On a rapid test, I found the results clear yet upsetting: I was still positive for COVID-19 even after 9 days.
The results were clear because it was right in front of me on a pregnancy test-like device and upsetting because I wanted to attend social events and see friends. I rolled my eyes. “So, this probably means we shouldn’t go out tonight…”
My boyfriend halfheartedly commented. “Well, let’s try these!”
I picked up a 30-capsule biodegradable container of psilocybin (AKA magic mushrooms) micro-dosing tablets. What looked like pills. Instead of a legal prescription medicine or a supplement from a health food store, what I was dispensing into my hand was a potent, medicinal yet illegal biohacking supplement, essentially.
What I was dispensing into my hand was a potent, medicinal yet illegal biohacking supplement, essentially.
We had been micro-dosing on and off in our relationship recently and we hadn’t had COVID-19 before, either of us, but I tested positive when I had been feeling some rough symptoms. In particular, I was feeling inflammation in my head that left me feeling groggy, full body aches and pains in all my joints. Now, I was able to get over those initial few days of pain and sleeplessness but I was feeling uninspired creatively and also generally under the weather psychologically.
I had micro-dosed before with psilocybin and LSD, respectively. With LSD, I found that my creativity exploded (non-stop, through-the-roof creative ideas for poems, writing and song lyrics – which baffled even me) in a confident and shameless way. I was able to approach tough conversations with ease and elegance. I didn’t rigorously record it, but I micro-dosed for at least 10 days consecutively. This was also at a time in my life when I was just starting a career as a psychedelic journey facilitator and space holder.
It was subtle and barely perceptible yet I could hear my inner voice more.
Much like wiping a mirror cloudy with condensation to reveal a transparent reflection
Let’s take a look at the science though.
Research has shown significant immune-modulating properties within medicinal (nonhallucinogenic) mushrooms against SARS-CoV-2. The mushrooms are turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) and agarikon (Fomitopsis officinalis) which can easily be bought over-the-counter as supplements.
For those proficient in cellular biology, “receptors on T cells, for example, bind mushroom polysaccharides” and this is just one example of how “mushrooms can modulate the behaviour of our immune cells, which may have a potential effect against SARS-CoV-2” says Saxe, the trials’ principal investigator.
2300 years ago, Greek physicians treated pulmonary disease with agarikon. Recently, it’s been found to inhibit viruses in preclinical studies such as influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H5N1), cowpox, and herpes. There are also compounds in agarikon shown to have antituberculosis properties.
Over a decade ago, turkey tail had promise as an adjunct to chemotherapy for a variety of cancers. It was found that in women with breast cancer, receiving turkey tail in a phase 1 trial improved their immunity following chemotherapy. In 2012, a meta-analysis conducted by researchers in Hong Kong showed a 9% absolute reduction in 5-year mortality among cancer patients treated with turkey tail in addition to chemotherapy within 13 clinical trials. This is remarkable considering how taxing chemotherapy can be on the body and how simple it is to take a medicinal mushroom in a supplement. Perhaps the research isn’t showing turkey tail as a substitute just yet, but it’s properties seem to merit further research.
So the question remains: does psilocybin have any of this same pathogen-fighting potential?
Psilocybin uniquely enables psychological exploration, said Dr. Anthony Back, the trial’s lead investigator.
Well, researchers aren’t ignoring it.
Exhausted and burnt out frontline and healthcare workers have been recruited into a University of Washington School of Medicine clinical trial to test whether psilocybin can alleviate their stress and anxiety. Even two years into the worldwide pandemic, infection risks and abrupt quarantines have taken an undeniable toll on the mental health of nurses and doctors alike. This may be a saving grace for the healthcare field with care workers leaving the field in droves, apparently.
Regardless, psilocybin is still recognized as a Schedule 1 substance by the Food and Drug Administration, deeming it without accepted medical use and having a high potential for abuse.
However, mental and physical health continues to wane. Since the 1990’s, psilocybin has been finding accepted medical use in the research and it isn’t stopping. Psilocybin is not being posited as a solution for COVID-19, so perhaps this assertion is still a stretch for the research world. Perhaps its even a stretch for mycophiles and psychonauts, who would be keen to see magic mushrooms be yet another solution to an ailment.
When I washed that micro-dosing pill down, I knew there were other healthy components to it: organic Siberian ginseng, bee pollen and Ashwaganda, for example. I made the intention to slow down that day and not work so hard. I planned not to push myself and put my workout regime on hold.
When my boyfriend asked why I was microdosing, I said, “because I feel called.” This is a statement that veers heavily from the former Atheistic version of myself in a psychology program at university because I’ve grown a lot since that time.
At the end of that week (five days precisely) of microdosing, I still had physiological symptoms of COVID-19. However, it didn’t get me down – my mind was sharp and my enthusiasm was palpable. I was joyous to go out for a walk and I was happy to work, journal or read. Without really understanding what happened, I was just happy that my psychological wellbeing seemed unaffected. Maybe I had curved some exhaustion and fatigue. A host of other reasons could be at play. What I can say for certain is that microdosing enhanced my experience of life while recovering from COVID-19, which was an unexpected and relieving surprise.
What I can say for certain is that microdosing enhanced my experience of life while recovering from COVID-19, which was an unexpected and relieving surprise.
MIA CARA COSCO is a Writer, Sound Healer and Space Holder. She became the Creative Director of the first-ever Psychedelic Salon in 2019, raising $10K and eventually launched a 6-figure business to fund psychedelic research and philosophy. Her mission is to use her 5-10 years of psychedelic medicine advocacy to heal creative entrepreneurs by writing.
**Disclaimer: Mia Cosco does not sell Magic Mushrooms herself or through Moment Mushrooms.
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