Understanding The Paul Stamets Microdosing Stack
If you could grow new brains cells, would you? The basis for understanding the Paul Stamets microdosing stack lies in neurogenesis.
The “Stamets Stack,” a microdosing protocol created by mycology pioneer Paul Stamets, is designed for precisely that neurogenesis, new neurological growth. While for years, the biohacking community has combined compounds seeking synergy to enhance cognition, the Staments Stack aims to achieve this too, but with a combination of naturally occurring medicinal and psychoactive mushrooms used for thousands of years.
Who is Paul Stamets?
Paul Stamets is a citizen scientist, amateur mycologist, founder of Fungi Perfecti, and mycotechnology patent holder. He has authored several mycology books that acted as bibles for many amateur mushroom growers or magic mushroom enthusiasts. He has also discovered several species of psilocybin-containing mushrooms.
Stamets has produced groundbreaking ideas about using mycoremediation to save the bees and repair the environment. He is a longtime advocate for psychedelics’ healing potential and possible influence on human evolution, including “Stoned Ape Theory” in some of his public appearances. The Mckenna Brothers created the theory that attributes human evolution to the accidental consumption of magic mushrooms.
What is the Stamets Stack?
The protocol is based on Paul’s citizen science and forty years of experience with mycology. The theory is that psilocybin and lion’s mane work in synergy as catalysts for neurogenesis, producing new neurons. At the same time, niacin allows for absorption and transport.
Stamets has proposed that psychedelic mushrooms have a longstanding relationship with humans. Their unique properties interact with the human microbiome and nervous system as fungi and humans share evolutionary ancestry. Stamets has suggested this human-fungi relationship could be harnessed to improve cognitive function, treat mental illness and possibly even cure degenerative neurological diseases.
Some of the proposed benefits of the Stamets Stack are:
- New neurons and neurological pathways
- Repair damaged existing neurological pathways
- Remove amyloid plaque (proteins in between nerve cells)
- Potential treatment to depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, or other mental health disorders
- Improve mood and cognition
- Focus and creativity
The microdosing community of self-experimenters echoes claims of these benefits and more. While science studying microdosing is new and inconclusive, Reddits r/microdosing is full of inspiring stories about microdosing benefits from various protocols and substances.
Why Use a Stack?
Pharmacology generally prefers to reduce the effect of substances down to single targets. However, traditions that have created the framework for psychedelic use have long combined multiple plants for unique effects like the tea made to produce ayahuasca.
Herbalists today still create blends, and biohackers use various “smart drugs” together for hypothesized interactions that could increase absorption and heighten positive and lower negative effects.
How does the Stamets Stack Work?
Microdosing is taking a sub-perceptual dose of a psychedelic drug – enough for the chemicals to be bioactive in our bodies but not enough to feel consciousness-altering effects.
The stack is taken according to a schedule as psychedelic drugs quickly build up tolerance in the body. Stamets recommends microdosing 4-5 times per week, with the remaining days off. This gives the body time to metabolize the psilocybin and rest and reflect.
Psilocybin is the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. A powerful psychedelic that breaks down in psilocin in our bodies to create consciousness-altering experiences proving to be a paradigm shift for mental health.
Many studies with “macrodoses” – full therapeutic or recreational doses, show lasting shifts for people struggling from depression, end-of-life anxiety, and addictions.
Anecdotes of microdosing suggest that some benefits could be achieved without the hours-long psychedelic experience. Studies with LSD have also measured brain-derived nerve growth factors in the blood of people microdosing.
There is speculation microdosing psilocybin could have similar effects. Specific studies of microdosing psilocybin are lacking, but evidence points that higher doses of psilocybin can create neuroplasticity, roughly defined as a rewiring of our brain. This effect is thought to be an effective tool for treating depression, PTSD, or even establishing new habits.
Lion’s mane has been used in Asia for thousands of years as a medicinal mushroom. It grows native to North America, Europe, and Asain and is known for its drooping spines giving it the look of a lion’s mane.
