Terence McKenna’s Heroic Dose Protocol: A Psychedelic Trip

Terence Mckenna’s heroic dose refers to a single heavy dose of dried Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms. The term “heroic dose” was coined by the famous ethnobiologist Terence Mckenna. Terence devised this protocol to induce life-transforming and profound spiritual experiences.

The heroic dose of mushrooms suggests taking a heavy dose of 5gm of dried Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms, but it is not a strict rule. This amount can vary based on the user’s sensitivity and potency of the mushroom.

The fundamental idea behind this 5gm amount is to have a substantial impact on the foundations of the mind to create transformational experiences.

In this article, we will discuss Mckenna’s heroic dose in detail. After discussing the heroic dose, we will cover mushrooms used, dosage, schedule, how to prepare for it, set and setting, what happens after a heroic dose, how to integrate the experience in your life, risks, and side effects. Practical advice will be given to create a strong foundation before you take the heroic dose. Let’s begin.

What is the Heroic Dose Protocol

What is the Heroic Dose Protocol

The heroic dose protocol is a macro dose of dried Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms to create transformative and profound spiritual experiences. This protocol was devised by a famous ethnobiologist named Terence Mckenna.

The heroic dose suggests taking a heavy dose of five grams of psychoactive substances. This five grams amount is not a strict rule. The high doses depend upon the mushroom’s potency and the user’s sensitivity. 

The heroic dose also suggests specific conditions known as Set and Setting for taking it. For instance, Mckenna suggests taking a heroic dose in a dark and silent place and lying down with eyes closed after taking it.

Mushrooms Used

The heroic dose suggests using Psilocybe Cubensis as the primary mushroom. Psilocybe Cubensis contains psilocybin as the main ingredient.

Some mushroom species are more potent in psilocybin than others; for instance, Semilanceata contains more psilocybin than Cubensis.


Mckenna suggests 5gm of dried Psilocybe Cubensis mushroom as the heroic dose. This amount is not strict and can change based on the user’s sensitivity and the dried mushrooms potency.


There is no specific schedule for the heroic dose. However, Terence suggests taking it less often or less than 2-3 times a year.



The main benefits of the heroic dose include:

Deep exploration: The heroic dose allows you to explore your mind profoundly and know about it.

Personal Transformation: Experiences can transform you if you integrate their insights.

Connection with the subconscious mind: allows you to connect with the subconscious and unconscious mind and explore the patterns of thoughts and behavior.

How to prepare

To prepare for a heroic dose or trip, consider the following factors:

  • Experience: The heroic dose is suitable for experienced users. Start taking small doses of magic mushroom and then gradually increase the amount if it is your first time taking it.Once you are comfortable with high doses of Psilocybin mushroom, take the heroic dose of 5gm of dried Psilocybe cubensis.
  • Intention Setting: Have a clear intention and goal for the heroic trip. You must have a clear intention or a desire like personal growth, resolving trauma, spiritual experience, etc., before taking a heroic dose. Having a clear intention increases the chance of achieving your purpose.
  • Dosing: Decide the correct dosage amount of the dried Psilocybe cubensis mushroom beforehand. The high doses depend upon the user’s tolerance and the magic mushrooms potency.
  • Set and Setting: The “Set” refers to the user’s mindset, and “setting” refers to the surrounding environment. You must have the right mindset before going on a heroic trip. The right mindset includes clear intention, purpose, trusting the process, and being in a calm mental state.The right “setting” includes a safe and comfortable surrounding to minimize distractions. The place should be dark and silent. You should lie down with your eyes closed for better results.
  • Minimize distractions: Do all the daily chores, essential tasks, or any other work that may take your attention away on the trip. You should minimize distractions before going on a heroic trip.
  • Have someone to support you: It is always an advantage to have someone you trust by your side while on a trip. The person can intervene or support you in case of bad trips or when you are afraid or scared.

Set and Setting

Set and Setting

The Set and Setting refer to the combination of mental and emotional state and physical and surrounding environment. The right set and setting can increase the chances of the desired outcome of the heroic trip. To have the right set and setting, consider the following tips:

  • Your Physical State: You should be in good health and not suffering from pain, disease, or discomfort. Eat easily digestible food and avoid complex and heavy food as they may create discomfort in your stomach and hold you back from relaxing. 
  • Your Emotional State: You should be in a calm and peaceful mental state. Let go of any negative feelings like fear, rage, or fear, as they can get amplified during the trip. You should have complete trust in the process to avoid suffering during the heroic trip.
  • Your Mental State: Consult an expert if you are suffering from any psychiatric illness before going on a heroic trip. While on the trip, buried memories, thoughts, or feelings can come into your awareness. Focus on your breath and divert your attention in such cases.
  • Surrounding Environment: Surrounding environment should be silent, dark, and comfortable. Keep the room temperature to your liking to avoid distractions. Eliminate or minimize the background noise in the surroundings.Be at a place where the bathroom is readily available. Do not look into the mirrors during the trip, as mirrors can induce distorted images and fear.
  • Have a support person: Keeping a person that you trust around you is crucial. There can be times when you are uncomfortable or on a dangerous hero’s journey during the psychedelic therapy. The support person can intervene to reduce the damage and risks. You can join Microdosify psychedelic community for getting support or free integration services.
  • The Music: Choosing music that is comfortable, pleasant, and soothing can be helpful at times when you are uncomfortable.

