Microdosing with Magic Mushrooms: Frequently Asked Questions
- Psilocybin mushrooms can cause hallucinations at sufficient dosages.
- However, the practice of microdosing with mushrooms may have health benefits without inducing hallucinations.
- There is some scientific evidence to suggest that microdosing with “shrooms” can have beneficial psychological effects including reducing depression and anxiety.
- Although shrooms are federally illegal, some U.S. states and cities have legalized or decriminalized the possession and use of the drug.
Psilocybin mushrooms — also known as “magic mushrooms” or simply “shrooms” — are infamous for their ability to cause wild hallucinations in sufficient doses. Yet more and more research suggests microdosing with psilocybin may have long-lasting benefits when it comes to reducing anxiety and depression.
Magic mushrooms have been used in indigenous ceremonies for thousands of years, and have been portrayed in both European and Mesoamerican art. During the Spanish conquest, Catholic missionaries attempted to abolish their use, to no avail. They are still regularly used in modern-day indigenous rituals in parts of Mexico.
In this post, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about microdosing with psilocybin mushrooms.
What are “magic mushrooms,” aka “shrooms”?
Magic mushrooms contain the hallucinogenic chemical psilocybin. There are several species of psilocybin-containing mushrooms including Copelandia, Gymnopilus, Inocybe, Panaeolus, Pholiotina, Pluteus, and Psilocybe.
Psilocybe mushrooms are small, usually brown or tan in color. They grow naturally in the United States, Canada, South America, Mexico, and parts of Europe. They can also be grown indoors under ideal conditions.
What is microdosing?
Microdosing is the practice of ingesting sub-hallucinatory amounts of psilocybin mushrooms, usually for the purpose of treating pre-existing conditions such as chronic depression and anxiety.
How much psilocybin is considered a microdose?
A microdose is generally around one-tenth the “trip” dose. A microdose is too little to trigger hallucinations but enough to have some psychological effects. Dosages ranging from 50 to 150 milligrams of psilocybin are considered microdoses.
(A typical dose of magic mushrooms for recreational purposes tends to be around one to one and a half grams. Doses up to 500 milligrams may be non-hallucinogenic.)
What are the benefits of microdosing?
Although consuming tiny amounts of the hallucinogen will not cause intoxication, it may help some individuals achieve better mental and emotional equilibrium.
There is considerable controversy around this subject, although researchers have reported a reduction in treatment-resistant depression with the administration of microdoses of psilocybin.
There is also a significant amount of anecdotal evidence claiming that psilocybin may mitigate symptoms of PTSD and ADHD. Additionally, some individuals claim that the substance reduces the severity of cluster headaches.
How are shrooms consumed?
Psilocybin mushrooms can be eaten fresh or dried. They can also be cooked into recipes or brewed into tea. Properly harvested and dried mushrooms offer the most potency as their psilocybin content can be ten times higher than fresh mushrooms.
How do shrooms affect the brain?
Shrooms act on the body’s serotonergic system. It’s theorized that psilocybin might help restore the balance of serotonin in the brain.
Specifically, psilocybin activates the serotonin receptors found in the prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for perception, cognition, and mood. Psilocybin also activates other regions of the brain known to regulate panic responses and arousal.
The effects may be due to psilocybin’s ability to interact with the specific serotonin receptor 5-HT2C. This receptor is known to regulate neurotransmitter chemicals related to cognition, imagination, productivity, anxiety, learning, focus, concentration, creativity, appetite, memory, perception, and mood. Psilocin is also believed to decrease activity in the region of the brain responsible for the ego while increasing activity in the visual cortex.
Not all magic mushrooms will have the same effect. The level of potency often depends on the species, origin, growing conditions, harvest period, and whether someone consumes them in fresh or dried form. In addition to the amount consumed, expectations and past experiences can also impact the overall effects of psilocybin.
What is the proper dosage and schedule for microdosing with psilocybin mushrooms?
A microdose is usually considered to be anywhere from 50 to 150 milligrams. Some individuals ingest amounts of around 0.5 grams or less.
How long do the effects of magic mushrooms last
About an hour or two after ingesting a microdose of shrooms some patients notice an increase in focus and energy. The effects generally last from four to six hours.
However, some individuals may experience a shift in thought patterns and sensory perception for several days after ingesting magic mushrooms.
Are there any adverse side effects from microdosing with psilocybin mushrooms?
Microdoses of psilocybin are highly unlikely to cause unwanted side effects. And there is no evidence that psilocybin poses serious health risks when used responsibly.
However, some other factors may result in experiencing some unwanted effects. Some of these factors may include previous use of mushrooms, current use of other substances or medications, the strength of the mushrooms, or existing health concerns.
In some rare cases, certain individuals may experience heightened anxiety or experience paranoia after consuming minuscule amounts of psilocybin.
Additionally, some experts advise patients afflicted with schizophrenia to avoid magic mushrooms and other psychedelics in any amount.
Can microdosing with psilocybin mushrooms cause psychedelic hallucinations?
Psilocybin can cause visual and auditory hallucinations, as well as distortions in perception when used in sufficient dosages. Some users consume large doses of shrooms precisely for the hallucinogenic effects.
