WATCH | While the average person might drink a coffee to increase their productivity and attention span, some are turning to the less conventional option of sacred plants and psychedelics. But rather than ingesting a trip-inducing amount, they're taking tiny dosages through a process known as microdosing.
Steve Jobs is often quoted as saying that his experimentation with LSD was one of the most important experiences of his lifetime. Along with other tech visionaries who have recounted similar awakenings, Jobs propelled the discussion of psychedelics as a tool for success into the mainstream.
Lately, ayahuasca has had its turn in the spotlight, with pricey retreats to the Amazon marketed towards aspiring entrepreneurs. Shaman-led ceremonies involving purging and vivid hallucinations promise enlightenment and healing that can benefit one's career and overall future.
But a full ceremony or trip is admittedly not for everyone, for reasons ranging anywhere from the high cost to a personal objection to willingly throwing up. Enter microdosing.
While the recommended microdosing dosage varies from substance to substance, the amount is never enough to induce the full effects of a psychedelic. You won't experience hallucinations, and you'll supposedly be able to function normally in your daily life. And according to proponents, you might even find yourself functioning at a higher level.
The reported benefits include increased energy, enhanced creativity, and a better mood, though the evidence of such effects remains largely anecdotal at this point in time.
In the last few years, the trend has been repeatedly acknowledged by major media outlets such as Marie Claire, Vice, Vogue, and Rolling Stone. A subreddit of over 12K followers is filled with personal accounts of microdosing and how such tiny amounts of psychedelics have changed commenters' lives for the better. If the reports are to be believed, there's certainly a temptation to try it out.
Developing a legal way to microdose
Fabian Piorkowsky understands that the illegality of the most popular microdosing substances is a roadblock to many who wish to explore the approach. "If you microdose with a substance that's illegal, even if it's diluted, you're still breaking the law," he explained.
But having worked with sacred plants for over 29 years, Piorkowsky firmly believes that this form of medicine should be available to all. With his legal microdosing product, SOUL DROPS, he's making this a reality.
"The legislation around substances is not logical in any way," he said, citing alcohol as a prime example. But confined by U.S. law, Piorkowksy began to investigate which plants are legal in the country and which of those can act as powerful healers.
SOUL DROPS are the result of five years of research. The fully legal products are an alternative for those who do not wish to break U.S. law in their microdosing approach. The drops are designed to strengthen the body and the mind with plants like Opuntia cactus, elemi, and wild rue.
An alchemical procedure
Simple dilution can greatly lessen the strength of a substance, so Piorkowsky instead uses an alchemical process in the creation of SOUL DROPS. The process is said to maximize the energy of the plants, allowing them to retain their strength despite the lower dosage. The resulting products are called spagyric extracts.
Spagyric medicine involves three aspects of the plant: mercury, salt, and sulphur. The belief is that all three parts must be present for the plant to perform at its full strength.
Essentially, the spagyric process involves the separation of the three aspects, the extraction of energies, and the eventual reunification.
A simple tincture represents only the mercury, or the mind, of the plant. But in the process of creating SOUL DROPS, the remaining plant matter is incinerated into a white ash and turned into an alkaline solution. It's then recombined with the tincture.
The result? A stronger product that is said to include the mind, body, and spirit of the plant.
A variety of intended effects
Different plants may provide different effects, so Piorkowsky currently offers four unique blends of SOUL DROPS to fit customers' needs. While LUN seeks to provide "relaxed energy" in the evening, SOL is characterized by "clarity, connectedness, and calm with an energy boost for physical and emotional balance."
"In principle, you can microdose with anything," Piorkowsky said, but his products are designed around sacred, or ceremonial, plants. "Work with sacred plants is meant to help with the root causes of an issue."
A multidisciplinary approach
"In indigenous healing practices, each tribe only has one major sacred plant. So people in the rainforest, they use ayahuasca. People in the Andes use San Pedro. People in Africa use iboga," said Piorkowsky.
But when he looked at ancient healing practices, he saw a combination of elements that added a sense of balance. So Piorkowsky combined chemistry and physics with spiritual philosophies. "Our complex environment needs a complex healing approach," he said.
Support for microdosing
There is no absence of positive testimonials available online, both in relation to SOUL DROPS and to microdosing in general.
"The fog of exhaustion lifted. I gained multiple hours in my day!" wrote Suzanne, a SOUL DROPS customer. A Reddit user wrote that they "don't want to smash [their] car into a rock" after microdosing with psilocybin.
While research is emerging in support of psychedelic therapy, much of the evidence on the benefits of microdosing is anecdotal at this time.
By offering a legal form of microdosing, Piorkowsky is hoping to make the technique more accessible to a mainstream audience. "The idea that we're using something legal has been interesting for some proponents of microdosing, 'cause they believe it needs to be a psychedelic, but it is a psychedelic," he said. "Not all psychedelics are illegal."