17 September 2009

Psilocybin/magic mushrooms

The effects of ingesting "magic mushrooms" resemble a shorter-acting LSD trip, producing significant physical, visual and perceptual changes.

Original article by

There are dozens of species of psilocybin or "magic mushrooms" belonging primarily to the genuses psilocybe, panaeolus and copelandia (unrelated to psychoactive amanita species). The effects of their ingestion resemble a shorter-acting LSD trip, producing significant physical, visual, and perceptual changes.

Nearly all of the psilocybin-containing mushrooms are small, brown or tan mushrooms easily mistakable for any number of non-psychoactive, inedible, or poisonous mushrooms in the wild. This makes them somewhat difficult, and potentially hazardous, to identify. The primary distinguishable feature of most psilocybin-containing mushrooms is that they bruise blue when handled.

Recreational doses range from 1-5 grams of dry mushrooms depending on the species and individual strength of the specimens. Dosages for wet mushrooms will be approximately 10 times higher (10-50 grams). Because different species vary in size, the number of mushrooms per gram will also vary.

The primary effects of mushrooms come from several active alkaloids they contain; the most common are psilocybin, psilocin and baeocystin. Psilocybin is a more stable compound than psilocin, but is broken down into psilocin after ingestion.

Psilocybin-containing mushrooms grow wild in many countries around the world. There are also several species which are easily cultivated with a fairly simple and inexpensive setup. Most recreationally-used mushrooms are cultivated rather than picked wild.

Psilocybe mushrooms have been used for thousands of years by Native Americans in Central and South America. The first european record of their use showed up in the 16th century writings of a Spanish priest who wrote about the Aztec's use of both mushrooms and peyote. In 1957, Wasson became the first in modern times to document and publish a description of his own experience (Life Magazine). The active ingredient of the mushrooms, psilocybin, was soon isolated and by the mid-60's mushrooms were being both studied and used recreationally.

Terminology / Slang
The Substance: Mushrooms; Magic Mushrooms; Shrooms; Mushies; Boomers; Psilocybes; Cubes (P. cubensis); Liberty Caps (P. semilanceata)
The Experience: Shrooming; Tripping.

In the beginning stages of onset, mushrooms are likely to cause a sort of undefineable feeling similar to anticipation or anxiety. There may be a feeling of energy in the body, and the sense that things are different than usual. As the effects intensify, a wide variety of perceptual changes may occur; pupil dilation, visuals, mental stimulation, new perspectives, feelings of insight, quickly changing emotions (lots of laughter), possible paranoia and confusion. More advanced users may seek spiritual awareness or a sense of universal understanding through their use of mushrooms. Closed-eye visuals are extremely common with psilocybin mushrooms. Open-eye visuals are common for some people and are more likely at higher doses.

Depending on how much and how recently one has eaten, mushrooms generally takes 30-60 minutes (though sometimes as long as two hours) to take effect.

The primary effects of magic mushrooms last for four to six hours when taken orally. For many people there is an additional period of time (two to six hours) where it is difficult to go to sleep and there is definitely a noticeable difference from everyday reality, but which is not strong enough to be considered "tripping".

Many people experience nausea and/or vomiting during mushroom experiences, epecially with higher doses. Other possible negative effects include anxiety and unwanted or frightening thoughts and visions. Mushrooms, though perhaps to a lesser degree than LSD, can precipitate strong, temporary changes in an individual's experience of life and reality.

It can be a powerful psychoactive experience, especially at higher doses, which is significantly affected by experiences, set and setting. Recent experiences, especially strong ones, can have a substantial effect on a trip. Physically or psychologically unsettling events in the days before a mushroom trip can blossom into more serious distress and trauma while tripping. It is important to be prepared for the possibility of encountering difficult or frightening mental states.

Do not operate heavy machinery. Do not drive.
Taking psyilocybin-containing mushrooms while on a MAOI can dramatically increase the effects of the experience. MAOIs are most commonly found in the prescription anti-depressants phenelzine, tranylcypromine, isocarboxazid, l-deprenyl and moclobemide. Ayahuasca also contains MAOIs (harmine and harmaline). Check with your doctor if you are not sure whether your prescription medication is a MAOI.
Individuals currently in the midst of emotional or psychological upheaval in their everyday lives should be careful about choosing to use psychedelics such as mushrooms as they can trigger even more difficulty.
Individuals with a family history of schizophrenia or early onset mental illness should be extremely careful because mushrooms have been known to trigger latent psychological and mental problems.

Addiction potential
Mushrooms are neither physically addicting nor likely to cause psychological dependance. Many people actually find that their desire to use mushrooms goes down for a period of time after use. As with most substances, some people will use them more frequently than they are comfortable with. There is a short period of tolerance after mushroom use. Using mushrooms two days in a row is likely to lead to a diminished experience the second day, though spaced five to seven or more days apart, this effect is nearly non-existent.

- Article used with the permission of Last modified April 2009.

Erowid caution and disclaimer

This Erowid article is a summary of data gathered from Erowid site visitors, government documents, books, websites, and other resources. As this field is complex and constantly changing, information should always be verified through additional sources.


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