Plant medicines

Mini research study on Microdosing SP

About the study

We sent participants weekly mindfulness practice exercises to be used in conjunction with homeopathic doses of plant medicine. Participants could then work these practices into their lives in an organic way that complemented their daily schedule. Most of the practices were glimpse based meaning they were not time demanding bur rather exercised the psychological ‘muscle’ of attention to bring a person’s awareness to what matters most in their life.

We extracted themes broadly from the questions in the survey that was sent out a few days after the last group completed the process. Below are the most significant themes that we identified. These are reoccurring patterns in the data that point to various aspects of the microdosing experience. Some of these themes are then broken down further into sub-themes.

Here are the themes we identified: 

Heightened sensitivity/ awareness

This was unsurprising as most people who have ingested psychedelics know from experience. Even low doses tend to have the effect of expanding awareness and being more tuned in to one’s inner and external life.

This was the most prominent theme in the data. Most respondents said that they felt more aware of themselves and their surroundings. However, in line with our experience there was also a small minority that reported no change to their awareness or state at all (1 of 14 respondents). It should be noted that subtle changes can also be easily overlooked and microdosing is more about the subtleties and smaller increments than major changes.

A high majority of participants reported improved clarity in their thoughts, feelings and actions. It is also interesting that people rated this clarity or change in awareness as their biggest benefit during the process. This shows how we value perspective changes and stepping outside the ‘box’ of our personalities to get a wider view on our lives.  Ironically while this may be the biggest gain, it is arguably also the biggest challenge because we also tend to be quite attached to our perspectives. The work is then about being aware of the filters that we are perceiving life through, which happens quite naturally on a microdosing protocol. We can then more easily discern truth and find authenticity and fluidity in our lives. This was the purpose of the process, to integrate these insights and experiences into everyday life. Below are a few quotes that speak to this theme of heightened awareness.

One participant reported:

“expansive sensation of becoming more visible, more real, more substantial, more solid, more connected, more alive, more consciously involved”.

Another respondent simply said:

“more conscious thinking”

One person aptly stated:

“glimpse deeper into myself”

Interestingly, the following respondent noted how quickly the process started and how they were confronted with shadow material.

“surprised me most was the staggering speed at which what was suppressed rose into the light of awareness”

Another person also spoke to this idea of seeing aspects of themselves that had been hidden from view.

“recognise and be aware of things that I may not normally see or be aware “.

Naturally with heightened awareness, we are likely to see some of what is normally not in view. This is an important point because it not only highlights increased awareness but also that the person is seeing parts of themselves that they are unfamiliar with, highlighting how shadow aspects are more evident and obvious in altered states.

In contrast to ‘normal’ states where our defenses are engaged, and we are therefore again unknowingly defended against seeing our blind spots. This is another benefit of taking plant medicines as participants have eluded to – they have the effect of relaxing us into ourselves, we let our guards down and have this possibility to see aspects of ourselves that previously weren’t as visible, parts that were disowned, projected ‘out there’, on other people, situations, groups etc.

Reclaiming these parts give us a huge advantage in the way that we are less bound to triggers that repeatedly put us in states of reactivity and can severely deplete our energy as many authors and teachers have spoken to (see Robert Augustus Masters’ work on shadow for example). In effect, by meeting our shadow we get to free up energy that could otherwise be used far more constructively in our lives.

Emotional awareness

For many participants, initial experiences focussed on emotions, highlighting the fact that for many of us, an emotional backlog awaits when we engage a process like this. The quotes below give a sense of people’s emotional experiences especially in the early stages of the program. It should also be noted that the 2nd week of the program was entirely devoted to covering emotional ground. Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that people experienced shifts in this area. Below are a few examples of people’s experiences in this area.

One participant said:

“did feel it working profoundly on an emotional level”

Participants also spoke to the emotional challenges but also the capacities they found to process these emotions.

“I managed to overcome some emotions that were deeply rooted.”

In this next quote, the participant speaks to feeling supported in their process. Had this been an interview, we would have asked them to elaborate on how they felt supported. This quote then speaks to a similar point to the last one, that although the medicines tend to make us more aware of emotions (both past and present), they also make us aware of our capacities to process them.

“challenging dealing with some of the emotional issues that surfaced but I also felt very supported by it.”

Somatic awareness  

We included a few quotes that give some insight into some of the experiences people had in their bodies. This following excerpt was quite surprising as the person describes improvements in their circulation.

“Such warmth returned to me, as the general coldness of my hands and feet due to circulatory concerns improved remarkably.”

The quote below highlights how the person was more in tune with their body.

” I understand more clearly what foods my body wants or doesn’t.

The person below also speaks to this theme of being in tune with the body. They describe acting on impulses to move and be more active. San Pedro is widely known as plant that helps us to get in touch with and follow these impulses in the body.

