Microdosing psilocybin mushrooms: a beginner’s guide

May 30, 2022

By Mushroom Tao team and Sam Young
Edited by Tara Ruttenberg

Introduction to microdosing psilocybin

Psilocybin mushrooms, commonly referred to as ‘magic mushrooms’, can be a powerful ally to help you live a happier and more fulfilling life. 

At full-strength doses, many journeyers report feeling connected to and part of something greater than themselves. Psilocybin experiences have supported many in rediscovering and reconnecting with parts of the psyche that had long been suppressed, ignored or forgotten. 

Microdosing is the act and practice of ingesting a tiny dose of psilocybin on a regular basis. In the last twenty years, microdosing has become a popular and convenient way to incorporate magic mushrooms into daily life.

Many people microdose in hopes of alleviating symptoms of depression, anxiety, and/or PTSD. Some seek pain relief or freedom from addictions. Others want to get in touch with their spirituality.

Often, those who microdose report increased mental clarity, openness, and gratitude. Some find that the practice allows them to enter flow states more seamlessly. 

This guide was written to support you in starting your microdosing journey in a safe, responsible, and intentional manner. 

Let’s get started. 

Psilocybin and human history

Psilocybin is found in over 200 species of mushrooms and truffles worldwide. Many historians, anthropologists, mycologists, and researchers have confirmed the use of these fungi in various cultures throughout human history.

Interestingly, Terence McKenna, a well-known ethnobotanist and psychedelic visionary, proposed the ‘Stoned Ape Theory’. This idea posits that Homo erectus, an early human ancestor from two million years ago, may have foraged and eaten magic mushrooms. 

This theory hypothesizes that these early interactions between the primitive human brain and psilocybin mushrooms may have accelerated the development of information-processing abilities and sensory awareness, leading to the formulation of language, art, and hand tools. 

Of course, McKenna's theory is highly speculative, and we can only imagine how our earliest ancestors interacted with psilocybin.

What is certain, however, is that the archaeological evidence for psilocybin use dates back at least 9000 years. Stoned apes or not, it’s safe to say that many throughout history have experienced the benefits of this psychedelic. So, if you are considering microdosing mushrooms, you’re in good company.

What are the benefits of microdosing?

Reported benefits of microdosing psilocybin include:

Increases in: 

  • energy
  • optimism
  • mental clarity
  • gratitude
  • emotional maturity
  • sense of well-being
  • presence and groundedness
  • openness, brightness, and lightness
  • empathy
  • compassion and love
  • creativity
  • resilience and perseverance
  • sense of awe and wonder
  • sense of belonging and unity

Improvements in:

  • ability to process difficult emotions
  • relationships
  • eating and sleeping habits
  • memory and vocabulary
  • ability to enter and maintain flow states
  • concentration and focus

Decreases in:

  • levels of anxiety, depression, and stress
  • brain fog
  • negative self-talk
  • judgements about oneself and others
  • need for caffeine, alcohol, tobacco or other stimulants or depressants
  • addictive or destructive behaviors
  • headaches
  • physical pain, and the focus on it
  • procrastination

For some, these benefits are apparent from their first day microdosing. For others, it can take weeks or months to recognize the positive effects. Since we all are at different stages of the spiritual journey, it’s important to be patient and develop faith in the practice. 

If you commit to the process, you are bound to experience the benefits – even when they manifest in ways you had not expected.

The only way out is through.

Microdosing vs. macrodosing

Macrodosing, which refers to the act of taking larger doses (approximately 3-5 grams) of mushrooms, can have many benefits. Over the course of four to six hours, you may be able to feel and release suppressed emotions you’ve been holding onto for years. Sometimes, high-dose mushroom journeys can involve mystical experiences which allow you to feel connected with “Infinite Love” or “Ultimate Truth.” 

It can take time to properly prepare your mindset and environment for a macrodose. And, because the effects can be so profound, processing the insights you’ve gained can be a lifelong endeavor. 