What happens after a Heroic Dose of Magic Mushrooms?

After taking a heroic dose of Psilocybin mushrooms, you will experience an intense psychedelic trip. The trip will have a beginning of the psychedelic experience, then a peak moment of heightened psychedelic experience, and then a descent back to a normal state.

Start, peak and descent

Start, peak and descent

The Start: the beginning of this overwhelming psilocybin experience. It feels exhilarating and exciting in the beginning. You may hear a roaring sound in your ears. The concept of space, time, and self starts fading away, and you lose the sense of these concepts.

It may feel like you are no longer the personality that you identified yourself with. As the focus shifts to internal from external, the overwhelming feeling takes over.

The Peak: a heightened sense of Psilocybin mushroom experience. It transcends ordinary concepts and identities. You may experience a profound sense of love that is broader and deeper than you have ever known.

The experience is ecstatic and ineffable. The sense of unity with the universe fills you completely.

The Descent: This phase starts as the effect of the magic mushroom starts to fade away. You may feel detached from your thoughts and have a better sense of control over your thoughts.

Your perception of the world becomes expansive, and you may get absorbed in the little details of ordinary objects like a fan, leaf, or floor.

How long does the effect last?

The effect of the heroic dose lasts for around 6 to 8 hours. The perceived time by the user could feel longer as it seems like time is passing by slowly while on the trip.

Integrating After a Heroic Experience

Integrating After a Heroic Experience

Integration is the process of looking back on the psychedelic trip or heroic journey and drawing insights and learning from it. It is a crucial step to ensure that the learning and insights are embedded into our lives.

The methods of integrating the lessons learned from the psychedelic experience are explained below:

  • Journaling: Write and analyze your thoughts, feelings, and trip experiences. This way, you won’t forget the experience.
  • Talk to a therapist: Discuss your experience, thoughts, and feelings with a therapist to understand the experiences of the trip. After the psychedelic therapy the therapist can further give you guidance on how to make use of the hero’s journey insights.
  • Meditation: Meditate upon the learning and insights to fully integrate them into your life and bring positive effects.

The benefits of the process of integration are as follows:

  • Understanding the Trip: Taking a Psilocybin mushroom and a heroic trip can change how you think and feel and bring new thought patterns. The integration process allows you to draw insights and meaning from these new patterns.
  • Safety Procedure: A new thought pattern could be harmful and dangerous. The process of integration can help in identifying such thought patterns and treating them before they get intense.
  • Learning Opportunity: The magic mushroom trip could be filled with wisdom and profound knowledge about yourself. With the process of integration, you can make use of this potential wisdom and make personal transformation.

How long should you wait for the next heroic dose?

There is no specific time that you should wait before the next heroic dose, as suggested by Mckenna. However, Terence suggests taking heroic doses infrequently and not too often. He suggests that taking it less than 2-3 times a year is more reasonable.

Risks and side effects

Risks and side effects

The risk and side effects of the heroic dose are as follows:

  • A Bad Trip: Occasionally, while on a trip, you can have negative experiences, including fear, anxiety, terror, paranoia, mental trauma, deep-sitting negative memories, and disturbing hallucinations. The psychedelic experiences could be very terrifying and overwhelmingly disturbing.
  • Dangers and Fears: You can experience the fear of dying, going mad, or any other intense fear, according to shroomcircle.com. An old memory with intense fear can also pop up in your awareness.
  • Psychological Risks: These risks include confusion, hallucinations after the trip, and new thought patterns that could be harmful if not handled carefully in the integration process.

How to avoid the side effects

How to avoid the side effects

To avoid the side effects of the heroic trip, consider the following suggestions:

Start with small doses: Begin with taking small doses of Psilocybin mushrooms and gradually increase the amount to larger doses if you are a beginner.

Avoid overdosing: Never overdose than you can handle. The correct dosage depends upon your tolerance and the mushroom’s potency. Gradually increase the dosage to find the sweet spot.

Have the right Set & Setting: Having the right mental and emotional state and physical state and surrounding environment is vital. Be mentally alert and poised and emotionally calm and tranquil before you go on the heroic trip. Keep your physical state well and active. While taking the heroic dose, ensure the place is dark and silent, and distractions are minimized.

Have a Trip-Sitter: Keep someone you trust by your side while on the trip. The trip-sitter can increase your trust and allow you to relax more into the experience.

Not for beginners: The heroic dose is not for someone who never took the mushroom and experienced how it reacts with the body.

Keep your calm on a bad trip: Focus on breathing and divert your focus when encountering a bad trip. You can listen to soothing music as well.