“In the beginning of the challenge I discovered my body did not enjoy laying about, I needed to do something, either stillness of my mind or motion of my body, or I would feel achy and sore.”

The above sentiments highlight how our vital life energy is more apparent to us as we receive these impulses to move/ act/ find a way into motion and furthermore, that there is a cost to inaction.

This also speaks to the overarching theme of being more open and receptive to the movements that life is calling us toward. As we are more open, we are also naturally more in tune with what our bodies need. In the quote below, the participant talks about incremental changes as they follow the needs of the body.

“In noticing these last few weeks how my body is very slowly releasing its stiffness and adjusting to exercise, in celebrating eating raw vegetarian tastes and colours, I am noticing small changes happen. “

This next excerpt also speaks to this theme of being connected to the body.

“I really benefitted from micro-dosing, my experience has helped me understand some things more, help me be inspired about setting routine for myself & take note of what my body is feeling, or wanting, or saying (Listening to my body’s needs.)”

Another participant simply said:

“more physical in the body”.

Yet another spoke not only about being physical but alluded to a returning home, suggesting a kind of solace or taking residence in the body.

” inhabiting my own skin”

This was a big part of the intention of the program – to get more physical and present in the body so it was encouraging to see that people noted body connection as a significant benefit.

More awareness on micro dosing days

The below quote shows the person experienced more clarity in her practice on the days that they microdosed.

“In days when I decided not to dose but to maintain my practice and follow the exercises, the clarity and quality of my sensations were admittedly less sharp”

This being an expected result also raises the question of how it is possible to maintain the same clarity without plant medicines. My sense is that it is possible to reach a similar place without these medicines. I believe it to be a question of developing a sustainable practice and that in time one can reach a similar sensitivity.

Relationships

This was another prominent thread in the data. With increased awareness, people seemed to be more aware of their relationship with themselves, close others and community.

With self

One respondent reported how good it felt to be more connected with herself:

“feels so good to be checking in rather than checking out.”

The above excerpt shows how this person appears to be developing new habits of attention where they are less afraid of their inner world and more willing to be present to the ups and downs of being human.

The quote is promising in the way that it suggests this person is more awake to these habits and presumably less afraid of being present to themselves. In addition, the person highlights that this inward movement of attention can also be a pleasant experience despite the difficulties one is likely to encounter.

 Relationship with others

The pattern in this thread centred around a ‘softening’ and improvement in mood. People seemed to find better ways of relating with others in their lives because of being more attuned to oneself. The quote below describes how they experienced improvements in mood and consequently how their relationships benefited.

“was very nice to people, constantly in pleasant mood and my relationships with friends and family improved.”

Here we see a similar sentiment pointing to engagement of feminine principles – soft, receptive etc.

” I became softer, better listener, more balanced and patient.”

The following quote shows a similar thread about the relinquishing of control – again engaging the feminine aspect and being more receptive.

“Realizing that I need to let go of control sometimes.”


Energy and productivity

In question 3 and 6 we asked people to rate their energy levels and productivity.

As can be seen in the above graphic, most people experienced an increase in energy on the challenge. A very small minority (1 out of 14) said that they were worse off on an energetic level. As can be seen in the graphic above, half the group reported having more sustained energy throughout the day.

That said it is also clear in the data that some people experienced times where they had too much energy especially in the context of living in the city. This an essential point as these are times when one would need to reduce dosages and/ or pause for a day or two before continuing again. There are many cycles one can follow on micro dosing protocol. A popular one for instance is two days ‘on’ and one day ‘off’ in sets of three or the inverse, one ‘on’ and two ‘off’.

We suggested an organic approach where people would check in with their bodies and adjust dose according to how they feel with emphasis on not trying to push themselves. However, this approach may not be best for everyone especially those who are new to plant medicines. Less experienced people may benefit more from a more structured dosing protocol which is something we have taken into consideration for future programs.

The next graphic shows productivity levels which follows a similar pattern to the previous graphic. This also highlights the relationship between energy and productivity.  We were curious though because from our own experience increased energy doesn’t always translate to increased productivity. It could also be inversely correlated where one has the feeling of not being able to sit still and focus on cognitive tasks, or where one experiences more creativity and less or similar cognitive capacities.

Therefore, it is necessary to distinguish between different kinds of productivity improvements. For the purpose of this study, we limit our analysis to a cursory level but for future studies this is certainly an area that warrants further investigation.

The graphic (quantitative data) shows that people experienced productivity improvements with an emphasis on creativity – “I did more than I usually would in more creative ways.” (50% of sample said this).

Interestingly, in the open questions few people associated creativity with increased productivity.

The quote below highlights improvements in focus and being able to stay with the task at hand, highlighting a cognitive enhancement/ benefit.

“much more productive. Once focused on a task, I stayed with it, followed through and was looking for the next task.”

