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Psychedelic mushroom

Drugs & Medication

Psychedelic mushroom

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A handful of freshly picked Psilocybe semilanceata, sometimes referred to as Liberty Caps.
A handful of freshly picked Psilocybe semilanceata, sometimes referred to as Liberty Caps.

Psychedelic mushrooms are fungi that contain psychedelic substances, such as psilocybin, psilocin, or muscimol. The most common colloquial terms for psychedelic mushrooms are magic mushrooms, boomers,[1] or just 'shrooms, though there are many more.



Psilocybe cyanescens, referred to sometimes as Wavy Caps.
Psilocybe cyanescens, referred to sometimes as Wavy Caps.

Psychedelic mushrooms can be divided into two groups: the psilocybin-bearing mushrooms, found primarily in the Psilocybe genus, and the muscimol-containing mushroom Amanita muscaria.

Psilocybe mushrooms contain psilocybin and/or psilocin, psychedelic tryptamines that are structurally similar to serotonin, a strong regulator of mood, state of mind, and consciousness. Several species of Psilocybe also contain the alkaloid baeocystin, which is a demethylated derivative of psilocybin. Other genera that contain psilocybin include Conocybe, Copelandia, Gymnopilus, Inocybe and Panaeolus.

Amanita muscaria, or Fly Agaric, contains many entheogenic elements, most notably muscimol, but also including muscazone, ibotenic acid and muscarine. It produces a much different experience compared to a Psilocybe mushroom. This mushroom is toxic in large doses, as ibotenic acid and muscazone can cause unpleasant side-effects such as nausea or even permanent damage, although there are very few fatalities caused by Amanita muscaria. Recreational users who wish to consume the Amanita muscaria often heat dry or cook the mushrooms, as the high temperature is believed to reduce negative effects by converting ibotenic acid into muscimol.


Various cultures throughout the ages have used psychedelic fungi for shamanistic and other purposes; rock paintings in the Sahara of mushroom effigies date back to 7000 BCE.

Mesoamerican mushroom stones of the pre-classic Mayans representing deified mushrooms date back to approximately 500 BCE, Psilocybin mushrooms were a revered tradition in native Central American cultures at the time of the European invasion, and have been in continuous use up to the present. Named teonanácatl ("flesh of the gods") in Nahuatl, they may have been employed for healing, divination and for intercession with spirits. Since the beginning of the Latin American colonial era, their use has been hidden due to persecution by the Christian church, which branded all native religious practices, especially those employing entheogenic sacraments, as "pagan".

A mushroom of the Amanita muscaria variety, colloquially known as Fly Agaric. A quizzical strain, it has been known to cause delirious effects when taken in high doses.
A mushroom of the Amanita muscaria variety, colloquially known as Fly Agaric. A quizzical strain, it has been known to cause delirious effects when taken in high doses.

Some scholars believe that Soma, the drink mentioned in Vedic literature, was derived from psychedelic mushrooms; R. Gordon Wasson suggests that this was amanita muscaria, which is known to have been used in Siberian shamanism. That Nordic Vikings may have used fly-agaric to produce their berserker rages was first suggested by the Swedish professor Samual Ödman in 1784. Ödman based his theory on reports about the use of fly-agaric among Siberian shamans. The notion has become widespread since the 19th century, but no contemporary sources mention this use or anything similar in their description of berserkers. Today, it is generally considered an unproven speculation.

According to the BBC, the first documented use of psychedelic mushrooms was in the Medical and Physical Journal: In 1799, a man who had been picking mushrooms for breakfast in London's Green Park included them in his harvest, accidentally sending his entire family on a trip. The doctor who treated them later described how the youngest child "was attacked with fits of immoderate laughter, nor could the threats of his father or mother refrain him."

In 1957, amateur mycologist R. Gordon Wasson published an article for Life describing his experiences with psilocybin mushrooms while a guest in the rituals of the Mazatec shaman Maria Sabina in a mountain village in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. His account triggered a wave of experimentation with these mushrooms which resulted in their eventual classification in the United States as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

The introduction of westerners into the previously secret rites was later rued by Maria Sabina: "From the moment the foreigners arrived, the 'holy children' (a Mazatec euphemism for the mushrooms, which are otherwise not named directly) lost their purity. They lost their force, they ruined them. Henceforth they will no longer work. There is no remedy for it."


As with many psychoactive substances, the effects of any mushrooms consumed are subjective and unpredictable. Generally speaking, the experience of psilocybin containing mushrooms lasts four to six hours or more. The effect is typically inwardly oriented, with strong visual and auditory components. Visions and revelations may be experienced, and the effect can range from exhilarating to distraught. There can be also a total absence of effects, even with large doses.

