Macrodosing Set & Setting – A Guide for Your First Trip

9 Minute Read

Are you interested in having a full psychedelic experience? Have you heard stories about people’s experiences with psychedelics and wanted to see for yourself what they can do? Or perhaps you’ve experimented with microdosing and are ready to see what else psilocybin has to offer. Regardless of your motivation, this guide will help you have the smoothest trip possible.

 

What is Macrodosing?

A macrodose will produce effects that noticeably alter the tripper’s immediate perception of the world. Internal and external hallucinations may occur, along with stronger emotional responses, pronounced introspection, a feeling of interconnection, profound thoughts, and occasional transcendental or spiritual experiences. An afterglow [1] may also be present for a while following the trip. Macrodoses are more likely to produce long-term effects, such as reducing alcohol consumption [2].

Dose

A macrodose for most people starts at about 1.5-2.5 grams of dried Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms. This dose typically produces mild effects that are perceptual, but not overly intrusive. The tripper may notice brighter colors, mild visual distortions, stronger emotions, and a greater appreciation of beauty. They can typically attend to the world around them, but may be more easily distracted.

A dose of 3.5 grams is what many people consider to be a standard macrodose. This dose typically produces a full psychedelic experience for most. Pronounced internal and external hallucinations can occur, and meaningful spiritual experiences are not uncommon. The tripper typically experiences strong feelings of interconnectivity, love, and wonder with regards to the world around them. On this dose, people can typically tend to their basic needs, but may need help navigating more complex situations.

Doses of 5 grams or more are not for the faint of heart! It is recommended that the tripper have several psychedelic experiences before attempting these doses. Higher doses of psilocybin are more likely to result in ego-death, mystical experiences, and profound realizations. It is highly recommended that a trip sitter who is present who has experience with these types of situations, as well as help attend to them if they encounter difficulty interacting with the world around them. Be prepared to allow several days post-trip to re-acclimate to day-to-day reality. Avoid making any big decisions during this time period as your judgment and perception will still be altered.

 

Mushroom Strains

There are different varieties of psilocybin-containing mushrooms that are endemic to different parts of the world. Each strain has different concentrations of psilocybin, resulting in stronger or weaker trips per gram. Different strains produce different effects on the trip. These effects vary depending on the individual, however many trippers report common characteristics for each strain:

Strain NameBrief Description of Effects
Golden TeachersA good choice for beginners! Mild compared to other strains, strong feelings of connection and spiritual understanding
Jedi Mind F*ck CubensisStronger potency, astounding visuals
Amazonian Cubensis Heightened colour perception, slightly energizing
P. Fanaticus CubensisStronger potency, ‘stony’ effects that resemble those of cannabis
Hawaiian CubensisEuphoric, heightened feelings of love and connection, less potential for therapeutic or spiritual uses
Malabar CubensisEuphoric, social, energizing
Blue Meanie CubensisWell suited for spiritual experiences and inner exploration
PeXAA potent, energizing hybrid of the Penis Envy and Amazonian strains, suited for intense spiritual journeys

 

Methods of Administration

The most direct way to ingest magic mushrooms is to eat the dried shrooms right out of the bag! Some people find the taste unpalatable and prefer to eat them with food. However, having a full stomach can delay the onset and may diminish the effects. Edibles such as chocolate bars can be a good solution.

Teas take a little more preparation but can be both potent and gentle on the stomach. To prepare, start by grinding up your mushrooms into a powder using a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder. After your water boils, allow it to cool to about 87°C (190°F) to avoid the breakdown of psilocybin. To improve the taste you can add other herbs, lemon, and honey. Ginger is recommended to help relieve potential nausea.

 

What is Set & Setting?

You’ve likely heard the phrase “set and setting” with regard to psychedelics. This phrase refers to the mental and emotional space (set) along with the physical and social space (setting) that you occupy during the trip. Considerations of set and setting were not initially apparent to the psychedelic pioneers [3], which may partially explain early attitudes towards psychedelics as drugs that mimic psychosis. However, our understanding has evolved and we now know these factors are integral to a tripper’s experience, both at home and in a research setting [3].

Safety Considerations

DISCLAIMER: Neither Mind Mend nor the author is responsible for the use of information in this article, nor do they condone the use of illicit substances. Always consult with a doctor, psychiatrist, or other licensed mental health professional before changing or modifying your current prescription drug regime. This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

By using Mind Mend products you’re taking away one of the biggest safety concerns that come with magic mushrooms: eating a misidentified mushroom. Since you already know the strain of mushroom you’re about to take you don’t have to worry about eating a poisonous look-alike. This can be an issue when foraging for your own shrooms, or ingesting mushrooms grown under dubious conditions.

Set: Your Headspace

Trips respond to your intention. That’s why it’s important to be clear to yourself on why you are choosing to have this experience. Are you curious? Do your friends want you to do it? Are you interested in exploring spirituality? Are you trying to heal trauma? Do you want to see cool hallucinations? Your intention will influence the thoughts and feelings you have about psilocybin. 

