When you get a prescription from a pharmacy, the one thing you really look at before consuming the drug is what dose you need. You don’t want to use too little, because it won’t produce the desired effects. And you don’t want to take too much, because it could be potentially dangerous. The same concept applies when taking drugs recreationally. And while mushrooms are much safer than other substances in the sense that too much won’t lead to a deadly overdose, it can still be scary and traumatizing if the person taking them doesn’t know what they’re getting into. Likewise, not using enough is never fun either. The amazing thing here is that magic mushroom dosing is quite variable and you can tailor it to your own specific needs. So, let’s dive deeper into the different trip levels.
Magic mushrooms 101
Although there are many different species of psychoactive fungi out there, when people use the term “magic mushrooms”, they’re typically referring to those containing psilocybin. Psilocybin is the main psychedelic compound in mushrooms and truffles. It’s a basic tryptamine hallucinogen, with properties similar to lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and DMT, although the chemical structure and effects are different.
Research shows a common mechanism of action through serotonergic (5-HT) pathways. Psilocybin is a strong agonist at 5-HT receptors which are located within the thalamus and cortex of the brain. The onset of hallucinogenic effects typically kicks in around 20 to 40 minutes after consumption, and they last up to 6 hours. Psilocybin’s threshold for intoxication is approximately 40 mcg/kg of body weight, although it can vary from person to person. In dried mushrooms, this translates to about 2 grams, although some people use up to 7 grams for a good psychedelic trip.
Psilocybin was first isolated by Swiss chemist Albert Hoffmann in 1958, using the Psilocybe mexicana mushroom species from Central America. Psilocybin is found in both wild and cultivated mushrooms, although just like with cannabis, cultivated mushrooms tend to be more potent. Through crossbreeding, cultivated mushrooms can have up to 10 times higher levels of psilocybin than wild species.
Finding the right dose
One of the most important things to take into consideration when planning your magic mushroom trip is dosing. While there are many other factors that can impact the nature of your high (IE: set and setting), none of that matters very much if you take the wrong dose.
For example, if someone is planning for a light adventure but they eat 3 grams of mushrooms because they don’t know what they’re doing, they’ll be in for a crazy ride. Set and setting can help by preventing them from going off the deep end, but it’s still not the experience they were anticipating. Similarly, if you’re planning for a hardcore psychedelic trip with full-blown visuals that last all night, but you only buy a gram of shrooms, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
Mushrooms are great because you can really personalize your dose from mild to wild. Unlike LSD which is one and done, and quite intense, mushrooms can be used in low enough doses to provide only therapeutic benefits with no real hallucinogenic effects, in high enough doses that you completely lose touch with reality, and everything in between.
(Please make note that the doses below apply to dried mushrooms only)
Level 0 – The Microdose (0.1 to 0.5 grams)
A microdose is a small dose that can be used in therapeutic settings but isn’t enough to produce a psychedelic trip, or any type of “high” per se. Many people have turned to microdosing as a way to improve their mental health and overall wellbeing. Improvements in mood, creativity, productivity, anxiety, and depression from microdosing psilocybin have all been reported. Recent studies suggest that it can be used to treat cluster headaches and hormonal disorders as well. The traditional method of finding a suitable microdose was to figure out the minimum amount of mushrooms that would trigger a slight high, then decrease that dose by half a gram to a full gram. Many people microdose regularly, using psilocybin as sort of a daily supplement. These days, it’s not difficult to find microdose capsules, tinctures, and gummies for sale online, to make the process even easier.
Level 1- The Threshold (0.5 to 1.0 grams)
Known as the “basic level” or the “threshold”, a dose of up to one gram is a great way to get an idea of how mushrooms might feel if you were to use a higher dose. It’s worth noting that this method might not be completely reliable for everyone – for instance, when I take low doses, I often get anxious, unpleasant highs, whereas high doses result in much more positive experiences for me. But again, everyone is different. With a dose like this, a person might experience some very mild visual enhancements or sound distortion. It’s just above a microdose, but the effects are noticeable and somewhat comparable to a very good cannabis high.
Level 2 – Beginner’s Paradise (1.0 to 1.5 grams)
Level two is known as the Beginner’s Paradise because it’s often a big step for the novice psychonaut. This level is what many consider to be their first real psychedelic trip. This is when many people experience their first “hallucinations” – objects moving and coming to life, colors becoming brighter, and geometrical shapes appearing when you close your eyes. Other senses will be heightened as well, such as sense of smell and touch, and you may feel more connected and euphoric as well. From a mental standpoint, this is the dose where you can start expecting those complex thoughts about the universe.
Level 3 – The Classic (1.5 to 3.0 grams)
Level three is where things get real. No more subtle visuals and hints of sensory hallucinations, you will really feel it with a classic dose, especially as you get closer to the 3-gram mark. Time, space, and reality will become distorted (in a fun and exciting way), field of depth is altered, fractals and patterns will be visible on most solid surfaces and anytime you close your eyes, and objects around you will feel like they’re shifting, moving, and breathing. You will become more open mentally, and will ponder the wonders of the world. As high as you will feel, you’ll still be somewhat rooted in reality. Many trippers, especially the more experienced ones, can still function relatively well at this level, despite the more discernable hallucinations.
Level 4 – Flying High (3.0 to 5.0 grams)
How you feel at level four depends largely on which end of the spectrum you’re on. Me personally, I keep my adventures to around 3.0-3.5 grams. Since I was a teenager, I have always heard that an eighth is the magic number for shrooms, and I kind of stuck with that over the years. That being said, this level is a more intense version of the previous as far as visual and sensory hallucinations go. Depending on the strain, you might feel very energized as well. For example, with higher doses of penis envy mushrooms, I get a rush of energy and feel like I could run a marathon, whereas high doses of mexicana strains have me pretty couch locked – but the visuals and mental effects are relatively the same. It can get pretty extreme as you get closer to the 5-gram mark.
Level 5 – The Heroic Dose (Over 5.0 grams)
A heroic dose, which can be anywhere from 5 to 7 grams (sometimes even more) in one sitting, is not for the faint of heart. This is the kind of dose someone takes when they are looking for a truly life-altering and introspective experience – where you’ll travel to different dimensions and explore every deep, dark corner of your own psyche. It’s very intense, and while it could be fun, it also might not be. Technically, a “heroic dose” which is a term first coined by Terrence McKenna, is when a person “takes five or more grams of dried Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms, alone in the dark with closed eyes.” Some people have adapted this to include sitting upright the entire trip. But the main point is to be able to explore one’s mind without any external distractions.
Dosing is the difference between a barely noticeable, therapeutic mushroom trip, and one that is completely life-altering. Modern products make shroom dosing easier than ever before, but even using good ole’ fashioned dry mushrooms doesn’t make the process too challenging. You can eat a small piece of cap or stem to get an idea of how it feels, or you can eat a full quarter in one sitting if that’s your thing.
My favorite levels are 3 and 4. I usually eat about 3.5 grams in a session. Sometimes, I’ll start with about 2 grams and eat more as the night progresses. What’s your preferred magic mushroom dose? Drop us a line in the comment section below and let us know!
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