Another respondent made the connection between increased productivity and reduction in stress and anxiety.

“less stress and anxiety and as a result was more efficient with tasks. moving into decisive, focused action is empowering, it frees up so much time and really gives me the space to breathe”

Again, no mention of creative improvements which we expected to hear more about, instead increased capacity for focus as a result of feeling more relaxed.

However as one person suggested (see below), these may be more qualitative improvements rather than quantity or volume related.

“quality of my productivity heightened, but perhaps not the quantity”

Below is a quote that does emphasize creative difference but as mentioned few elaborated on this aspect.

“approaching tasks with curiosity from different angles.”

In the following excerpt, the person speaks about a change in their focus connecting back to the idea that in general people were more aware of themselves.

“My energy wasn’t so much lower – but my focus was definitely inward and I was quieter than usual. “

The next quote highlights a fine tuning of the participants priorities. You could say this is the essence of focus, that one’s attention is on the task it should be on and that one is surrendered to that task without distraction. The quote below speaks to the idea of being in relationship to the tasks that matters and being able to prioritise accordingly.

“bring a more focused awareness on prioritising what’s important in the present day to day moments”


Dosing

In this section, we include a few insights around dosing without out much commentary. As mentioned, we find the dosing protocol to be highly individualised and although we encourage an intuitive approach, we also acknowledge that many people suit a more structured regime. It comes down to knowing oneself and going with what works for each person.  The following quotes provide some insight into the dosing experience.

“days when it took tremendous courage and willpower to actually commit to taking the recommended daily dose.”

“floating on the surface for a while seemed a necessary relief, allowing me to begin again with a renewed energy”

“felt much support from the medicine through a tough time”

“A lot harder than I expected!! But I would definitely do it again”


Conclusion

All 40 participants completed the 21-day challenge. There were varying degrees that people engaged with the practices and the medicines.  Our sense is that overall, there was a high level of engagement among most participants.

Although many of the findings were in line with what one might expect on such a program, these findings show the depth, scope and reach that a microdosing protocol such as this can have on person’s life.  There were a broad range of experience with some common threads as well as unique experiences that people reported.  The responses that we received from participants suggests that people really do get what they need if they are open and willing to engage the psycho-spiritual territory that the medicines open us to.

Much of this is about getting trust back in life and recognizing all the ways we can doubt our purpose and existence in this world, resorting to ways of being that help us cope but also keep us distanced from what is most important to us. Therefore, pain and discomfort are to be expected but on the other side, awaits the realisation that we are intrinsically apart of life and always have been; that our belonging was never in question and our value always absolute.

The question is can we open ourselves to the immense beauty that is life because to do so is also to face our pain. We cannot simply erase it, but we can reconcile old cycles and celebrate our scars and the character we have developed because of them.

The responses clearly show that people went through their own expressions of this journey of discovery and challenge. Participants appeared to be able to maintain more ‘awake’ states during their everyday life while maintaining normal to optimal functioning. Moreover, although many challenges were reported, the benefits seemed to far outweigh the difficulties.

Many modalities have been shown to effectively shift state and therefore encourage awareness of self – breathing, hemisync sound frequencies, movement and somatic practices, meditation and many more. Whether any of these are as effective as psychedelics at putting us head to head with ourselves is questionable. However, one also doesn’t want to become over reliant on plant medicines and we therefore see a balanced approach as an effective means of addressing developmental needs and aspirations. The experiences that people reported certainly seem to suggest that mindfulness practices used in combination with low doses of plant medicines increases self-awareness and accelerates personal development.


Key Takeaways

  • Micro dosing is a very individualized process. There are many approaches to take that work differently for different people. It is important to stay in tune with how the medicine lands for each one and adjust dosing accordingly.
  • Improvements were reported across the board. People reported feeling mentally, emotionally and physically stronger.
  • It was interesting that people reported being significantly more productive. We expected creative enhancements but were unsure whether the process would lead to overall gains in productivity. This is still an open question as we feel the productive improvements may be the result of whole brain engagement rather than enhanced left brain capacities.
  • A few people reported being more focussed especially around prioritising tasks. This could have also been as a result of being more ‘tuned in’ making it more apparent what to concentrate on. This is another topic that could be explored further.
  • As expected, the responses show the process was challenging and certainly for some, more than they expected. However, the common denominator was that people seemed to feel enough support in their processes to navigate through the challenges. Fair to say that engaging a micro dosing protocol will bring our emotions and unproductive thought patterns and beliefs into focus, but the medicines also help us find the resources and capacities to deal with ourselves and the world around us. As we meet ourselves in these ways, up close and personal, we get to build resilience in remarkable ways leaving us feel less afraid of life and more willing to engage the infinite potential that we are.

You can read the full report below.

Research_SP_Microdosing

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