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What is Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms)?

Magic mushrooms, Psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine) and psilocin are chemical compounds obtained from certain types of dried or fresh hallucinogenic magic mushrooms found in Mexico, South America and the southern and northwest regions of the United States. Psilocybin is classified as an indole-alkylamine (tryptamine). These compounds have similar structure to lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and are abused for their hallucinogenic and euphoric effects to produce a “trip”. Hallucinogenic (psychedelic) effects are probably due to action on central nervous system serotonin (5-HT) receptors.

There are over 180 species of magic mushrooms that contain the chemicals psilocybin or psilocin. Like the peyote (mescaline), hallucinogenic mushrooms have been used in native or religious rites for centuries. Both psilocybin and psilocin can also be produced synthetically in the lab. There have been reports that psilocybin bought on the streets can actually be other species of mushrooms laced with LSD.

Methods of Psilocybin Use

“Magic Mushrooms” have long, slender stems which may appear white or greyish topped by caps with dark gills on the underside. Dried mushrooms are usually a reddish rust brown color with isolated areas of off-white. Mushrooms are ingested orally and may be made into a tea or mixed into other foods. The mushrooms may be used as fresh or dried product. Psilocybin has a bitter, unpalatable taste.

A “bad trip”, or a unpleasant or even terrifying experience, may occur with any dose of psilocybin. In general, dried mushrooms contain about 0.2% to 0.4% psilocybin and only trace amounts of psilocin. The typical dose of psilocybin used for recreational purposes varies, with peak effects occurring in 1 to 2 hours, and lasting for about six hours.

Dose and effects can vary considerably depending upon mushroom type, method of preparation, and tolerance of the individual. It can be difficult to determine the exact species of mushroom or how much hallucinogen each mushroom contains. Initial smaller doses and a longer period of time to determine the effects may be a safer option if you choose to use psilocybin for recreational purposes

Effects of ‘Magic Mushroom’ Use

Psilocybin effects are similar to those of other hallucinogens, such as mescaline from peyote or LSD. The psychological reaction to psilocybin use include visual and auditory hallucinations and an inability to discern fantasy from reality. Panic reactions and psychosis also may occur, particularly if large doses of psilocybin are ingested.

Hallucinogens that interfere with the action of the brain chemical serotonin may alter:

  • mood
  • sensory perception
  • sleep
  • hunger
  • body temperature
  • sexual behavior
  • muscle control

What to expect

Psilocybin mushrooms are generally eaten in their whole, dried form and most people agree they don’t taste great. To mask the flavor, some people brew the mushrooms into a tea, put them in Nutella or peanut butter, blend them a juice or smoothie, or grind them up and put them into capsules. Each of these ways will have a slightly different effect. Drinking a mushroom tea, for example, will bring on the effects faster than eating them; swallowing capsules will make the effects come on a little later.

A typical trip on a moderate dose of psilocybin mushrooms (1-2.5g) includes an increased intensity of emotional experiences, increased introspection, and altered psychological functioning in the form of “hypnagogic experiences,” which is the transitory state between wakefulness and sleep. Brain imaging studies show that a psilocybin trip is neurologically similar to dreaming, which gives you a good idea of the mindset you’re entering when undertaking a psychedelic experience.

During a psilocybin experience, you can expect to experience perceptual changes, synesthesia, emotional shifts, and a distorted sense of time.[1] Perceptual changes can include visuals such as halos around lights and objects as well as geometric patterns when your eyes are closed. You may also experience vivid colors, tracers, distorted vision, and a sense of the world breathing around you.