Which Microdosing Protocol Should I Follow, Paul Stamets or James Fadiman?
A Guide to Creating Your Own Microdosing Protocol
Microdosing psychedelics is becoming more and more popular. One question I’m frequently asked is: How often should I microdose? When it comes to microdosing protocols, there are two main camps:
The Paul Stamets Camp and the Fadimen Camp.
I’m going to cover each of these protocols in this article, then share a few additional suggestions in terms of what you might want to consider when creating a microdosing practice that’s aligned with your underlying intentions.
Paul Stamets Nootropic Stacking Protocol
Paul Stamets is a world-renowned mycologist. He’s the author of multiple books, including The Psilocybin Mushroom Bible: The Definitive Guide to Growing and Using Magic Mushrooms, and has been featured in movies like Super Fungi, and the smash hit Fantastic Fungi.
Paul promotes his “nootropic stacking formula” for microdosing, along with a recommended interval for frequency of consumption.
Nootropic is defined as a substance used to enhance memory and other cognitive functions.
Here’s what’s in his recommended formula:
- Psilocybin 1-10mg
- Psilocybe mushrooms .1-1 gram
- Lion’s Mane 50-300 mg (5-20g)
- Niacin = 100-200 mg
Stamets cites his stacking protocol as a formula for epigenetic neurogenesis. It can help to enhance creativity, cognition, regeneration of vision and auditory neurons. And can also help people with PTSD.
Stamets recommends a microdosing protocol of five days on, with two days off. As I discuss in the last section of this article, you may want to experiment with this, for example, trying four days on and three days off.
Paul Stamets recommends quite a wide range when it comes to the recommended dose of psilocybin. Typically a microdose for psilocybin is .1- .2 grams and is intended to be “sub-perceptual.”
I find that anything more than a half gram and up is definitely moving into “mini-dosing” territory, and you are much more likely to notice the mind-altering effects.
A few factors to consider when it comes to microdosing dosage:
- How much you weigh. Everyone has a different level of tolerance to psychedelics, although the more you weigh, typically, the higher the dose you need to feel the effects.
- Do you want the effect to be sub-perceptual or not? This might depend on your experience with microdosing and your underlying intentions for choosing to microdose. Some people prefer keeping their dose completely below perceptual levels, while others prefer more of a “mini-dose” to enhance their creative process.
If you’re new to microdosing, I recommend starting with smaller amounts, while tracking your experience with a microdosing tracking sheet like this one. If you start experimenting with more than a third to a half a gram, I recommend working with an intentional microdosing practice, and avoid driving for at least 3-4 hours after consumption.
A Note About Niacin
Niacin, which is Vitamin B3, comes with numerous benefits. Stamets claims that the majority of neurogenesis occurs in the extremities of the nervous system. The reason Niacin is included in the stacking formula is because it causes vasodilation. This means it opens up your capillaries and allows more effective delivery of the other compounds, like psilocybin and lions mane, into the body.
Niacin offers essential support for healthy brain function. Niacin deficiency is known to cause brain fog, depression, and memory loss.
According to Dr. Robert Melillo
“Niacin is important to the maintenance of healthy brain cells. It’s a potent antioxidant and plays a role in the signaling between nerve cells which in turn can help with mental agility. Niacin may even help improve the brain’s memory function”.
Niacin is a key mediator of neuronal development, and recent research confirms its neuroprotective role in the central nervous system.
If you understand Niacin’s neuroprotective benefits, you may be more likely to tolerate its highly uncomfortable effects. Even at the lowest end of the recommended amount in the Stamets stack–at 100mg–the Niacin causes my skin to feel very sensitive and irritated. My skin gets red, itchy, and has a burning sensation.
It does get more tolerable over time, but many people I’ve worked with really don’t like this feeling.
A large part of my personal practice with microdosing, and the work I do with entrepreneurs, change-makers, and creatives, focuses on leveraging microdosing for flow. Depending on how sensitive you are, the Niacin can sometimes be a distraction. Flow follows focus, and if all you can focus on is your itchy skin, it can deter you from fully opening the channel and dropping into those highly desirable flow states.
Keep in mind; not everyone has the same reaction to Niacin. If you want to explore making your own nootropic stacks, consider starting with 50mg of Niacin and going from there. You can also rotate your microdosing days, including Niacin on some days, while avoiding it on others.
Lion’s mane is a medicinal mushroom that contains neurotrophic properties and comes with many benefits. Neurotrophic factors are important in promoting the growth and differentiation of neurons, as cited here.
Regardless of what you choose to microdose with or how often, I recommend adding lion’s man to your morning health regimen.
While Paul Stamets primarily focuses on microdosing psilocybin, the Fadiman Protocol opens the microdosing playing field to include other psychedelic substances like LSD.
James Fadiman, one of the founding fathers of psychedelic research, and author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys, doesn’t recommend a stacking protocol like Stamets, but instead, focuses on frequency. He recommends taking one microdose every three days to prevent tolerance build up over time.
Ayelet Waldman followed the Fadiman protocol in her best selling book A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life”. She talks in-depth about her experience in her book.
Over the years, Fadiman has been collecting thousands of anecdotal reports, and the response to his protocol has been overwhelmingly positive.
