Functional Psychedelic Experiences
“Following the third hit of N,N-DMT, the subject flopped back on the couch for 10 minutes in what appears to be a complete detachment of the senses in this realm” - Witness #1
“3 hours into the Ayahuasca journey, the subject is lying on his cot making barely audible noises seemingly attributed to the sensations experienced during the medicinal journey” - Witness #2
These could be considered as relatively typical effects observed when psychedelics are ingested in what’s considered to be “full doses”. While there have been many cases of distinct neurological, emotional, and perceived “spiritual” alterations that have taken place following “full dose”
ingestion, the majority of the subjects are for the most part… physically incapacitated. While we would hardly label these effects as “non-functional”, we believe there is much information to be derived from the different dosages of these hallucinogenic compounds.
A full dose of dried “magic mushrooms” containing the psychoactive compound psilocybin is considered to range from 3 grams to as high as 7 grams (in some cases subjects megadose above the 10 gram range). The effects of this amount coincides with dramatic visionary experiences for the person. The concept of micro-dosing psilocybin is when a person generally takes amounts ranging from 0.1 grams to 0.3 grams. The effects of this amount has been cited to be very subtle in nature with boosts in mood and brain function while lacking any visionary experiences whatsoever.
It seems as though full dose “breakthroughs” and microdosing has become firmly established in the minds of the public who acknowledge the benefits of psychedelics. However, there seems to be the potentiality of a mid-range dose that could offer a completely different set of characteristics. While micro-dosing is extremely subtle allowing for normal functionality and “breakthrough” doses are not subtle at all hampering functionality, it appears as though mid-dosing has the potentiality to afford some functionality while retaining some (albeit lower level) of the perceptual alterations of the full dose.
One of the researchers who has studied this “mid-dose” effect pertaining to the shamanic brew Ayahuasca is professor Glenn Shepard. Shepard has spent extensive time studying indigenous tribes in South America. One of the tribes he has spent much time with is the Matsigenka (Machiguenga) located in southeastern Peru. Shepard would state via e-mail, “The main use of Ayahuasca among the Matsigenka is not actually healing, but hunting. I wouldn’t call this a “low dose” phenomenon, since they use Ayahuasca frequently throughout the rainy season for the explicit purpose of “improving their aim” (and connection with forest spirits) for hunting. The Matsigenka also use numerous other psychoactive, emetic and purgative plants to improve their hunting skills.
Q4LT asked, "When you state that these are not "low dose” phenomena do you mean that the Matsigenka ingest the same amounts that westerners would call a full breakthrough dose?“
Shepard replied, "The Matsigenka definitely don’t “micro dose” Ayahuasca. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like they drink a lot of Ayahuasca in the morning and then go out hunting. They get together in groups, mostly brothers-in-law living in the same residence groups or hamlets, and drink Ayahuasca frequently throughout the rainy season, at night. They say that when they go hunting the next day, or in the days following, they are able to kill lots of animals, particularly monkeys, which are notoriously hard to hunt with traditional bow and arrow technology.”
This is an intriguing anecdote in terms of Ayahuasca being utilized in an externalized, “functional” manner. Obviously this wouldn’t be “explained away” as the “placebo effect” as the monkeys themselves would need to have been affected as well. If ingestion of mid-level doses of Ayahuasca induces enhanced visual acuity in subjects, this could be tested in a controlled laboratory setting in the future.
A 2001 documentary titled “Secrets of the Dead: Mystery of the Zulu Dawn”, chronicled the battle between Zulu tribesmen and the British army in the Battle of Isandlwana in South Africa in 1879. According to members of the Zulu tribe, a red mushroom was ingested prior to the battle and played a key role in their success. While the type of mushroom wasn’t specifically identified, it was speculated that the substance in the mushroom was not psilocybin but rather muscimol.
Within the documentary, clinical toxicologist Dr. John Henry was interviewed regarding the effects of the mushroom. He stated, “The hallucinatory experiences that the Zulus had are very much in keeping with this kind of mushroom. People could see colors different… they could see shapes different… their perception could all be changed. The main active ingredient is muscimol. This is a substance that can produce a kind of detachment… a lack of anxiety… a lack of fear. These effects sound very like the kind of effects that one would want in a Zulu battle. One wants to be able to continue them over several hours. One wants to be able to be detached from all the things that are going on around… the blood shed, the fact that you might be losing but you still persist, you still keep fighting. You’re not influenced by the general feel of the battle. You just go ahead and do your bid. When people persevere like that they’re often on the winning side.”
