Microdosing Psilocybin vs. SSRI Use
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While one or the other could be a game-changer for your mental state, taking both together could prove to be disastrous.
Chances are, if the idea of microdosing psilocybin, LSD, or another psychoactive drug seems like it might offer some benefits- you’re probably no stranger to traditional antidepressants. When contemplating microdosing, Canada, South America, and even parts of Europe may offer some insightful information into the practice. As these areas in particular have offered some compelling evidence as well as shroom dispensaries that may help sate your curiosity.
Part of understanding how microdosing may help you address some of your more uncomfortable mental health states, is understanding how those states can be regulated using traditional pharmaceuticals, what’s different about psilocybin, and how the two may interact with one another. Choosing to explore microdosing has been shown by hoards of anecdotal evidence to be genuinely effective for many people. While empirical evidence regarding microdosing may not reflect the same, it’s largely because it doesn’t exist- despite scientific communities regularly asking for further inquiry into the practice. There have been a good many studies, however, on hallucinogenic doses of substances like psilocybin, LSD, and DMT that have suggested their use cases to far surpass that of mere recreation. So what is it that sets microdosing apart?
What is an SSRI?
First of all, traditional antidepressants are largely made up of a category of drug called a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, or SSRI. The indications for this particular drug class vary widely. Used primarily for treating non-specific depressive disorders and anxieties, however, they have also been prescribed to treat other disorders such as OCD, panic attacks, PTSD and several personality disorders. Each treatment is based off of the assumption that the patient doesn’t produce or utilize their own stores of a specific neurotransmitter (serotonin) properly.
These types of treatments have long undergone contentious debate as to their efficacy. Particularly when treating young adults and people with chronic health issues. Largely because little statistically significant evidence regarding their usefulness exists- despite prolific testing.
Mechanism of Action
How an SSRI functions within the body is by raising the levels of the hormone serotonin in the brain. This hormone is thought to have quite a bit to do with mood regulation, impulse control, affecting the way you think, remember things, and learn. THe neurotransmitter also helps to modulate a number of physiological processes- like vomiting or the way your veins expand and contract.
Your brain uses serotonin as a chemical messenger, that goes between nerve cells in the brain. The end of one nerve cell releases serotonin, leaving it to float around in the space between these cells. The next cell in line recognizes the serotonin and sends electrical signal based on the neurotransmitters that are present. Generally, following a serotonin event, your cells will recycle around 90% of the serotonin, leaving 10% of it to be lost. This recycle occurs by specific transport proteins snatching up all of the available serotonin and bringing it back to the cell that send it in the first place. Allowing it to be reactivated and released again.
SSRIs are presumed to work by stopping these transport proteins from effectively collecting and recycling the serotonin that is left in the gap. Allowing it to hang out in the space between cells longer, which can sometimes help to stimulate additional neural messages to be sent. While this isn’t the only affect that SSRIs have on neurotransmitters and other cellular chemical messengers, this is perhaps the best studied and most anticipated of all effects.
Depending on what the SSRI has been prescribed for, oftentimes the desired effect is to elevate mood or stabilize behaviors.
Some of the most common and concerning side effects of SSRI use include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Heart arrhythmias
- Serotonin Syndrome
- Abnormal bleeding or Clotting irregularities
- Steven-Johnson Syndrome
- Erythema Multiforme
- Pulmonary Fibrosis
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Sexual dysfunction
It’s important to keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive and purely made up of only the most severe reactions to the SSRI drug classes, and does not include common and less concerning side effects like nausea and headache.
What is Microdosing Psilocybin?
Microdosing psilocybin is the process of taking sub-hallucinogenic doses of psilocybin (the compound in magic mushrooms that produces hallucinations and euphoria). Psilocybin is found naturally occurring in over 200 different species of mushrooms. Oftentimes, anyone looking to begin microdosing will find a reliable shroom dispensary and adhere to a microdosing guide regarding schedule and dose.
The standard amount is roughly expected to be 1/20 of a hallucinogenic or recreation dose of psilocybin for microdosing. Canada reports best results from finding the lowest dose tolerable yet still effective. This is known as a “minimum effective dose” and can be found by finding the lowest dose that still causes euphoric and noticeable effects, and taking just under that. This ensures that the dose is high enough for the psilocybin to reach a therapeutic threshold, but also low enough that it doesn’t cause any immediately noticeable effects.
The body is already primed to metabolize psilocybin by using specific enzymes that are created in the liver. Some research suggests that humans have been ingesting psilocybin since before recorded history- oftentimes using the compound for religious or spiritual ceremonies. Pre-1960s, psilocybin was regularly used in medicine, but the research and use cases were curbed following increasingly restrictive laws on recreational use and negative public perception.
Mechanism of Action
Psilocybin interacts with both serotonin receptors and dopamine. Psilocin, the compound that emerges after the body breaks down psilocybin, is structurally similar to serotonin, which may suggest why shroom dispensaries suggest it can be used as an adjunct to common SSRIs. Mimicking serotonin, instead of blocking the reabsorption. The way that psilocybin interacts with serotonin receptors increases cortical activity. It also positively interacts with the neurotransmitter glutamate, which is thought to regulate cognitive functions like learning and memory.
Psilocybin has been reported to produce a number of different effects that are largely dependent on dose and users’ perception of environment and desired effect. With higher doses being more closely associated with negative effects (like panic or anxiety), but highly spiritual experiences. Whereas moderate to low doses are often described as producing mild, but enjoyable, positive effects; such as mood elevation, mood stabilization, increased motivation and focus, as well as improvement in some cognitive functions.
- Blood pressure irregularities
These side effects are almost exclusively associated with higher doses of psilocybin and are rarely noted in conjunction with microdosing schedules. The lethal dose of psilocybin has been estimated to be extremely high and closely related to that of caffeine. Estimates suggest that a 60kg individual would need to ingest 1.7 kilos of dried mushrooms in order to initiate the possibility of a fatal overdose. Psilocybin also demonstrates a relatively high therapeutic index, much greater than that of aspirin or tobacco. Meaning that it’s especially safe to take without experiencing critical or concerning side effects. There is also no evidence of psilocybin being addictive or creating a physical dependence.
Why Use Microdosing Over Traditional Antidepressants (SSRI’s)
Ultimately, choosing to use microdosing and Psilocybin in place of traditional antidepressants is a highly personal choice. One that requires a decent amount of research, follow through, and intense personal discussion. While there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to suggest that microdosing Psilocybin could prove to be incredibly beneficial for many peoples mental health, each individual is undergoing an experience entirely their own. A choice that needs to be made from a fully informed position.
It may be worth discussing this position with your personal physician or therapist, and undoubtedly discussing if at any point you choose to stop or change regular prescription routines that you may already be undergoing. Much of this is due to the possibly devastating effects of abruptly starting or stopping medications. It’s also wise to tell your doctor of any meds or supplements you are, or may plan on, taking in conjunction with regularly prescribed medications.
Many choose to use microdosing as an adjunct to starting prescription antidepressants. Hoping to achieve favorable results without the use of controversial medications, whether pharmaceutical or otherwise. Specifically when presents with rather nebulous diagnoses like anxiety or depression. As each individual patient will experience these mental difficulties in different ways, it makes sense that some would seek alternative treatments for their own brand of problems.
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