Who hasn’t heard yet about microdosing truffles, mushrooms or LSD? Here in the Netherlands, the mainstream media is now talking about this practice, thus helping to normalise it in the eyes of many. The Psychedelic Renaissance is real: even Marie-Claire published a piece about women who microdose.
In our country, people can easily buy magic truffles or a magic mushroom grow kit from a smartshop. It is therefore easier for psychedelic newbies to find information and try microdosing on their own? Easier yes, but not necessarily easy! You may have plenty of questions: can I drive on a microdosing day? Can microdosing attenuate or worsen migraines or anxiety? Do microdosing and antidepressants mix well?
Your favourite search engine can help you find much of the information you’re after, but you should remain vigilant to filter opinions from facts. In addition, you may still feel isolated in your microdosing experience unless you find people to talk with: in the end, nothing replaces real connections and sharing. Jakobien, co-founder of the website and community Microdosing.nl is also of that opinion. We decided to explore together the benefits of finding the other microdosers, over a cup of coffee.
Filtering False Information and Improving Benefits
Jakobien and the core team of Microdosing.nl often explain to new or experienced microdosers that ‘microdosing (truffles, mushrooms or any other psychedelic substance) is a tool, not a magic cure for all’. It can help people reaching a set goal, such as becoming more creative, feeling more attuned to the world, or improving their mental health. But in any case, the person must work on that. According to David, another very active member of the community, ‘the microdose is what an electric bike is to your journey: if you sit on it and don’t pedal at all, nothing will happen!’
Harm reduction is key in the Facebook group of the community; since microdosing has not been extensively studied, misconceptions are common. The support and information brought there by admins is quite visible and reassuring. To Jakobien, it is crucial to give visibility to scientific information and facts whenever they are available, sometimes to counter opinions, sometimes to back them with explanations. Indeed, sensationalist media articles calling microdosing the new ‘hype’ or ‘performance hack’ have contributed to spreading generalisations and fostering high expectations.
Whether it is online or in real life, during various meetup events, people from all personal and medical conditions are always encouraged to join the conversation. This helps building a body of experiential knowledge particularly useful to people suffering from specific conditions, like cluster headaches or anxiety.
Even though I don’t face these challenges, I find it personally more productive to be part of a group of supportive and curious peers than to delve into endless introspection about my microdosing journey. And support is definitely helping me to pedal on that metaphoric bike!
Getting Out of the Psychedelic Closet
According to Jakobien, the Microdosing.nl community can be roughly divided in two groups: people who have taken psychedelics before, and people who haven’t. In fact, not all psychedelics takers can openly talk about their experience with friends, colleagues, or even therapist or doctor. Personally, I tend to forget this in my Amsterdam bubble, surrounded by other psychonauts and open-minded friends. In other social environments or parts of the country, where psychedelics users are either stigmatised or invisible, people may feel stuck in a ‘psychedelic closet’.
Under these conditions, ‘it takes courage to try psychedelics, even in a microdosing form’. Finding the informed others becomes a relief from isolation. ‘We are normal people,’ adds Jakobien, smiling. ‘I mean, we are not a closed club of nerds, we welcome everyone.’ Indeed, the people I met are no preachers. They come from various backgrounds and different parts of the country. And despite their huge technical knowledge on microdosing, they are always eager to learn from other people’s experiences.
Supporting Microdosing Research
In the context of the Psychedelic Renaissance, research in microdosing is very dynamic these days. Recently, I joined a ‘Microdosing workshop for science’ in Amsterdam, co-organised by researchers from the Universities of Leiden and Amsterdam, the Psychedelic Society of the Netherlands (PSN) and Microdosing.nl. The room was buzzing with activity: about 25 carefully selected research participants were preparing together capsules of truffles.
Everyone was excited to take part in this novel double-blind, placebo-controlled longitudinal study on the effects of microdosing magic truffles. People sat together around communal tables to gently break the magic truffles in small pieces, before dehydration. Someone told their neighbour: ‘I can’t speak about that with my family, no way.’ I heard questions such as: ‘Do you know anyone here?’ or ‘Have you ever tried microdosing with LSD?’
After taking both microdoses and placebos on a period of six weeks, participants will meet again to hear from the researchers. Even though participants will take individual tests in university labs, the setting of this microdosing scientific study fosters experience-sharing and a feeling of kinship. Indeed, participants benefit from the support of PSN members if needed. They also know they can share all (non-research) questions, comments or concerns they may have in the microdosing Facebook group, and they are encouraged to join social events of both communities.
As I write these lines, a worldwide self-blinding microdose study is also taking place: it tracks the effects among people who microdose for a month with both an active substance and a placebo. You can find all useful information on the website of this Beckley Foundation – Imperial College London research partnership. There, no ‘official’ platform or network is dedicated to foster experience sharing among individual participants.
If you are already microdosing or planning to do so, this may be something for you. But why not trying to gather a small group a friends or relatives to participate together? If they live close to you, you could all meet once a week, or so, to exchange about your experience. In addition, you could join people who already discuss about this study in various subReddits, or the Microdosing.nl Facebook page.
Growing Strong Together
Worldwide, the number of people who microdose is steadily growing. They are not only Silicon Valley startup superstars or ‘übersmart twentysomething’ American people. It’s also people like me and you, who want to improve their well-being. It’s people who have been struggling for too long with the side effects of their antidepressants and try to find alternatives. The weirds, the normals, the scientific-minded, the DIY enthusiasts and everyone else!
The Microdosing.nl Facebook group started in August 2017. It now counts more than 1300 members, from 20 to about 65 years-old. Every time microdosing is mentioned in the media, more people join, in addition to 30 or more new members joining, on average, per week. New members invite their friends, and the snowball effect continues. How big will this Netherlands-based community grow? No one knows, but I hope everyone interested in microdosing will be able to find fellow people to share their experience with, online and in real life as much as possible.
Last year, Julia went to the Open the Doors seminar on microdosing in Amsterdam. This year, it will happen again on May 26, at a location to be announced. If you are in the Netherlands, go check it for yourself. If you are close by in Europe, this sounds like an opportunity to come visit us! There, you are sure to find a bunch of others.
Do you know of microdosing communities and groups in your area? Please share the details in a comment below!
Some communities and spaces dedicated to microdosing
· Website The Third Wave, a reference, but with a more commercial twist (English)
· Subreddit Microdosing (English)
· Forum Mycotopia (English)
· Facebook group on Ayahusca microdosing (English)
The cover illustration for this blogpost was graciously made available by the artist: