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Unlocking the Power of the Paul Stamets Stacking Protocol: Lion’s Mane, Psilocybin, and Niacin for Effective Microdosing

Microdosing, the practice of taking very small doses of psychedelics, has gained popularity for its potential to boost creativity, focus, and overall well-being. One notable figure in this field is mycologist Paul Stamets, who developed a unique stacking protocol combining specific mushrooms and supplements. This article explores the Stamets stacking protocol and its benefits.

Why microdose? 

When it comes to scientific evidence, microdosers commonly report reduced stress, improved mood, and relief from symptoms of depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). What’s more, some studies also suggest that microdosing might be more effective than conventional psychiatric treatments. An honorable mention is the ongoing project, the largest study on microdosing to date. The study has provided extensive data on the psychological differences between microdosers and non-microdosers.

The bar chart from the study shows that microdosers have significantly lower mean scores on anxiety, depression, and stress (measured by DASS-21) compared to non-microdosers, based on data from 1,651 participants. Source

Moreover, research on psilocybin’s effects on hippocampal neurogenesis and the extinction of trace fear conditioning in mice provides further insight into its therapeutic potential. Psilocybin, a 5-HT2A receptor agonist, was found to facilitate the extinction of conditioned fear responses at low doses without significantly harming neurogenesis, suggesting its potential for treating PTSD by enhancing fear extinction.

In summary, microdosing is emerging as a promising practice for mental health and cognitive enhancement, supported by both traditional use and contemporary scientific research. The ongoing studies and growing body of evidence continue to highlight its potential benefits, particularly for those with mental health challenges.

This study also found that the most popular substances combined with microdoses, a practice known as "stacking," were Lion’s Mane mushrooms (used by 39% of microdosers), niacin (18%), and chocolate (5%). This study, co-authored by Paul Stamets, who popularized the Stamets Stack (a combination of psilocybin, Lion’s Mane mushrooms, and niacin), revealed that microdosers, especially those with current mental health or addiction issues, had significantly lower scores on anxiety, depression, and stress scales compared to non-microdosers. This aligns with other studies showing that emotional well-being and cognitive enhancement are key motivations for microdosing. While microdosing alone can bear significant benefits for many, 39% opt for stacking. Why is this and what is stacking? 

Understanding the Stamets Stacking Protocol: What is Stacking? 

When it comes to the domain of health improvement and biohacking, one often comes across stacking in association with adaptogens. Stacking here means selecting herbs, supplements, and other ingredients with adaptogenic properties that together result in a synergistic effect. More specifically, when it comes to psychedelics, stacking refers to microdosing psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms and combining them with other substances to enhance their positive effects. This method has ancient origins. The Aztecs, for instance, mixed cacao with psilocybin mushrooms in a practice called "cacahua-xochitl," meaning "chocolate-mushrooms”, we dive into this further in our article titled Exploring the Synergy between Cacao and Psilocybin . Furthermore, historical accounts show that both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples have used psilocybin blends containing honey, flowers, and herbs.

Who is Paul Stamets?

Paul Edward Stamets, born on July 17, 1955, is a leading American mycologist renowned for his expertise in the fascinating world of mushrooms. His extensive research into medicinal mushrooms and mycoremediation has made him a prominent figure among scientists, environmentalists, and enthusiasts alike. Stamets passionately believes that mushrooms can revolutionize our ecosystems and save lives, highlighting their roles in medicine, agriculture, and bioremediation.

Stamets' groundbreaking studies on the medicinal properties of mushrooms have shown their potential in combating viruses and diseases, significantly influencing medical practices, particularly in oncology. His advocacy extends to using mushrooms in bioremediation and employing fungi to cleanse the environment of pollutants. Taking a look at his resumé it becomes clear that his dedication to the field has not gone unnoticed. Over the decades Stamets has received numerous accolades, including National Geographic Adventure Magazine's "Green-O-Vator" award and the President's Award from the Society for Ecological Restoration.

Paul has also made significant contributions to the field of psychedelics, particularly through his research and advocacy for the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms. His work spans various domains, from scientific research to public education and activism. Stamets co-authored a study published in Nature Scientific Reports that investigated the effects of microdosing psychedelics on mental health, and was one of the most downloaded papers in 2021.

His appearances on various platforms, such as the Joe Rogan Experience and The Doctor's Farmacy with Mark Hyman, have helped bring the conversation about psychedelics into mainstream discourse, emphasizing their role in treating mental health issues like depression and PTSD. Notably, podcast episode #2134 on the Joe Rogan Experience is worth checking out, where they discuss the future of psilocybin research and its therapeutic applications.

What is the Stamets Stack? 

The Stamets Stacking Protocol involves three key components: Lion's Mane, psilocybin (psychedelic), and niacin. Each component plays a crucial role in enhancing cognitive function and overall well-being through their unique and complementary properties.