If you want to start at a slower and more gentle pace, microdosing might be the way to go. 

Microdosing has several advantages. This practice allows you to:

  • take doses with less rigorous preparation and integration support, as the effects are more subtle and gradual;
  • incorporate psilocybin into your life without much disruption to your daily activities;
  • experiment with dosages and protocols while tracking results in a more controlled manner; 
  • work on your mental, emotional, and spiritual health without overwhelming your nervous system.

Are there any unpleasant side effects of microdosing?

Microdosing purifies the body and mind. Psilocybin reveals thoughts, emotions, and traumas that we’ve been ignoring, suppressing, running from, or numbing. It dissolves our masks and allows us to be with what’s in our hearts.

So, what’s in your heart? Microdosing is about being honest with ourselves. Are you ready to face the parts of yourself that might bring you shame, guilt, grief, or anger? How open are you to developing the patience, fortitude, and courage necessary to face the stories in your heart?

When microdosing, you may experience what you perceive as adverse effects. For example, at the beginning, feelings of depression or anxiety may seem to get worse instead of better. You may feel irritable, tired, or drowsy, and/or experience headache, nausea, or lack of focus. You may be unusually sensitive, frustrated, or quick to anger. 

These sensations can be part of what some describe as a healing crisis. Psilocybin can amplify and/or intensify emotions before helping to dissolve them. You can learn many valuable lessons from these experiences.

Ask yourself: am I willing to stick with the practice, even in the face of challenges? Am I willing to fully feel even the unpleasant sensations? Can I practice contentment even when life doesn’t go the way I want or expect?

The mushrooms can shake up your sense of self, and lead you to question your long-held beliefs about the world and who you are. Microdosing is a practice of letting go of oneself and thinking more often of others. This process might be confusing and challenging. 

As you step into the unknown and face difficult truths and emotions, you may at times experience intense fear. Growing your comfort zone requires courage to fully feel and release these fears. 

Throughout this process, you may find it challenging to focus on work. Because microdosing can expand your awareness and engender a sense of spaciousness, the analytical mind may shift into the background. In the short-term, mundane problem-solving skills may seem to weaken. You may find it hard to focus on spreadsheets, documents, or conversations. 

At times, you may feel spaced out or ungrounded. You may fear you are losing control. These types of experiences can be jarring if you have developed a strong attachment to the intellect. 

You may experience disappointment and disillusionment, especially if you have specific expectations going into the psilocybin journey. The more you surrender to and develop faith in the process, the more benefits you will experience. Instead of trying to achieve or attain a specific goal, practice letting go of the grasping mind and honoring whatever experience that arises. 

The microdosing journey teaches us to let go of expectations and find deeper meaning in the here and now. 

Is micro dosing right for me?

Although many journeyers experience benefits from microdosing, it is important to acknowledge that mushrooms are NOT a magical cure-all, nor a means to escape reality or avoid taking responsibility for your life. 

Microdosing is for those who are ready to experience and process profound truth, even when it may be uncomfortable.

As you consider the practice of microdosing, you can ask yourself a few questions: 

  • Why do I want to microdose? 
  • What are my expectations? 
  • What thoughts, ideas, habits, relationships, possessions, and environments are holding me back from reaching my full potential, and how willing am I to let go of them?  
  • What lifestyle changes am I willing to make to live a happier life?
  • What traumas have occurred in my life, and how ready am I to feel the pain that these events have caused?
  • Who can support me on my journey and how do I connect with them?
  • How will I source and maintain a consistent supply? 
  • If I am on antidepressant medications, am I willing to taper off?

Microdosing is about creating a life that you want to live. One that you don’t feel the need to run away from. How ready and willing are you to create this life for yourself?

As you contemplate these topics, you may discover aspects of yourself that you’ve always wanted to nourish. 

