Psilocybin mushrooms are fungi that contain psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychoactive and hallucinogenic compound. Here’s more information about psilocybin mushrooms, their effects and controversy surrounding them.
What Are Psilocybin Mushrooms?
Psilocybin mushrooms, also known as psychedelic mushrooms, are mushrooms that contain the psychedelic drugs psilocybin and psilocin which are considered to be hallucinogens. Common colloquial terms include magic mushrooms and shrooms. The main compounds responsible for their psychedelic effects are psilocybin and psilocin.
Psilocybin mushrooms have a long history of use in Mesoamerica and are one of the oldest hallucinogenic drugs used by man. Psilocybin mushrooms occur on all continents and consist of more than 200 species, the most potent of which belong to the genus Psilocybe. Common, colloquial terms for psilocybin mushrooms include psychedelic mushrooms, booms, magic mushrooms, shrooms, and mush. The scientific name Psilocybe means ‘smooth head’, a reference to the silk-like filaments that cover the mushroom’s cap.
Psilocybin Mushrooms: Hallucinogenic Compounds
Psilocybin mushrooms are mushrooms which contain the hallucinogenic substances such as psilocybin, psilocin, baeocystin and norbaeocystin. The mushrooms are collected and grown as an entheogen and recreational drug, despite being illegal in many countries. Many psilocybin mushrooms are in the genus Psilocybe, but species across several other genera contain the drugs.
How Do Psilocybin Mushrooms Work?
“Magic mushrooms” are fungi that contain the hallucinogenic substance psilocybin. When psilocybin is ingested, it’s metabolized into psilocin, which interacts with serotonin receptors in the brain to produce its effects. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter (chemical) involved in various aspects of emotional and cognitive function, including mood, sleep and memory.
Effects of Magic Mushrooms
The effects of magic mushrooms depend on the dose taken and can range from feelings of euphoria and relaxation to visual hallucinations, sensory distortions and a feeling of detachment from one’s physical body. These effects begin anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes after ingestion and last three to eight hours. The effects of magic mushrooms are variable and depend on factors such as the type and quantity eaten and the mood, environment and expectations of the person taking them.
The Intensity of a Trip
The intensity of the trip from magic mushrooms depends on the amount taken and the type of mushrooms used. The strength and dose of active ingredient (psilocybin) in magic mushrooms varies by species, batch, and even where they are grown. The experience of taking magic mushrooms is often described as a ‘trip’ because of the way that experiences and sensations can change very rapidly.
A trip can be pleasurable or challenging, depending on how you feel about it while it’s happening. It may include some combination of the following:
- feelings of euphoria;
- feeling as if you’ve entered an alternate dimension or realm;
- intense feelings of joy or spiritual connectedness;
- sensory hallucinations that cause ordinary things to look different or appear unreal;
- vision changes, including seeing colors more vividly or seeing patterns in lights or objects.
Negative Side-Effects Or So-Called “Bad Trip”
A bad trip is a frightening and unpleasant experience triggered by psychoactive drugs, especially psychedelic drugs such as LSD and magic mushrooms. These substances alter a person’s perceptions and emotions. They can lead to feelings of bliss one moment and intense fear the next. They can cause a person to see or hear things that aren’t real. Bad trips are more common with hallucinogens than with other classes of drugs, like cocaine or opioids. However, bad trips can happen to anyone taking these substances. These experiences can cause people to feel like they’re losing control and going insane. People who report feeling like this generally believe that their minds were opened up in some way to the experience of another consciousness, which is sometimes described as being “outside of themselves.”
Are Magic Mushrooms Addictive?
To be truly addictive, though, a substance needs to cause some form of physical dependency as well. Psilocybin doesn’t have that effect — you’re going to have a difficult time physically detoxing from these mushrooms. That said, you can develop a psychological dependency on anything you enjoy doing. And because psilocybin can give you an intense euphoric high, there’s no doubt that some people develop an addiction to the experience of using them.Studies on the subject are limited because psilocybin is illegal in most places, so there’s no way to get permission to test it properly on human subjects. But there is evidence that suggests long-term use of magic mushrooms does cause changes in the brain that could lead to psychological dependence.
Psilocybin Mushroom Therapeutic Properties
The growing interest in psilocybin mushrooms is largely due to the research being done on their potential therapeutic properties. Numerous studies have indicated that psilocybin may be useful in treating certain kinds of mental illnesses by reducing symptoms, increasing well-being, and boosting mood. These conditions include:
- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD);
- cluster headaches.
The exact mechanism by which psilocybin produces these effects is not fully understood, but it is thought to work by interacting with serotonin receptors in the brain.
Psilocybin Mushrooms: Risks and Adverse Effects
As all substances that modify perception, psilocybin mushrooms can pose certain risks. These range from physiological risks associated with the substance itself, to psychological risks associated with the experience of altered perceptions. Some of the more common risks associated with psilocybin mushrooms include:
- nausea and vomiting;
- increased heart rate;
- increased blood pressure;
- muscle weakness;
In addition to these physical risks, there is also the potential for psychological effects associated with psilocybin mushrooms. These can include:
It is important to note that while these risks are associated with psilocybin mushrooms, they are not necessarily experienced by everyone who uses them. The severity of the risks will also vary from person to person. Some people may only experience mild symptoms, while others may have a more severe reaction.
Are Psilocybin Mushrooms Legal?
Psilocybin mushrooms are illegal in the United States and many other countries. They are listed as a Schedule I drug, which means they are considered to have a high potential for abuse and no recognized medical use. In fact, psilocybin mushrooms have been used for thousands of years in rites of healing and renewal. They can be found growing wild in many parts of the world, or cultivated through home-based techniques. However, in Oregon and some other cities, the psilocybin mushrooms can be used in therapies. They are still illegal by federal law.
Should Psilocybin Mushroom Remain Illegal?
Some people believe that they should remain illegal due to their potential for abuse, while others believe that their legal status should be reconsidered in light of their potential medical benefits. There is no doubt, however, that these mushrooms are one of the most fascinating and controversial substances that grow naturally on the planet. It is important to note that while psilocybin mushrooms are illegal in the United States, they can have legal benefits in other parts of the world. There is a growing movement to have the legal status of psilocybin mushrooms reconsidered, and it is an issue that is sure to continue to be debated.
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