Psychedelics — Microdosing, Mind-Enhancing Methods, and More (#377)

Tim Ferriss (Milken Global Conference

This episode features a panel that I moderated in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference 2019. It includes a great overview of psychedelic science, investing opportunities, anecdotal personal benefits, legal challenges, and much more. I think it’s one of the more comprehensive panels ever done on the subject. Here are the participants:

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Castbox, or on your favorite podcast platform.

#377: Psychedelics — Microdosing, Mind-Enhancing Methods, and More

Want to hear another podcast discussing psychedelics? — Listen to my conversation with James Fadiman, who has been called “America’s wisest and most respected authority on psychedelics and their use.” Stream below or right-click here to download.

Ep 66: The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide - Risks, Micro-Dosing, Ibogaine, and More

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


  • Connect with Matthew Johnson:

Johns Hopkins Psychedelic Research Unit | Twitter

  • Connect with Ayelet Waldman:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

  • Connect with Robin Carhart-Harris:

Centre for Psychedelic Research, Imperial College London | Twitter | Facebook

  • Connect with Christian Angermayer:

Apeiron Investment Group | ATAI Life Sciences | Twitter


  • An encouraging story about how well-funded research can change lives for the better. [03:25]
  • Matthew Johnson stresses how understanding the downsides and risks of psychedelics is key to their responsible use in research. (The slides by Matthew Johnson can be found by clicking here.) [06:02]
  • Matthew Johnson lays out the benefits, as we currently understand them, of psychedelics on mental health and addiction. [07:21]
  • How did Ayelet Waldman begin her experiences with microdosing, and in what ways did the practice affect her depression and productivity? [12:17]
  • Robin Carhart-Harris explains our current understanding of why these compounds do what they do — even beyond the duration of their physical presence — in what he describes as the entropic brain. [16:48]
  • Christian Angermayer tells us why his biotech company, ATAI Life Sciences, is currently one of the largest global investors in bringing psychedelics — including psilocybin — back into the legal realm. [21:37]
  • Treating PTSD with MDMA, how Ayelet and her husband use MDMA to process “the mundane PTSD of a long marriage,” and the risks involved. [28:16]
  • Matthew speaks to the potential toxicity of some of these compounds. [31:41]
  • Matthew takes us through current studies applying psychedelics to opiate and opioid addiction, and Ayelet weighs in on why traditional methods have not proven successful thus far, and why we need to reclassify some schedule one psychedelics to schedule four. [37:33]
  • Robin explains the context-shifting power psychedelics have over certain diagnostic categories, the problem with diagnostic categories as they traditionally stand, and current thinking around the default mode network. [40:45]
  • Why Christian believes psychedelics should be used in a strictly controlled environment by prescription rather than provided over the counter. [45:48]
  • Ayelet’s ideal paradigm for psychedelic decriminalization: the psychedelic spa. [47:04]
  • Christian points to The Netherlands as an example of a place where psychedelics are available recreationally, but not applied in a way that puts a dent in that country’s mental health crisis. [47:59]
  • How does Christian envision a sustainable business model for single-dose psychedelic therapies? [48:39]
  • How did these compounds come to be classified as schedule one drugs, and how can we potentially get them reclassified as schedule four drugs? Matthew has answers. [52:54]
  • What would Ayelet hope this field looks like a few years from now? [59:16]


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24 Replies to “Psychedelics — Microdosing, Mind-Enhancing Methods, and More (#377)”

  1. Interesting topic…struggle with the Milken Institute as a whole though…Funded by a convicted felon…always two sides to a story…and yes his philanthropy is nice…and hopefully it is his way of balancing the negatives he created in the world with some positives…your podcast has at the least helped me look deeper for a way to manage this moral dilemma and maybe utilize the Milken institute’s findings more.

  2. LOVED this podcast. As someone who has dealt with both depression and addiction, it’s so affirming to hear intelligent, compassionate, honest and groundbreaking information on using psychedelics to better our mental health. This will change the world and save lives. Like mine!

  3. Thanks for championing this message Tim, and taking the potential risks doing so has. When used right, psychedelics seem to hold phenomenal potential for most of our greatest issues. I’m excited to see how they affect society and help those in need.

    Also excited for your next book about their effective and tactical implementation (if I heard right). I’ve been experimenting alone, with what guidance I can find, and to learn the most effective approaches from your research would be invaluable.

  4. Thank you very much for your (and y’all’s) work in this field! Life-changing stuff!!! Can’t wait until it’s more available to those who will benefit!

    1. I wonder it Tim has read some Ken Wilber ? I like both their styles. Tim would learn a lot from Kens stuff for sure.

  5. Christian Angermayer mentioned that psilocybin (magic) mushrooms are legal in the Netherlands, this is not true, they got banned a while ago. But I agree, it would be interesting to see data on depression rates in countries which have magic mushroom legalised (if there are any).

    1. Yes, but psychedelic sclerotia are totally legal in the Netherlands and contain the same compounds psilocin and psilocybin. So I can give Christian that creative license.

