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When you hear “magic mushrooms” or “psilocybin,” the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, you might think of, say, young people on the grass in High Park reaching for the heavens and claiming they see God, or semi-clad bearded men sitting in the lotus position around coals sprinkled with sage in a rural yurt humming “Ommmmm.”
If that’s what comes to mind when you think of magic mushrooms (or other psychedelics), you’re not necessarily wrong. Some people do such things when they take doses of psilocybin large enough to “trip”—and, for the record, these experiences can be very enjoyable—but when you take a much smaller dose, the experience is quite different. You won’t by any means “trip,” you won’t have anything close to a hallucination, but you may feel calmer, more focused, and more creative.
Taking small doses of magic mushrooms that you can buy online from places like Shrooms Delivery Canada is called “microdosing,” and it’s becoming an increasingly popular way for people to improve their overall well-being. When you microdose, you take between 5% and 10% of a trip dose of magic mushrooms and do not trip; the experience is far milder, a bit like taking an anti-depressant or an anti-anxiety medication.
There are many benefits to microdosing, and although most of the evidence so far has been anecdotal, science is beginning to catch up. A recent study has shown, for instance, that microdosing may improve mood and focus. Another study has shown that microdosing may increase creativity by improving two forms of thinking that psychologists consider ingredients of creativity: convergent and divergent thinking.
How Microdosing Works
Scientists have not reached any conclusions on how microdosing works, but there are common theories supported by recent research. At higher doses, psychedelics including psilocybin may increase neuroplasticity, creating more connections between neurons. At lower doses, psychedelics may do this to a lesser extent.
Taking psychedelics may also affect serotonin, a chemical messenger in the brain linked not only to mood but also to sleeping, memory, cognition, eating, and thermoregulation. Psychedelics may do this by binding to the 2A receptors in the nervous system, thereby stimulating the brain cortex, which is responsible for motor, sensory, and cognitive functions.
Another theory, supported by research, is that psychedelics fight inflammation in the body.
When Rats Microdose
One of the most intriguing studies on microdosing was an animal study conducted by researchers at UC Davis on lab rats. Researchers gave some rats a small amount of N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT). The researchers then placed the microdosed and untreated rats into a pool with no escape. By the point in time that the untreated rats gave up trying to swim, the microdosed rats kept on swimming. The experiment suggests that small amounts of psychedelics may increase optimism and resilience.
The Bottom Line
Not enough research has been done on microdosing to make any conclusions, but studies have suggested that what people have been saying for years might be true. Microdosing may offer cognitive and social benefits, reduce anxiety, improve focus and concentration, increase energy and creativity, and reduce stress.