Hi! My name is Seth and I’m an ex collegiate athlete who played Division-1 football for 4 years. I took 33 days of my life and microdosed on Psilocybin. Truth be told, it wasn’t 33 consecutive days. As any microdosing advocate would suggest, days off are necessary. And while everyone chimes in with their own idea towards how best to structure days-on and days-off, I figured to simply do whatever I felt had been adequate. I microdosed psilocybin mushrooms for over a month to measure its effects on my physical and athletic capability. In this blog I will speak about my journey as an athlete venturing into functional plant medicine, specifically psilocybin, which everyone seems to be talking about lately.
Given the current legislative atmosphere throughout the USA on psilocybin, I’m choosing to not publish the full results of these findings to the public domain. A full copy of the study can be requested here.
There’s also a need to disclose that any scientific studies into the apparent benefits of psychoactive substances are all steeped in risk of bia; this ‘study’ is no exception, as I had gone into this experiment with certain preconceived expectations that could not be eliminated. With respect to psilocybin, there is weak academic study that purports to examine its use in an athletic or sportive context.
Note that this endeavor itself is not scientific nor academic in nature — it had been conducted under an entertainment pre-text and driven by my personal honest curiosity. Academia itself is currently spinning its circles and rushing to quantify pro-psilocybin results to better-accommodate a wave of startups that is currently coursing its way through this sprouting new industry; accordingly, I figured to try and provide honest results based on mounting interest in this subject.
No self-improvement trend has ever swept its way through online forums and work spaces in the way that microdosing has, with psilocybin promising to be the be-all, end-all wonder drug that propels motivated success-seekers to unprecedented pinnacles of self-mastery.
The reverberating accounts emanating from Silicon Valley are leaving hordes of consumers in a frenzy to microdose their way into cognitive improvement — if not perfection. And, while studies are eager to tout the apparent benefits of microdosing mushrooms, they’re unable to truly circumvent the ever-frustrating placebo effect, as questions remain over how else this once-notorious drug can help us on a daily basis.
The first thing to understand about microdosing psilocybin is that, despite what many people think, the effects are incredibly subtle on a microdose level. Compounded with the fact that most people who microdose are already eager to achieve results surrounding self-improvement, the placebo effect is potent in this context. I Understand that this is a magical and powerful psychedelic plant, a mushroom that has grown in nature for millions of years, and that ingesting more would take me a spiritual journey, or a “trip.” In my college years a bunch of my friends took mushrooms and went on a hike. I enjoyed that experience greatly, but that was 20 years ago. I haven’t partaken in any psychedelic plants, or any drugs for that matter, besides cannabis occasionally.
Beyond this, there remains little to no actual work done to study the potential of psilocybin use in a sportive environment; while some studies are beginning to ascertain that microdosing can lead to improved cognitive function, there remains very little academic research into this subject. I hope to shed some light on this topic.
So, I figured to try this for myself — to actually try and measure my physical (and partly mental) experience of psilocybin’s psychotropic effects when ingested in a psycholytic manner under a sportive context; basically put, to microdose mushrooms and participate in a variety of athletic activities, being very weary of the placebo effect whilst also noting all aspects of my performance in excruciating detail.
To set a context — I’m middle-aged, live a healthy lifestyle and am fervently interested in self-improvement — the latter detail being of particular importance due to its manifestation of any placebo-induced motivation.
While microdosing, I measured myself among the following spectrum of categories:
Motor Skills and Reflexes
Cognizance and Focus
Strength Performance and Explosiveness
Overall Strength Endurance
I took part in a variety of different activities, which included:
Jogging & Trail Running
Several points to be noted:
∙ I had base-lined everything for two weeks prior, and two weeks post, the study period, noting my findings in as much detail as possible to provide the fairest comparison possible.
∙ Two weeks before, during, and two weeks after this 33-day experiment, I made no changes to my sleep patterns and my nutrition routines, nor did I supplement my athletic performances with any other substances apart from creatine and amino-acid-based pre-workout supplements, which I’ve been taking regularly throughout the last few months.
∙ Upon commencing, I started with very minuscule doses and worked my way up incrementally, usually by 0.02g-0.04g per session. The typically suggested microdose usually hovers between 0.20g-0.35 grams; I had started with 0.15g (whereby I felt nothing at all) and eventually found that 0.4-0.5 grams had been too potent of a dose given the onset of fatigue-like symptoms. My ideal range hovered between 0.18g to 0.28g, depending on the activity.
∙ I had decided to directly consume the psilocybin by way of oral ingestion in a fine-powdered form. I took the powder out of the capsules. (Not utilizing any capsules or mixing it in with any liquids/foods because I wanted the most precise dosing for my experiment). I had consumed the dose roughly one hour prior to the engagement with any activity.
