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. Ed Rosenthal, publisher and executive editor, has made a lifetime of changing mindsets and policies. To enhance your experience as you dive deeper into the world of mushroom cultivation, check out the billion-spore discount coupon featured at Ed’s Buyer’s Club.
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 or small dose around 1 gram. Then microdosing – just 0.1 gram (100 mg) – planted its flag.
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.
"Starting low and going slow is the key to begnning 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.
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.
There is no better place to start the journey into the unknown than with a microdose. The idea of taking tiny doses of psychoactive substances has been a tradition in ancient cultures for longer than we know and reemerged in the 1970s, when psychologist and author James Fadiman coined the term “microdosing.” It has taken nearly 40 years for this practice to come into widespread use.
While microdosing may be just a kicking-off point to your exploration of higher doses, it is an effective tool for many people in developing new and improved habits, ceasing addiction and dealing with depression, symptoms of PMS and other ailments. Still, it is not a surefire way to fix a problem; rather, your personal exploration will highlight the potential benefits for you.
The most important thing to remember throughout your microdosing journey is that change is the only constant. Get to know the mushroom. Take baby steps in building a relationship, and don’t be afraid to push your boundaries – but in a safe way.
Average Dose: Finding the sweet spot is most frequently associated with microdosing, because tiny adjustments in dose can have a significant impact. Although commonly reported as 0.1 gram (100 mg), “microdose” is the term that describes the average dose. That may be the right spot for you, but the effect of a microdose depends just as much on the potency of the mushroom as it does on the dose. Remember, your sweet spot can change with the strain, batch, freshness, and quality of mushrooms being used. This is one of the best reasons to grow your own mushrooms, so you can maintain a consistent and high-quality supply.
Intended Feel: The official statement on the intended feel of a microdose is that it should be subperceptual. Often, this is taken to mean that you shouldn’t feel an effect. However, Fadiman, who also coined the term “subperceptual” in this context, explains: “The flowers and trees should be more vibrant, but they should
not be talking to you.” You are supposed to notice something, to feel something, but it shouldn’t be the
feeling that you have ingested a psychedelic substance.
When you’re seeking your sweet spot, it is helpful to take days off between use, then slowly increment upward until you reach an upper limit that edges on the not-so-normal or not-so-comfortable. After that, slowly increment back down until you settle on the right dose for you. This is typically done in increments as small as 0.05 gram (50 mg) and some fine-tuning of 0.025 gram (25 mg) increments can further refine the experience, although most people won’t notice such small adjustments.
While your sweet spot may not be typical, here are a few touchstones to give you an idea of how varying doses affect most people:
• 0.05 gram (50 mg): No perceptible effect to the average person. With experience, the effect may be felt, but only slightly. Very mild heightening of the senses.
• 0.1 gram (100 mg): A slight heightening of the senses, typically perceptible to more sensitive individuals.
• 0.2 gram (200 mg): A definite heightening of the senses and more than a functional microdose for the average person.
• 0.3 gram (300 mg): Closer to a threshold dose. Expect to experience an altered state beyond mild enhancement. Feeling some anxiety while trying to function normally at this dose is common.
"Great caution is advised when navigating higher doses, and certainly it is not for novices."
Logistics of Dosing
How to consume the mushrooms may be an even bigger question than the quantity of mushrooms to be ingested. The fork in the road leads toward whole fruit in one direction and simple extracts in the other.
Whole Dried or Fresh Mushrooms: Eating dried mushrooms is the most common way of using psilocybin. Typically, psilocybin-containing mushrooms are consumed dehydrated in their raw form. Dried mushrooms have the advantage of a long storage life, much longer than that of fresh mushrooms, which will keep in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days.
That said, eating uncooked mushrooms is not very common and it can lead to gastrointestinal distress. While this is unlikely to lead to serious nausea, a little bit of gas, burping, or a brief wave of nausea isn’t uncommon.
You don’t have to eat fresh mushrooms on their own; common methods of consumption include eating them with a chocolate bar or dipping them in honey. Chocolate is also known to add a little boost to the mushroom experience. Putting the mushrooms in a peanut butter sandwich or smoothie are other ways to get them down. However, keep in mind that combining the mushrooms with too much food is likely to work against the potency of the experience.
The experience of consuming fresh versus dehydrated mushrooms will differ in subtle ways, typically, dried mushrooms feeling slightly less potent. In the drying process, P. cubensis mushrooms lose up to about 90 percent of their weight as water; 10 grams of fresh mushrooms are equal in potency to about 1 gram of dried mushrooms. If 3.5 grams of mushrooms are intended to be eaten dried, then the raw equivalent is closer to 35 grams.
Simple Extraction: Hot water or high acidity can be used to extract the psilocybin or predigest some of the mushroom material that would otherwise be broken down by the stomach, thus avoiding the gastrointestinal and flavor challenges of fresh mushrooms. These methods typically yield a faster onset, more intense peak, and shorter overall duration.
Hot Water: If the most common way of using psilocybin – eating the mushrooms – doesn’t appeal, you can opt for the second most common way, tea made with fresh or dried mushrooms. People have their own rituals, but at their core is a simple steep. Simply pour boiling water over the desired quantity of chopped or powderized mushroom material and allow the mixture to steep for around 15 minutes or until cool enough to consume.
This method allows for many options, because other varieties of tea or herbs can be added to the mix. Ginger and honey are common mixers for taste and to help settle the stomach. Various additives have their own subtle impact on the journey. Cocoa has a stimulating and opening effect that can further potentiate the experience thanks to its theobromine content.
While the options are varied and limitless, this method need not be complicated. If using chopped mushrooms, you may decide to remove the mushrooms after steeping or you may choose to consume them. If using powdered mushrooms, leaving them in the brew may be easier than trying to remove them.
Mushroom Tea Recipe
1. Boil water for the tea. If using ginger, add it to the water for about 10 minutes before boiling.
2. Measure out the desired dose of fresh or dried mushrooms.
3. Roughly chop the fresh mushrooms or chop or powderize the dried mushrooms and place in a mug.
4. When the water has boiled, pour it over the mushrooms. If desired, add a tea bag.
5. Allow 15 minutes to pass before consuming the tea.
6. Optionally strain the mushrooms before consuming.
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