Combining drugs is far from a new notion or practice. People have been mixing recreational substances for as long as people have been using drugs. However, the idea of mixing recreational drugs with vitamins, supplements, and pharmaceuticals for wellness purposes, is a bit more foreign to the general public. But that’s exactly what’s happening, people are stacking psychedelics with other psychedelics, cannabis, niacin, and even ADHD medication. Does it work? And what are the benefits?
Intro to psychedelics
Psychedelic drugs, or hallucinogens, are a class of substances which contain compounds that can alter perception. They are also commonly referred to as “entheogens”, although that term is now more frequently associated with hallucinogenic plants. Regardless, the word entheogen is Greek in origin and can be roughly translated to mean “building the God within”, and the high produced by these drugs (known as a “trip”) can be very spiritual and mind-expanding in nature. Psychedelic trips include various types of visual, auditory, and sensory hallucinations.
Psychedelics can be naturally-derived like psilocybin, or manmade like ketamine. Both natural and synthetic hallucinogens are generally regarded as safe. According to the results of a Global Drug Survey that polled 120,000 regular drug users, magic mushrooms were the safest recreational drug, along with cannabis. Their method of determining user safety was by comparing the drug used to the amount of required emergency room visits. Only 0.2% of the nearly 10,000 mushroom users surveyed had ever required emergency care, compared to the 1.0% of those using harder drugs like ecstasy or cocaine.
Furthermore, a growing body of research has found that certain psychedelic substances can help relieve anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction and numerous other mental health disorders. “The biggest misconception people have about psychedelics is that these are drugs that make you crazy,” says Michael Pollan, author of the new book How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. “We now have evidence that that does happen sometimes — but in many more cases, these are drugs that can make you sane.”
Stacking medications, supplements, and psychedelics?
“Stacks” can vary depending on who creates them and who is using them, but generally speaking, the term refers to a strategic blend of supplements, medications, or other ingredients that are used with a specific health or wellness goal in mind. Because healthcare is such an individualized concept (what’s good for me, may not be good for you), stacks are usually customized to fit a person’s individual needs.
Stacking is a common phrase in hospice care and pain management. For example, patients who don’t respond well to one type of pain medication might have it stacked with another sometime after administering the first pain med to bridge out the last half of the first medication when it starts to wear off. Aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen are often alternated with acetaminophen for OTC medication stacking. Each of the meds covers the downtime of the other achieving maximum effectiveness.
Unsurprisingly, the practice is becoming more prevalent for psychonauts as well. Many people combine at least cannabis with whatever drug they’re using, and that can be considered stacking depending on how it’s done. And people are also pairing different psychedelics together (MDMA and psilocybin is a common combination), and some are using psychedelics along with vitamins, supplements, and even prescription medications.
While these different compounds and ingredients may work independently and have their own benefits, they can work together to tackle more complex health issues. Separately they are only somewhat effective, but used in combination the sum of their effects is greater than their individual abilities. It’s similar to the idea of the entourage effect, but utilizing a wider range of products.
Dosage stacking is another common practice for both medical and recreational drug users. I do it commonly when using mushrooms as a matter of fact. I generally start with about 1 to 1.5 grams, see how I’m feeling in about 30 minutes, then take more throughout the night as needed to maintain the level of high that I enjoy.
When stacking doses, rather than stacking different ingredients, it gives a person time to gauge how they are responding to whatever the drug in question is, so they can find a dose that fits their specific needs. Even cannabis products are becoming more stackable, in the sense that you can find a growing number of low-THC items and build up, rather than taking one large dose and hoping it’s not too much.
“Consumers have quick feedback about how they’re responding so they can listen to their bodies when deciding how much – or how little – cannabis they need,” says Heather Boyd Managing Director, RTDs at Beam Suntory. “A single dose after a stressful day at work will make for a more relaxed dinner with the in-laws, while multiple, or stacked, doses might be more in order for a high-energy Super Bowl party. Either way, the goal is to give consumers control.”
These small, stackable doses are a great way to onboard new customers and people who may have previously been nervous to try cannabis and psychedelics. Market trends and user dynamics are always changing, which is why it’s important for companies to stay relevant and offer a variety of products that appeal to a larger consumer base.
When it comes to stacking psychedelics, the possibilities are truly endless. You can combine them with other psychedelics, vitamins and supplements, pharmaceuticals, OTC medications, plant products, and so much more. Ultimately, the goal is to for consumers to have more control over their health and wellness.
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