Psilocybin mushrooms (A complete guide)

What are psilocybin mushrooms? 

Psilocybin Mushrooms are a group of fungi that contain the psychoactive ingredients Psilocybin and Psilocin, and sometimes may contain other psychoactive tryptamines.

Psilocybin mushrooms may have been used in ancient religious rites and ceremonies.

They have been depicted in stone age rock art in Africa and Europe, but are most famously represented in the Pre-Columbian sculptures and glyphs seen throughout Central and South America.

Psilocybin Mushrooms are also sometimes called by the following names:

  • Magic mushrooms
  • Psychedelic mushrooms
  • Purple passion
  • Little smoke
  • Shrooms
  • Boomers

There are over 180 species of mushrooms that contain the chemicals psilocybin or psilocin. 

The most popular species of psilocybin mushrooms is Psilocybe cubensis.

This species is usually taken orally either by directly eating dried caps and stems, or by steeping the dried caps and stems in hot water and drinking it as a tea, with a common dose around 1-2.5 grams.

Like peyote (mescaline), hallucinogenic mushrooms have been used in native and religious rites for centuries.

Although originally occurring naturally, both psilocybin and psilocin can also be produced synthetically in a scientific lab.

There have been reports that psilocybin bought on the streets can actually be other species of mushrooms laced with LSD.

What is Psilocybin?

Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic organic substance from the tryptamine family.

Psilocybin is a psychoactive substance, its consumption can change the state of consciusness: it may cause hallucinations or euphoria and therefore the possession or use of psilocybin or psilocin has been outlawed in most countries around the world, but advocates for the use of psilocybin see it as a tool for improving mental exercises such as meditation and psychosis.

Psilocybin is the main ingredient found in several types of psychoactive mushrooms, making it perhaps the best-known naturally occurring psychedelic drug.

Psilocybin is one of these such substances that is found naturally 

occurring in certain types of mushrooms.

What is the history of psilocybin mushrooms?

There are several lines of evidence and theories about the extensive history of using psychoactive substances in ancient tribes and cultures in many locations around the world including Europe and the Americas for therapeutic, spiritual and religious purposes.

Some examples of this:

  • Prehistoric rock art near Villar del Humo, Spain, offers a hypothesis that Psilocybe hispanica was used in religious rituals 6,000 years ago
  • Prehistoric rock art at the Tassili caves in southern Algeria from 7,000 to 9,000 years ago may indicate the usage of the species Psilocybe mairei
  • Hallucinogenic species of the Psilocybe genus have a history of use among the native peoples of Mesoamerica for religious communion, divination, and healing, from pre-Columbian times to the present day. Mushroom stones and motifs have been found in Guatemala.
  • A statuette dating from 200 CE. depicting a mushroom strongly resembling Psilocybe mexicana was found in a west Mexican shaft and chamber tomb in the state of Colima. A Psilocybe species was known to the Aztecs as teōnanācatl (literally “divine mushroom” – agglutinative form of teōtl (god, sacred) and nanācatl (mushroom) in Náhuatl) and were reportedly served at the coronation of the Aztec ruler Moctezuma II in 1502.

The contemporary widespread Western exposure to Psyllusive Mushrooms is attributed to an article published in American Life magazine entitled “Seeking the magic in mushrooms” by a banker named Gordon Wesson who traveled to Mexico in 1955, where he experimented with psilocybin in a shamanic ceremony with his wife.

These mushrooms have piqued the curiosity of many researchers and scientists such as Albert Hoffman, Timothy Leary and more.

From 1960 to 1962, psychologists Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (later Ram Das) began a series of experiments at Harvard as part of a project attempting to deepen the understanding of the psychological and subjective qualities of the material (The Harvard Psilocybin Project).

This project closed and ended with the removal of Leary and Alpert from the university after a series of allegations of moral and theological misconduct.

The psilocybin molecule was first isolated by Albert Hoffman in 1957 and successfully synthesized in 1958.

Due to the therapeutic background of these fungi and their psychoactive effects, they have been a focus of research by therapists and psychiatrists in the late 50s and 60s. In 1971, due to new United Nations laws on dangerous drugs, official clinical research was almost completely halted.

Much of the research done in the 1950s and 1960s is now viewed as questionable due to methodological problems and small sampling groups.

Research in psychedelics in recent years has focused more on psilocybin because it is a convenient, workable molecule with a relatively short time of impact and less controversial history, in comparison to other psychedelic substances.

What is the chemistry of psilocybin mushrooms?

Psilocybin (O-phosphoryl-4-hydroxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine) is a pro-drug, an inactive substance that transforms work communication into a pharmacological activity within the human body by dephosphorylation.

This chemical reaction occurs under strong acidic conditions or by enzymes that break down phosphate (phosphate) within the human body.

Psilocybin is a water-soluble alkaloid, partially soluble in methanol and ethanol, and not soluble in most organic solvents.

Albert Hoffman, the renowned chemist who discovered and directed the research on psilocybin, was the first to understand the importance and chemical evidence of the pure compound of psilocybin and psilocin.

Hoffman assisted with this experiment because he agreed to swallow an extract isolated from Psilocybin.