The long tradition of Lions Mane is recently becoming backed by an impressive cohort of scientific studies backing up the ancient claims of it being a powerful health tonic. Some of the benefits back by scientific studies suggest, among other things:
- Protective against certain cancers
- Diabetes management
- Manage hypertension
- Cognitive enhancer
- Lower inflammation
- Source of antioxidants
- Immune booster
Not bad for one mushroom. Lion’s mane neuroprotective and neurogenesis properties are popular targets for research into slowing the effects of dementia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Some even believe keys to reversing these conditions could be found with further study.
Stamets company Fungi Perfecti has long sold Lion’s Mane as a supplement, along with supplies to grow your own. He has also performed research, which he outlined at the Bioneer’s conference in 2020, showing that Lions Mane mycelium combined with psilocybin mushrooms compounded nerve growth beyond his expectations.
Niacin, a B3 vitamin that Stamets has theorized, will aid the mushroom’s effects. Niacin is a vasodilator, expanding our blood vessels and improving circulation, particularly to our limbs. Stamets believes that these properties are essential as most neurogenesis occurs in our extremities.
Niacin also helps with the regeneration of skin, muscles, nerves, and DNA through its effect on our metabolism. It allows the neurotransmitter GABA across the blood-brain barrier, which Stamets has suggested helps with neurogenesis.
Stamets recommends taking more than the daily recommended dose of niacin. This creates a “niacin flush.” Symptoms include red face, chest, and arms with burning or itching sensations lasting for 30 min to an hour. The flush is not dangerous, and some people perform niacin flushes without mushrooms for potential benefits. However, taking too much niacin can be harmful. Consult with a doctor to see if this protocol is safe for your body.
Entourage Effect in Mushrooms
Microdosing with the Stamets stack is based on other observations Paul has made regarding other naturally occurring compounds in psilocybin mushrooms, known as the entourage effect.
The entourage effect became known through the cannabis industry, studying the many compounds found in the plant. The most well-known example is terpenes, which affect a variety of smells, tastes, and unique effects of individual marijuana strains.
Stamets claims there is a “whole new landscape” in mushrooms, and it turns out fungi produce various compounds other than psilocybin. The most studied at this time as baeocystin, norbayocystin, and norpsilocin.
The academic world has expressed skepticism about an entourage effect in mushrooms. Psychedelic researcher Dr. Andrew Sherwood expressed caution with comparing mushrooms to cannabis. Still, he told Psychedelic Science Review we only have a “small piece of the puzzle” concerning how the various compounds in mushrooms behave together as a mixture inside our bodies.
Labs have examined these compounds and found them not to be psychoactive independently. However, Stamets claimed during his Bioneers interview have combined the three particular compounds mentioned above with psilocybin and lions mane to “produce strong neurogenesis.”
Should You Try the Stamets Stack?
After you’ve put effort into understanding the Paul Stamets microdosing stack, the next step is figuring out if you should try it. Stamets’s research is classified as citizen science and academics still carefully and slowly consider many claims, including if microdosing works at all. However, in the meantime, an increasingly large group of biohackers, innovators, and creatives are claiming to find an edge with microdoses or nootropic stacks.
Psilocybin and Lion’s Mane has a history of use spanning thousands of years. Precisely what role they will play in human health or consciousness is still evolving. But while we wait for science to catch up with the psychedelic underground, if you feel like Paul Stamet’s protocol is for you, check out our Complete Guide to Microdosing to create your own microdoses using the recipe below.
Stamets Stack Dosage Recommendation:
- 10% your usual recreational
- 50-200mg of medicinal mushroom lion’s lane
- 100 – 200 mg of B vitamin niacin
Learn About Microdosing
- The Pros and Cons of Microdosing
- Microdosing Mushrooms Companies: Get To Know Them
- Guide to Mushroom Microdosing Products
- Frshminds’ Guide to Microdosing
- The Benefits of Microdosing Psychedelics
- Curious About How To Microdose Psychedelics?
Featured image via Dusty Yao-Stamets, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons