“By temporarily disrupting the brain, a new order forms, and that order may have incredible value at either the level of mental health and psychology or at the level of creativity.” This and other possibilities for rewiring the brain is presented by Michael Pollen in his discussion with Tim Ferriss on The Tim Ferriss Show. Keep listening for more on how to create new brain connections, alternative methods to treating depression and addiction and changing the perception of how you see yourself in the world.
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I’ve been stalking Michael Pollen since the documentary, Food Inc. came out back in 2008, a film exposing the underbelly of what’s called corporate farming or agribusiness. It laid out the somewhat disturbing truth about how our food is really produced. It was the first time I heard the term GMO, genetically modified organism, well known today but not so much back then and it’s something I’d go on to learn more about over the years that completely changed the way I ate. So when I heard he was delving into the realm of psychedelics, already a subject of interest, you bet your ass I was all in!
Alright, a quick and dirty on psychedelics, just in case you’re not familiar. They are hallucinogens or what you might call mind altering drugs and include things like medicinal mushrooms or psilocybin, MDMA or it’s street name, ecstasy, Ayahuasca, a bitter drink made by shamans or medicine men from South America, LSD AKA acid...and the list goes on. Obviously, illegal, but making a comeback in a therapeutic setting where they’re used in treating veterans with PTSD, treatment resistant depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, you get the idea.
You probably recognize a few of these substances, especially if your teenage years looked anything like mine, and you had a few, mmm, hypothetical experiences of your own, at, oh, I don’t know, concerts, parties or class. I personally remember “a friend” taking something while watching the movie, Practical Magic, you know, the one with Nicole Kidman, and thinking THIS! This is THE most profound piece of film ever made. Now I’ve, I mean, SHE’S, since watched it sober and while mildly entertaining, her view on it has changed slightly since then.
But now that I’m wearing my big girl panties and I look at these substances less for their entertainment value and more for their mind body benefit. I appreciate the endless possibilities for both mental and emotional healing. It’s honestly crazy to think you can get the effects of 6 months of therapy in one profound session. Think of the countless hours saved from going down memory lane and rehashing all your old shit for hundreds of dollars that could be used for more important things like, oh, hers and hers plastic surgery...Okay, (jk), inside joke from last week’s episode, if you missed it. And for anyone struggling with their meditation game, psychedelics can be a great jump start in taking things to the next level. Honestly, the skies the limit with these things!
And what about the potential they have for supporting people with depression at a time when women, especially, being put on antidepressants is at an all time high! That’s bananas! I’ve never had clinical depression so I can’t speak to that specifically but I’ve definitely gone through periods of time where the lens I saw the world through wasn’t so rose colored. And what made it worse? People actually telling me “ya know ,I really think you’re depressed” (it’s like when people say “you look tired”, and you think, uh okay, what do I say to that? Thanks!) Hearing it makes it so much harder to shake because I went from feeling depressed to being a depressed person. I identified with depression. And If you’ve followed me over the last few weeks you might correctly assume that I was doing all things. I had made self care a fulltime job. Just to stay above water. And while sometimes it does have to run its course, you can also get stuck in the muck for way too long.
That’s when I did a little digging and stumbled upon microdosing. Microdosing is taking mushrooms, for instance, and using them as you would a supplement but in much smaller amounts and without the trip. It’s a very different experience to that of the higher doses used in something like psychotherapy. The beauty of it, you can still go ahead with your day, as you normally would, uninterrupted, but with a greater overall sense of well being and ease.
I have this friend, we’ll call her Stacy and coincidentally, she and I are the same age with the exact same challenges. Weird, right!? Well, Stacy did some research and found out that it was legal to purchase mushroom spores online for research purposes. So she bought some spores, a pre-assembled mushroom grow kit and went to work growing her own mushrooms at home...that part being not so legal. Once full grown, she dried them, weighed them and used them a few times per week. They definitely helped improve her mood on the days she took them... or so I heard. Obviously, I can’t really know. But those few good days easily, maybe not so easily, become a few more until things got back into a healthy balance again. I’m not saying It’s the end all be all but it’s a tool in her toolbox.
She later took a full, we’ll call it therapeutic dose, of mushrooms because, I mean, why not? She set aside an entire day to be home and made sure the house was clean, there were no interruptions, plenty of food prepared and she set an intention for what she wanted to get out of it. The intention, to find her next steps or where to start on her new path. That was it! She made tea with the mushrooms, which basically meant steeping them in hot water, added a little honey so she wouldn’t get sick because they can have that tendency. Put on some music and away she went. Disclaimer, she didn’t know what the hell she was doing and did have to google some best practices. Maybe not the ideal situation but sometimes you just take the leap. To make a long story short, the utter and profound, not so profound message received was, are you ready for it? Stop being so selfish, help others and have gratitude for life. Yeah, I know, common sense BUT as we’ve said before, common sense, it’s not so common. There was no point in doing this if she wasn’t going to integrate what she learned and take action on it. Otherwise she probably would’ve just kept chasing answers and feeling like she wasn't getting any. So, after sitting with her annoyance at this “new insight”, she did just that. And improved her life along the way. She didn’t want to disregard something just because it seemed easy or obvious. And, by the way, it wasn't either.
Again, I’m not saying psychedelics are the end all be all, and there's definitely some risk so you should always do your research...which I did for at least 2-3 years, before entering into anything, not that you need quite that long. Everyone is different, no two people have the exact same results so of course use common sense and look at all your options. BTW, there are other means of getting into altered states with things like breath work, meditation, yoga and others that can offer less potential side effects and without the risk. So just know, your options, they’re far from limited.
Interested in learning more on today’s topic? Check out the full interview between Michael Pollen and Tim Ferris on The Tim Ferriss Show, episode #313, “Exploring the Science of Psychedelics”. Links to that and both their social media are in the show notes below, along with where to order a mushroom kit of your own.
If you enjoyed today’s show please share with someone you think might benefit and until next time, Thanks for listening.