Revisiting the McKenna Stoned Ape Theory: The ever evolving case for its plausibility

May 24, 2022
9:15 am

When Terence and Dennis McKenna first proposed The Stoned Ape Theory circa 1977, it was contemporaneously celebrated by the psychedelic subculture and ridiculed by academics. Was this far fetched idea so far removed from probability to be considered seriously, scientifically? Or, were they right in that psilocybin use by our primate ancestors stimulated an increase in intelligence and help hominids evolve into Homo sapiens? Increasingly, the evidence on the profound neurogenerative properties of psilocybin mushrooms – and their numerous analogs – suggests that the McKennas' concepts were not so far fetched. What is different now is that we have identified multiple modes of action showing psilocybin analogs stimulate neurogenesis and neurogeneration.  Psilocybin analogs stimulate proteins that code for NGF (Nerve Growth Factors) and BDNF (Brain Derived Nerve Factors). Moreover, not one region of the brain, but receptors across diverse regions of the nervous system are activated upon contact. 

Five hundred years ago, Aztecs were first documented to use psilocybin mushrooms and chocolate, a practice that continues to this day. Currently popular is 'stacking' psilocybin with other substances, especially with low doses. Microdosing is sub-sensorium – below the threshold of intoxication but not below feeling positive effects. Large meta-studies comparing psilocybin microdosers from non-microdosers reveal trends showing improvements in depression, anxiety, psychological health and surprisingly motor skills. Is microdosing with psilocybin helpful neurologically? Microdosing and "stacking" – typically microdosing small amounts of psilocybin with other substances – are increasing in popularity. The most widely used combination is a stack with niacin  (vitamin B3), Lion's Mane and other mushrooms. Compared to psilocybin mushrooms alone, this stack shows neurostimulation is synergistically enhanced far beyond baselines.