A single dried mushroom of one of the common Psilocybe cubensis variety. When bruised, it will often turn a bluish or purplish color; however, this does not mean a foolproof identification for psychoactivity.
A single dried mushroom of one of the common Psilocybe cubensis variety. When bruised, it will often turn a bluish or purplish color; however, this does not mean a foolproof identification for psychoactivity.

The effects of mushrooms are strongly dependent upon set and setting. The Mazatecs purify themselves before a velada (or "vision quest") by abstaining from meat, eggs, alcohol and sex for four days. The veladas are always done in the dark, in a protected and sealed space which no one may enter or leave until all have regained their composure. Modern psychonauts often speak of "packing for the trip", by which is meant a loading of information into the brain prior to "departure", for example, by reading a philosophical writing or watching natural history or science documentaries in the days immediately prior to a planned experience. Experienced users find that there are ways of adjusting their environment to enhance their trip.

There have been calls for medical investigation of the use of psilocybin-containing mushrooms for the treatment of chronic cluster headaches, following numerous anecdotal reports of benefits.[2]


Physical effects are all related to how many mushrooms are consumed. Low doses exhibit effects along the lines of feelings of relaxation or peace, a feeling of heaviness or lightness, and loss of appetite.[3] Higher doses cause numerous effects like a feeling of coldness in some users, numbness of the mouth and adjacent features, nausea, weakness in the limbs (making locomotion difficult), excessive yawning which usually occurs during the come-up, swollen features, pupil dilation, and stiffness in points of the body, often the result of the users staying in awkward positions because of their inability to accurately judge the flow of time and their level of fatigue.


As with many hallucinogens, the sensory effects are often the most dramatic of the experience. Most general doses cause a noticeable enhancement and contrasting of worldly colors, surfaces that seem to ripple, shimmer, or breathe, and some visual hallucinations.[1] Heavy experiences cause complex open and closed eye visuals, objects that warp, morph, or change solid colors (juxtaposed with the free-flowing and changing colors of LSD), a sense of melding into the environment, trails, and auditory hallucinations. Natural and artificial sounds seem to be heard with increased clarity; music, for example, can often take on a profound sense of cadence and depth. Intriguingly, some users speak about the feeling of their senses overlapping or synesthesia, a rather interesting experience wherein it causes, for example, a visualization of color upon hearing a particular sound. Unusual natural designs, such as wood grain, seem to flow like rivers and finer details are noticed more sharply. Interesting textures can be quite stimulating to some users.


Feelings of euphoric bliss, relaxation, peace, wonder, anxiety, or fear have all been reported.[4] A childlike sense of intrigue about the world on common doses is contrasted with cosmic revelations and perceptions of a "higher power" on large amounts. Some users may experience intense episodes of hilarity, such as laughing for the duration of the psychedelic experience.[1] Emotions can be experienced with increased sensitivity. Heavier trips carry the increased possibility of a surreal event known as ego death, whereby the user loses the sense of boundaries between their self and the environment, creating a sort of perceived universal unity. Also, anxiety and paranoia are possible and if they become severe enough they could culminate into a bad trip. However, this can be easily offset by being in a comfortable place.


Mushrooms cause the mind to conduct itself in an unusual manner. Abstract thoughts develop and are often difficult to explain to others correctly. An intricate thought pattern becomes apparent, climaxing in deep philosophical or introspective silence. Complex personal issues may be taken on full force by more experienced users, helping them arrive at a conclusion and make an appropriate change to their lifestyle. During this process, a user may also gain a new perspective on a thought they've held for years. The mind seems to flow more lucidly from idea to idea, making such things as improvisation easier. The natural filters of the mind are bypassed, causing a large increase in mental stimulation and creativity. Time dilation has been reported, with minutes and seconds taking an unusually large amount of time to pass. There may also be some indecisiveness in deciding what to do or get. Some people find that they experience stimulation of the verbal faculties (such as speech and singing), a phenomenon known as glossolalia, experimenting with phonetics like vowels, consonants, or click consonants


Dosage of psilocybin mushrooms depends on the total psilocybin and psilocin content of the mushrooms, which varies significantly both between species and within the same species, but is typically around 0.5-2% of the dried weight of the mushroom. A typical dose of the rather common species, Psilocybe cubensis, is approximately 1 to 3 grams, corresponding with 10 to 30 milligrams psilocybin and psilocin, while about 3 to 5 grams dried material or 30 to 50 milligrams of psilocybin/psilocin is considered a heavy dose. Mushrooms are approximately 90% water, though dosages for fresh mushrooms are not 10 times higher as some of the psilocybin and much of the psilocin are lost from oxidation in the drying process.

