Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Optimal Dosing for Psilocybin II

Part of the Johns Hopkins research on psilocybin included observations of different dosage schemes that I related in Optimal Dosing for Psilocybin, and what I pulled out of that research was that the best recommendation seemed to be to start with a low dose (~1-2 grams of mushrooms) and gradually work up.

I recently noticed that another article from around that time, "Johns Hopkins study finds Psilocybin dosage 'sweet spot' for positive and lasting effects" teased out an interesting point,

At the highest dose (30 mg/70 kg, p.o. - meaning "per oral" or by mouth), 78 percent of the volunteers were reporting one of the top five most spiritually significant happenings of their lives but those suffering anxiety, stress and fear episodes increased by six times, so that around a third of those participating in the study showed signs of psychological struggle.

By contrast, only one of the volunteers receiving the second highest dose (20mg/70 kg, p.o.) reported having negative issues, and all benefited from positive experiences, although with less intensity than at the highest dose.

So if you were looking for some kind of one shot deal, and you were really okay with yourself and open to the experience, the kind of person that could pass all the screening for the study, then 20mg of psilocybin might very well be a good dose to try.  20mg of psilocybin would be roughly 4.5 grams of magic mushrooms, based on the numbers from the Magic Mushroom Dosage Calculator at the Shroomery, which would be a pretty steep dose, around a highest category "Level 5" trip.  Trip levels are described as:

  • Level 1 - This level produces a mild "stoning" effect, with some visual enhancement (i.e. brighter colours, etcetera). Some short term memory anomalies. Left/right brain communication changes causing music to sound "wider".

  • Level 2 - Bright colors, and visuals (i.e. things start to move and breathe), some 2 dimensional patterns become apparent upon shutting eyes. Confused or reminiscent thoughts. Change of short term memory leads to continual distractive thought patterns. Vast increase in creativity becomes apparent as the natural brain filter is bypassed.

  • Level 3 - Very obvious visuals, everything looking curved and/or warped patterns and kaleidoscopes seen on walls, faces etc. Some mild hallucinations such as rivers flowing in wood grained or "mother of pearl" surfaces. Closed eye hallucinations become 3 dimensional. There is some confusion of the senses (i.e. seeing sounds as colors, etcetera). Time distortions and "moments of eternity".

  • Level 4 - Strong hallucinations, i.e. objects morphing into other objects. Destruction or multiple splitting of the ego. (Things start talking to you, or you find that you are feeling contradictory things simultaneously). Some loss of reality. Time becomes meaningless. Out of body experiences and e.s.p. type phenomena. Blending of the senses.

  • Level 5 - Total loss of visual connection with reality. The senses cease to function in the normal way. Total loss of ego. Merging with space, other objects, or the universe. The loss of reality becomes so severe that it defies explanation. The earlier levels are relatively easy to explain in terms of measureable changes in perception and thought patterns. This level is different in that the actual universe within which things are normally perceived, ceases to exist! Satori enlightenment (and other such labels).
In Optimal Dosing for Psilocybin I estimated this 20mg to be around 3.3 grams of magic mushrooms, or about an eighth of an ounce, not sure where I got the figures, notice that above I estimate it to be around 4.5 grams.  I still think that rather than get caught up in the idea of an optimal dose, as people vary so much in metabolism and psychology, it is more reasonable to start with 1 or 2 grams and work up about a gram at a time.

I suspect that people with "rigidities" from dogmatic world views, a strong left brain perspective, or those with a history of abuse or trauma may need to work up to higher doses to finally break through to a Level 5.  I would say that I have experienced Level 5, but it took mushrooms combined with some fairly abusive use of nitrous for me to get there.  I would also say that I'm not at all sure that it is necessary to go that far, personally, I just kind of had to see what it was about, to push it to that edge.

After a lot of hardcore meditation, I find that 0.05 grams frees my mind up just beautifully, but my guess is that most people wouldn't feel much of anything at that dose.

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