To inform your decision-making process, you may consider exploring microdosing courses offered by Microdosing Institute, Double Blind Magazine, The Third Wave, Psychedelic Society San Francisco, or Embracing Your Light.

Can I microdose while on antidepressants?

Many people are turning to psilocybin as a means of lessening their dependence on pharmaceutical medications. But is it safe to microdose while on antidepressants?

First, let’s review psilocybin’s safety profile. 

In general, if taken in a secure environment with proper preparation and integration support, psilocybin is a safe substance. In a 2010 study by British Professor David Nutt, which measured drug harms in the UK, mushrooms proved to be the safest of the 20 substances studied, as shown in the figure below. 

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When microdosing, any risk is diminished further because you are taking a miniscule amount of this already benign, naturally occurring substance. 

While studying the toxicity of various substances, Professor Robert Gable found that psilocybin (along with other psychedelics such as LSD and mescaline) has little to no potential for creating substance dependence. Magic mushrooms are also physiologically safe – it cannot physically harm you even at extremely high doses. 

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Still, for your health and safety, we suggest exercising caution with any psychedelic use if you are currently taking prescribed medication such as antidepressants (e.g. Prozac™, Wellbutrin™, Zoloft™, Celexa™), mood stabilizers (Lithium, Lamotrigine), and/or antipsychotics (e.g. Risperidone, Quetiapine, Olanzapine, Aripiprazole). 

If you take any of these medications and are considering experimenting with psilocybin, we encourage you to do plenty of research. You may consider: 

In many cases, microdosing has helped journeyers to taper off and reduce dependence on various pharmaceutical agents including antidepressants. For further research and support in your tapering process, please consider consulting this guide from Harvard Medical School or exploring the Surviving Antidepressants forum.

Those who experiment with psilocybin while taking antidepressants often report that these medications can dull or even nullify the effects of microdosing. Therefore, if you decide to take psilocybin while still on antidepressants, you may find that you need to take more than expected. 

Other journeyers decide to taper off antidepressants completely before starting the microdosing journey. For some, the process of letting go of their dependence on these medications may be a difficult, painful, and emotional ordeal lasting several months or even years. 

Many pharmaceutical medications are like bandaids – they can cover up and numb symptoms in the short-term, but fail to address the root causes of your suffering. Psilocybin, on the other hand, helps you become aware of and face uncomfortable truths you may have been denying or running from for years.

As you contemplate your intentions for microdosing, you might ask yourself: Why do I want to take psilocybin? Why am I taking antidepressants? Am I willing to face and sit with reality, no matter how painful it is?

How to microdose?

How do I get microdoses?

How you acquire medicine might depend on where you live. Consider reading this article to explore your various choices and sourcing options.

Because psilocybin is a highly controlled substance in many jurisdictions, obtaining magic mushrooms or truffles may require you to take actions that are illegal or in a legal gray zone. As always, you are responsible for decisions you make.

In any case, here are some suggested options for sourcing psilocybin:

  1. Grow your own;
  2. Forage in the wild (please read this warning about identifying mushrooms; before taking this route);
  3. Purchase from a reputable website;
  4. Ask trusted friends and family members;
  5. Find experienced psychonauts who may be open to helping you.

If you live in the United States, Mushroom Tao offers an at home program that may suit your sourcing and integration needs. 

What is the right microdosing dosage?

Determining your ideal dosage may require some time and experimentation. The general advice of the microdosing community is to “start low and go slow.” At any time, you can increase your dosage.

Keep in mind that each psilocybin mushroom species and strain contains varying levels of potency. Even if you are an experienced mycologist or psychonaut, it can be difficult to know the exact strength of a mushroom or truffle until you ingest it. Here is an excellent resource if you’d like to learn more about different strains and potency.

In general, you may want to begin with a dosage between 0.05 and 0.15 grams of dried mushrooms. As you gain understanding of how psilocybin affects your body and mind, you can make dosage adjustments as needed.  