What is the physiology of psilocybin mushrooms?

Psilocybin is absorbed into the mouth and stomach.

The onset of the effect begins within 10 to 40 minutes after consuming a fungus containing psilocybin, and lasts for 2-6 hours, depending on the size of the dish, the fungus strain, and the metabolism of the person. A typical dose for pleasure purposes is 10-50 mg psilocybin.

On the other hand, a very small number of people are exceptionally sensitive to psilocybin so that a small dose around 2 mg can give an effect that usually gives a medium or large effect.

On the other hand, some people will consume a large dose of psilocybin and feel very minimal effects.

Individual metabolism and brain chemistry play a major role in how a person responds to psilocybin.

Psilocybin undergoes metabolism mainly in the liver, where it is converted to psilocin. It is broken down by the monoamine oxidase enzyme.

MAO inhibitors hold the effect of psilocybin for a longer period of time.

People who use MAOI for medical purposes or to strengthen the mushroom experience will experience a very strong impact.

Physical and mental tolerance for psilocybin builds up and disappears quickly.

Using psilocybin more than 3-4 times a week can reduce the effect of psilocybin.

Tolerance disappears within a few days, so people who use psilocybin regularly do so within 5-7 days so as to avoid developing tolerance to the substance.

Are psilocybin mushrooms toxic?

The toxicity of psilocybin is relatively low. In rats, the oral lethal dose is 280 mg per kg, almost 1 and a half times the caffeine.

When administered to rabbits intravenously, the lethal dose is nearly 12.5 mg per kg (on the other hand, rabbits are very sensitive to the effects of most psychoactive drugs).

The lethal dose of psilocybin toxicity alone is not known to be used for pleasure or medical use, and has never been documented.

Psilocybin roughly accounts for about 1% of the weight of Psilocybe cubensis as it requires 1.7 kg of dried mushrooms, or 17 kg of fresh mushrooms, for a person weighing 60 kg to 280 mg per kg of body weight (lethal dose value of rats).

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Frequently Asked Questions about Psilocybin Mushrooms: 

What class of drugs do Psilocybin mushrooms belong to?

Psilocybin is considered one of the most well-known psychedelics, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations.

Psilocybin mushrooms belong to the drug class as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it has a high potential for misuse and has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States

What are the effects of Psilocybin mushrooms?

Although Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic drug, scientists have not found addictive potentials.

However, users can build up a tolerance to the drug.

For example, if you take one dose of mushrooms the first time and feel high, you will not feel the same high the next time from the same dose.

Thus, you will need to take a higher dose to feel the same effects.

Psilocybin mushrooms result in altered sensory experiences.

After 30 minutes to an hour, the user might feel noticeable changes in the auditory, tactile, and visual senses.

Usually, people report seeing enhanced and more contrasted colors, increased visual acuity, and strange phenomena surrounding light, such as halos.

In addition, surfaces might seem like they are breathing, rippling, or melting into the surrounding environment.

People might perceive music and sounds as having greater depth, and sometimes may even experience synesthesia, which is when colors are visualized upon hearing a specific sound.

Comfortable environments can make psychedelic experiences better, whereas negative environments can contribute to a “bad trip”.

People who regularly experience feelings such as anxiety or depression will experience those same emotions but heightened after consuming psilocybin mushrooms.

Psilocybin causes people to hallucinate and renders them unable to discern fantasy from reality. 

What do Psilocybin mushrooms taste like? 

Some magic mushrooms are described as having a floury taste, while others are sour or bitter.

Users report eating them with fruit such as strawberries can combat the flavor.

They can be brewed into a mushroom tea by grinding them, steeping them in hot water and straining the resulting liquid.

Want to learn more about Psilocybin Mushrooms? Try these recommended readings!

Hallucinogens: The Truth About Hallucinogenic Plants: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to LSD, Peyote, Psilocybin, And phenylcyclohexyl piperidine (Hallucinations, Hallucinogenic Herbs, Psychedelics)

In this book by Collin Wills, you will learn all about different hallucinogens such as psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, peyote, and Phenylcyclohexyl piperidine, as well as their history.

It details the positive and negative effects of using hallucinogens as well as the dangers involved. 

Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World: An Identification Guide

From the author of Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms comes the only identification guide exclusively devoted to the world’s psilocybin-containing mushrooms.

Detailed descriptions and color photographs for over 100 species are provided, as well as an exploration of their long-standing (and often religious) uses by ancient peoples and their continued significance to modern-day culture.

Some of the species included have just been discovered in the past year or two, and some others have never before been photographed in their natural habitats. 

References

Psilocybin mushroom Wikipedia. 2020

Psilocybin Wikipedia. 2020

Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms) Drugs.com. 2020

Psilocybin ScienceDirect. 2020

What Is Psilocybin? (Mushrooms) RiverOaks2020

Magic Mushrooms Guide: Where Shrooms Are Legal and How To Take Psilocybin Newsweek2020

What to Know About Magic Mushroom Use verywellmind2020

How to take Shrooms (Psilocybin/Magic Mushrooms) tripsafe2020

What are magic mushrooms and psilocybin? Medicalnewstoday2020

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