Our state of Mental Health is fast becoming a leading cause of concern in Australia, and indeed throughout the world. Nearly 1 in 2 (46%) of Australians aged 16-85 have experienced a mental disorder during their lifetime. (AIHW1)
Mental illness affects people of all ages, regardless of their income status, level of education or the culture they come from. Alarmingly, by age 40 roughly 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness.
In recent years, psychedelics have been used to assist people with a range of ailments; from PTSD to anxiety, stress, and addiction. And the results are stunning; just a single dose of psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient found in magic mushrooms, has been found to reduce anxiety and depression for up to 5 years. (Ross2)
Mushrooms of all types, and not just the magic variety, are found to provide enormous benefits to our health. From regulating blood pressure to helping with weight loss, heart disease, diabetes, even cancer. They’re fast becoming known as a superfood and all-round low-calorie source of fibre, protein, and antioxidants.
We caught up with a husband and wife in Sydney, Australia who are using a variety of mushrooms to aid their mental health and general well-being. They’re microdosing on psilocybin mushrooms in addition to a daily dose of non psychoactive varieties in the form of Lion's Mane, Reishi, and Turkey Tail.
Because the use of psychedelics is still illegal in Australia, the couple wish to retain their anonymity and will be referred to as “The Traveller” and “Jane”
Why did you start microdosing?
Jane: I had a back problem that was causing me a lot of anxiety in addition to the pain itself. I was on medication to deal with my stress and I decided I wanted to get off the drugs and try self-medicating magic mushrooms for my anxiety. It took 3 - 4 weeks to get off the drugs, and the withdrawal was worse than the actual symptoms.
The Traveller: In the past, I had smoked a lot of weed, done some MDMA and even cocaine to deal with my anxieties. I was terrified about doing any psychedelics though as I’d heard all the horror stories, what I call the propaganda about psychedelics, growing up.
A mate told me about magic mushrooms, so I started doing my own research, just learning and gathering information. Gradually, I started to see the use of psychedelics as a positive thing. I had my first own Ayahuasca ceremony and saw firsthand the positive effects of that. The Ayahuasca re-connected me to my father and our relationship has been better ever since.
So for me, it was an evolution of meeting the right people and finding the right information.
How did you determine the dosage?
The Traveller: It’s a bit of trial and error. A classic microdose is around .01 to .04 of a gram. But the dosage will vary for different people depending on their body weight, and even down to whether you microdose on an empty or full stomach.
Jane: I’m on the lower end of the scale and will take around .12 gms. I still want to operate normally but be a bit elevated. If I take .13 and above, I notice the effects a lot more and I want to lie down and chill out.
When do you microdose?
The Traveller: We microdose between meal times, usually mid-afternoon. In fact, if I decide to microdose on any given day, I’ll often skip lunch.
What was your experience?
Jane: I started noticing changes very quickly on the shrooms. They bring you into the present, rather than being worried about the future or dwelling on the past. They also connected me to nature. I thought I was a nature lover already but microdosing connected me on a much deeper level.
It eased a lot of my anxiety. Things seem a little brighter, lighter or more shiny when I’m microdosing.
It also changed my relationship with my mum, it helped me to set boundaries with her as we’ve had a dysfunctional relationship in the past.
The Traveller: I know I have trauma in my life. Understanding there were things about myself I didn't like. I used to care too much about what other people thought about me, I would lie awake at night thinking about it. I care too much about what people think about what I am, what I do, and what I say.
The plants removed that anxiety. After a lot of personal work. I've come to a place where I can see who it's important to care about their opinions. Other people's opinions of me are their problem.
I now have freedom and liberation from anxiety.
Any negative experiences from microdosing?
Jane: I can’t cook on microdoses! Can’t follow a recipe. Scheduling goes out the window.
The Traveller: it helps to know what you're planning for the day. Set and setting still plays a role. I talk too much on anything above .25 grams of a dose!
What other mushrooms are you taking and why?
The Traveller: I take Reishi and Lion's Mane every day. When I microdose, I combine the psilocybin with Lion's Mane as Lion's Mane has been found to help regenerate brain cells. This in conjunction with psilocybin, I believe has helped my mental acuity. I have what I call Lion's mane moments; where solutions come to me - problem-solving ideas etc. How to adapt a tool or process to solve a problem.
Have the non psychoactive mushrooms helped your mental health?
The Traveller: At the end of the day the better your immune system is the better your body works, and the better your communication between your gut and your brain.
Jane: Mental health is definitely affected by the state of your body, so I would say yes, they have helped.
Photo credit: @didsss
- “Mental health services in Australia: Mental health: prevalence and impact.” Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 7 July 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mental-health-services/mental-health. Accessed 9 August 2022.
- Ross, Stephen. “Rapid and sustained symptom reduction following psilocybin treatment for anxiety and depression in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized controlled trial.” Journal of Psychopharmacology, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311237912_Rapid_and_sustained_symptom_reduction_following_psilocybin_treatment_for_anxiety_and_depression_in_patients_with_life-threatening_cancer_A_randomized_controlled_trial.