Magic Mushrooms for Performance

By Jamie Bussin and Peggy Van de Plassche  

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring compound produced by more than 200 species of fungi. Psilocybin is itself biologically inactive but is quickly converted by the body to psilocin, which has mind-altering effects similar, in some respects, to those of LSD, mescaline, and dimethyltryptamine (DMT). In general, the psychedelic effects include euphoria, visual and mental hallucinations, changes in perception, distorted sense of time, and perceived spiritual experiences. It can also cause adverse reactions such as nausea and panic attacks.

But according to entrepreneur Peggy Van de Plassche, psilocybin taken in microdose can potentially help with mental health, professional performance and consciousness. And, as is currently being researched, Peggy believes that psilocybin might help those suffering with anxiety and depression. We discussed her personal journey on Episode #310 of The Talk Show and Podcast. 

Peggy, a former venture capitalist, who has taken a (macro dose) psilocybin guided journey as part of her own personal exploration, started taking psilocybin in microdoses to help with symptoms of anxiety and depression and to help boost her mood. She sees why top CEOs like herself are reaching for the microdose diet to enhance performance in their career. She says, “I used to invest in technology companies (in her capacity as a venture capitalist), so this is usually where people focus on in my former industry. And it’s really increased creativity, increased focus, but also improvement of, I would say, brain cognition, such as memory. So your performance really, really skyrockets. I wrote a book in 10 days.”

Peggy’s biggest audience, and who she really wrote her book for, is her former peers, “…the Entrepreneurs, executives in the tech and financial services industry, services industry and think for a minute –  if these people become less stressed, less anxious, higher consciousness, more performant, I think that will improve the life of everyone around us. And I really look at that, thinking, you know what…. I can help make the world a better place.”

Other people might be more interested in exploring their consciousness, which Peggy describes as “the relationship with yourself, the relationship with others, increased compassion, increased empathy, so that makes you a better human being all around.” I worry about the apocryphal “bad trip” which Peggy acknowledges can happen, and is more prevalent in men who have more difficulty in letting themselves go than women, in a macro dosing scenario. 

However, according to Peggy, the risk of that type of bad outcome isn’t likely when microdosing. Contrasting between the two situations “We’re talking about taking 100 milligrams of mushrooms. A trip would be 3 g. So, very different. But also, you’re taking it every two, every three days. You go to work, you do your life. You take it, you don’t feel anything. You know, like no physical sensation. There are results, but no physical sensation.”

Because microdosing means taking psilocybin regularly, I wonder about the possibility of addiction or the body building up immunity. But according to Peggy, who researched the issue, psychedelics are non-addictive. “So if, for whatever reason, I want to stop for three months, it is not an issue, but it also means that you don’t have to increase the dosage to continue to have the benefits. Your brain rewires constantly thanks to neuroplasticity. You don’t have to increase the dosage.” 

Peggy combines microdosing with wellness practices such as clean-eating, exercise and abstention from other drugs or alcohol and from mindfulness practices such as meditation and journaling (which led her to write two books about her life and experience with psilocybin).  She purports not to take breaks from microdosing, or suffer from any side-effects, describing herself as someone who is ‘hungry for more’. “I don’t stop for three months, but I microdose every two or every three days.”

With respect to contraindications, Peggy suggests pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding should not microdose psilocybin. The drug is, of course, inappropriate for minors. Those suffering with serious mental health issues such as schizophrenia should not take psilocybin as it might make their existing symptoms worse.