Can Microdosing Psychedelics Help Weight Loss?

Can Microdosing Psychedelics Help Weight Loss?

Psilocybin and other psychedelics have re-emerged as therapeutics for a range of mental health issues including anxiety, depression and addiction. So what is microdosing psychedelics? Is there any scientific evidence behind it? And could its benefits extend to supporting weight loss? Here, we’ll take a look into microdosing for weight loss.

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A GUIDE TO MICRODOSING FOR WEIGHT LOSS

WHAT IS MICRODOSING?

Microdosing refers to the practice of taking a very low dose of a psychedelic substance regularly, over a set period of time, to facilitate a range of claimed benefits. Typical doses are as small as one tenth of a typical ‘trip’ dose, often even less. A microdose of psilocybin, the active compound in magic mushrooms, might be 50mg to 200mg of dried mushrooms whereas a trip dose would require 2 grams plus.

A range of different psychedelics can be used for microdosing, however LSD and psilocybin are the most commonly discussed in online forums like Reddit.

As the dose is low, the effects when you take a microdose are very mild. They can be sub-perceptible. However, cumulatively over time, the beneficial effects can be profound.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

Research is being conducted at renowned universities and institutes into the therapeutic effects of psychedelics in macrodoses, minidoses and microdoses. Much of this research has focussed on their potential for improving mental health. An examination of a large international sample of adults published in the journal Nature identified lower levels of anxiety and depression among microdosers relative to controls.

The Harm Reduction Journal published a study looking at the benefits and challenges of psychedelic microdosing. They developed a codebook of microdosing benefits and challenges based on the reports of 278 microdosers. Participants reported improved mood, focus, creativity, self-efficacy and energy. However, some participants in the study reported physiological discomfort, impaired focus and energy. This highlights the importance of recognising how microdosing affects you personally as not everyone will have the same experience. Finding the right dose for the individual is key.

When we take a look at the benefits reported in this study, we can start to understand how microdosing could support weight loss. Let’s start by considering mood. Many people are driven to eat when they’re not hungry to change the way they feel. Feeling unhappy or stressed can trigger an urge to eat sugary or starchy comfort food. However, a more positive mood can mean we are less likely to turn to unhealthy food as a pick-me-up. Self-efficacy was another reported benefit. The paper outlined that self-efficacy referred to motivation/ambition, productivity, confidence and sense of agency. Feeling motivated with a sense of control over ones actions can certainly support your efforts to lose weight.

COULD MICRODOSING HELP WEIGHT LOSS?

We have previously written about how psychedelics could help weight loss. But what about microdosing? Less studies have been conducted around weight loss compared to mood disorders. However, growing evidence is looking promising.

One study looked at obese rats fed a high calorie ‘cafeteria diet’ and found that both low and high dose psilocybin groups, treated for 27 consecutive weekdays, experienced significantly less weight gain compared to controls. The analysis revealed that when relative weight gain was compared, the greatest weight gain was exhibited by the control (undosed) group. The low dose psilocybin group showed less relative weight gain; a significant effect compared to the control. Researchers wrote that “These overall findings suggest that psilocybin may have modest weight-loss properties, which could feasibly extend to humans.”

HOW DOES IT WORK?

So how could psilocybin support weight management? One theory is that it’s linked to the effects it has on the neurotransmitter serotonin, often referred to as ‘the happy hormone’. Psilocybin mediates its effects via serotonin receptors.

Serotonin plays a key role in multiple processes related to eating and has effects on appetite and satiety. Some drugs that increase levels of serotonin have been shown to be effective in promoting weight loss. However, medications of this type have been withdrawn due to safety concerns.

Studies have confirmed that psilocin is an agonist at three different serotonin receptors. The 5-HT2C receptor has been repeatedly shown to play a key role in satiety. (How full we feel after eating). Treatment with 5-HT2C agonists results in weight-loss and may also reduce food consumption in other ways. This includes reducing conditioned responses and impulsivity.

In addition to effects on eating, there is evidence to suggest that 5-HT2C agonists can exert positive impacts on blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. Interestingly, the non-psychedelic drugs that exert these effects do so at doses well below those needed to reduce food intake. This may be relevant to microdosing. In both cases, the doses shown to exert positive impacts on biochemistry are much lower than those needed to induce a noticeable physical effect.

As well as supporting behaviour change, it is possible that microdosing can support weight loss by affecting metabolism and resting energy expenditure. Ongoing research is being carried out to help us understand more.