Legal status

In many countries, psilocybin and psilocin containing mushrooms are illegal. This is because these substances are controlled by the UN convention on psychotropic substances of 1971. The mushrooms themselves are not listed as a controlled substance. Nonetheless, there is an active international trade both in mushrooms and in spores, which can be grown in sterile medium. Fly Agaric is not a controlled substance in most countries. The new drugs act of 2005 has been changed so that now "magic mushrooms" are a class A drug. Possession can get you a seven year sentence and/or an unlimited fine. Supplying or dealing can get you life in jail and an unlimited fine.

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, magic mushrooms can be obtained in "smart shops" which specialise in ethnobotanicals. Magic mushrooms, whether dried or fresh were legal until 2001, when the Supreme Court of The Netherlands ruled dry mushrooms to be an illegal preparation of psilocybin and psilocin. The limitation to fresh mushrooms (which go bad quite fast) is severely reducing the export of magic mushrooms. In a series of court cases during 2003-2005 this was challenged by De Sjamaan, a Dutch mushroom wholesaler. The vice president of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) of the UN testified to the court that the UN does not see dried or prepared psilocybe mushrooms as a controlled substance. Explanation: Psilocybe mushrooms are not listed as controlled substances, therefore preparations are also not controlled. Preparations of the controlled substances psilocybin and psilocin (i.e. tablets, etc) are controlled. Various mushroom experts have testified that there is no way to see the difference between passively and actively dried mushrooms. The court decided to agree to other viewpoints of De Sjamaan in order not to touch the subject of the UN's stance. The court also decided not to publish the testimony of the vice president of the INCB. The high court ruled that:

- there is no definition in regards to water content, which differentiates between a dry mushroom and a fresh mushroom. - passively dried mushrooms (natural desiccation) are legal. - a police-officer is not skilled to differentiate between a fresh and dry mushroom.


Mushroom spore kits are legal and are sold openly in stores as the spores themselves are not illegal. However, production, sale and possession of psilocybin mushrooms is illegal.

A large batch of the Psilocybe semilanceata (Liberty Cap) variety.
A large batch of the Psilocybe semilanceata (Liberty Cap) variety.


Before 2002, psilocybin mushrooms were widely available in Japan, often sold in mail-order shop, online vendor and "smart shops" similar to those of the Netherlands. In June 2002, Japan Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry added psilocybin mushrooms to Schedule Narcotics (similar to U.S. Schedule I of Controlled Substances Act) of Narcotic and Psychotropic Drug Control Law (similar to U.S. Controlled Substances Act). Use, production, trafficking, growing, possession, botanizing of psilocybin mushrooms is now illegal in Japan. However, muscimol-containing mushrooms such as Amanita muscaria are still not controlled in Japan, probably due to its notorious difficulty in obtaining a psychedelic experience.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, psilocybin mushrooms are class A drugs, putting them in the highest class of illicit compounds along with heroin and LSD. They do not have to be prepared in any way for possession to be illegal.

Republic of Ireland

Until 31 January, 2006, unprepared psilocybin mushrooms were legal in the Republic of Ireland. On that date they were made illegal by a ministerial order. This decision was partly based on the death of well-known Dubliner Colm Hodkinson, age 33, at a Halloween party on 30th October 2005, who died after jumping off of a balcony after consuming legally purchased magic mushrooms.[5]

United Kingdom

As of 18 July 2005, both dried and "prepared" (that is, made into a tea) psilocybin mushrooms were made illegal in the United Kingdom. Prior to this date, fresh mushrooms were widely available (even in city centre shops), but Clause 21 of the Drugs Bill 2005 made fresh psychedelic mushrooms ("fungi containing psilocin"), a Class A drug. However, mushrooms spores are not illegal, due to the fact they do not carry psilocin until they are cultivated.

United States of America

In the United States, possession of psilocybin-containing mushrooms is illegal because they contain the Schedule I drugs psilocin and psilocybin. Spores, however, which do not contain psychoactive chemicals, are only explicitly illegal in California, Idaho, and Georgia. In the state of Florida, fresh or unprepared psilocybin mushrooms that grow wild are legal to possess.

In all states, except possibly New Mexico, growing psilocybin-containing mushrooms from spores is considered manufacture of a controlled substance. In New Mexico, on June 15, 2005, the New Mexico appeals court ruled that growing psilocybin mushrooms for personal use is not manufacture of a controlled substance.[6]

Drug trade


It is not difficult to cultivate Psilocybe mushrooms (esp. Psilocybe cubensis). The legal availability of spores and mycelium varies by country and state. Most of the other supplies needed for mushroom cultivation (mason jars, potting supplements, rye, brown rice flour) are easily obtained. One can also purchase kits through the mail or Internet that include everything one needs for personal growing. These grow kits are often used by amateur growers, with varying rates of success and yields; contamination of the supplies is a common problem.


