Welcome to part 2 of our Fact and Fiction Series. If you missed part 1, please click here and read that first.
“This is your brain.” – A man in a white lab coat holds up an egg. “This is your brain on drugs.” – The white coated man cracks it into a pan and it begins to fry. Yet again, we can thank Nixon’s administration funds and payoffs for bringing this faulty information to 1970s television screens. After the decades-long gap in study, reareach once again began to take center stage in the mid to late 2000s. With more robust testing tools available, science has been able to challenge the old myths and scare tactics propagated in the 70s.
Let’s jump in for round 2, with 2 more examples of a truth and a false.
Fiction – Mushrooms Cause Permanent Psychosis or Other Mental Disorders
To no real surprise, none of the outrageous claims about brain damage made turned out to be true – including the claim that mushrooms caused permanent psychosis.
As we discussed in our last article, mushrooms act on your perceptions and can mimic psychosis in the short term, but these effects do not last long and do not cause insanity. Psilocybin is readily metabolized in the body, broken down, and excreted within a few hours of ingesting. On average, even at a high dose, most people are no longer actively tripping after roughly 4-6 hours, 8hrs at elevated doses but this long is very rare.
That’s not to say something can’t go wrong however. These are still drugs, and drugs need to be handled with both great respect and care from a place of understanding.
Contrary to the false information presented in the past, there is mounting evidence to support that mushrooms may prove a valuable tool in treating mental disorders rather than causing them.
This is not to say taking magic mushrooms in a recreational setting is the path to inner peace and resolving the symptoms of many mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, addictions or mood disorders. In order to use mushrooms in this way requires professional assistance as well as structure to facilitate such change. In several trial studies conducted by entities such as Johns Hopins, and N.Y.U., findings suggest that under clinical settings upwards of 50% of trial participants have reported significantly improved mental health after a single high dose session of psilocybin under therapeutic conditions – with some reporting benefits 6 months on with no additional dosing. Cancer patients treated with psilocybin in studies conducted by N.Y.U. over several years also reported dramatic reductions to end of life anxiety and in nearly all cases were able to meet their deaths from a place of dignity and acceptance. Success stories of addiction treatments under the same clinical conditions are also mounting as more data becomes available. These are all far cries from mushrooms causing permanent psychosis.
Although many years of work await us, early data shows promising potential and alternatives to current mental health drug models and offer a more robust toolbox for clinical psychology.
Fact – Microdosing Enhances Creativity and Mood
It’s true! You don’t need to look very far to see the global impact of microdosing. If you have a computer or a phone, it’s very likely that someone in silicon valley took part in the microdose practice to help them come up with the hardware and software necessary to make what you’re holding possible.
We’ve also seen an uptake in reports of successful treatments of severe depression and anxiety. A noteworthy example from a credible source for such success can be found in the book A Really Good Day by Ayelet Waldman. In this book, Ayelet describes her battle with depression and suicidal ideation, and her search for effective treatments. Eventually, through the researcher vine, she found the answer to be microdosing on a schedule of 10ug-20ug every 3 days for 30 days, as she was instructed to do by an industry expert. She has since remained an advocate of the protocol.
In a clinical study conducted by Vince Polito and Richard J. Stevenson, they designed an elaborate trial experiment to show the effects of a microdosing protocol using psilocybin and LSD. The doses used were 0.1g-0.3g and 10ug-20ug, respectively. The study was conducted with 98 qualifying participants from Canada, Australia and the USA over the course of several months. The participants were heavily screened to ensure they were of sound mental and physical health prior to participating in the study.
The goal was to measure any potential changes in cognition using a 1 day, 2 day off repeat protocol, which they measured with email questionnaires sent out daily over the length of the trial study. They measured mood, anxiety, creativity, personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism), depression, attention, etc. – in order to measure any changes across baseline, dose days, between dosing days, and after the dosing portion of the trial had concluded.
The results showed measured improvements in cognition and mood, a reduction in depression and neurosis as well as enhanced creativity in nearly all participants, but did not show any significant difference in personality traits like high dose trials had seen.
The study can be found here
Even with the limited data, microdosing is taking the world by storm. With more and more personal and study accounts being published regularly, it’s exciting to see what the next few years in mental health will look like vs our current limited models amidst the worst mental health crisis in modern history.
There is much more about psychedelics we still don’t know. Much like the exploration of the human brain, psychedelic science is in its infancy – but early data and success of phase trials have given hope to the otherwise dwindling state of the mental health landscape.
We hope this Pt. 2 has helped expand your understanding of psychedelics!
Stay tuned for Pt. 3.
A Systematic Study of Microdosing Psychedepics by Vince Polito and Richard J. Stevenson, February 6th, 2019 – https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0211023
Microdosing Psychedelics by Samuel Douglas, Vice President of the Australian Psychedelic Society, https://thethirdwave.co/microdosing