Photo of brain scans

Microdosing and Concussion Recovery

Written by: Moment Mushrooms

The day that changed my life forever.

FEBRUARY 5, 2022

On February 5, 2022, I was in a ski accident, I double ejected from my skis and went headfirst into a tree without a helmet on.

As I came around and the daze wore off, I remember sobbing and repeating to my partner “I just got over my last concussion.” As someone who spends all their free time in the mountains pursuing various sports, injuries are unfortunately not new to me, and I knew the risks that came with having back-to-back concussions.

During the recovery of my first concussion, I was lucky enough to have a friend who had done a lot of research around concussion recovery and among the multiple nutrition plans, supplement lists, and physio exercises he supplied me with, he also suggested micro-dosing mushrooms.

At that point in my life, I had only macro-dosed mushrooms twice and my approach to micro-dosing could be described as rough at best. Following a sporadic schedule, my strategy consisted of eyeballing “the right amount” of a stem (having done no research to determine what “the right amount” might be). Despite this rough attempt at micro-dosing, I found that mushrooms were one of the few things that helped ease the chronic headaches and brain fog that were the primary symptoms I experienced at the time.

 

Learning to Microdose

My second concussion hit me hard, if you google “concussion symptoms,” I checked off every box. The more well-known symptoms including brain fog, dizziness, nausea, and headaches, I had experienced with my first concussion, however, this concussion added new symptoms to my repertoire, specifically depression and severe anxiety.

My first two months of recovery were spent in the fetal position, unable to string full sentences together. 

When I was able to go out, I had to take breaks to sit every few minutes due to the dizziness, nausea, and headaches. Despite the physical symptoms I found the mental effects to be far more debilitating, the depression and anxiety were overwhelming, and while the physical symptoms healed quicker (and were easier for my friends to understand and empathize with),the mental effects continued to linger.

 

This was the point in my recovery when fate stepped in in the form of a friend I hadn’t seen in years who introduced me to Moment. I knew that micro-dosing had helped in the past and after talking with him and doing some research on the various methods, I decided to try to micro-dose in a more structured way than my previous experience in the hopes that the positive effects would be more consistent and long lasting.

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Settling into a Schedule

After reading multiple “beginners guide to micro-dosing” articles, I settled on the approach of taking a dose once every 3 days. During the early days of my concussion recovery, I struggled with my short-term memory, so I paired this approach with a daily journaling practice to act as a check in for how I was feeling through the process, but also as a way to look back and remember when I had taken my last dose (sometimes I struggled to remember if I had even taken it that day).

Due to my experience with micro-dosing during my first concussion I had expected to feel some relief on the first day of micro-dosing, however the experience that first day was significantly more than I had imagined.

“It felt like I could breathe again”

– KATHERINE FINDLAY​

It felt like I could breathe again.

That may sound dramatic, but one of the main symptoms of my second concussion was anxiety and it had been sitting heavy on my chest consistently for two months. To suddenly feel as though the anxiety that I had almost gotten used too was gone, I felt calm and still and light for the first time in months.

The first two weeks of micro-dosing were emotional and the positive effects on my mental health were dramatic. In the general discourse around concussion symptoms and recovery, the mental health detriments are often not discussed as much as the physical symptoms.

While discussing my improvements with friends, the response was often “ya, but what about the actual concussion symptoms, do you find micro-dosing is helping them?” While the question is well meaning, it significantly undermines how debilitating anxiety and depression can be and ignores the role that mental health plays in physical healing.

Anxiety and depression are very real symptoms of concussions and addressing them has been a significant part of my concussion recovery.

Gradual Effects

Over the course of the next month, I noticed a gradual reduction in my physical symptoms. Within the first week I experienced significantly less migraines, and within the first two weeks, I had my first two days in a row without any headache or migraine symptoms.

I didn’t find a significant change in the amount of dizziness or brain fog that I experienced, however, I found that these symptoms were generally more manageable with traditional means in my day-to-day.

Multiple studies show that psilocybin therapy can reduce migraines

My experience with psilocybin reducing the pain I was experiencing is not a one off, multiple studies show that psilocybin therapy can reduce migraines, one small study saw 50% of participants report a 50% reduction in weekly migraine days following psilocybin dosing, while another showed that “in contrast to conventional medication, psychedelic compounds are reported to have lasting preventive effects after limited dosing in headache disorders.”

Additionally, there is a strong correlation between mental health and wound healing, a 2011 review of the methods and findings of experimental models regarding wound healing found that “psychological stress can have a substantial and clinically relevant impact on wound repair.” The review concluded that psychological distress “appears to influence recovery from medical procedures and healing of chronic wounds in clinical settings.”

Comparing my journey with micro-dosing and concussion recovery to this research, it seems as though the reduction in migraines and headaches is twofold. In addition to addressing the symptoms directly, by reducing my anxiety and depression levels significantly, micro-dosing has allowed my body to address the physical pain symptoms of my injury and has expedited the healing process.

GROWING RESEARCH AROUND MICRO-DOSING AND CONCUSSIONS

I would be remiss not to mention that throughout my micro-dosing journey I have been doing research around the impacts and intersection of mental health, concussions and micro-dosing. While the field of study is still in its infancy, there is growing evidence that psilocybin therapy could act as an anti-depressant, replacing SSRI’s while having less side effects. Additionally, the studies that are publicly available share the consensus that micro-dosing is beneficial for mood and mental health outcomes.

It is comforting as a research buff to know that the research is reflective of my personal journey with micro-dosing. However, with most of the existing research being descriptive, I’m looking forward to the field of research growing so that we can understand not just the “what” of psilocybin therapy aiding in concussion recovery, but the “how” and the “why.”

I hope that one day the benefits of micro-dosing and concussion recovery will be more broadly understood and accepted as it has been a huge part of my healing process.

Written by: Moment Mushrooms