More and more frequently we’re being asked about the impact of microdosing psilocybin and symptoms tied to female hormone irregularities. This includes premenstrual syndrome, balancing an irregular menstrual cycle, and menopause. While this is an under-researched topic, we’ve gathered anecdotal evidence and have investigated the science that does exist to discuss how microdosing can be a supportive tool in working through hormonal symptoms.
Let’s first define microdosing: microdosing is the act of regularly consuming low, sub-hallucinogenic doses of a psychedelic. In this case, magic mushrooms, or psilocybin. The term ‘microdosing’ can be broken down into these three components:
- The low-dose use of a psychedelic (dose)
- A schedule of multiple dosing sessions (protocol)
- The intention to improve well-being and enhance cognitive and/or emotional processes (intention)
Long term microdosing has been reported to improve mood, increase energy, boost creativity, lead to healthier choices (food choices, exercise, lifestyle), improve focus, reduce anxiety and stress, working with pain managment, and as we’ll dive in here, improve troubling or emotional menstrual periods.
Microdosing and PMS
Premenstrual Disorder Symptom, or PMS, consists of a multitude of symptoms that occur predictably with a menstrual cycle. These include: mood swings, tender breasts, food cravings, fatigue, irritability, and depression. It’s estimated that 3 of every 4 menstruating individuals have experienced some form of PMS. For some, these recurring symptoms can be debilitating. Often, those experiencing PMS find it affects their work, ability to cope with stress, and manage relationships – both with self and others. It’s important to address the root causes of these hormonal imbalances, these include: lifestyle, diet, toxic exposure, and stress levels. This is where microdosing may come in as a supportive tool to help bring you back to balance with your hormones. While we have a lot of anecdotal evidence, there is very little controlled study data. Given the positive correlations menstrating women are discussing however, it is probable that mushrooms can help rebalance hormones or mood effects that are caused by hormonal fluctuations. With the limited research we have, we’ve seen in animal models that psychedelics can reduce inflammation, primarily in lung tissue, so perhaps this can be extended to things like PMS. As we progress and more research unfolds, it will be interesting to see what the data uncovers in relation to this topic.
From an anecdotal perspective, we’ve had many community members report that microdosing regularly helped reduce their PMS. For example, Courtney wrote, “my partner and I are in love with these little doses of joy! I’m highly sensitive to medications and any substance, and these just give me this boost without side effects or feeling like I’m using anything. Highly recommend it for those who just want to feel awesome and also as a mood booster for those like me who have some intermittent low periods monthly. helped greatly with my PMS symptoms, specifically mood and stomach pain, and inflammation!” Shannon shared, “This product helped me get me back. It’s been life changing. I had my first period without extreme mood swings, crippling anxiety and IBS flare ups. I cried at how happy I was to be stable.”
Psilocybin has strong effects on both psychological and physiological processes, such as activating certain receptors in the brain or body. Perhaps its ability to reduce inflammation helps calm the physiological symptoms of PMS – cramping, stomach distress, headaches etc. From a psychological perspective, premenstrual symptoms like anxiety, depression, and mood swings signal a potential problem with the serotonin system. When consumed, psilocybin converts to psilocin which acts on serotonin receptors by binding to them, making the body perceive higher serotonin stores which leads to an elevated mood, more stable energy and improved sleep. Psilocybin also helps quiet areas of the brain responsible for our anxiety or fear response – areas that are likely more active during PMS. Given this, we can see how microdosing consistently throughout a menstrual cycle can help prepare the body for the symptoms that begin to arise in the luteal phase, right before menstruation.
Microdosing and regulating a cycle
In many cases, an irregular period is a result of stress – either physical or mental. Lack of sleep and travel can also have an affect on a cycle or cause a missed period or two, as they tax the body. When a menstruating body feels overwhelmed or strained, it signals that it’s likely not a good time to procreate, hence the cycle gets thrown off and ovulation may cease. Given that we know microdosing long term can help build resiliency to stress and improve sleep, it makes sense that this reduction in stress and improved ability to cope with adversity would promote a regular, consistent cycle as the body feels more regulated and safe. We recommend microdosing for three months, noticing how your cycle may shift (along with other lifestyle factors like getting adequate sleep, integrating techniques like journaling, meditation or breathwork, moving the body regularly, or seed cycling which we’ll get into below).
Physical movement tailored to your cycle
The body has different requirements throughout each phase of a menstrual cycle, as well as different metabolic rates and energy reserves. It’s recommended to tailor your workouts to your cycle phase to work with your hormones, rather than against them.
This can look like:
Follicular phase (aka the first day after your period to ovulation, typically lasting two weeks): Go for it with high intensity activities! Cardio, strength training, sports, whatever calls – your energy levels are quite high in this phase, so it’s a good window to work on making gains. This could be a great time to integrate Boomerang, our microdose formula designed to elevate workouts by increasing motivation and focus, stamina, recovery and performance.
