How a Heroic Dose of Mushrooms Could Change Your Life

Transcending traditional realms of self-exploration on mushrooms is none other than the heroic dose — a dosage size that has the capacity to catapult you into “I’ve seen god” territory and heal mental illnesses once deemed impossible to treat through natural medicine.

Renowned psychonaut Terence McKenna coined the term “heroic dose” to describe a dosage that facilitates an intense, often deeply spiritual or introspective psychedelic experience. While the specific quantity can vary, a heroic dose is generally known to be 5g< of dried mushrooms.

While a heroic dose of mushrooms may have once been perceived as a way to test your sanity’s limits or produce a good story to tell your psychonaut friends, large-scale doses of psilocybin mushrooms are now under the scope of mental health research, and their long-term impact on the human brain is impressive, to say the least.

Heroic Doses in Contemporary Research

In scientific spheres, the impact of heroic doses is receiving reasonable attention. Groundbreaking research, prominently from Johns Hopkins University, evaluates how a one-time, high-dose psilocybin sessions can lead to considerable and enduring shifts in one’s mental health and sense of well-being. 

A Johns Hopkins study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology (Griffiths et al., 2016), provided evidence for the lasting mental health benefits following a single high dose of psilocybin. Participants of the study reported positive changes in their mood and behavior, with some of these benefits enduring for over six months.

Roland Griffiths and his team (2016) in the same journal presented compelling data on psilocybin’s ability to diminish psychological distress in life-threatening cancer patients, where at the 6-month follow-up mark, approximately 80% of the cancer patients exhibited clinically significant reductions in both anxiety and depression as a result of psilocybin treatment. Some patients sustained their improvements 4.5 years after the initial treatment, which in contrast to traditional mental health prescriptions, is a monumental discovery. 

But how much psilocybin were these study participants consuming? In the study by Roland Griffiths and his team, patients with life-threatening cancer were administered a single dose of 0.3 mg/kg of body weight. For example, a 140 lbs female would receive roughly 19.05 mg of psilocybin. To put this in perspective, the concentration of psilocybin in dried mushrooms (the common form) is typically around 0.5% to 1% by weight. Therefore, a dose of 19.05 milligrams of pure psilocybin to a 140-pound person is comparable to consuming roughly 3 grams of dried Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms, enough to induce a full-fledged entheogenic experience.

Why Heroic Doses are Being Used in Mental Health Treatment

While microdosing is a popular choice in today’s wellness landscape for reported mental health benefits, a heroic dose of mushrooms offers a stark contrast. High doses of psilocybin are thought to carry more therapeutic impact as their intensity can facilitate emotional breakthroughs, universal insights, and psychological shifts.

In clinical settings, these enduring mental health breakthroughs have been observed after just one large-dose session, including reductions in depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms. However, explaining the ins and outs of a high-dose mushroom experience is subjective and non-linear; it is known to affect our perception of reality, dissolve our sense of self (ego dissolution), and amplify a variety of emotions in most individuals. Common experiences from high-dose mushroom trips include the resurfacing of repressed memories and traumas, encounters with higher powers or forces, and a feeling of unity with the universe. In this intensified state, individuals may gain the ability to confront emotions they have been avoiding or unable to access in traditional therapy, and even earn a newfound sense of meaning, purpose, and interconnectedness with the world.

While a high-dose entheogenic experience can be mystical and meaningful, it can also be challenging and chaotic. This underscores the importance of intention, set, and setting; a heroic dose of mushrooms should not be taken lightly. When administered in clinical trials, these doses are used in conjunction with therapy and the guidance of skilled professionals, contributing to the studies’ successful outcomes. Larger doses may also help researchers ensure that psilocybin has a noticeable and enduring impact, facilitating measurement of outcomes and drawing considerable conclusions.



Should I do a heroic dose?

All this research and talk of heroic dosing and its capacity to heal different mental ailments and provide deeper bonds with the universe is surely tempting for the average mushroom lover; however, it is no excursion for the faint of heart.

While a heroic dose is something to consider if you have extensive experience and confidence in the realm of psychedelics, a more conventional mushroom trip (1g – 3g) might be better suited for those seeking a transformative experience of sorts.

Note that the clinical trials discussed were conducted with meticulous preparation and monitored by professionals from start to finish. When embarking on such an experience alone, it is crucial to set yourself up for success through self-assessment, intention-setting, and planning.

Experience: If you’re new to psychedelics or have limited experience with psilocybin mushrooms, start with smaller doses to familiarize yourself with their effects gradually.

Start Low: Consider starting with microdosing or planning a small to moderate mushroom experience (500 mg to 1 g) to gauge your sensitivity and comfort level with the psychedelic space before considering a heroic dose.

State of Mind: Evaluate your current emotional state. Are you prepared for intensified emotions and open to all outcomes? Mushrooms have potential mental health benefits, but it’s best to embark on these experiences when you feel emotionally stable and ready to confront any issues that may arise.

Setting: A mushroom trip should always take place in a comfortable, clean, and safe environment free from negative influences such as strangers, negative energy, unfamiliar surroundings, or lack of privacy.

Preparation: Avoid heavy meals before taking mushrooms to prevent stomach upset or nausea. Stay hydrated and keep water nearby.

Find a Trip-Sitter: Have a trusted person provide guidance, support, and safety throughout your experience. This person can act as an anchor if you experience distress or discomfort.

Considering a heroic dose of mushrooms is akin to contemplating a journey into deep space — invigorating, compelling, potentially transformative, but not without its challenges and depths. For those well-versed in psychedelic realms, a heroic dose may offer profound insights and healing. However, for those new to mushrooms or seeking a gentler introduction, starting with smaller doses and prioritizing education on the medicine can provide an equally meaningful experience.

So, should you do a heroic dose? Only you can decide if you’re ready to journey to the unforeseen edges of perception and back.


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