Safe heroic dosing

To have a safe heroic dosing trip, consider the following precautions and suggestions:

  • Prepare well: Meditate before the trip to instill calmness and tranquility in yourself. Be open and trust the process. Eat light and easily digestible food to avoid any disturbance within the stomach. Finish off any daily chores or essential tasks to avoid worry and distractions. 
  • Right Set and Setting: Keep your mental and emotional state calm and serene. Have the right intention and purpose for the trip. Keep the surrounding environment distraction-free. The place should be dark, silent, comfortable, and safe.
  • Trust the process: Focus on breathing and divert your focus if you experience a bad trip. Do not panic if your mind is stuck on negative emotions, memories, or thoughts and you are terrified. Keep your calm, trust the process, and relax on the trip.

Have someone you trust by your side. The trip-sitter can intervene if something wrong is going on with you and save you from danger.


Who is Terrence McKenna?

Who is Terrence McKenna?

Terence Mckenna was a famous American ethnobotanist. He was born on November 16, 1946, in Paonia, Colorado, United States, and died on April 3, 2000. His full name was Terence Kemp McKenna. He is known for his research in Psilocybin and the heroic dose protocol.

He extensively worked on plant-based psychedelic drugs, entheogens, shamanism, metaphysics, and the theoretical origins of human consciousness. 

Terence formed a pseudoscience concept about the nature of the time known as Novelty Theory. He wrote many books, such as “True Hallucinations” and “Sacred Mushrooms and the Law, ” about Psilocybin mushrooms and plant-based psychedelic drugs.

How did Terence McKenna’s heroic doses impact the psychedelic community and its approach to using psilocybin mushrooms?

Terence McKenna’s advocacy for heroic doses of psychedelics, including psilocybin mushrooms, had a complex impact on the psychedelic community.

While some praised his work as a valuable contribution to research, others criticized his beliefs and writing style. McKenna’s influence on the community led to ongoing discussions about the role of psychedelics in society and human consciousness.

What is the McKenna Stoned ape theory?

The McKenna Stoned Ape Theory, proposed by Terence McKenna in his 1992 book “Food of the Gods,” is a controversial idea suggesting that the transition from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens, along with the cognitive revolution, was triggered by the inclusion of psilocybin mushrooms, specifically Psilocybe cubensis, in the human diet approximately 100,000 years ago.

McKenna drew on research from Roland L. Fischer and others in the 1960s and 1970s to support his claim that the mental advancements during this period were linked to the effects of psilocybin.

However, it’s important to note that this theory has faced significant rejection within the scientific community. Critics argue that there are numerous discrepancies in McKenna’s theory and that his conclusions stem from a misunderstanding of Fischer’s studies.

How Much Is a Heroic Dose of Mushrooms?

A heroic dose is 5gm of dried psilocybin mushrooms, as suggested by Terence Mckenna.

Why Do They Call It A Heroic Dose?

The heroic dose is the term coined by Terence Mckenna, and it refers to a dosage higher than a regular dose to induce profound psychedelic experiences.

What is “Set & Setting”?

Set & Setting refers to the combination of the mental and emotional state and physical state and surrounding environment in which a heroic dose is taken.

What is a bad trip?

A bad trip is a negative experience while a person is on the trip. The negative experiences may include fear, mental trauma, anxiety, paranoia, and disturbing hallucinations.

What is the potential impact of psychedelic fungi clinical trials on treatment-resistant major depression?

Ongoing clinical trials are exploring the therapeutic potential of psychedelic fungi, particularly psilocybin, for treating treatment-resistant major depression. A 2021 study by Carhart-Harris et al. titled “Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy for Major Depressive Disorder” demonstrated significant improvements in depressive symptoms with psilocybin-assisted therapy.

However, it’s important to note that further research is needed to establish safety and long-term efficacy in this field. These studies offer hope for innovative treatments for individuals with treatment-resistant depression.

Final Thoughts

Mckenna’s heroic dose protocol is an excellent way to experience profound transformative and spiritual experiences. It is a heavy dose of five grams of dried Psilocybin mushroom and is only suitable for experienced users.

The psychedelic effect is profound and usually lasts for about 6-8 hours. The heroic dose allows you to explore the depth of your mind and raise consciousness. The trip’s experience can transform your life in major positive ways and can resolve many conflicts within.


  • Tripson, D. (2022, October 28). Magic Mushrooms: the heroic dose. Shroom Circle. https://shroomcircle.com/en/magic-mushrooms-the-heroic-dose
  • Guy, M. (2022, May 13). The Ultimate Guide to Terence Mckenna’s Heroic Dose of Mushrooms. Healing-Mushrooms.net. https://healing-mushrooms.net/heroic-dose
  • Roberta Murphy, Robin Carhart-Harris (2022 Mar 31) Therapeutic Alliance and Rapport Modulate Responses to Psilocybin Assisted Therapy for Depression. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35431912/
Author Microdosify

By Rachel Grey

I’m Rachel Grey, a Ph.D. psychologist specializing in psychedelic therapy with psilocybin and natural plant medicines. I obtained my doctorate from the University of Toronto, where I immersed myself in the study of these transformative therapies. With over 10 years of experience, let’s embark on transformative journeys of healing, growth, and self-discovery as we explore the power of psychedelic therapy together.

Updated on October 2, 2023