Back in the 60s, life was psychedelic. The Baby Boomers knew how to party and did it with style. Music poured out of every car window, and acid was as plentiful as portapotties at those outdoor concerts. Little did those hippies know that the psychedelics they’ve been using to trip possess a power that can change the trajectory of their life.
For many older adults, contending with conditions such as depression, low mood from isolation, early stages of dementia, and neurological disabilities is often a constant and long-term struggle. Psychedelics and microdosing, in particular, will still require much scientific research to understand the benefits and risks. Fortunately, recent studies are generating optimism that microdosing psilocybin and other plant and mushroom medicines may provide a new generation of options for treating mental health and well-being for older adults, many living longer with various health issues.
Microdosing Psychedelics: How Does it Help?
Psilocybin and other psychoactive mushrooms, generally identified as psychedelics, have long been used in tribal and shamanistic cultures for their perceived healing properties. Indigenous people in the Americas have known and used psychedelics long before their worldwide discovery by European scientists in the late 1800s and early 1900s. While the science behind their efficacy remains a work in progress, many experts believe these substances can profoundly impact our mental health.
Microdosing is taking small, sub-perceptual doses of a psychedelic substance. When microdosing, there is often a protocol to follow. For older adults, a structured approach is a safer and more manageable way to experience the benefits of these formulations.
Microdosing focuses on an immediate “intention,” elevating one’s mood! A gentle elevation in mood offers relief from anxiety, a reduction in the escalation of stress from health conditions, memory recall, and a boost of creativity.
Baby Boomers: Tripping and Thriving
The youths of the 60s and 70s have leaped through life carrying on their back seasons of love, joy, and music. Anyone who lived and thrived during the era of hippies and psychedelic rock probably at least heard of things like “magic mushrooms” and “acid.” Baby Boomers perfected their arts under the influence. Without them, we would have never even had the Summer of Love!
Despite this, many Baby Boomers aren’t keen on returning to their psychedelic days. “For the majority of boomers like me, psychedelic drugs slipped off our radars decades ago. But while our attention was elsewhere, the psychedelic revolution was quietly moving forward, from exile toward mainstream, driven by a community of dedicated activists, scientists, and entrepreneurs,” says Abbie Rosner over at DoubleBlind.
And it’s true! Microdosing psychedelics is a new and fresh take on what Baby boomers recognize. They just need a push forward to realize that this revolution can help assuage those new pains, aches, and depressions that come with older age.
Older Adults and Microdosing
A study in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry has found that microdosing psychedelics may be a helpful medicine for older adults struggling with depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
“Very few older adults or patients with serious comorbidities have been included in clinical trials of psychedelics to date, raising the question of how generalizable study results are for the patients that most geropsychiatrists will be treating. Research on the neurophysiologic and mechanistic effects of psychedelics in older adults could also provide insights into the aging brain that could have clinical applications in the future.” (Johnston, Mangini, Grob, and Anderson)
The team conducting this experiment believes that seeing the full scope of their theory means more experiments should be conducted. While microdosing does cause changes in the brain, how can we prove that it will genuinely aid older adults without more scientific research?
Studies, Discoveries, and Theories
Another study published in the National Library of Medicine suggests that microdosing psychedelics could be a valuable tool for managing PTSD symptoms. After researching the effects of MDMA and Ketamine on the brains of veterans with PTSD, the journal concluded that “Overall, psychedelics show promise as being therapeutic and curative options for PTSD patients.”
While it’s still unclear exactly how psilocybin and other psychedelics work to alleviate mental health conditions, there are a few theories. One theory suggests that these substances work by promoting neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to form new connections and reorganize itself. This increased plasticity may allow the brain to “rewire” itself in a way that reduces anxiety and depression.
Another theory suggests that psilocybin may help regulate the default mode network, a brain region that becomes active when we’re not focused on a task. Studies suggest that overactivity in the default mode network could be a key driver of depression and anxiety and that psychedelics may help regulate this activity to improve mental health.
Microdosing and You
The research suggests that microdosing psilocybin and cannabinoids could be a promising treatment option for older adults struggling with PTSD, depression, or anxiety. Further studies are needed to fully understand how these substances work and how best to use them therapeutically. Still, the results are encouraging. If you are an older adult, a caretaker, or a family member of an aging patient, consult your doctor or a trained therapist to discuss the merits, risks, and benefits.
Readers of this post with specific interests and more questions, we invite you to have a private one-to-one microdosing session, which is complimentary and available for a calendar sign-up. We also offer valuable educational material and classes on our Eventbrite, Youtube, and the rest of the Wisdom Blog!