You might find it helpful to keep a journal or log of your dosages and experiences during the first few days or weeks of your microdosing journey. Writing can be a powerful practice in reflection and expression. You can either start your own or get a microdosing journal such as this, this, or this.

Alternatively, you might consider using tracking apps such as Houston, Microdosing Tracker, Tune In Psychedelics: MicroDose Tracker, Microdose.me.

The first few microdoses can be unpredictable, so plan accordingly. You may want to take them in an environment where you feel safe and comfortable. Ideally, you can free your schedule from urgent tasks and responsibilities, while avoiding situations that might cause you stress (e.g. work, public transport). 

As you experiment, you may occasionally discover that you’ve accidentally taken more than a microdose. If this happens, remember to breathe and remain calm. Smile and remind yourself that the journey will end soon. 

You’ll want to find a safe, comfortable place to be. You might want to go for a walk, get into nature, or simply lay down and rest. Make sure you avoid driving or operating heavy machinery. 

Once you start microdosing, you may feel the desire to take more substantial doses. The higher your dose, the more important your mindset and environment become. A full psychedelic journey usually requires more preparation and integration support than microdosing. So, if you feel a call to engage with the mushrooms on a deeper level, take the time to organize well.

What is the ideal microdosing schedule?

There are different approaches to creating a microdosing schedule. If you are a beginner, some structure and planning can be helpful. Once you gain some experience, you may develop a more intuitive “go with the flow” approach. The psilocybin journey helps you to remember to trust and listen to your intuition. 

Here are some scheduling ideas to get you started.

Dr. James Fadiman recommends a one-day-on, two-days-off schedule, in which you would take your microdose one day, take the next two days off, and then repeat the cycle. 

Paul Stamets recommends a four-days-on, three-days-off schedule. Previously, he recommended a five-day-on, two-day-off schedule.  

Some journeyers take a microdose every other day, or on the same three days each week (for example: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays).

As with any substance, the body can build a tolerance to psilocybin, causing diminishing returns. The “off” days allow this tolerance to dissipate. 

Some veteran psilocybin users recommend taking 1-2 weeks off from microdosing every 2-3 months in order to avoid building long-term tolerance to psilocybin. 

One helpful way to determine how to start is to read or ask questions in forums such as r/microdosing where beginners and experienced microdosers discuss their practice and recommend scheduling protocols. 

Many microdosers suggest taking your dose first thing in the morning. This way, any beneficial effects will endure throughout the day and not interfere with sleeping patterns. Additionally, it is best to microdose on an empty stomach as food will decrease absorption into the stomach lining. 

On the other hand, some people only microdose at night because they feel too tired if they take their dose during the day. 

As you can see, there are varying ideas and opinions about microdosing schedules and protocols. As you gain some experience, you’ll be able to develop your own perspectives.

How should I take my microdoses?

There are several ways you can take your microdoses. 

If you have access to medicine that has already been processed into capsules, gummies, tinctures, or chocolates, follow the instructions provided by the person or company from whom you sourced the products.

If you are working with whole dried mushrooms, you may decide to keep it simple. You can weigh out your dose on a precise digital scale and consume the mushroom as it is.

Alternatively, you may want to grind the mushrooms into a fine powder so you can put them into capsules or add them to a non-alcoholic beverage such as water, tea, juice, or your morning smoothie.

To grind the fungi, you can use an electric spice or coffee grinder, a food processor, or a high-powered blender. 

In addition to the psilocybin, you may also add other healthy ingredients such as:

  • medicinal mushrooms such as lion’s mane, chaga, or cordyceps;
  • herbs and superfoods such as maca, ashwagandha, or turmeric;
  • various vitamins. 

How do I store my microdoses?

Proper storage is vital for psilocybin to retain its potency, especially if you intend to store them long-term. We recommend keeping psilocybin in the freezer or refrigerator, but dried mushrooms can last many months out of the fridge.  

