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Psychotherapeutic Benefits of Microdosing: Clinical Perspective and Exploration of Stamets Protocol

Microdosing, the practice of consuming small, sub-hallucinogenic amounts of psychedelic substances, has attracted significant interest in recent years both among the public and within the scientific community. Although still nascent, research suggests that microdosing may offer a range of psychotherapeutic benefits, from enhanced creativity and focus to improvements in mood and well-being. This essay will explore these benefits from a clinical perspective and examine the Paul Stamets microdosing protocol, a widely-used regimen developed by the renowned mycologist and advocate of medicinal mushrooms.

Psychedelic Microdosing: An Overview

Psychedelic microdosing involves the consumption of approximately one-tenth to one-twentieth of a typical recreational dose of a psychedelic substance. Substances commonly used include LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and psilocybin, the active compound in "magic" mushrooms. The dose is sufficiently low to avoid the overt psychedelic effects associated with higher doses, such as hallucinations or significant alterations in consciousness, but it is believed to have noticeable effects on cognition and mood.

Emerging research, although largely based on self-reports and preliminary studies, suggests several potential psychotherapeutic benefits of microdosing. These include enhanced cognition, improved mood, reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, and possible benefits for individuals with ADHD.

Enhanced Cognition:

Microdosers frequently report improvements in various cognitive domains, including creativity, focus, and problem-solving abilities. A study by Prochazkova et al. (2018) suggested that microdosing with psilocybin may enhance divergent thinking, a key component of creative thought.

Improved Mood:

Anecdotal reports and preliminary research suggest that microdosing may improve mood and enhance well-being. A survey study by Anderson et al. (2019) found that individuals who microdose reported lower levels of negative emotions and attitudes.

Reduced Anxiety and Depression:

Microdosing may also have potential benefits for individuals with anxiety and depression. In a study by Hutten et al. (2021), participants who microdosed with psilocybin reported reductions in symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, the researchers cautioned that these findings might be partly due to placebo effects, highlighting the need for further studies.


Emerging evidence suggests that microdosing might be helpful for individuals with ADHD. A survey study by Kuypers et al. (2017) suggested that individuals with ADHD who used psychedelics recreationally reported reductions in their symptoms. This promising line of inquiry requires further exploration.

Paul Stamets Protocol

Paul Stamets, a leading expert in the field of mycology, has developed a popular protocol for psychedelic microdosing that incorporates a 'stacking' approach. The Stamets Protocol involves microdosing psilocybin alongside supplements of Lion’s Mane mushroom and niacin. The idea behind this protocol is to enhance neurogenesis – the creation of new neurons – and to promote neurological health.

According to Stamets, the psilocybin acts as a pro-neurogenic compound, the Lion's Mane provides support for neurogenesis through its nerve growth factor (NGF)-stimulating properties, and the niacin serves to increase the bioavailability of the other components and drive them deeper into the nervous system. The Stamets Protocol typically involves microdosing for five days followed by two days off, although variations exist.

It's important to note that the evidence base for the Stamets Protocol is currently limited. While there is some evidence that psilocybin and Lion's Mane may have neurogenic properties, the specificcombination proposed in the Stamets Protocol has not yet been thoroughly researched. Future studies are needed to validate the neurogenic and psychotherapeutic effects of this protocol.

Safety and Ethical Considerations:

While the potential psychotherapeutic benefits of microdosing are promising, it is essential to highlight the importance of safety and ethical considerations in this field. Although generally considered safe at microdoses, psychedelic substances can have adverse effects, including psychological distress, and their long-term effects are not yet fully understood. They are also illegal in many jurisdictions, which presents significant ethical and logistical challenges for researchers and clinicians. Therefore, further research is needed to fully understand the benefits, risks, and optimal protocols for psychedelic microdosing.

Microdosing presents a promising new avenue in psychotherapy, with potential benefits including enhanced cognition, improved mood, and reductions in symptoms of anxiety, depression, and possibly ADHD. The Stamets Protocol, incorporating a stacking approach with psilocybin, Lion's Mane, and niacin, represents an interesting approach to potentially enhancing these benefits, although further research is needed to validate its efficacy.

As the field of psychedelic research continues to evolve, it is likely that microdosing will play an increasingly prominent role. However, it is essential that this research proceeds with caution, rigor, and a commitment to safety and ethics. With this approach, the potential of psychedelic microdosing to contribute to our therapeutic arsenal is enormous.

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Psychotherapeutic Benefits of Microdosing

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  1. Anderson, T., Petranker, R., Christopher, A., Rosenbaum, D., Weissman, C., Dinh-Williams, L. A., Hui, K., & Hapke, E. (2019). Psychedelic microdosing benefits and challenges: An empirical codebook. Harm Reduction Journal, 16(1), 43.

  2. Prochazkova, L., Lippelt, D. P., Colzato, L. S., Kuchar, M., Sjoerds, Z., & Hommel, B. (2018). Exploring the effect of microdosing psychedelics on creativity in an open-label natural setting. Psychopharmacology, 235(12), 3401-3413.

  3. Hutten, N. R., Mason, N. L., Dolder, P. C., & Kuypers, K. P. (2021). Motives and side-effects of microdosing with psychedelics among users. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 23(8), 542-549.

  4. Kuypers, K. P., Ng, L., Erritzoe, D., Knudsen, G. M., Nichols, C. D., Nichols, D. E., Pani, L., Soula, A., Nutt, D. (2019). Microdosing psychedelics: More questions than answers? An overview and suggestions for future research. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 33(9), 1039–1057.

  5. Stamets, P. (2019). Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World: An Identification Guide. Ten Speed Press.

  6. Stamets, P. (2020). Fantastic Fungi: How Mushrooms Can Heal, Shift Consciousness, and Save the Planet. Earth Aware Editions.

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