Breaking down the components of the stack

  • Lion’s Mane: Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a medicinal mushroom renowned for its cognitive and neuroprotective benefits. This mushroom contains compounds called erinacines and hericenones, which stimulate the growth of brain cells and improve cognitive function. Studies suggest Lion's Mane can aid in treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's by promoting the growth of neurons and reducing inflammation​​. Additionally, Lion's Mane supports cardiovascular health by improving cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of blood clots. It also boosts the immune system, potentially preventing infections, and has beneficial effects on digestive health by reducing inflammation and improving gut bacteria balance​. The mushroom's ability to stimulate the release of nerve growth factor (NGF) further enhances its neurogenic potential​​.

  • Psilocybin: Psilocybin, the active compound in magic mushrooms, is known for its ability to increase neural plasticity and promote the growth of new neural connections in the brain. At microdose levels, psilocybin enhances cognitive function, creativity, and emotional well-being without inducing the profound sensory effects typical of higher doses​​. Psilocybin's benefits include reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Research indicates that low doses of psilocybin facilitate the extinction of conditioned fear responses, which is beneficial for treating conditions like PTSD by enhancing fear extinction without significantly harming neurogenesis.

  • Niacin: Niacin, or vitamin B3, plays a vital role in cell signaling, DNA repair, and metabolism. It enhances cognitive function by forming key enzymes necessary for brain function and supports synaptic plasticity. Niacin also acts as a vasodilator, improving blood flow in the brain by relaxing blood vessels. This vasodilation, often resulting in a niacin flush, is believed to help psilocybin and the neurogenic compounds in Lion's Mane cross the blood-brain barrier more effectively, enhancing their combined benefits. Niacin's neuroprotective properties further support its inclusion in the stack, as it helps in preventing neurodegenerative conditions and boosting overall brain health.

Why Stacking?

The combination of these three components in the Stamets Stack creates a synergistic effect that enhances cognitive function, creativity, and overall well-being. Lion's Mane and psilocybin together promote neurogenesis and neural plasticity, improving cognitive abilities and emotional health. The addition of niacin ensures that these compounds are efficiently delivered to the brain, maximizing their neurogenic and cognitive benefits. This protocol is designed to be taken for 4–5 consecutive days, followed by a 2–3 day break, to optimize the effects while preventing tolerance buildup​.

Stacking can help align you with your intentions, balancing and supporting you on your journey. A beautiful metaphor from Andrea at says,

"Think of mushrooms and psychedelics as a lifeboat preventing you from going under water, while stacking takes you to the correct shore."

Stacking Other Herbs and Adaptogens

Beyond the Stamets Stack, there is potential for stacking other herbs and adaptogens to enhance the microdosing experience. Adding herbs and adaptogens can further amplify the benefits of microdosing by offering additional support for mental and physical health, something we heavily believe in and witness at Happy Tea. Some potential benefits of other herbs include:

  • Adaptogens like Ashwagandha, Reishi, Chaga, and Rhodiola help the body resist stressors of all kinds, whether physical, chemical, or biological. They enhance the body's ability to adapt to stress, promoting balance and stability.

  • Herbs such as Ginkgo Biloba and Bacopa Monnieri are known for their cognitive-enhancing properties, improving memory, focus, and mental clarity.

  • Ginseng and 5-HTP can help elevate mood and reduce symptoms of depression, complementing the mood-enhancing effects of psilocybin.

  • Herbs like Maca and Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng) can provide a natural energy boost, combating fatigue and enhancing physical endurance.

By carefully selecting and combining these herbs and adaptogens with microdosing protocols, you can create a personalized regimen that supports your specific health goals and enhances your overall well-being.

Potential side effects and how to mitigate them

When using more than one substance, if you do experience a side effect, it's hard to know where the issue is coming from. In case of side effects occurring, the following recommendations should be considered: 

  • begin with the lowest recommended doses and gradually increase them

  • note dosages and any side effects in a journal

  • remove one substance at a time to analyse any difference in reaction

  • consult a healthcare provider, particularly if you have existing health conditions

  • stay hydrated

  • maintain proper nutrition

  • take regular breaks to prevent tolerance buildup and allow your body to adjust.

Concluding thoughts

Sometimes we need more of a push from microdosing alone. If you've tried microdosing but didn't aim to achieve your intention, perhaps stacking is for you.

At Happy Tea, we aim to enhance the microdosing experience with our tea blends made of herbs and adaptogens. The Morning Shine blend for instance, features the key components of the Stamets Stack; Lion’s Mane and niacin. Moreover, incorporating additional adaptogens into your routine can further amplify the benefits of microdosing. Combining herbs with microdosing protocols can lead to even more significant improvements in overall well-being.

For personalized advice and more on enhancing mental and emotional well-being through microdosing and adaptogens, consult our experts. We offer consultancy services to tailor recommendations to your specific needs. Book a session here.




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