Light, oxygen, moisture, and heat are the main enemies of successful mushroom storage. Mason jars and other airtight containers can be helpful storage devices and should be kept in a cool, dark place to prevent light exposure. 

Make sure you monitor your jar storage as humidity can build up and cause spoilage. You can use a desiccant or humidity pack to keep things dry. 

Vacuum sealing is an effective way to keep dried mushrooms fresh over long periods. To see a full discussion about storing your mushrooms, consider reading this article

I want to share the benefits of microdosing with friends and family. Any advice?

Once you start experiencing the positive results of microdosing, you may feel an urge to share the good news and tell others how psilocybin can change the world. The temptation may be great to prove or push this point within your community and social networks. 

However, some people may not be as supportive or open-minded. Although the stigma attached to psychedelic use is quickly fading, many still believe that “all drugs are bad.” Practice patience and compassion with those who seem disinterested or closed-minded. 

If you become too zealous, preachy, or pushy, you risk damaging relationships or turning people off to psilocybin all together. Keep in mind that psychedelic substances are not suitable for everyone. 

Develop a sense of discernment about who is open to receiving what you want to share. As you cultivate active listening skills rooted in love and compassion, you’ll inspire curiosity about psilocybin and transmit the mushroom message. 

Often, the positive shifts in your behavior and mood will attract people who want to learn more. When you are at peace with yourself, you’ll naturally embody the wisdom of the mushrooms. People will come to you when they are ready.

What practices can support my microdosing journey?

You will experience the greatest benefits from your microdosing journey if you incorporate or strengthen other healthy lifestyle practices, such as:

  • meditation, prayer and breathwork
  • being with spiritual teachers 
  • nurturing a strong support system
  • spending time in nature
  • tai-chi, yoga, dance and other mindful movement practices
  • regular exercise
  • journaling 
  • volunteering and serving others

Microdosing is just one aspect of holistic health and wellness. To be happy and healthy, it’s essential to let go of relationships and habits that no longer serve you. This creates space for more constructive ones to take their place.

You’ll find joy in being in community with like-minded people. To connect with supportive microdosing circles, consider joining discussions hosted by Portland Psychedelic Society, Nexus Center for Consciousness, San Francisco Psychedelic Society, or Chicago Psychedelic Community

Love yourself. Be gentle. Challenge yourself to expand your comfort zone so you can break the chains that hold you back from realizing your full potential. 

Enjoy the Journey 

Now you have all the information you need to begin your microdosing journey and experience the benefits of psilocybin.

We at Mushroom Tao are honored to be part of your journey. If we can support you in your next steps, please feel free to reach out any time. We are happy to be of service. 

Extra resources

Online classes

Double Blind Magazine 

Microdose

The Third Wave

Psychedelic Society San Francisco

Embracing Your Light

Community support 

Microdosing Discussion (every 2nd Sundays) - Portland Psychedelic Society

Microdosing Support Group (3rd Tuesday of every month) - Nexus Center for Consciousness

Microdosing and Wellness (every Thursday) 

Microdosing Support Network (2nd and 4th Tuesdays) - San Francisco Psychedelic Society.

Microdosing Mornings, Microdosing Sharing & Discussion - Chicago Psychedelic Community

 

Books

A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life - Ayelet Waldman

The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys - James Fadiman

Microdosing Psilocybin Mushroom: Comprehensive Guide on How to Microdose with Magic Mushroom for Health and Healing - Daniels Ross

The Microdosing Guidebook: A Step-By-Step Manual to Improve Your Physical and Mental Health Through Psychedelic Medicine - C.J. Spotswood

Microdosing Journal

Microdose Journal: Microdosing diary for tracking and improving your mico-dose journey

Conscious Microdosing Journal

Apps

Houston (only on App store)

Microdosing Tracker

Tune In Psychedelics: MicroDose Tracker (only for Android)

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