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY ABOUT MICRODOSING & HEALTH

Rebecca Jacob is a clinical counsellor and co-founder of microdosing company Vellum Health. She is an expert in impact of microdosing on behavioural change. Rebecca says “Microdosing supports changing thoughts and behaviour patterns and shifting limiting beliefs. Clients report it helps them to overcome internal resistance and improve motivation and drive by altering reward pathways and affecting overall mood. These changes are especially beneficial in achieving health goals.

ARE PSYCHEDELICS SAFE?

Much is still unknown about exactly how psychedelics exert their benefits. What we do know is, they are surprisingly safe. A paper published in The Lancet by drugs expert Professor David Nutt looked at the impact of a wide range of drugs on both the individual user and wider society. Drugs were given an overall harm score out of 100. The higher the score, the more harmful the drug.  Mushrooms came last on the list, deemed most safe with a score of six out of 100. LSD was given a score of seven. For more information, see the graph on page four of this paper.

HOW DO I MICRODOSE?

The first thing to highlight here is the legality of psychedelics. While some parts of the world are moving to legalise or decriminalise psychedelics, they remain illegal in many parts of the world. With that in mind, if you’re ready to get started and you are able to, here’s how.

Whatever psychedelic you choose, avoid microdosing every day. This can build a tolerance so that the substance becomes less effective. Therefore, most protocols will incorporate regular days off from taking microdoses.

Two of the most popular microdosing protocols are the Fadiman and Stamets protocols.

THE FADIMAN PROTOCOL

The Fadiman protocol involves microdosing every third day. On day one you microdose, on days two and three, you don’t. Day four you microdose, and so on. It takes about a month to complete ten cycles of the Fadiman protocol. After your first month, you can pause and get a feel as to whether continued microdosing feels right for you.

THE STAMETS PROTOCOL

The Stamets protocol comes from mushroom expert Paul Stamets. Stamets is a hugely experienced and widely respected mycologist. He has studied and worked with medicinal mushrooms for over 30 years. He developed a microdosing protocol called the ‘Stamets Stack’. The ‘Stack’ involves microdosing with three components: psilocybin (the active compound in magic mushrooms), Lion’s Mane (a non-psychoactive medicinal mushroom), and niacin (a B vitamin) in a pattern of four days on followed by three days off. This article from the Microdosing Institute explains the stack ingredients and their benefits in detail.

EVERY OTHER DAY DOSING

Finally, you can dose every other day. Day one dose, day two don’t, day three dose, day four don’t… and so on.

Whichever protocol you decide on, it’s important to listen to your body and take extended periodic breaks from microdosing to review the benefits. Most protocols recommend microdosing for four to eight weeks and then taking a rest of at least two to four weeks.

INTUITIVE DOSING

After carrying out a structured protocol and taking a break, many microdosers choose to dose intuitively. Rather than following a structured pattern, they dose on days when it feels right. This becomes easier as you become more aware of the effects microdosing has on you.

HOW CAN I GET STARTED?

When it comes to acquiring products for microdosing, it’s important to choose a trusted supplier.

Vellum Health is a Canadian company that produces organic microdosing products from an assortment of psilocybin mushroom varieties. The founders, who have a background in mycology, believe in the potential for psychedelics to change how people treat themselves, each other, and the planet.

Vellum offers a diverse line of organic microdosing products including capsules, tinctures, and gummies. They provide clients with a range of doses to fit their individual needs. Rebecca recommends starting with an Enhance Micro Mixed pack so that you can try different strengths and find what works for you. It’s a good idea to start with the lowest dose and build up over time.

In addition to providing high quality microdosing products, Vellum offers customers guidance on their microdosing journeys. If you’re a beginner and are looking for personalised advice from an expert before you start microdosing, you can book a consultation with a member of the team who can give personalised advice on getting started.

CONSIDERATIONS

If you are taking any type of medication or have an existing health condition, always check with your doctor before you start microdosing.

It’s a good idea to take your first microdose on a relaxed day where you don’t have much on. Allow yourself to fully experience the subtle effects. It’s also a good idea to stick to one substance and avoid mixing psychedelics.

It’s important to note that microdosing alone will not result in weight loss. However, it’s the behaviour change microdosing can facilitate that can help you to lose weight. If you’re embarking on a weight loss journey, ensure you have a clear plan in place. A dietary protocol as well as a microdosing protocol.

