Psilocybin for Improving Athletic Performance

Psilocybin for Improving Athletic Performance

Can psilocybin be taken to improve athletic performance? Yes, probably. Psilocybin and other “psychedelics” have earned new fame as cognitive enhancers when taken in “sub-threshold” doses, often called “microdoses“.  In other words, molecules like psilocybin have uses aside from inducing hallucinations.  In particular, people can consume lower amounts of psilocybin to receive valuable benefits without hallucinating.  To date, most of the attention in the “microdosing” space has focused on either (a) treating mood disorders or (b) cognitive enhancement.

This article proposes that psilocybin could be used as a performance-enhancing substance in physical activities like sports.

Psilocybin for Athletic Performance

Could psilocybin be used as a performance enhancing drug in sports?  Recent reports regarding cannabis use suggest that cognitive or mood enhancing substances can enhance athletic performance.  Furthermore, anecdotal reports suggest that appropriate doses of psilocybin enhance performance, for example in martial arts.

An analogy to Cannabis Use in the NFL and NBA

Recently, the Washington Post wrote a story about NBA star Matt Barnes‘s pre-game use of cannabis for improving his athletic performance.  In Mr. Barnes’s words, “All my best games I was medicated.”

Similarly, NFL defensive lineman Shaun Smith reported using cannabis for athletic performance.  “I can focus and actually do the job that I have to do,” he said. “It’s like I’m in the zone.”

An analogy to LSD in Baseball

On June 12, 1970, Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter against the Padres while on lysergic acid diethylamide, also known as LSD or acid. See Jon Tayler, Sports Illustrated, June 12, 2017.  According to Mr. Ellis, “I can only remember bits and pieces of the game. I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria. I was zeroed in on the [catcher’s] glove.”

Reports of Psilocybin for Enhancing Athletic Performance

Recently, we have received correspondence from many athletes, describing their experiences with psilocybin as a performance-enhancing drug.  For example, one psilocybin athlete explained “In terms of kickboxing, reaction time and hand/eye coordination definitely improve with microdosing, I find it easier to “read” opponents and anticipate strikes. But that’s just anecdotal.” (emphasis added)

In the clip below at 4:55, Joe Rogan discusses using psilocybin for improving kickboxing performance.

Athletic Improvement by Cognitive Enhancement

Notably, Smith, Barnes, and other athletes point to the cognitive enhancing properties of using certain psychoactive substances.  They use these drugs to improve their cognitive ability — to “zero in” or get “in the zone.”  This sort of mental use is different from conventional “doping,” where athletes take a drug that provides a physical advantage (e.g., steroids, EPO, stimulants, human growth hormone, etc.).  Traditionally, using drugs for enhancing an athlete’s physical abilities has been criticized as dangerous or unsportsmanlike (cheating).   What about taking a cognitive enhancer?  Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Potential for Psilocybin in Athletics

  • Recent reports about using cannabis for athletic performance suggest that elite athletes value cognitive enhancement as well as physical enhancement.
  • Psilocybin seems like a logical candidate for enhancing the mental component of athletic performance.
  • Limited anecdotal reports suggest that psilocybin can enhance performance, e.g., in the martial arts, like kickboxing.

Presently, the greatest hurdle to exploring psilocybin use in sports is access to reliable dosage formulations.  Currently, the state of the art for psilocybin technology focusses on eating mushrooms of unknown chemical composition and concentration.  Accordingly, the potential benefits of psilocybin remain unexplored by virtue of the scientific community’s failure to develop reliable formulated products.

Please let us know your thoughts….

  • Do you have a story about psilocybin affecting your athletic performance?
  • Do you have a reference about an athlete using psilocybin during training or competition?

Please share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” section below.

1 thought on “Psilocybin for Improving Athletic Performance

  1. Jordan Bible Reply

    I am an ex-collegiate football player who stays very active. I didn’t get into microdosing until after graduating but have been experimenting successfully with psilocybin for studying, volleyball, spike ball, YOGA and as of recently road biking. There is no doubt that they heavily increase my performance in all of the above. As a Sports Psych graduate student at DU, I am hopeful that the recent decriminlization will open up ‘doors of perception’ and a paradigm shift on this special substance.

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