Update (January 5, 2022):Following the news about a research study proving that psilocybin can be safely administered in small doses for treating mental health issues, we decided to resurface this story that was first published in October 2020.
New research from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London shows that psilocybin – a psychedelic drug isolated from the Psilocybe mushroom – can be safely administered at doses of either 10mg or 25mg. According to the literature published by James Rucker and Allan Young, this can find use “alongside talking therapy as a potential treatment for a range of mental health conditions, including treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and PTSD.”
Our original story follows.
The idea of microdosing hallucinogenic drugs to boost productivity has always fascinated me. I’m easily distracted and quite chaotic, so taking tiny amounts of recreational drugs to help me address that sounds like a good time to me.
Microdosing for productivity is nothing new, of course. Silicon Valley nerds have been raving about taking tiny doses of drugs for ages and this TNW2017 talk from Paul Austin has always been one of the most popular ones on our YouTube channel:
The idea of microdosing sparked real interest at TNW and we even set up a dedicated Slack channel for it and even had some offers to do a microdosing trial as a whole company. Despite loving his talk though, my colleagues and I didn’t dare to take the plunge and the idea just fizzled out.
The magical moment
My microdosing dreams were sparked again this year when a developer friend of mine wouldn’t shut up about how his productivity and problem-solving skills had improved after he started microdosing LSD. He made it sound like “NZT” — the wonder drug in that movie Limitless starring Bradley Cooper.
So I decided to take the plunge. I read some guides, got a tab of LSD, put it in some vodka, let it sit for a couple of days, and started doing tiny doses.
At first, I felt nothing, so I upped my dosage, until I noticed something. The feeling I got wasn’t like the Limitless productivity boost I was promised, I just felt antsy and restless instead. It was like a more uncomfortable version of the feeling you get when you drink too much coffee.
Slightly disillusioned, I dropped the idea of microdosing again and moved on with my life, until I stumbled across an Instagram ad from a company called Earth Resonance — an Amsterdam-based startup that sells microdosing packages from their webshop. It seemed I had finally found the streamlined (and legal) microdosing experience I had been looking for.
So how does it work?
As the name implies, they don’t sell LSD, but psilocybin truffles (commonly known as magic truffles). The concept is the same; you take a tiny dose of truffles (~1 gram) every other day and you get a very slight buzz – if you can even call it that – that helps you focus, organize, and work.
Being the cheap writer that I am, I contacted them for an interview and asked them if I could try their product. After a good chat with their two founders I got a month’s worth of truffles, a tiny scale, and a document they call the Protocol.
The Protocol is an extensive guide that helps you with the process, determine your ideal dose, set your goal, and gives you some tips on stuff like meditation.
You start with a relatively small dosage every other day, and increase it until you hit your sweet spot, which turned out to be 1.2 grams for me. This is all dependent on body weight, health, et cetera, but you can easily figure out what works best for you by slightly increasing your dose every other day.
If you want to follow the Protocol the way it’s intended you’ll have to stop drinking coffee and alcohol, stop smoking, keep track of your daily progress and meditate every day.
I did this for the first week until I realized it wasn’t doing much for me. The reason I started microdosing was for productivity, not for personal growth. After spending a week at my mom’s cabin without microdosing (I didn’t want to tell her), I decided I would finish the month but not do all the Protocol-stuff. It turned out to be a great decision.
In the stressful months leading up to our flagship conference, I did a dose every time I had a busy day ahead of me. It noticeably improved my productivity, especially in the first half of the day.
It’s hard to describe the effects of a microdose accurately without sounding like an ad. You know how sometimes you have a really productive day, for no discernible reason? Microdosing gives a similar feeling. Tasks get easier to tackle, you feel more creative, and distractions are easier to ignore.
It’s important to note though that it’s a relatively minor effect — so I suggest you set you expectations accordingly — but it’s a powerful tool once you get used to it. The effect is subdued, you might even barely notice it, but the results I saw in my work were far from it.
Earth Resonance is on a mission to give everyone a chance to see what it’s like to microdose psilocybin truffles — in a legal manner.
Lucky for me, a recent change in the Dutch tax code has that made possible here in the Netherlands. When magic truffles became a ‘luxury good’ (at 19% VAT), it got the legal status that allowed companies like Earth Resonance to start selling truffles online without having to worry about repercussions.
Earth Resonance’s founder, Robert Nass, told me people have opened up to microdosing since coronavirus lockdowns started. Orders have gone up as people start to seek new experimental ways to deal with these extremely weird conditions.
Of course experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs is daunting, and definitely not for everyone. That’s why Earth Resonance offers online consultancy (€89,00 for 1 hour) to help people prepare for their microdosing month. I didn’t get to try this aspect, but the thought of there being experts on staff to guide people gives you an idea of how serious this company is about normalizing microdosing.
The future of microdosing
The answer Nass gave when I asked him about the future of his company really stuck with me. I expected a stock answer about international expansion, but if it was up to Nass, his product would be part of the Dutch healthcare package. Seeing how birth control medication isn’t even part of our healthcare package, I wouldn’t hold my breath, but I admire his ambition and would love it if it came to fruition.
For now, the Netherlands is the only country that allows over-the-counter sales of psilocybin truffles. According to Nass, Canada is up next. He told me the pandemic delayed things, but he expects Canada to legalize it within the next three years. I really hope they do.
If you’ve been curious about microdosing (and live in the Netherlands), I can recommend you give it a go. We’re all working from home anyway, so why not experiment with small amounts of drugs while you’re there? It’s been a great experience for me and I’m confident more people can benefit from giving it a go.
Maybe the future of work isn’t just remote, it’s also on drugs.
Please read Earth Resonance’s healthcare disclaimer before ordering. If you have any underlying conditions or doubts, consult with your physician beforehand.