Here’s what a 4-week microdosing schedule would look like under the Fadiman protocol, if you start on a Sunday:
How often should I microdose?
Despite the popularity of both of these protocols, the research behind the efficacy of any microdosing protocol is minimal. Both Paul Stamets and James Fadiman have many years of in-depth experience, which goes a long way towards offering sound advice. Either one of these protocols provides an excellent place to start.
With my own microdosing experience pushing almost 15 years, here are a few additional suggestions I would offer, if you’re thinking about microdosing.
Use Your Intuition
It’s wise to turn to people for outside advice, especially when working with psychedelics. And it’s important to remember that you are the only one who knows what’s best for you. Ultimately, you are your own best guide.
Blinding following any kind of rigid protocol may prevent you from listening to your intuition and making the most appropriate decisions to support your unique individual needs.
Here are some factors to take into consideration as you cultivate your microdosing protocol.
Balancing Intentions with Schedule
The main considerations you want to tune into are your underlying intentions and spaciousness in your schedule. If you’re working with psychedelics to enhance creativity and tap into flow, yet you have a busy schedule with lots of meetings and time-consuming obligations, you might want to consider holding off until you have a little less on your plate.
Other people microdose because they want additional support to get through busy days. Only you know what your intentions are. If you explore a variety of microdosing substances, you’ll also learn how different psychedelics affect you and can support you in different ways.
Over time, I’ve cultivated a relationship with the different substances I work with, and draw upon the most appropriate ally depending on what’s going on in my life, and what my underlying intentions are.
I like to encourage people to cultivate a microdosing protocol within the context of an intentional morning practice that includes mindful movement, breathwork, and meditation.
Other Microdosing Protocols to Experiment With
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to microdosing frequency, except for one: you don’t want to microdose every day for the rest of your life. It’s good to take breaks.
I recommend designing your protocol within one to three-month windows, and then start by experimenting with various weekly frequencies within that time frame.
Experiment With Frequency
Keep in mind that depending on the substance and the dose, microdosing for four to five days “on” a week is a pretty serious microdosing practice. I only recommend this to people who know how to cultivate a solid foundation to support this kind of inner work. And it’s definitely not for everyone.
You don’t have to microdose that frequently to experience some of the benefits, or to explore an initial relationship with microdosing. It’s just as valid to be a once-a-month microdoser, or a “weekend microdoser”, which is also becoming more popular.
Take a Break from Microdosing
After a couple of months of working with microdosing, take at least a one month break. It’s imperative to pause on microdosing, so you can have time to integrate and reflect on your experience. It’s also important not to become dependent on substances to help enhance creativity, flow, or focus. My philosophy is to work with these powerful substances as allies, training us to learn how to enhance our cognitive abilities, but then letting go of the microdosing training wheels so we can learn to ride on our own.
Frequency Depends on Substance
Please keep in mind these are generalized statements based on my own experience and working with many microdosing clients.
In general, I’ve noticed that psilocybin and ayahuasca vine tend to have more of an accumulative effect than LSD does. On day three or four of microdosing psilocybin or vine, I’ll notice it to be stronger than on day one.
I don’t notice this same effect with LSD because I think the body builds up more tolerance to it. This is likely why the Fadiman protocol, which tends to focus more on LSD, rotates every three days–because the body gains tolerance.
Because of the cumulative effect of vine or psilocybin, I avoid microdosing for more than three to four days in a row, after which, I usually take at least two to three days off, sometimes more if I need more time to integrate.
After many years of exploring a wide range of microdosing protocols, I now microdose purely on intuition. But I still do that within a dedicated window of time. I’ll plan ahead and look at my schedule, and what might be in my creation pipeline. I like to choose a couple of months to microdose while I’m focusing on significant creative projects, to support my creative process.
I view life as one big experiment. I encourage you to view your microdosing practice the same way. Pay attention to how you’re feeling. Listen to your body. Tune in to your intuition.
I don’t recommend microdosing without a genuine underlying intention. Because my primary practice is with microdosing ayahuasca vine, I only microdose within a specific context of a morning practice. From this perspective, I personally don’t recommend microdosing and then hopping on a phone call or going grocery shopping, but again this will depend on you and your lifestyle choices.
I recommend taking the time and space to fully drop in with the underlying essence of the psychedelics or sacred plant medicines you’re choosing to work with, and microdose within the context of cultivating a personal practice, like meditation.
Approach your microdosing practice with a sense of respect for yourself and the substance you’re choosing to work with.
Track Your Microdosing Protocol
The best way to gain perspective on your microdosing experiment is to track it so you can reflect on how your journey is going. This is the best advice I have for anyone choosing to cultivate their own microdosing practice.
It’s hard to have perspective when we’re in the middle of microdosing. But if you can pause and zoom out to view the bigger perspective, many more insights can be gained.
Get the Support You Need
There are so many nuanced factors involved in getting started with microdosing, which is why I recommend joining a microdosing program or consulting with a microdosing coach.
If you have any questions about starting to work with microdosing, get in touch.
Please read my disclaimer before choosing to work with any kind of psychedelics, whether you are micro, mini, or macro-dosing.
Also, I do not recommend working with stronger medicines like ayahuasca vine or washuma unless you are working under the guidance of a teacher or experienced practitioner.