Because mushrooms can be grown indoors (namely Psilocybe cubensis and Panaeolus cyanescens), they are generally grown within the same national borders as they are sold. There have been few high-profile cases of mushroom producers and traffickers being caught or prosecuted.

While mushrooms may be distributed by organized crime, more often they are moved by informal affiliations of acquaintances and fellow users, and do not often travel long distances. They are sold in plastic bags containing either whole dried or powdered, sometimes crushed, fungi, and are generally sold by weight. They are sometimes incorporated into chocolate or baked into brownies, cakes, or muffins. The typical price for an ounce of dried mushrooms can range from as little as 70$ to 400$ depending on the quality of the product, as well as their availability in the area. The quality of the product is generally about the same, varying only as can be expected with a non-synthetic psychedelics. The major factor in the quality of this drug is how well they have been stored, with well dried whole mushrooms kept in cool dark places being ideal. Contaminated grows yield poor quality, possibly toxic mushrooms. One should be extremely cautious of any mushrooms which have unusual growths or mold, as well as any mushrooms which may have been harvested from the same grow as mushrooms with these growths.

The potency of mushrooms can vary greatly depending on the growing conditions, and buyers of this and any other drug run the risk of ingesting a poisonous, mis-identified species, or being cheated by substitutions or cutting of the mushrooms with other, non-psychedelic varieties, or by non-psychedelic varieties laced with other psychedelics, most often LSD.


While growing psychedelic mushrooms in a controlled environment is generally considered easier and safer than searching for them in the wild, such mushrooms can be found in places like farms, parks, and stables.

Amanita muscaria

Amanita muscaria can be easily confused by the layperson with Amanita pantherina as well as other toxic Amanitas. Misidentified Amanitas are the cause of 95% of fatal mushroom poisonings. For this reason, extreme caution should be used when attempting to identify an Amanita muscaria for ingestion.

Recreational use of these mushrooms is limited in spite of the fact that they are legal to buy/sell in most areas. Most users only eat the mushrooms once or twice due to their unpleasant side effects and the tendency for a recreational user to try too much causing very harsh side effects. Light doses (1 – 3 grams dried) are described to be similar to alcohol and a very 'social buzz'. Higher doses (9+ grams dried) have been described as having the flu along with delirium usually accompanied with vomiting and stomach discomfort.

See also

  • Ergot, another form of psychoactive fungus


  1. ^ a b c Cynthia Kuhn, Scott Swartzwelder, and Wilkie Wilson. Hallucinogens (pg. 83) from Buzzed: The Straight Facts about the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy (W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 1998 & 2003). ISBN 0-393-32493-1.
  2. ^ Hallucinogens from Retrieved date unknown.
  3. ^ Physical Effects of Mushrooms from Retrieved on 2006-10-01.
  4. ^ Mushroom effects from Retrieved on 2006-09-23.
  5. ^ Man jumped to death after taking magic mushrooms from the Irish Examiner. Retrieved date unknown.
  6. ^ Growing hallucinogenic mushrooms not illegal, state appeals court rules from the Free New Mexican. Retrieved date unknown.


  • R. Gordon Wasson, The Wondrous Mushroom: Mycolatry in Mesoamerica
  • Alvaro Estrada, Maria Sabina: Her Life and Chants
  • Terence McKenna, Food of the Gods
  • Ole Högberg, Flugsvampen och människan. Section concerning the berserker myth is published online [1] (In Swedish and PDF format) ISBN 91-7203-555-2

Further reading

  • Nicholas, L. G, Ogame, Kerry (2006). Psilocybin Mushroom Handbook: Easy Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation. Quick American Archives. ISBN 0-932551-71-8.
  • Stamets, Paul (1993). Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 1-58008-175-4.
  • Stamets, Paul, Chilton, J.S. (1983). Mushroom Cultivator, The. Olympia: Agarikon Press. ISBN 0-9610798-0-0.
  • Stamets, Paul (1996). Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 0-9610798-0-0.
  • Kuhn, Cynthia, Swartzwelder, Scott; Wilson, Wilkie (1998 & 2003). Buzzed: The Straight Facts about the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc. ISBN 0-393-32493-1.

External links

Home | Up | Agaricales | Amanita muscaria | Ayahuasca | Ergot | Morning glory | Nicotiana rustica | Peyote | Psychedelic mushroom | Soma | Tobacco

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


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