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Psilocybin

Drugs & Medication

Psilocybin

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Psilocybin
General
Systematic name 4-Phosphoryloxy-N,N-
dimethyl-tryptamine
Molecular formula C12H17N2O4P
SMILES C[N+](C)([H])CCC1=CNC2=
 

C1C(OP([O-])(O)=O)=CC=C2

Molar mass 284.25 g/mol
CAS number [520-52-5]
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)

Psilocybin (also known as psilocybine), is a psychedelic alkaloid of the tryptamine family. It is present in many species of fungi, including those of the genus Psilocybe, such as Psilocybe cubensis and Psilocybe semilanceata, but also reportedly isolated from a dozen or so other genera. Psilocybin-containing mushrooms are commonly called magic mushrooms or simply "shrooms". Effects of psilocybin are comparable to LSD, but last for a shorter time, although intensity and duration vary depending on dosage, individual physiology, and set and setting.

Contents

Chemistry

Psilocybin is a prodrug that is converted into the pharmacologically active compound psilocin in the body by dephosphorylation. This chemical reaction takes place under strongly acidic conditions or enzymatically by phosphatases in the body. Psilocybin is a zwitterionic alkaloid that is soluble in water, moderately soluble in methanol and ethanol, and insoluble in most organic solvents.

Albert Hofmann was the first to recognize the importance and chemical structure of the pure compounds psilocybin and psilocin. Hoffmann was aided in this process by his willingness to ingest extracts isolated from Psilocybe. Hofmann's colleagues at the University of Delaware (who were receiving funding from a Central Intelligence Agency front company) were also trying to isolate the active principle, but were unsuccessful.[1]

Biology

Psilocybin is a naturally-occurring compound found in high concentrations in some species of Psilocybe and Panaeolus (collectively called "psilocybin mushrooms" or "psilocybian mushrooms"), and at low levels in a large number of species of the Agaricales. The spores of these mushrooms are completely free of both psilocybin and psilocin. The total potency varies greatly between species and even between specimens of one species in the same batch. Younger, smaller mushrooms are relatively higher in alkaloids and have a milder taste than larger, mature mushrooms. Mature mycelium contains some amount of psilocybin, which can be extracted with an acidic solution, usually of citric acid or ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Young mycelium (recently germinated from spores) does not contain appreciable amounts of alkaloids. Most species of hallucinogenic mushrooms also contain small amounts of the psilocybin analogs baeocystin and norbaeocystin. Many types of psilocybin mushrooms bruise blue when handled or damaged — this is due to the oxidization of active compounds and is most notable in mushrooms with a high psilocin content. Several other non-psychoactive (and in some cases toxic) mushrooms also bruise blue.

Pharmacology

Psilocybin is rapidly dephosphorylated in the body to psilocin which then acts as a partial agonist at the 5-HT2A serotonin receptor in the brain where it mimics the effects of serotonin (5-HT).

Medicine

Psilocybin has been studied as a treatment for several disorders. In the early 1960s, Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert ran the Harvard Psilocybin Project, carrying out a number of experiments concerning the use of psilocybin in the treatment of personality disorders and other uses in psychological counseling.

More recently, in the US, an FDA-approved study supported by Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) began in 2001 to study the effects of psilocybin on patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. MAPS has also proposed studying psilocybin's potential application for the treatment of cluster headaches based on anecdotal evidence presented to them by a group of cluster headache sufferers.

Toxicity

The toxicity of psilocybin is relatively low; when administered intravenously in rabbits, Psilocybin's LD50 is approximately 12.5mg/kg. In rats, the LD50 is 280mg/kg -- almost one and a half times that of caffeine.[1] Death from psilocybin intake alone is unknown at most recreational or medicinal levels.

The psilocybin content of psychoactive mushrooms is quite variable and depends on species, growth and drying conditions, and mushroom size, but averages around 5mg/g of dried mushroom, or 1mg/2g of fresh mushroom.

Effects

Psilocybin is absorbed through the lining of the mouth and stomach. Effects begin 20-45 minutes after ingestion of psilocybin-containing mushrooms, and last from 2-6 hours depending on dose, species, and individual metabolism. Typical recreational dosage is from 10-50mg Psilocybin, or approximately 2-5g dried mushroom.