  6. Always so encouraged by the acceleration of interest on this front.

    MAPS and Heffter are of course profoundly impactful organizations well worth supporting on a donation basis, but I’m curious if anyone (Tim?) is aware of resources that exist for small-scale investors (read: under $20k) to get involved in sponsoring psychedelic research?

  7. This is my first introduction to this topic and I’m hopeful. As someone who suffers from depression I would love to try micro-dosing but have no idea how to go about it. Can’t just run down to LSD-R-US you know? [Moderator: additional text removed.]

  8. This topic is so great and I’m excited at the traction it is receiving. I am wondering if there is any work on using microdosing to treat PMS? Based on other research topics and issues that are being tested, it would seem to be in line with that and could be massively beneficial to a large percent of the population suffering from this.

  9. Very cool. The more discussions around this topic the better! Microdosing needs to be in the mainstream – it could benefit so many people.

    [Moderator: link removed.]

  10. Sorry about the misplaced comment, could not find the correct feed to inquire but hope this will suffice! Thank you for the Helix recommendation! Question… did you go for their standard line or do you have their Birch line?

  11. Tim, I think I have something worth sharing. My husband has stage 4 lung cancer that recently spread to his brain. He had to switch chemo – to one that crossed the BLOOD BRAIN BARRIER.

    Here’s the thing, there are EERIE similarities to his chemo and the ‘psilocybin effect’ described in this podcast. Both cross the blood brain barrier, both disinhibit.

    My husband has had a similar experience on his chemo drug that crosses the blood brain barrier. These effects dissipated when they had to lower his dose.

    After listening to this episode he has a renewed desire to go back to where:

    “psychedelics relax beliefs, and open a window for change, for revision. If that opportunity is seized with the right kind of psychological support, then you can work towards cultivating a healthy revision of these pathological beliefs and habits.”

    My husband is literally the patient Matthew Johnson described in the episode: “Based on the data, the most promising indication would be depression and anxiety. You can call it psychiatric distress associated with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis. That’s what the most advanced research with psilocybin as a therapeutic has been focused on.”

    He wants to get busy livin’

  12. Thank you, Tim for all the work you are doing in this field.

    I have been a therapist for over 30 years and look forward to the use of psilocybin therapy. It will change the world of psychotherapy as we know it!

    So grateful for your work in this!


  13. Hi Tim,

    I was the original petitioner and primary corporate sponsor for the Decriminalize Denver I-301 campaign. Decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms in Denver I funded the campaign using proceeds from our CBD/Hemp company,

    We did not come out about this publicly but are considering aligning our brand in a much more prominent way, and dedicating the companies profits to worthy efforts, like MAPS, John Hopkins, and others driving the Psychedelic Renaissance.

    I am doing all of this out of deep personal experiences, not to get rich, but to make an impact.

    I am seeking your counsel on the best way to approach this. How to craft the narrative, who to support, how to build the brand to have the maximal impact.

    I have had some challenges in finding like-minded business mentors, and am hoping you hear and see what we are trying to get done in conjunction with other leaders.

    I know you state you are not doing 1-1 work, or start-up advising, however, I believe this may be something different for you.



  14. Hi Tim. I’ve been following your work related to psychedelic research with interest and agree about the importance of perceptions and attitudes – on this topic as on many others, of course. I’ve been toying with the idea of a photographic project, documenting various traditional cultures who make use of psychedelics – the rituals and individuals themselves, but also attempting to find ways of representing the relationships and spiritual (using the Sam Harris version of the word here) aspects they believe these signify and strengthen. My feeling is that if done right – with respect and subtlety, emphasizing both common humanity and the connection with nature (insofar as those are part of this – which I would imagine that they are, but wouldn’t want to make any assumptions) – something like this could be used to change public perception of the potential use of psychedelics, and perhaps paint a different picture of it to the public. I mainly focus on conservation and humanitarian photography, but this is such an important topic, and in many ways ties in with those subjects, too. An idea worth exploring, at least – I will reach out to some of the parties I’ve come across through your work and that of Sam, but thought I’d leave a message here, too.

  15. Is there any research on psilocybin safety regarding cardio toxicology? As I understand it, there may be risk of cardiac fibrosis since psilocybin is a 5-HT2B agonist.

    The concern comes from speculation, that as with other 5-HT2B agonists, development of heart valve damage is possible. It seems that this may be dependent on the frequency and duration of use and the total cumulative exposure over time. If that is the case, then the heaviest users are likely to face the greatest risk of heart damage. If there is a potential risk, might a 5-HT2B agonist drug like Carbidopa (Lodosyn), help prevent damage by preventing the peripheral decarboxylation of 5-HTP to serotonin and so ensures that only brain serotonin levels are increased without producing peripheral side effects?

  16. Great podcast, indeed! Thanks for sharing. Hopefully that this podcast will help others to fully understand the upsides of psychedelic mushrooms and serves as an eye-opener for all those people who don’t know about this psychedelic mushrooms.