At 35:50 within the documentary, an experiment would be conducted regarding the effects of muscimol on the ability of two evenly matched judo practitioners. In the experiment, one practitioner was given an unspecified dose of muscimol while the other practitioner was given a placebo. One hour following the ingestion of the substances, the two participants would engage with each other. Based on observation, it appeared very clear that the man who had been given muscimol was significantly more effective than the other participant.
While this was obviously a very small study with limited real-time measurement of parameters to verify neurophysiological changes that correlated with increased effectiveness, it offered some valuable insight nonetheless. It showcased that a person under the influence of muscimol could participate in physical combat and seemingly improve their abilities.
One of the most famous cases (as well as controversial) in modern history of perceived “functionality” under the influence of psychedelics was when professional baseball player Dock Ellis would pitch a “no-hitter” while on LSD on June 12, 1970. A “no-hitter” is considered to be an extremely rare and difficult accomplishment for a pitcher in Major League Baseball. Ellis would state the following regarding his experience: “"I started having a crazy idea in the fourth inning that Richard Nixon was the home plate umpire, and once I thought I was pitching a baseball to Jimi Hendrix, who to me was holding a guitar and swinging it over the plate. I remember diving out of the way of a ball I thought was a line drive. I jumped, but the ball wasn’t hit hard and never reached me.”
Somehow Ellis would throw his first and last “no-hitter” on that fateful evening on June 12, 1970. While his recollection of the event seemed to indicate that the effects of the LSD hampered his ability to focus on the task at hand, the outcome itself cannot be denied. This begs us to continue asking the question of the potential role of mid-dose psychedelics and the potentiality of enhancing a person’s innate abilities.
Switching gears for a moment… as we’ve outlined quite extensively, psychedelic discussion should not be relegated solely to exogenous compounds. It’s been well established that humans possess the abilities to naturally produce illicit substances such as N,N-DMT, 5-MEO-DMT, Bufotenin, and Morphine in the body. Measuring the potential fluctuating levels of some of these compounds in venous blood is currently a difficult endeavor. However, based on amassing plenty of circumstantial, periphery, and anecdotal evidence, there definitively appears to be a distinct change in perception induced by techniques such as meditation, Wim Hof Method (WHM), hypnosis, and virtually any trance-like state. Q4LT believes that these changes in perception coincide with increases in the level of production/release of these types of substances (DMT, 5-MEO, Morphine).
Wim “The Iceman” Hof, the founder of the Wim Hof Method has showcased “supernormal” abilities coinciding with his techniques. He’s garnered 26 Guinness World Records for not only enduring cold but also enduring prolonged heat via a 26 mile marathon in the African desert without drinking any water. The most intriguing aspect of Hof and his method is the fact that a high degree of replicability has been observed for practitioners of all ages and backgrounds in short order. We categorize WHM as a manner in which a person is able to effectively upregulate their endogenous “Endohuasca” (N,N-DMT, 5-MEO, & endogenous MAOIs) and in essence affording them the opportunity to partake in a functional endogenously produced psychedelic experience. At some point it would be an interesting experiment to observe whether various mid-level doses of Ayahuasca can emulate WHM effects in terms of cold adaptation and conscious influence over one’s own autonomic nervous system.
If we as a society can begin to concede the notion that somewhere in between micodosing and “break-through dosing” lies the potentiality to tap into enhanced tangible abilities, perhaps it affords a change in perceptual shift of psychedelics altogether. Rather than simply being relegated to substances that cause visual “hallucinations” coinciding with a detachment from reality, there lies the capacity for humans to better understand the perceptual (and physical) changes during what has long been deemed as simply “tripping”.
There have been many an e-mail received by Q4LT where people who have ingested psychedelic substances inform us of what they can only describe as “enhanced physical abilities” while “tripping”. There are many questions to be answered and they will likely be answered in the future with changes in perception of the perception while under the influence of “magical” substances either exogenously or endogenously.