Microdosing Psilocybin with
- What does “microdosing” psilocybin mean?
- What is the state of the art for microdosing ?
- How can we improve the state of the art?
What does “Microdosing” mean?
Microdosing psilocybin means administering substantially less than a standard recreational/spiritual dose of 20 – 50 mg. For example, microdoses could be 1 to 3 mg.
According to many “experts” and Wikipedia, microdosing is “a technique for studying the behavior of drugs in humans through the administration of doses so low (“sub-therapeutic”) they are unlikely to produce whole-body effects, but high enough to allow the cellular response to be studied.” The term “microdosing” is also used to refer to dispensing small and precise amounts of a drug substance.
Microdosing = Small + Precise Dose
Overall, “microdosing” means precisely administering a small amount of psilocybin. As discussed below, the small amount appears to mean about 1 – 3 mg of psilocybin, which is said equate to 0.1 – 0.3 g of dried mushroom material. Existing methods of microdosing fail to provide precise doses. (Consuming “magic mushrooms” is different from taking pure psilocybin because mushrooms vary wildly in chemical composition and concentration). Existing methods use a dried mushroom material which varies in its chemical composition.
Notably, much of the concern about chemical variability can be minimized by grinding up and homogenizing a large sample of dried mushrooms in order to homogenize a batch of material before splitting it up into individual dosage forms. This practice substantially lessens the variability between doses made from the same batch. However, it does not guarantee a particular chemical composition for any of those doses.
Small Dose = About 1 to 3 mg.
There appears to be no general consensus regarding the optimal “dose” for “microdosing” psilocybin. However, everyone agrees that microdosing means administering substantially less than the amount required for a recreational or spiritual dose.
How much less? The amount is unclear because it is defined by the user’s perception of the dose rather than the mass of the dose administered. Nevertheless, based on the existing literature, it appears that the dose is substantially less than 20 to 50 mg of psilocybin. Websites suggest using 0.1g – 0.3 g of dried mushroom material. (Based on 1% psilocybin content in the mushroom, that would mean 1 – 3 mg of psilocybin.)
Summary: The dose administered for microdosing is between 1 – 3 mg of psilocybin, compared to 20 – 50 mg for recreational or spiritual use.
Unmet Need for Precise Doses of Psilocybin
Presently the state of the art does not have a reliable means for administering precise amounts of psilocybin.
- Mushrooms vary in psilocybin content between individual samples. Accordingly, even where a user accurately and precisely measures the amount of mushroom material consumed, that person has no idea as to the amount of psilocybin present in each mushroom.
- Different mushroom species vary in their psilocybin content. Accordingly, even where a user correctly measures the amount of mushroom material consumed, the amount of psilocybin could vary considerably depending on the species of “magic mushroom.” Here, we noted that most experienced mushroom cultivators appear to gravitate towards the Psilocybe Cubensis species, which eliminates some of the chemical variability that arises from genetic variation between species.
- Accordingly, even where a user correctly measures the amount of mushroom material consumed, that material may vary considerably in terms of its chemical composition (i.e., the active components, including psilocybin and also other molecules present in naturally occurring psychoactive mushrooms). See Psilocybin Chemistry at “Psilocybin Derivatives.” Some of this variability can be addressed by experienced mushroom cultivators.
Improving Microdosing by Making Formulated Products
As discussed above, using mushroom material to provide psilocybin compromises a user’s ability to administer precise amounts of the desired ingredient. Within the context of microdosing, small deviations are important. For example, an error of 2 mg when administering a 50 mg dose creates only about 4% deviation from the intended dose. (The user might not notice) However, the same 2 mg error would result in administering 300% of the intended amount for a person intending to administer a 1 mg dose. Taking 3x the intended dose is likely to bring about undesired effects.
Additionally, relying on mushroom material as a source of active ingredients introduces the possibility of contamination. See, e.g., “Black Rot.”
Each of these problems could be resolved by making formulated psilocybin compositions. Making formulated psilocybin compositions having small and precise amounts of psilocybin would allow the user to administer exactly the amount desired. Moreover, formulating compositions with pure psilocybin derivatives (rather than eating mushrooms) would eliminate the possibility of unwanted contaminants.
2. See, generally, publications by James Fadiman
3. Johnstad PG. Powerful substances in tiny amounts: An interview study of psychedelic microdosing. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 2018;35(1):39-51. doi:10.1177/1455072517753339