Usually when she’s studying, MSU junior Shelby, whose full name is not mentioned for privacy, will figure out exactly what she wants to accomplish and will leave her phone somewhere far away from her so she can focus.
Other times, when she’s really got to buckle down and focus, she employs a study method called microdosing.
Microdosing means to, “take small amounts of psychedelics during the day in order to enhance focus, creativity, patience, and connection to others,” according to the website.
Shelby said she started using this method when she heard about it from her brother and a friend. When it was brought up a year later, she thought she’d try and see if it worked for her.
“It doesn’t give you any visuals, or you don’t hear anything,” Shelby said. “It just makes you, I don’t want to say ‘think creatively,’ but it increases your curiosity and makes you focus because you’re actually curious about what you’re trying to do.”
Shelby said she takes about 1/10 of the recreational amount of mushrooms when she’s microdosing and it takes about an hour for it to take effect. She will take the mushroom dose, grind it up until small, and steep it with tea. She said she usually makes it in a mint tea to help combat the nauseous feeling that sometimes comes with microdosing. Once that feeling wears off, she said she is able to look at her homework in a different way and is curious about what she’s working on.
“Have you ever read a really good book and then you just don’t want to stop because you get really into it?” she said. “It’s like that but for a four or five hour period where you just actually, genuinely care about what you’re doing and you’re focused, not because you feel alert but because you’re interested.”
Shelby said she microdoses around two or three times a year. The most recent time she used it was when she had to complete a semester-long project without the help of a partner a couple weeks before it was due. She steeped her tea, started drinking and settled in to work, she said.
Another student who microdoses at MSU is junior Natalie, whose name has been changed for privacy reasons as well. She takes mushrooms by steeping them in tea. However, Natalie said she hasn’t microdosed for studying and isn’t sure she would.
“It would be interesting, but I’m not sure if I could focus, but maybe I would focus extra hard,” she said.
Instead, Natalie likes to use psychedelics when she’s going to an event like a music festival.
“I do it before I go out to shows because I really love to dance when I’m listening to music, and I think it’s just awesome to see people perform live when you’re feeling so happy and friendly and you feel like a part of the community,” she said.
Natalie described the mushrooms as coming in all shapes and sizes, which she thought was beautiful. The top part of the mushroom is called the cap and the bottom part is the stem, she said.
According to How Stuff Works, most “magic mushrooms” are on the smaller side with a three inch stalk and one inch cap. Some different types, according to the website, are Psilocybe cubensis, or golden cap, with a reddish brown cap and yellow or whitish stem; Psilocybe semilanceata, or liberty cap, which are yellow or brown with a pointed cap; and Psilocybe baeocystis, or blue bell, which has a dark brown cap and brownish or yellowish stem when fresh.
Natalie said in the fall, she has microdosed around two times, and she usually does it when her friends are doing it as well, as everyone likes to share.
When she makes her mushroom tea, she likes to make a lot and put it in a thermos to drink throughout the day and to share with others. She said sometimes her friends will bake a pizza with the mushrooms on them, as the mushrooms don’t taste very good and have a “dirty” flavor.
Like Shelby, Natalie said taking psychedelics has changed the way she thinks about some things. One time she had an epiphany during one of her microdosing sessions and made a career change because of it, she said.
“Lots of people have sudden realizations about their future, about their decisions when they take psychedelics and I’ve had that happen before, (it was) like, ‘Oh wow like this is something that I really love, this is probably what I want to do for the rest of my life,’” she said.
However, taking psychedelic mushrooms isn’t for everyone, Shelby said. Like other forms of stimulants or depressants that affect the way people think, psychedelics can have different effects for different people.
Shelby said one of her friends had a hereditary condition that was triggered by the use of psychedelics and caused her to have a panic attack.
Besides microdosing, there are other methods that students use to help them study. Shelby said some of her friends use “helpers” such as “acid” and others will chug a beer before getting to work.
For Shelby though, microdosing is a way for her to either study things she might not have been interested in before or she might have been looking at from the wrong perspective.
“Like I said, it’s good for raising your curiosity and then approaching things differently and seeing it in a different light,” she said.