Lifestyle, Treatment

Heroic Dosing vs. Microdosing Psychedelics

June 22, 2022 08:30 am ET
Heroic Dosing vs. Microdosing Psychedelics

Psychedelic therapy and microdosing in particular have been gaining attention around the world in recent years. But have you ever heard of heroic dosing psychedelics? In this post, we’re diving into these different dosing methods to better explain their differences and how each one makes the user feel.

Different Ways of Dosing Psychedelics 

The practice of microdosing psychedelics refers to consuming very low amounts of the substance in order to induce the mildest effects but in such a manner that one can still benefit from it. Authors of a study published in 2019 stated that microdosing has grown in popularity but that “scientific literature contains minimal research on this practice.”

Contrary to microdosing, heroic dosing refers to consuming a significantly large dose of a drug. While microdosing is a common term, the term “heroic dose” was first coined by Terence Mckenna in reference to consuming 5 grams of dry psilocybin mushrooms in a specific, isolated setting. However, as psychedelics become more popular, the term is being used more broadly in reference to large doses. A heroic dose is also sometimes referred to as a mega dose.

Microdosing vs. Heroic Dosing

Microdosing Heroic Dosing
Typical Dose  LSD: ≤30 micrograms

Psilocybin mushrooms: ≤0.5 grams

MDMA: ≤20 milligrams

LSD: ≥300 micrograms

Psilocybin mushrooms: ≥5 grams

MDMA: ≥300 milligrams

Goal The goal of microdosing is to consume a significantly low amount of a psychedelic in order to benefit from the substances while reducing the risks. Microdosing can offer the consumer a whole list of benefits that can make everyday activities more manageable and enjoyable. Additionally, microdosing is an ideal way to consume psychedelics for medicinal purposes. Heroic dosing is meant to unhinge the brain and reshuffle the mind. According to those who have heroic-dosed, the more one resists letting go of fear, the more difficult the experience becomes. This is why the setting should be heavily considered. While very cathartic, heroic dosing can cause unsettling feelings, which is why Mckenna suggests heroic dosing in a quiet, dark space where you can be alone and comfortable.
Pros
  • Can be used to aid tasks and activities as one’s ability to function improves instead of becoming impaired
  • Consumption benefits include increased energy, focus, creativity, and spiritual awareness as well as relief from anxiety, depression, addiction, and, pain
  • Reduced risk of adverse effects such as hallucinations, distorted sensory perception, etc.
  • Ideal means of consuming psychedelics for medicinal purposes
  • Cathartic experience (meaning that it provides a means of attaining psychological relief)
  • Consumption benefits include spiritual experiences, a deep sense of relaxation, intensified sensory perception, and changes in perception of time
  • When done correctly, heroic dosing can be extremely rewarding and may even result in a personal, professional, or spiritual breakthrough
Cons
  • Puts one at risk of an unintentional “trip” should the dose be too high
  • Puts one at risk of losing their job/position due to the use of illicit drugs
  • Individuals can begin to build up a tolerance as microdosing becomes more frequent, which generally leads to consuming higher doses; should this be the case, consider taking a break to restore your tolerance instead
  • There’s a fine line between a good, cathartic experience and a very bad, crisis-like experience
  • Puts one at risk of an unintentional overdose
  • Being alone during a bad trip can also lead to additional and unintentional risks such as self-harm
  • Possibility of adverse psychedelic effects, such as increased blood pressure, excessive sweating, panic, nausea, paranoia, psychosis, and bizarre behavior

This chart should give you a good starting point when it comes to dosing psychedelics, but it’s important to remember that your experience with these substances is very dependent on your unique body. For example, some people may think that 200 milligrams of MDMA is a heroic dose based on how they experience it, while others may take that amount as an average dose. If you’re new to psychedelics, always start low and work your way up.

What Should a Therapeutic Dose Feel Like?

As you can see, both microdosing and heroic dosing can be therapeutic. The biggest difference is what you, personally, hope to gain from your experience. A heroic dose will help the consumer with a major breakthrough, whereas a microdose will provide a slight lift in creativity and a reduction in depression.

A recent study investigated what a therapeutic dose of psychedelics—specifically LSD and psilocybin—should feel like to provide a framework for patients who are considering psychedelic treatment but have no experience with these substances. The researchers administered human subjects varying doses of psychedelic substances and found that 100-200 micrograms of LSD and 30 milligrams of psilocybin produced similar effects, while 15 milligrams of psilocybin produced significantly weaker effects.

More importantly, the researchers found that the therapeutically effective doses of psychedelics included the following feelings and effects:

  • Ego-dissolution, which is when one’s self-awareness is reduced in place of increasing the feeling of unity with others and surroundings; the researchers found that 200 micrograms of LSD induced higher ratings of this feeling when compared to the other dose of LSD and doses of psilocybin
  • Ineffability, which is when one is incapable of expressing in words; the study found that 200 micrograms of LSD significantly increased ineffability when compared to 30 milligrams of psilocybin
  • Increased anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate
  • Impaired behavior control and cognition
  • Increased body temperature (mostly associated with psilocybin)


Some of these effects are not what one would desire from a therapeutic dose of psychedelics. However, it is important to remember that the dosages used in this study (excluding the 15 milligrams) were quite high and unless ego-dissolution is your goal, consuming a smaller dose of LSD or psilocybin would be much more manageable and beneficial.

Ultimately, a therapeutic dose is whatever addresses your needs and/or conditions, which will be different for everyone. Whether to consume psychedelics by microdosing or heroic dosing is a personal decision, but it’s crucial to be aware of the risks involved. This includes the fact that psychedelics are illegal in most parts of the world. Avoid dosing psychedelics on your own, especially when you are doing so therapeutically. Instead, consider working with professionals at retreats where you can receive this unique therapy without fear of overdosing.


Note: Veriheal does not support illegally consuming therapeutic substances such as psychedelics but acknowledges that it transpires because of the current illicit status, which we strive to change by advocating for research, legal access, and responsible consumption. Always consult a physician before attempting alternative therapies.

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