WORK WITH US

If you feel you could benefit from professional support with losing weight, we can help. We are a team of qualified nutritionists who specialise in weight loss. We can help you overcome your weight challenges, reach your happy weight and maintain it long term. Book yourself in for a complimentary 25 mintue call or contact us and a member of our team will be in touch soon. We can talk through your challenges and explore whether one of our Intelligent Weight Loss programmes is right for you.



LINDA ROBINSON

 

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SARAH LAW

Sarah has worked with hundreds of clients over the past decade to help them live in a healthy body that they feel confident in.


Sarah spent a large part of her teens and 20’s as a professional dancer battling with orthorexia and an unhealthy relationship with food and her body. This created a desire to understand the human body more so she could finally cut through the confusion and end the cycle of yoyo dieting. This fuelled her passion to help other women do the same.

 

Sarah specialises in supporting women who are struggling to lose weight due to underlying health issues. She’s helped many women manage their weight during and after the menopause, as well as clients with thyroid disease and immune system dysfunction. Sarah loves food and sharing healthy recipes with her clients. Her aim is to ensure that clients don’t feel deprived and instead, achieve their weight loss and health goals in a positive and sustainable way.

 

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AILSA HICHENS

 

Ailsa is one of our most experienced practitioners. She specialises in helping clients to lose weight, develop a healthy relationship with food and finally feel comfortable in their skin. Ailsa’s mission is for everyone she works with to enjoy the journey and that working with a nutritionist should not be a punishment, but your access to a new possibility.

 

Ailsa is not only an experienced weight loss nutritionist, she is also a skilled coach. She helps our clients overcome emotional eating, destructive habits and self-sabotaging behaviours that have prevented successful weight loss in the past. Ailsa has spent years in clinic working with clients who have experienced yo-yo dieting and have discovered that long term weight loss is not just about eating less until you can stand it no longer.

 

Working with Ailsa you will be comprehensively supported, not only in improving your nutrition and lifestyle, but also your eating habits and your relationship with food. When you work on all these elements together, the results can be truly astonishing.

 

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Test Nikki is our Practice Manager, managing our team of practitioners and heading up the day-to-day running of the business. Nikki is involved in the strategic development of our practice, coming from a strong business background in town planning. A Florida girl, Nikki relocated to the UK in 2014 with her husband and two children.

NIKKI ANDRIANI

 

Nikki is our Practice Manager, managing our team of practitioners and heading up the day-to-day running of th clinic.

 

Nikki is involved in the strategic development of our practice, coming from a strong business background in town planning.

 

A Florida girl, Nikki relocated to the UK in 2014 with her husband and two children.

STÉPHANIE ACHAR

Stéphanie is a skilled nutritional therapist and functional medicine practitioner with additional training in eating disorders, disordered eating and obesity. She believes that working towards both physiological and mental health is key in achieving optimum wellbeing.

 

Stéphanie’s personal experience of emotional eating and the ongoing struggle to find the right support led her to combine the science of nutrition with behavioural coaching to motivate and empower her clients. She specialises in helping people who struggle with their weight and their relationship with food. She helps them develop a healthier and more peaceful relationship with food and their bodies.

 

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INNA WEARN

Inna is passionate about supporting women on their journey to improved health and wellbeing. She believes that the solution to effective weight loss does not lie in ever more restrictive diets, but a more sophisticated approach that optimises health and vitality, as well as promoting effective weight loss.

 

Working with Inna you will benefit from her in-depth knowledge of female health and hormones. She will support you in developing a healthy diet, lifestyle and mindset that ensures you reach your ideal weight and maintain it in the years to come.

 

Inna is passionate about food with a wide repertoire of delicious healthy recipes and meal ideas to ensure your weight loss journey is as enjoyable as possible!

 

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Ania is a firm believer that improving your health and losing weight should be a positive, empowering journey, not one centred around deprivation.

 

After being diagnosed with two autoimmune conditions in her twenties, Ania spent several years educating herself on the power of food and nutrition. She put it all into practise and changed her diet and lifestyle, reversing her endometriosis and thyroid disease. After experiencing such a significant improvement in her health, Ania had a big desire to help others. She embarked on a four year journey to study nutrition, graduating from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition with distinction.

 

Ania specialises in autoimmunity and works with clients who have underlying health issues preventing successful weight loss. Her expertise enables her to successfully support our clients with conditions such as hypothyroidsm (underactive thyroid), PCOS and diabetes. 

 

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