Microdosing is on the rise. Open-minded folk all over the world are experimenting with low doses of psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) as well as a range of other mind-bending psychedelic compounds.
If you have looked into microdosing yourself, you may have come across something known as the Stamets’ Stack, which is a protocol for microdosing psilocybin devised by renowned mycologist Paul Stamets.
The basic structure of the Stamets’ stack is psilocybin (from mushroom or truffle), lion’s mane, and niacin.
The regular consumption of these three substances is theorised to not only protect and repair brain cells, but to also generate new ones while forging new neural pathways.
The results are improvements in mental health (including a dampening of the fear response, making one more courageous), cognition, and agility.
Stamets believes that the widescale use of the stack could be the catalyst to a meaningful step up in the evolution of human consciousness.
This article will explain the precise doses of the protocol, along with the theory behind it, its benefits, and everything else you need to know about it.
What is microdosing?
Microdosing is when you take a dose of some psychoactive substance so low that you notice no obvious effects. The idea is that the psychedelic compound has subtle positive effects that you may only notice at the end of the day, week or even month.
Microdosing became popular among coders and tech workers in silicon valley looking for an edge in focus and creativity. It’s now widely known about and practiced by people from all sorts of lifes, from housewives to writers, entrepreneurs to students.
Benefits of microdosing psilocybin
Psilocybin is the main psychoactive compound found naturally in certain “magic” mushrooms. Structurally, it’s quite similar to DMT - which has become known in pop culture as the “spirit molecule” due to the reliably mystical experiences it induces.
People microdose psilocybin for a number of reasons. The most common are to enhance creativity and problem solving ability, boost overall mood, improve social anxiety, protect the brain, or to treat mental health issues.
There is growing amounts of research proving the positive effects that psilocybin can have on humans. The main takeaways so far are that psilocybin has profound antidepressant properties as well as a unique ability to dampen the fear response. These properties make psilocybin a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and other related conditions.
Who is Paul Stamets?
Paul Stamets is an American mycologist with a colourful personality and a remarkable relationship with fungi. Having cured a childhood stutter by tripping on 20g of magic mushrooms while up a tree to escape a lightning storm (a truly amazing story he tells to Joe Rogan here), Stamets has spent his life studying fungi (the kingdom that mushrooms are part of).
In his 2005 book, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, Stamets says shrooms offer utility and solutions for problems in fields as disparate as medicine, forestry, pesticides and pollution control.
Check out his wildly popular (with 3.5m views) 2008 Ted Talk 6 ways mushrooms can save the world here.
What is Lion's Mane and why is it part of the stack?
Lion’s mane is an edible mushroom with its roots in traditional Chinese medicine, where it has been appreciated for centuries for its ability to treat a wide range of ailments.
While there isn’t much widespread data in humans, a number of promising studies and anecdotal reports suggest lion’s mane can boost brain health by stimulating the brain to produce more NGF (Nerve Growth Factor).
NGF is important for the production, growth, and maintenance of neurons in the brain. This neuronal enhancement helps increase connectivity with the brain, resulting in better memory, focus and thinking in general. Put simply, Lion’s Mane helps to keep the brain vital and healthy.
When discussing his protocol, Stamets refers to two mice studies in particular. In these studies, scientists intentionally damaged the brains of some mice by giving them a neurotoxin, giving them dementia-like symptoms. Remarkably, when given lion’s mane mushroom, the effects of the neurotoxin were reversed.
The study states:
“The reduction of beta-amyloid plaques in the brains of mushroom-fed mice vs. the mice not fed any mushrooms was remarkable. The formation of amyloid plaques is what many researchers believe is a primary morphological biomarker associated with Alzheimer’s. Plaques linked to beta-amyloid peptide inflame brain tissue, interfere with healthy neuron transmission, and are indicated in nerve degeneration.”
What is niacin and why is it in the Stamets stack?
Niacin is also known as vitamin B3. It’s a vitamin that’s created in the body from the amino acid tryptophan. It’s found in food such as free-range meat, salmon, sardines, sunflower seeds and tahini.
Niacin plays an important role in energy and protein metabolism. Deficiencies in niacin can have negative effects on metabolism leading to a range of disorders. It’s also essential for the regeneration of the skin, muscles, nerves, and DNA, as well as providing an anti-oxidative effect.
In high doses, niacin also works as a flushing agent - meaning that it expands your capillaries and pushes blood to your skin’s surface, creating a red, warm and tingling or burning sensation for about an hour after consumption. The flush is considered harmless, but it can be uncomfortable.
This flushing effect is why niacin is included in the Stamets’ stack. Basically, it’s Stamets’ theory that the flush allows greater distribution of the psilocybin and lion’s mane to the nerve extremities, which is where the majority of neurogenesis (creation of new neurons) happens.
Neurons (or nerve cells) are the cells that make up the brain and nervous system. They are responsible for receiving sensory input from the external world, for sending movement commands to our muscles, and for transforming and relaying the electrical signals at every step in between.
Speaking about the choice of compounds included in his protocol, Stamets says:
“This unique combination of compounds [can provide] medically significant advancements in repairing neurons, removing amyloid plaques, improving mental health, cognition, agility, and improving overall the ecology of consciousness.”
Precise Stamets' Stack method
Microdosing with the Paul Stamets’ stack is not too complicated. It involves 5 days of microdosing followed by two days off. On the two days off, you are advised to take lion’s mane and niacin but not psilocybin.
The precise protocol with doses is as follows:
DAY 1-5 (microdosing days)
- 0.01-0.1 gram magic mushrooms or 0.5-1.0 gram magic truffles
- 3 –20g of high-quality lion’s mane (or 1g of lion's mane extract)
- 100 to 200mg of niacin
DAY 6 and 7 (non-microdosing days)
- 3 – 20g of Lion’s Mane (or 1g of lion's mane extract)
- 100 to 200mg of niacin
The right dose for you will vary depending on numerous factors, including age, sex and weight. When working with any psychedelic, it’s best to start off slow and increase dose as you deem appropriate.
Amazing potential of the Stamets' stack
Paul Stamets believes the combination of lion’s mane, psilocybin and niacin holds great promise. He even goes so far as to claim that if the stack was widely available like other health supplements, as well as used widely over generations, its neurogenerative effect has the potential to initiate ‘the next quantum leap in human consciousness.’
Relating to the ‘Stoned Ape Theory’, which suggests that the consumption of psilocybin and other psychedelics has played an important role in human evolution, Stamets sees his protocol as a way to uplift humans into a fresh, more empathetic stage of evolution.
His theory would seem to be backed up by recent discoveries that suggest psychedelics were integral to the formation of Western civilization and the genesis of Christian thought, which directly led to the enlightenment, reformation and industrial revolution. The incredible book The Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion by Brian C. Muraresku.
Whether you realise it or not, we are in the midst of a psychedelic revolution. Normal people from all walks of life are experimenting with mystical compounds that our ancestors revered but our recent leaders have outlawed for decades.
We’re learning how they can heal us, humble us, and teach us. We’re learning how they can enhance our lives and, thus, the world.
Microdosing is one of the most popular modern ways of using psychedelics and it’s slowly creeping into the mainstream. As one of the most well-known microdosing protocols, the Stamets’ Stack combines three unique substances to have potentially miraculous effects in creating new neurons and building new neural pathways.
The consequences of this can be profound, both on a personal and global level. If Stamets is right - and he may well be - psychedelics like psilocybin may be one of the most important tools humans have ever discovered.
Check out our potent lion’s mane extract here.