One of the biggest questions in the psilocybin world is, “How much do you take?” The answer will inevitably vary in each individual situation. This excerpt from the new book Welcome to Psilocybin by Seth Warner outlines dosing guidelines, the different ways to consume mushrooms, and how to prepare for your journey.
What to Know about Dosing
The conversation about how much to take is increasingly broad reaching. For a long time, Terence McKenna’s philosophy of 5 dried grams in silent darkness ruled the day. In the early 2000s, 3.5 grams was considered a dose. More recently, the advised introductory recreational dose was closer to 2.5 grams, and the museum dose around 1 gram. Then microdosing—just 0.1 gram (100 mg)—planted its flag. There are even a few advocates who favor high doses of 10 grams, 20 grams, 30 grams and beyond. However, the best advice, coming from high-dose advocates as much as anyone, is to start low and go slow.
Mushrooms Are Tools
Mushrooms, and psychedelics generally, are often described as tools. The question is, Are they staple guns or cannons, hammers or wrecking balls? It depends on how much you take. Mushrooms have the potential to stitch you back together and build you up, but they also have the power to blast you into the cosmos or shatter your reality. Dose, as well as setting and mindset, are among the factors that determine how these tools will impact you. The outcome is not as closely related to the inputs as you may be tempted to expect.
By building an intentional relationship with these substances and, when possible, with a specific strain of mushrooms, you have a better chance of aligning your expectations with your reality. Starting low and going slow is the key to building this relationship, dipping your toes into unknown waters, and beginning to understand your own personal experience when it meets psilocybin.
Dosing guidelines are just that, guidelines. There is a lot of variation from strain to strain and from batch to batch. Growing your own mushrooms will allow you to better know what to expect and ultimately make the best use of incrementally larger doses until you find your sweet spot. The basic dosing guidelines provide a general touchstone, but further refinement is needed to find the sweet spot—a term most relevant to microdosing, although it can also be applied to larger doses. Your personal sweet spot is dependent on strain, batch, freshness, and quality of the mushrooms. Many people amplify the message that a microdose of mushrooms is 0.1 gram (100 mg), but the truth is that often a microdose is around that amount. For the best results, you’ll want to fine-tune.
Beyond being strain dependent, your microdosing sweet spot will be activity dependent. What is the right dose for a hike in the woods or some intense cardio? What is the best dose for meditative introspection and journaling? What is the sweet spot for a night out with friends?
When it comes to larger doses, the sweet spot has a lot to do with your comfort zone and desired outcome. Newcomers may be told to take exactly 3.5 grams, but that’s a little bit like saying that a drink consists of three shots of whisky. Sure you can go that hard, but wouldn’t it make more sense to try one shot before progressing?
With a consistent supply of mushrooms, weighing the dose is most helpful. However, consuming 1 gram of one strain of mushroom will generally yield different results than the same amount of another strain, although perhaps not vastly different. Keep this in mind as you try different strains.
In the future, advances in potency testing may make it possible and even easy to understand dosing based on psilocybin content. The current state of affairs is akin to treating all beers the same; the newcomer sees mushrooms in grams or milligrams, not considering potency. With alcohol, it is often second nature to know the difference between a refreshing lager or a heavy-hitting IPA.
Microdose 0.05 to 0.25 gram (50 to 250 mg)
Understood as a subperceptual or subthreshold dose, the microdose is one of the most popular ways to use mushrooms, as it often provides some or significant value without getting in the way of everyday activities.
Minidose or Threshold Dose 0.3 to 1 gram
This dosing range is less a term of use and more an awareness around microdosing and small doses. It describes the point at which you no longer feel quite like yourself. Your mushroom experience is heightened to a level that your actions and reactions begin to stray from your normal waking consciousness. The microdose exists below this threshold, and the museum dose typically exists at or above this dose. For new users, this dose can come with some anxiety, so give yourself plenty of time when playing around at this range.
Museum or Small Dose 0.5 to 2 grams
This dosing range is typically used by people who want to enhance another experience, such as going to a museum, attending a concert, hanging out with friends around a campfire, or hiking in the woods. The preferred practice in this range is to dose above the minidose or threshold level, to really feel the psilocybin, but to avoid the loss of normal functionality like walking, talking, and making rational decisions. This range can be the riskiest if you have a false sense of security and confidence that you are not taking “too much,” when the actual effect can be intense. In exploring the world, you may find the unexpected to be overwhelming and even normal experiences can become unexpected emotional or irrational triggers. Be careful.
Macrodose 2 to 5 grams
This dosing range describes the most common method of ingesting mushrooms. It is the experience most people describe when saying they “tripped,” “went on a journey,” or simply “did mushrooms.” This is also the most common range used for therapeutic benefit outside clinical trials.
Heroic Dose 5 grams
The heroic dose is more a number than an experience, but you can assume that this amount of mushrooms will be very intense. Whether or not it really is that intense depends on the potency of the mushrooms, but the general idea is that it will be a big trip. This dose should be approached with the same care and intent as any macrodose experience.
High Dose 5 to 20+ grams
Beyond the heroic dose is a range that is more often discussed than experienced. There is a certain fascination with the very high dose experience. Even though it would be essentially impossible to eat enough mushrooms to die, there is the constant question of what would happen if you just ate a little more. Some people believe this is how mushrooms are supposed to be used, and there is no doubt that higher doses provide unique and spiritually or existentially provoking experiences. There is also the reality that our culture has very little space for these kinds of experiences to be discussed, explored, or appreciated. Those who push this boundary often do so alone and can experience a heightened sense of alienation afterward. Great caution is advised when navigating higher doses, and certainly it is not for novices. Even staunch advocates recommend slow incremental progress into these higher realms with long stretches of time between experiences.