The effects of psilocybin are often pleasant, even ecstatic, including a deep sense of connection to others, confusion, hilarity, and a general feeling of connection to nature and the universe. Difficult trips may occur when psychedelic compounds are taken in a non-supportive or inadequate environment, by an inexperienced person, or in an unexpectedly high dose.

At low doses, hallucinatory effects occur, including walls that seem to breathe, a vivid enhancement of colors and the animation of organic shapes. At higher doses, experiences tend to be less social and more entheogenic, often catalyzing intense spiritual experiences. For example, in the Marsh Chapel Experiment, which was run by a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School under the supervision of Timothy Leary, almost all of the graduate degree divinity student volunteers who received psilocybin reported profound religious experiences. (A brief video about the Marsh Chapel experiment can be viewed here.)

In 2006, a group of researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine led by Roland R Griffiths conducted an experiment assessing the degree of mystical experience and attitudinal effects of the psilocybin experience; this report was published in the journal Psychopharmacology. Thirty-six volunteers without prior experience with hallucinogens were given psilocybin and methylphenidate (Ritalin) in separate sessions, the methylphenidate sessions serving as a control and active placebo; the tests were double-blind, with neither the subject nor the administrator knowing which drug was being administered. The degree of mystical experience was measured using a questionnaire on mystical experience developed by Ralph W Hood; 61% of subjects reported a "complete mystical experience" after their psilocybin session, while only 13% reported such an outcome after their experience with methylphenidate. Two months after taking psilocybin, 79% of the participants reported moderately to greatly increased life satisfaction and sense of well-being. About 36% of participants also had a strong to extreme “experience of fear” or dysphoria (eg, a “bad trip”) at some point during the psilocybin session (which was not reported by any subject during the methylphenidate session), with about one-third of these (13% of the total) reporting that this dysphoria dominated the entire session. These negative effects were reported to be easily managed by the researchers and did not have a lasting negative effect on the subject’s sense of well-being. [2] [3] This research was widely covered in the major media outlets.[4]

A very small number of people are unusually sensitive to psilocybin's effects, where doses as little as 0.25 grams of dried Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms (normally a threshold dose of around 2 mg psilocybin) can result in effects usually associated with medium and high doses. Likewise, there are some people who require relatively high doses of psilocybin to gain low-dose effects. Individual brain chemistry and metabolism plays a large role in determining a person's response to psilocybin.

Psilocybin is metabolized mostly in the liver where it becomes psilocin. It is broken down by the enzyme monoamine oxidase. MAO inhibitors have been known to sustain the effects of psilocybin for longer periods of time; people who are taking an MAOI for a medical condition (or are seeking to potentiate the mushroom experience) should be careful.

Mental and physical tolerance to psilocybin builds and dissipates quickly. Taking psilocybin more than three or four times in a week (especially two days in a row) can result in diminished effects. Tolerance dissipates after a few days, so frequent users often keep doses spaced five to seven days apart to avoid the effect.

Adverse effects

The consumption may cause Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD).[2]

It is also possible that a user will take foolish risks, such as driving a vehicle, while under the influence of this or any other psychoactive compound.

Most other adverse effects come from contaminants.

Social and legal aspects

Psilocybin and psilocin are listed as Schedule I drugs under the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.[5] Schedule I drugs are illicit drugs that are claimed to have no known therapeutic benefit. Parties to the treaty are required to restrict use of the drug to medical and scientific research under strictly controlled conditions. Most national drug laws have been amended to reflect this convention (for example, the US Psychotropic Substances Act, the UK Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act), with possession and use of psilocybin and psilocin being prohibited under almost all circumstances, and often carrying severe legal penalties.

Possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms, including the bluing species of Psilocybe, is therefore prohibited by extension. However, in many national, state, and provincial drug laws, there is a great deal of ambiguity about the legal status of psilocybin mushrooms and the spores of these mushrooms, as well as a strong element of selective enforcement in some places. For more details on the legal status of psilocybin mushrooms and Psilocybe spores, see: Psilocybe: Social and legal aspects.

Because of the ease of cultivating psilocybin mushrooms or gathering wild species, purified psilocybin is practically nonexistent on the illegal drug market.

See also

References

  1. ^ NLM (click on "toxicity" on the left side)
  2. ^ Espiard ML. et al. (2005): "HPPD after psilocybin consumption: a case study.", Eur. Psychiatry 20(5-6):458-60. Abstract

2006 Johns Hopkins experiment

External links


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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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