psilopedia.ca which offers the widest catalog of P. cubensis strains online.
The niche of strain categorization and review, inspired by sites such as the cannabis strain aggregator Leafly, is being explored by numerous organizations in the psilocybin mushroom space, too. Psilopedia.ca and Psillow.com, in particular, are recognized as two of the most comprehensive and accurate ones.
Psilopedia takes a science focused approach to offering in-depth information on many aspects of psilocybin, like its metabolic processes, pharmacodynamics, effects at macro- and microdosages, areas of study, and mushroom identification. They also have aggregated contact information for numerous psychedelic integration practitioners — therapists and psychologists who help integrate the insights realized during psychedelic-assisted therapy into one’s life. Additionally, the site has classified shrooms with pictures, detailed characteristics, and reviews over 70 P. cubensis strains, with full report-style overviews of the four primary Psilocybe species.
Psillow, on the other hand, is markedly more culturally focused, offering a consistently updated blog with informational and entertaining articles. They also have useful resources like a “Trip Report” template, along with a comprehensive catalog of Psilocybe species, however, it contains less information on P. cubensis strains.
Why people have contrasting experiences from different species and strains of mushrooms is multifaceted and hypothesized to be a combined function of two factors. First, varied levels and ratios of the three psychoactive compounds; and second, the set, setting, and intention of the user. Differing levels of active compounds can alter the onset, duration, and intensity of the experience, while also playing a role in whether it is felt more in the mind or body. Conversely, the user’s set, setting, and intention play a larger role in determining whether the experience generates spiritual connection, philosophical enlightenment, or therapeutic benefit.
It is also important to note that across species/strains, the growing conditions, such as the composition of the substrate in which the mushroom mycelium (similar to the roots of a plant) and fruiting bodies are cultivated in, environmental variables, and when in the fruiting period the mushrooms are harvested (either before or after sporation), have significant effects on potency. Generally, the highest potency is achieved with nutrient-rich colonization and fruiting substrates, as well as the ratio of mycelium-to-substrate at the beginning of fruiting, consistent temperature and humidity, and harvesting just before the veil between the stem and cap breaks.
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