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This is What Happens to Your Brain When You Microdose with Psilocybin

Have you ever taken a substance—prescribed or not—and wondered what was going on in your brain after intake?

That’s the point of substances—they alter your brain chemistry to give you a specified result. For individuals suffering from anxiety, for example, taking an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) will send the medication through your bloodstream and go to work in your brain in order to increase the levels of serotonin. If you don’t recall—serotonin is the “happy hormone” that modulates mood, cognition, reward, learning, memory, and numerous physiological processes.

Just like Prozac helps with anxiety and depression, microdosing on psilocybin affects your brain in various ways in order for you to achieve a specified result.

The majority of people microdose on psilocybin in order to achieve the following:

  • Enhance performance

  • Induce a positive mood

  • Increase focus and concentration

  • Enhance creativity

  • Alleviate psychological symptoms

  • Satiate curiosity

How exactly does psilocybin affect your brain?

The science behind it all is pretty neat.

Researchers who studied the effects of psilocybin on the brain, took brain images from nine people and either injected with psilocybin or a placebo.

These brain images were displayed to see a whole picture of the neurons in the brain as well as the activity of the brain’s neurotransmitters.

Typically, neurons fire neurotransmitters along the same neural pathways in the brain; hence this is why and how we know how to do things, create habits, and can easily practice the same skill over and over. The brain is trained to be structured and organized.

“Researchers found that when on magic mushrooms, these pathways were ‘destabilized’. Rather than traveling along the well-trodden pathways, the neurotransmitters tended to take new ‘roads’ to new destinations. In the end, their models showed that while on magic mushrooms, the brain taps into new networks by coupling the effects of neuron activity and the release of neurotransmitters,” (Labroots).

Simply put, psilocybin has been shown to not only increase neuroplasticity but also to promote the formation of new neural connections, or synapses.

Researchers are finding that by microdosing psilocybin, individuals are able to have similar positive effects as if they were ingesting psilocybin for hallucinogenic effects.

Future Research

While there still needs to be much more specific and longer-lasting studies on the effects microdosing with psilocybin has on the brain...

The research team from above “hopes that their model will provide a basis to understand more about how psychedelics such as psilocybin can rebalance neuropsychiatric disorders such as treatment-resistant depression and addiction,” (Labroots).

Many also hope that one day soon the FDA will approve capsules to take for those in need within the general population.

An article in the Journal of Psychopharmacology poses several questions for future research:

  • What does microdosing mean?

  • What microdosing schedules have been used?

  • What controlled studies have been done so far?

  • Are there any relevant preclinical studies?

  • What is the pharmacology of psychedelics when used in microdoses?

  • Is microdosing safe?

  • What receptors will be involved in the activity of microdosed psilocybin?

  • Are the claims of the benefits of microdosing biologically plausible?

  • What is the legal position of microdosing?

  • What are the regulatory issues?

  • What are the future research needs?

These are great questions to ponder as we move forward with clinical and anecdotal studies in the area of microdosing.

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