Using Psychedelic Plant Medicines in your Life
Our first post in this series on psychedelic plant medicines looked at some of the most powerful and interesting trippy healing substances that appear in nature.
We looked at the spiritual power of the ayahuasca brew, the anti-depressant effects of magic mushrooms, peyote and San Pedro, and the anti-addictive and painkilling properties of Salvia divinorum.
So now you’ve heard about the plant medicines, how do you start using them in your daily life?
There are two main ways that people can explore the healing benefits of psychedelic plant medicines. You can either partake in a full psychedelic ceremony, or take small doses in your daily life (microdosing). Both approaches have positives and negatives, and they can even be combined!
The Psychedelic Ceremony
Whether you’re looking to heal a specific ailment, or just looking for spiritual insight, there is nothing that can compare to the raw power of a guided psychedelic ceremony.
The exact look of a psychedelic ceremony will depend on the specific plant medicine involved, but there are similarities. In general, a psychedelic ceremony will involve a facilitator or group of facilitators guiding you through an intense spiritual experience with the plant, over the course of a single night or several days.
Psychedelic ceremonies are held all over the world, and review sites allow you to rate and research the most popular ceremonies. High-end psychedelic retreats allow you to experience a psychedelic ceremony in luxury, with catered accommodation and world-leading experts in psychedelic facilitation.
A psychedelic ceremony will usually involve spiritual practices such as meditation or chanting. Depending on the plant, a ceremony may be run by an indigenous shaman, and make use of traditional shamanic practices. Some plants have been used for their healing properties for thousands of years, and many cultures have discovered the best and safest ways to harness their benefits.
What psychedelic ceremony you choose will depend on what you’re looking for. Some will be more suited to people looking for treatment of a specific condition, whereas others will be more about spiritual transformation. It’s important to really do your research, and make sure the ceremony will be right for you. Check the qualifications of your facilitators, and ensure that they will take your safety seriously.
The power of a psychedelic ceremony depends on the quality of the guidance you’re given. The proper preparation, combined with excellent aftercare, can massively boost the healing benefits of plant medicines. Ideally, your ceremony will involve before-and-after facilitation that helps you make the most of the experience.
As we covered in the first part of this series, the mystical experience is an important part of the healing benefits of psychedelic plants. There is nothing that compares to the power of a psychedelic ceremony to induce a mystical experience. If you’re looking for serious transformation, it might be your best option.
There are downsides to going to psychedelic ceremonies. The psychedelic experience can be profound and scary; you have to be prepared to have your perceptions significantly altered, and you might go to some very uncomfortable places. Additionally, some substances can be dangerous in high doses, if you have certain medical conditions. For example, people with heart conditions should not take the iboga plant, and people with blood pressure conditions are advised not to take Bufo alvarius venom.
It’s also impractical, and maybe impossible, for you to travel around the world and spend large amounts of money to experience ceremonies; especially if you want to make it a regular thing. It’s a large investment of both time and money, as well as the psychological effort of preparing for a potentially life-altering experience.
Luckily, there is an easy way to introduce yourself to psychedelic plant medicines without the financial, practical, or mental hurdles of a psychedelic ceremony…
Microdosing involves taking semi-regular, small doses of a substance for a few weeks, and keeping a journal to track any benefits or downsides. The clue in the name of microdosing is that the doses will be so small that you won’t immediately notice any effects. You can go about your daily routine; work, play, socialize… the main difference is that at the end of every day, you will reflect on how you felt and write down any observations in your journal.
Depending on the plant you’re microdosing with, you may notice subtle improvements in mood, physical well-being, and relationships. If you get the dose right, you may even experience benefits that are comparable to those you would get from a full-dose psychedelic ceremony.
It’s recommended to start with a dose that is one-twentieth of a full dose. This may be too low for you, but it’s best to start small and work your way up until you find your sweet spot.
On your first dose, you should take the day off from your normal obligations, just in case the dose is too high for you. After that first day, stick to a microdosing routine where you take two days off between each microdose. This will give your body time to gently accept the new substance, and maintain the benefits without flooding your system.
Make sure to pay attention to your journaling – if you are frequently reporting things like insomnia, anxiety, or discomfort, you should immediately reduce your dose or even stop microdosing for a while to recover.
Only microdose for a few weeks at a time, to allow your body to return to a baseline. During the times when you aren’t microdosing, make sure to notice the changes, and think about ways that you can get the same benefits without having to microdose for the rest of your life! Ideally, microdosing should point you towards the things in life that make you feel fulfilled, and remind you that you don’t always need substances to get you there!
In terms of the pharmacology of psychedelics, microdosing will have subtle effects on your serotonin system, which is linked to the anti-depressant and anti-addictive effects of high doses. Although we don’t know how the pharmacology of microdosing compares to the pharmacology of high doses, it’s likely that small doses also have a positive impact on your health.
Although microdosing is a great alternative to having full-dose experiences, there are downsides. You probably won’t have access to the expert facilitation that often comes with psychedelic ceremonies, and if you encounter problems you will probably have to turn to internet guides or online coaches. Finding your substance to microdose with may also be difficult, especially if you are new to psychedelics.
There is, thankfully, a third option that may give you the best of both worlds…
The way you take psychedelic plant medicines doesn’t have to be an “either/or” situation! Many people find that having an occasional high-dose ceremonial experience, combined with microdosing in between, is the ideal way to encounter the benefits of psychedelic plant medicines.
In fact, many microdosers say that the main healing benefits they’ve experienced have been from the psychedelic ceremonies, and that microdosing helps to remind them of the lessons they learned during those high-dose sessions.
Additionally, this method reduces the negatives of the individual approaches; you can space out your ceremonies, reducing the cost and impracticality – while also having access to expert facilitators who can advise your microdosing routine, and who can potentially direct you towards people who can help source your substances for microdosing.
You can think of this combination therapy like the way you appreciate your favorite musician. You might see them play live once a year, and those will be your strongest and most profound experiences of their music. But between those live shows, you’ll probably listen to their music every few days, and get a boost of joy.
The aim is that one day, you’ll have cultivated that joy so well, that you won’t even need to listen to their music every day to get a boost, and you’ll find yourself at a fulfilling and contented baseline.
Where can I learn more?
Remember that psychedelic plant medicines are diverse, and everyone responds differently to them. What feels right for one person might not work at all for someone else. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself about these medicines, figure out which is best for you, and then take them in the way that will be healthiest and safest for you.
EntheoNation offers a plant medicine course that will help you find the right substance and setting for you, and their website contains free resources on psychedelic medicines and ceremonies.