The Art of The Dose: The Hero Dose
It's a term commonly thrown around in the psychedelic community - the phrase “heroic dose”. But what does it mean? The most common interpretation is taking an exceptionally large doses of psychedelics to obtain a very strong trip or very advanced psychedelic experience. Where did this phrase come from? And does this method hold the keys to unlocking the inner self?
Terence McKenna was the writer, historian, well known public speaker, and psilocybin evangelist, to say the least, who originally coined the term and referred specifically to taking five grams of dried Psilocybe cubensis to be experienced alone in the dark with eyes closed.
In other words, he suggested that psychonauts don’t take unreasonably large doses, but rather, take a measured, sufficient enough dose to be able to attempt the “hero’s journey”, which McKenna understood to mean the process of personal transformation – to have an encounter with the ineffable and come back changed. Of course, five grams cannot be a rigidly applied rule, as there are so many factors to consider.
There are over 200 strains of mushrooms that contain psilocybin and psilocin. Depending on the strain, the results can differ drastically. In 2021, a team of scientists in Oakland analyzed over 60 different magic mushrooms and found that they ranged in potency from 0.15% to 2.26%.
This means 5g of one strain could be equivalent to 75g of another strain. There are drug interactions, as well as cross-tolerance and tolerance to consider.
Very little is known about how psychedelics work and even less is known about how tolerance to them may occur or why they may work in some but not others. Less than ten years ago, in 2015, Buchborn and others concluded that tolerance to serotonergic psychedelics can arise at two levels.
The Art of Dosing People: The art of dosing is all about trusting: trusting the participants and trusting the process. So, how do I dose participants? For many letting people choose their dose, within reason is all a part of their journey and understanding that one needs to take responsibility for their own healing.
Guidence should always be there but entrusting yourself to know and understand your body and how it will react is the pillar to hero dosing. It is always better to start with a low dose and then adjust upwards.
The Heroic Dose
Is historically 5 grams of psilocybe cubensis.
Also remember that psilocybin concentrations can be drastically different even within the same mushroom. They are complex beings like we are, and their dosing is complex.