A mushroom “trip” can sometimes include both pleasant and frightening hallucinations. Some users may experience paranoia or high anxiety.
However, microdosing with mushrooms, in most cases, will not induce any extreme hallucinatory episodes.
Some patients consuming low doses of mushrooms have reported a slight shift in perception. Others experience an alteration in color and sound. In some instances, there are overlaying visual perceptions of repetitive geometric shapes or auras around lights.
Is there any scientific evidence that microdosing with magic mushrooms is safe and effective?
The results of one study indicated that magic mushrooms, in conjunction with psychological support may attenuate depression symptoms without dulling emotions.
Researchers in one study on microdosing with psilocybin had this to say:
“Our recent open-label study of psilocybin with psychological support for (TRD) yielded promising results, with all patients showing some reduction in depressive symptoms at 1 week and a half meeting criteria for remission at 3 weeks (Carhart-Harris et al., 2017). Furthermore, other clinical studies with psilocybin have found reductions in anxiety and depressive symptoms after psilocybin with psychological support”
In a 2021 study, a survey was conducted to measure the potential benefits of microdosing with psychedelics including LSD. The authors of the study suggested that microdosing led to notable improvements in both anxiety and depression.
The research also suggested that microdosing may have a significant placebo effect. This was evident in individuals with higher expectations, who expressed a noticeable improvement in well-being. This possibility doesn’t mean microdosing isn’t without its benefits, however, the presumed placebo effect is noteworthy.
Links to several studies and reports can be found at the end of this article.
Are psilocybin mushrooms legal?
Under Federal US Law, psilocybin is listed as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. It is illegal to possess, consume or cultivate magic mushrooms for personal consumption or distribution. Being caught in possession of the substance by federal law enforcement agents can carry heavy prison sentences and fines.
That being said, some U.S. states and cities have legalized or decriminalized shrooms.
In which states are magic mushrooms legal?
In 2019, Denver, Colorado was the first U.S. city to reduce penalties for personal use and possession of psilocybin, making it the lowest law enforcement priority.
In November 2020, Oregon became the first U.S. state to eliminate criminal penalties for all illegal drugs including psilocybin.
Also in 2020, Oregon voted to launch a psilocybin-assisted therapy system. Patients age 21 and older will have the right to possess and use the substance under the guidance of trained facilitators. Additionally, once the program is in place, administration of psilocybin will be allowed at licensed facilities.
Two California cities, Oakland and Santa Cruz have re-classified psilocybin rendering it one of the lowest law enforcement priorities. This includes personal use, possession, cultivation, transportation, and distribution of the substance.
In Washington D.C. psychedelic plants and fungi became decriminalized in November 2020. “Non-commercial planting, transportation, distribution, purchasing cultivating, engaging in practices with, and/or possessing fungi” are considered “lowest enforcement priorities” by the DC Metropolitan Police,
The Midwest city of Ann Arbor also decriminalized the use, purchase, cultivation, transportation, and distribution of natural psychedelics.
Should microdosing be done under the supervision of a doctor?
Yes. Patients should consult a medical professional trained in the administration of these substances. This is imperative if there is any concern of potential psychosis or dangerous hallucinations due to pre-existing mental illness.
Where can I buy magic mushrooms for microdosing?
There are currently no legal dispensaries where patients can purchase psilocybin mushrooms in the U.S. However, advocates in some U.S. cities where the drug has been decriminalized will advise patients on where to purchase the drug.
There are some online vendors who offer spores for growing mushrooms at home. However, growing magic mushrooms at home isn’t easy and requires specialized knowledge and equipment.
Psilocybin mushrooms can also be gathered in the wild if the user knows where to look and what to look for.
- Some mushrooms are highly poisonous and can cause extreme illness or death. No one should consume wild mushrooms without being absolutely sure they are a species that is safe to consume.
- Psilocybin microdosing may be contra-indicated when consumed in conjunction with some medications.
- The safety and efficacy of psilocybin mushrooms have not been studied by the USFDA.
- This article should not be taken as medical advice. Microdosing should be only undertaken under the care of a knowledgeable practitioner.
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Sources And Additional Reading
- Psilocybin – an overview
- A beginner’s guide to microdosing
- Microdosing: A Complete Guide to Microdosing
- Mushrooms for Anxiety: The Potential Power of Psilocybin
- Increased amygdala responses to emotional faces after psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression
- Positive expectations predict improved mental-health outcomes linked to psychedelic microdosing
- Motives and Side-Effects of Microdosing With Psychedelics Among Users
- Psilocybin and magic mushrooms: Effects and risks
- Psychedelic Treatment with Psilocybin Relieves Major Depression, Study Shows
- Science is testing claims about psilocybin microdoses and finding some truth
- How Much Psilocybin Do You Need To Rewire Your Brain?
- Quality of Acute Psychedelic Experience Predicts Therapeutic Efficacy of Psilocybin for Treatment-Resistant Depression
- Magic Mushrooms Guide: Where Shrooms Are Legal and How To Take Psilocybin