Luteal phase (aka post-ovulation until the first day of your period, typically lasting two weeks): Time to wind things down. Turn to resistance training, pilates, yoga, and other low-impact activities as your body prepares for menses. This could be a great time to integrate Lite Brite, our microdose formula designed to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression with calming constituents like CBD, passionflower and ashwagandha paired with psilocybin.
Menstrual phase (aka your period, typically lasting 4-7 days): Opt for gentle activities like walking, gentle yoga or swimming and take rest days when needed. This is the cocoon phase of the cycle, a time to go inward, reflect and get cozy. We love Connect Four during this time as it supports neurogenesis and the formation of new ideas and ways of thinking.
This is just a guide and not meant to be regimented. Ultimately, you know your body best. Perhaps try syncing your movement practice with your cycle for 2-3 months and notice if you see any shifts.
This is another ritual that can be highly beneficial for regulating a menstrual cycle. The idea is quite simple: you consume certain seeds during certain phases of your cycle that contain nutrients to support a regular period. A seed cycling schedule looks like this:
Follicular phase to ovulation: 1 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds + 1 tbsp ground flax seeds daily, with an option of 2 tsp of omega 3 fish oil as well. These seeds can help naturally increase estrogen levels while providing fibre to help the body metabolize any excess estrogen. They are also high in minerals such as zinc and selenium, which are building blocks to hormones.
Luteal phase to menses: 1 tbsp raw sunflower seeds + 1 tbsp sesame seeds or raw tahini paste, with an option of 1000-4000mg of Evening Primrose Oil to help with pain, acne and cramping. Both sunflower and sesame seeds contain lignans and essential fatty acids that help balance hormones during this time.
We like to sprinkle seeds on our oats, yogurt bowls, salads or add to smoothies, or you can make seed energy balls and store them in the fridge for easy daily consumption.
If you are unsure where you are in your cycle, you can sync up your seed intake with the moon. Use the new moon as your day 1 and eat ground flax seeds and raw pumpkin seeds. Then, when the full moon arrives, switch to the raw sunflower and sesame seeds or raw tahini paste.
Microdosing and menopause
Menopause is defined as the time when menstration has ceased for at least 12 months and usually occurs between the ages of 45-55 in menstruating bodies. Perimenopause is the lead up to this cessation, and can come with uncomfortable symptoms such as mood swings, hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, depression, irritability, forgetfulness, or the inability to concentrate, headaches, and sleep disturbances. The majority of these symptoms arise from a diregulated hypothalamus, an area of the brain that controls body temperature, metabolic rate, sleep patterns, reactions to stress, libido, mood, and the release of pituitary hormones.
While there are no specific studies on how microdosing psilocybin can ease perimenopausal symptoms, we have enough evidence that psychedelics can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, shift perspective, and improve sleep, hence microdosing psilocybin could be very supportive for during this time of flux. We’ve seen evidence that microdosing psilocybin can help reduce headaches.
Here, one woman recounts her experience finding microdosing during her transition into menopause.
Psychedelics like psilocybin may be able to reduce temperature fluctuations experienced with hot flashes by inducing physiological changes and modulating the body. The root cause of hot flashes is unknown, however it likely has something to do with the hypothalamus, which regulates body temperature. The hypothalamus is sensitive to changes in stress levels and can be thrown off when the nervous system becomes disregulated, so we can hypothesize that microdosing, which inherently helps recalibrate the nervous system, could help regulate the hypothalamus and body temperature.
If anxiety, depression, and mood swings are the main symptoms you’re experiencing around perimenopause, we’d recommend Lite Brite for its uplifting effects. If you’re finding it challenging to focus or concentrate, View Master is a great option thanks to its blend of red ginseng, ginkgo biloba, and raw peruvian cacao that work synergistically with psilocybin to improve cognitive function.
Like PMS, there are usually underlying factors causing perimenopausal symptoms. While common, they aren’t necessarily normal. It’s important to investigate diet, lifestyle, toxic exposures, a movement ritual, etc. in conjunction to exploring tools like microdosing to soothe these symptoms.
In the future, we see great potential for group therapy paired with psychedelic experiences to support with the transition into menopause. It’s a time of great change, and having a support network to share experiences and be in community could be a beautiful tool in working through these physiological and psychological changes.
Ultimately, when it comes to balancing hormones, it’s important to practice being a scientist with yourself. This might look like tracking your feelings and how things are shifting through a regular journal or meditation practice, and/or using an app like Clue or Natural Cycles to keep tabs on your cycle. With regular microdosing, we recommend taking two weeks off every few months to observe how things are shifting for you. If you’re keen to learn more about hormones and tools and techniques to regulate them, Alissa Vitti has two great books, Women Code and In The Flow, both of which we highly recommend.
If you have any further questions around microdosing psilocybin to support your health, we’re here for you! Send us an e-mail at [email protected].
And stay tuned for Part 2 of this series where we’ll cover microdosing and pregnancy, breastfeeding and postpartum depression.