∙ Given the usual likelihood of injury, I chose not to experiment in any martial arts formats nor any sports which may put others at risk (i.e., snowboarding, hockey, football).
– No alcohol, cannabis or other narcotics had been used in conjunction with any consumed psilocybin; no psilocybin had been shared with anyone outside of the study; I had not driven whilst impaired and had not engaged in any activity unless I felt that I had absolute control over myself; lastly, no injuries (mental or physical) occurred during this trial.
I had participated in two games of competitive, team-based dodgeball during this experiment, having played numerous games before and after the study itself had been conducted. I felt that dodgeball itself would provide an opportune environment to measure motor skills, reflexes, cardiovascular stamina, and the intangibles (like competitiveness) in a safe and fun way.
The following effects had been noted from two games played; the first having been played with a dose of 0.15 grams, and the second with a dose of 0.35 grams:
– Increased cardiovascular stamina
– Increased focus
– No observable change in motor skill/reflexes
– Decreased sense of competitiveness
– Increased sense of immersion into the activity/excitement
∙ I found that taking a dosage on the higher end of the spectrum (0.35g) resulted in a mild spiritual enlightenment of overall attitude and, to some extent, cognizance, and happiness in play. Meaning, I felt the psychedelic journey and it enabled me to focus more while at the same time, enjoy the heightening of all my senses and experience some cool visual enhancements.
∙ A dosage on the lower end of the spectrum (0.15g) resulted in slightly improved focus and attention, which had been compromised on the higher end of the spectrum. I had also experienced an increased sense of excitement, correlating to the findings of one academic study that noted improved mood due to microdosing psilocybin in a general context.
∙ Across both doses, I felt less ‘egotistical’ about my performance and tuned myself in to the actual enjoyment of the sport, becoming more immersed in the activity despite losing my sense of competitiveness. Physically, both dosages seemed to contribute to a perceived (and seemingly actual — as elucidated from other activities) increase in cardiovascular stamina and physical endurance, noting noticeably more energy at both the 0.15g and 0.35g dose level.
∙ This may possibly be due to a relaxation of social tension; with ego and competitiveness set aside, I had been able to perceive the activity more purely. This would correlate to a cannabis-based studies conducted in 2005 which had found that the relaxing properties of cannabis could be used to enhance sportive performance.
∙ As much as I would have like to say that there had been an increase in my reflexes, motor skills and hand-eye coordination, I only felt a small observable positive change across both doses. I would later come to learn that my focus could possibly see an improvement, albeit in a different environment whereby I’m engaged in a different type of activity.
∙ However, despite there being no way to really confirm, I felt that some of these impressions went beyond mere placebo effect. Namely, the slump that I had felt in my sense of competitiveness when taking a higher dosage of 0.35g — this would be later validated during other activities as a recurring effect.
Strength Training / Weights
I had participated in a variety of exercises including free weights, floor exercises, resistance training, and other fitness routines throughout the 33 days, aiming to note any clear physiological changes stemming from microdosing psilocybin in an incremental manner.
I had started by taking a dose of 0.15g during the first week, 0.24g during the second week, 0.35g during the third week and 0.4g during the fourth week, all of which are considered microdoses.
The following effects had been observed:
– Major increased focus
– Increased motivation at higher ends of the dose spectrum (0.15g and 0.35g)
– Slightly increased endurance/stamina on lower ends of the dose spectrum (0.15g and 0.35g)
– Increase in strength capacity and stamina, lifting heavier weights with longer reps.
∙ I observed that I had been able to focus more clearly on the physical tasks at hand across all dose levels. I’m choosing to NOT to write this off as a slight placebo effect given the fact that I had been closely monitoring my physiological and cognitive responses — something that I don’t do regularly. The microdoses increased my focus level.
∙ At the higher end of the dose spectrum, I felt a drastic increase in motivation to continue the exercise and felt a decrease of physical fatigue, all contributing to a clear increased interest in this activity. I felt present, energetic, ready, and happy to exercise, and due to the microdoses, exercise harder & longer with more focus.
Jogging / Trail Running
I had taken part in frequent running-based activities that ranged from light jogging to heavy sprinting in a multitude of different conditions (from treadmills to trails) to further expand on the cardiovascular aspect of this experiment.
I had participated in these running activities at dosages of 0.15g, 0.24g and 0.35g in no particular order.
The following effects had been observed:
– Notably increased cardiovascular stamina on all dosages
– Slightly increased motivation (0.15g and 0.24g)
– Increased enjoyment of/immersion in the activity (0.15g, 0.24g and 0.35g)
– Improved motivation (0.15g, 0.24g and 0.35g)
∙ I observed a clear improvement in my cardiovascular ability; unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure why and I can’t necessarily disentangle the placebo effect, though my theory is that the mind on psilocybin is able to become more immersed in the activity in a way that minimizes its awareness of fatigue.
∙ I enjoyed an increased sense of motivation and excitement over the activity itself, as if the expulsion of energy felt much more enjoyable than it otherwise would. This was on all dosage levels.
∙ Being outdoors for these runs on the microdoses made me appreciate nature way more; the smells, the sounds, the animals, the air…all my senses were heightened in the most incredible and positive sense of the word. This was NOT a placebo effect. I felt like I was in a “flow zone.”
I had taken part in two hatha yoga sessions, both one hour in duration; one session had been performed with a dose of 0.15g and the other with a dose of 0.35g. It had been my hope that yoga would demonstrate changes in both effort and focus, allowing me to gauge the effect of psilocybin on a more mentally centered physical activity.
The following effects had been observed:
– Increased motivation and no fatigue (0.35g)
– Noticeably increased sense of focus (0.15g and 0.35g)
– No change in effort capacity or physical capability
– Increase in heart rate (0.35g)
∙ One particularly unexpected observation had been an apparent increase in my heart rate; however, as I did not have any proper measuring instruments, this finding remains inconclusive at best and will be revisited during further studies.
∙ I had experienced a noticeable increase in focus during this activity, likely due to the contemplative and slow-paced nature of yoga itself. Similar to running, I had been able to focus my mind on the task at hand more easily, get in tune deeply with my spiritual practice and focus MUCH more on my breathing. The psilocybin improved my yoga practice.
Subsequently, my findings had led me to some notable realizations that had been validated, repeatedly, across the numerous activities that I had participated in.
Unfortunately, the placebo effect remains a phenomenon and is often difficult to disentangle from the actual effects microdosing psilocybin, which is exceptionally subtle when taken at a psycholytic level (from my experience, between 0.15g and 0.35g) and slightly less subtle between 0.15g and 0.15g.
In terms of benefits, the biggest take away is two-fold, from both a mental and physical aspect:
Psychologically, I noted a definite change in my ability to focus on certain tasks at hand under certain contexts. While this enhanced sense of focus didn’t come from improved cognizance or reflexes (as I initially hoped), it did come about during athletic activities of a solitary and contemplative nature — such as running and yoga. It was as though the background noise and chatter of the mind had subsided and allowed me to become more immersed in the activity, allowing me to feel my leg muscles strain or my engagement with a particular pose or maneuver in a more honed-in way.
Physically, I noted a clear improvement in my cardiovascular capability. I’m not sure if this may stem from a placebo effect or if the mind is simply not as engaged with an activity in the same way that it otherwise would be on psilocybin; my personal observation is that, by being more immersed in an activity, the parts of the mind which regulate feelings of fatigue may be less vocal throughout activities that demand increased stamina. In my opinion, the mind is largely what imposes certain limits we have on our physical capabilities — to an extent. An influence on the mental faculties can possibly serve to expand on these self-perceived limits, allowing for the individual to push themselves harder than they normally would with perceived ease. The plant medicine, in this case the psilocybin, allows you to think more clearly about the tasks at hand, mentally, spiritually, and physically, and it offers a side-effect of happiness and gratitude.
Of the few drawbacks relating to microdosing psilocybin, the most obvious one to me is the mental (and, accordingly, physical) fatigue that sets in with higher doses, whereby motivation is decreased, and disinterest becomes a thing. I’d imagine that higher doses are not conducive to physical activity, but I remain curious to see if this can be conditioned. While fatigue has been noted in some other studies as a result of taking a higher-level dose, there is no correlation between psilocybin and a physical depression of the central nervous system. ⁸
It’s also worth noting that I had experienced a decreased egocentric perspective, which can affect competitiveness in a team-based sport setting, but I feel that this largely depends on personality; in other words, I figured to enjoy a competitive activity rather than try to out-compete others. The psilocybin made me kinder in my competitive spirit rather than wanting to smash them and win, as is my usual mindset when playing sports. (LOL)
Other miscellaneous findings:
∙ Tolerance of psilocybin builds noticeably over 2–3 weeks; possibly skewing results. Therefore, it’s important to take a day off here and there.
∙ At times, I had experienced very mild social anxiety and self-consciousness; at other times, I had experienced increased social tendencies in the same setting. I believe the mushrooms only give you what you need and what you can handle.
∙ There had been, at no point, any concern about a loss of control over my motor functions, no demonstrable loss of cognizance or rationality.