If you’ve been researching psilocybin for even a short while, you’ve no doubt heard the term microdosing being thrown around—particularly within the past couple of years.
Proponents of psychedelic microdosing claim that it can improve cognition, problem solving, and convergent and divergent thinking, which are the two kinds of creative thinking classified by psychiatrists (see Psilocybin Benefits for a more detailed explanation). Microdose advocates also report experiencing reduced feelings of anxiety and/or depression.
So… does it work? What is psilocybin microdosing, exactly? In this week’s post on The Psilocybe Philosophy, we’ll take a closer look at all of the above and explore this new way people are using psilocybin and whether or not it really does offer any benefits for improving one’s creativity.
First, let’s explain the basics:
What is Psilocybin Microdosing?
Microdosing is a term used to describe anytime a person takes a very small portion of a psychedelic compound, such as psilocybin. Other substances such as LSD or cannabidiol (CBD) are also popular microdosing candidates.
The goal of microdosing is for the user to experience a range of positive benefits from the substance without experiencing a “major” psychedelic experience. For example, an individual who has taken a microdose of psilocybin may report feeling calmer, more emotionally balanced, and so on—without having any kind of sensory shift or hallucinatory experience.
Microdosing Magic Mushrooms in Silicon Valley:
While microdosing as a general practice has likely been around for longer than one might think, the modern day application of this use for psychedelics appears to have been massively popularized in Silicon Valley, where would-be (or existing) technology professionals began taking tiny doses of psilocybin mushrooms to get an edge on their career. This Forbes article offers an interesting overview of how it started.
Typically, microdoses are anywhere from 1/10th to 1/30th of an “active” dose. Literature has suggested that psilocybin microdoses are usually 0.1 to 0.3 grams or in that range, depending on the user’s height and weight, whereas a typical active psychedelic dose might be around 3 grams.
Early Psilocybin Microdosing Studies Show Positive Results
Studies focused on psilocyubin microdosing (or microdosing of any psychoactive substance, for that matter) are, sadly, few and far between.
There’s reason to believe this will change in the near future for reasons we’ll discuss in the following section, but for now, let’s take a look at one of the major studies that does exist: it comes out of the journal Psychopharmacology and set out to see whether or not small doses of psilocybin could, in fact, increase one’s creativity.
Luisa Prochazkova and other researchers at the Cognitive Psychology Unit & Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition at Leiden University, in their article Exploring the effect of microdosing psychedelics on creativity in an open-label natural setting, describe the effects of approximately .35 grams of psilocybin mushrooms on participants as having undoubtedly improved divergent thinking.
In the study, subjects reported being able to come up with extra or alternative solutions to a problem—what we would call “out of the box” thinking. No subjects were found to have had their “fluid thinking” affected. In other words, they could still function as normal and didn’t experience any significant psychedelic effects.
Does That Mean Microdosing Psilocybin Can Enhance Creativity?
Unfortunately, the best answer we have right now is “maybe.” From the standpoint of a clinical study, that is, one that’s been conducted in a long term and highly controlled environment, we just don’t know. So little information exists that making a definitive statement regarding microdoses of psilocybin and the compound’s potential to boost creativity would be impossible.
There are, however, countless anecdotal reports from psilocybin users around the world that would paint a much different picture. For example, take the claims made by this corporate banker, who said in a Vice interview that microdosing psilocybin contributed to his being recognized as his bank’s top salesman. Or this story about businesswomen microdosing psilocybin to overcome seasonal affective disorder and nicotine addiction.
Mega-popular internet podcaster Joe Rogan even mentioned the popularity of psilocybin microdosing among members of the kickboxing community. The host was in conversation with Dennis McKenna, brother of the renowned ethnobotanist Terence McKenna (who we discuss in our article Mushrooms and Humanity). Here’s a clip from their conversation:
Microdosing, for enhanced creativity or other benefits, is likely a trend that’s here to stay—the cat’s out of the bag, so to speak, and more people find out about this practice every day. This, one has to imagine, will inevitably lead to more clinical trials focusing on microdosing specifically.
The reality is, we just don’t know that much about microdosing from a scientific perspective. Since psilocybin research has finally started to kick off again, the rapidly growing popularity of microdosing—in a controlled setting or otherwise—will hopefully yield some much-needed data into this interesting field.
Are You An Amateur Microscopist? Here’s How to Learn More About Psilocybin Mushroom Spores
Please remember that microdosing psilocybin or other psychedelic substances might be illegal in your jurisdiction. In fact, since psilocybin is still illegal in most of the United States, it’s likely that it is. While advocates have made great strides toward legalization as recently as just a few weeks ago at the time of this writing, there’s still a long way to go.
The spores of psychoactive mushrooms, such as those in the P. cubensis family, do not contain psilocybin and thus are not illegal in most of the country. Feel free to brush up on the legal standing of psilocybin in our articles Why Are Magic Mushroom Spores Legal? and Are Magic Mushroom Spores Legal in My State?
With that in mind, amateur microscopists interested in studying the precursor of a mature psilocybin mushroom—the spore—can easily do so by placing a convenient, discreet order right here on the Quality Spores website. See here for a primer on amateur microscopy and why it’s such a great hobby, or start shopping for psilocybin mushroom spores now.