Magic mushrooms, also known as Psilocybe, are a genus of mushrooms that have been used for centuries for religious purposes. These mushrooms contain the psychedelic compound psilocybin, which can cause hallucinations and changes in perception.
What Is Psilocybe?
Psilocybe is a genus of gilled mushrooms growing worldwide. This genus is best known for the species with psychedelic properties. Psilocybin, psilocin and baeocystin are the main psychedelic compounds responsible for the psychoactive effects of many species in the genus. Many species of mushrooms containing psilocybin also contain lesser amounts of the analog compounds baeocystin and norbaeocystin, chemicals thought to be biogenic precursors.
Concentrations can vary from species to species and from cap to stem, as well as from mushroom to mushroom, season to season or year to year depending on environmental conditions such as temperature and rainfall. Psilocin and its precursor psilocybin, an active chemical in many psilocybin mushrooms, are structurally similar to the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Psilocybin Effect on the Brain
When psilocybin is ingested, it is broken down to produce psilocin, which is responsible for the psychedelic effects. The term “psilocybin mushrooms” has generally been limited to the mushrooms that contain the hallucinogen psilocybin, as well as its phosphorylated cousin, psilocin. However, not all psilocybe mushrooms contain the compounds responsible for hallucinogenic effect.
Psilocybe: The History of Magic Mushrooms
Psilocybin mushrooms have been used as entheogens — substances used to induce religious or mystical experiences — by indigenous peoples in the Americas for thousands of years. In modern times, psilocybin mushrooms have continued to be used as an entheogen by native peoples in Latin America, often in conjunction with traditional religious practices.
Mushrooms From Mexico
In the 1950s, researchers investigating psychedelic compounds found that psilocybin was present in several species of mushroom from Mexico. The ingestion of these mushrooms was already well-known among indigenous groups, who used them during religious ceremonies. Use spread quickly among Western culture as well, where they became known as “magic mushrooms“.
Psilocybe Vs. Regular Mushrooms
Most people are familiar with the common mushrooms that can be found in grocery stores, but there is another type of mushroom that is less well-known: the psilocybe mushroom. Psilocybe mushrooms contain psychoactive compounds that can produce hallucinations and other altered states of consciousness. These mushrooms have been used for centuries by various cultures for religious and spiritual purposes. While psilocybe mushrooms are not typically consumed for their flavor, some people find them to be a valuable tool for exploring the mind and expanding awareness.
Most Psilocybe Mushrooms Are Hallucinogenic Mushrooms
The psilocybe mushroom is one of the most popular hallucinogenic mushrooms. Unlike other mushrooms, psilocybin-containing mushrooms do not contain any fat or protein. All that they have to offer is a compound called psilocybin, which has similar effects as LSD. The effects of this compound are usually experienced within 30 minutes after consumption of the mushroom and last for up to six hours. The most prominent effect of consuming these mushrooms is their ability to cause hallucinations in the users. Some people also report experiencing euphoria or feeling relaxed while under the influence of the drug.
Where Do Psilocybe Mushrooms Grow?
Psilocybe cubensis is a coprophilic fungus (one that prefers to grow on dung or manured soils) that often colonizes the dung of large herbivores, most notably cattle and horses. As a result, it is most commonly found growing wild in pastures and grassy fields. Various kinds of Psilocybe mushrooms can be found on most of the continents.
Notable Species of Psilocybe
The species are listed below, under the best known common name. Several other species have been used to a lesser extent.
The most commonly cultivated species, it is also the most well-known psilocybin mushroom due to its wide distribution and ease of cultivation. It is a large mushroom with a distinct golden or cinnamon brown cap, which is why it is often referred to as “the golden teacher”.
Commonly nicknamed “liberty caps“, this mushroom has a very distinct conical to bell-shaped cap, with a small protrusion on the top. It has wavy, silky and flexible gills that are adnate (evenly attached) to the stem.
Also known as wavy caps, it is a species of potent psychedelic mushroom. A cold-weather cousin of the better-known Psilocybe cubensis, P. cyanescens has been found in wood chips and tree mulch in urban areas of the Pacific Northwest, Western and Central Europe and parts of West Asia.
Also known as azies, it is a highly potent species native to the state of Washington and Oregon in the USA, but it is becoming increasingly popular in outdoor cultivation and extending its range as a consequence.
There are many types of psilocybin mushrooms that grow in various parts of the world. All of them have different effects on the human body, depending on the amount consumed and the person’s individual reaction to the drug.
The Effects of Psilocybe Mushrooms
The psychoactive effects of psilocybin mushrooms last anywhere from 6 to 10 hours and are characterized by alterations in cognitive processes, mood, and perception. These effects include slight visual distortion, changes in time perception, distortions of body image and the sense of ego dissolution. The effects can be compared to drugs like LSD, however there are significant differences between these two psychedelics. The hallucinogenic effects of these mushrooms are potent and may turn out dangerous. They do however have a potential to treat various health conditions such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or even addictions to nicotine or alcohol.
Are Psilocybe Mushrooms Legal?
Psilocybin is classified as a Schedule I drug in the United States, which means that it has a high potential for abuse and is not currently accepted for medical use by federal law. However, psilocybin mushrooms are legally used in states like Oregon for medical treatment.
Are They Legal to Possess?
Possession of psilocybin-containing mushrooms is a felony offense in most jurisdictions. However, some states have decriminalized possession of small amounts of the drug for personal use. There is a controversy regarding the classification of psilocybin mushrooms as a Schedule I drug, with some people arguing that the drug should be legal for medical and therapeutic use. This is an issue which will likely continue to be debated in the future.
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