You may have also heard conflicting advice about the set, particularly if you’re interested in using mushrooms to address mental health challenges. On one hand, news articles keep reporting promising results for using magic mushrooms to treat issues such as depression [5] and OCD [6]. On the other hand, people sometimes talk about having “bad trips” when they’re already feeling down. For this reason, it is useful to be aware of any underlying mental health challenges before tripping. If you have a personal or family history of mental illness, please consult a mental health professional before taking magic mushrooms. 

Even for experienced trippers with no history of mental illness, uncomfortable feelings can arise. However, these feelings reliably dissipate within the first hour or two of the experience. Most people find that the peak of the trip far outshines any discomfort they felt at the beginning. Keep in mind that bodily needs such as hunger, being too hot/cold, or needing to use the washroom may feel different while high. If you start to feel uneasy, take care of the basics: eat food, drink water, empty your bladder, and change up your clothing. Preparing your space ahead of time will also lessen any discomfort you may feel on the come-up. 

Setting: Your Physical & Social Environment 

The environment around you will directly influence your trip. Since it can be difficult to focus once you’re under the influence, it’s a good idea to prepare your space ahead of time. Suggestions:

  • Surround yourself with a sensory feast! Blankets, pillows, fidget toys, psychedelic art, natural scenery, delicious fruit, and delightful smells can all enhance the trip
  • Prepare some light snacks –fruits, veggies, candies, and ice cream are favourites!
  • Keep a hat and sunglasses nearby since you may be more light-sensitive
  • Listen to music! Psychedelics enhance music appreciation
  • Have a dark, quiet place set up where you can take a break from the fun if you start to feel overwhelmed
  • Stay close to the washroom during the come-up in case of digestive upset
  • Have some art supplies and a journal close by–psychedelics can enhance creativity

A tripsitter is recommended for your first experience. This should be someone who has used magic mushrooms before, who you trust and know well. Sitters are typically sober so that they can attend to the world around you while you’re enjoying your inner explorations.

If you choose to trip with a group, make sure everyone knows each other well prior to the experience since psychedelics can make us feel vulnerable. It can be helpful to be aware of power dynamics between participants to avoid any potentially uncomfortable situations from arising while in a suggestible state. 

Most importantly, have fun! Psychedelics can open our eyes to an entirely different perspective of the world around us. Whether it’s losing ourselves in our favourite music, laughing uncontrollably with our friends, being swept away in a breathtaking sunset, or being inspired to create new works of art, psychedelic experiences can help us find our best selves in our most beautiful moments. Don’t forget to sit back and enjoy the ride!

 

Integration

Some psychedelics users feel that the real trip begins after the chemical has left your system and you return to your day-to-day life. Therefore, part of the set and setting includes the time and space you will occupy after your trip. After witnessing the beautiful, bizarre, otherworldly, interconnected, and sometimes difficult aspects of a psychedelic experience, returning to consensus reality can sometimes feel jarring. The process of unifying the experiences from a trip with your day-to-day life is called integration.

Trip integration can be complicated, particularly if themes arise that are outside the tripper’s usual lived experience. Psilocybin can put people face-to-face with parts of themselves, and the world, that they are not used to seeing. Having understanding friends to talk to can help you process difficult or unusual experiences and emotions.  It’s important to consider the background of those who you choose to confide in. Opening up to someone who ends up misunderstanding or judging your psychedelic experience can increase feelings of alienation. If you don’t have anyone to talk to in your daily life, both the Fireside Project and TripSit can help you integrate your trip. A trained psychotherapist can help you process any difficult emotions that may have arisen during the trip.

Looking back, many psychedelics users find that their trips are some of the most meaningful moments of their lives [7]. Even those who have a challenging time still usually find beauty in the experience upon reflection. By taking the time to integrate, we stand to grow in ways we may have never thought possible. 

 

Sources

[1] Majić, T., Schmidt, T. T., Gallinat, J. “Peak experiences and the afterglow phenomenon: When and how do therapeutic effects of hallucinogens depend on psychedelic experiences?” Journal of Psychopharmacology, vol 29. no. 3, March 2015, https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881114568040.
[2] Bogenschutz, M. P., et al. “Percentage of Heavy Drinking Days Following Psilocybin-Assisted Psychotherapy vs Placebo in the Treatment of Adult Patients With Alcohol Use Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA Psychiatry. Published online August 2022. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2022.2096.
[3] Pollan, M. How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. Penguin Press, 2018, pp. 151.
[4] Hartogsohn, I. Constructing drug effects: A history of set and setting. Drug Science, Policy, and Law, vol 3, January 2017, https://doi.org/10.1177/2050324516683325.
[5] Davis, A. K., et al. Effects of Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy on Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online November 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.3285.
[6] Ehrmann, K. Allen, J. J. B., Moreno, F. A. Psilocybin for the Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders. Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences, vol 56, pp 247-259, 2022. DOI: 10.1007/7854_2021_279
[7] Khamsehzadeh, J. The Psilocybin Connection: Psychedelics, the Transformation of Consciousness, and the Evolution of the Planet–An Integral Approach. North Atlantic Books, 2022, Ch 1.
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