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What is Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms)?
Psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine) and psilocin are chemical compounds obtained from certain types of dried or fresh hallucinogenic mushrooms found in Mexico, South America and the southern and northwest regions of the United States. Psilocybin is classified as an indole-alkylamine (tryptamine). These compounds have similar structure to lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and are abused for their hallucinogenic and euphoric effects to produce a “trip”. Hallucinogenic (psychedelic) effects are probably due to action on central nervous system serotonin (5-HT) receptors.
There are over 180 species of mushrooms that contain the chemicals psilocybin or psilocin. Like the peyote (mescaline), hallucinogenic mushrooms have been used in native or religious rites for centuries. Both psilocybin and psilocin can also be produced synthetically in the lab. There have been reports that psilocybin bought on the streets can actually be other species of mushrooms laced with LSD.
“Magic Mushrooms” have long, slender stems which may appear white or greyish topped by caps with dark gills on the underside. Dried mushrooms are usually a reddish rust brown color with isolated areas of off-white. Mushrooms are ingested orally and may be made into a tea or mixed into other foods. The mushrooms may be used as fresh or dried product. Psilocybin has a bitter, unpalatable taste.
A “bad trip”, or a unpleasant or even terrifying experience, may occur with any dose of psilocybin. In general, dried mushrooms contain about 0.2% to 0.4% psilocybin and only trace amounts of psilocin. The typical dose of psilocybin used for recreational purposes varies, with peak effects occurring in 1 to 2 hours, and lasting for about six hours.
Dose and effects can vary considerably depending upon mushroom type, method of preparation, and tolerance of the individual. It can be difficult to determine the exact species of mushroom or how much hallucinogen each mushroom contains. Initial smaller doses and a longer period of time to determine the effects may be a safer option if you choose to use psilocybin for recreational purposes.
Psilocybin effects are similar to those of other hallucinogens, such as mescaline from peyote or LSD. The psychological reaction to psilocybin use include visual and auditory hallucinations and an inability to discern fantasy from reality. Panic reactions and psychosis also may occur, particularly if large doses of psilocybin are ingested.
Hallucinogens that interfere with the action of the brain chemical serotonin may alter:
- sensory perception
- body temperature
- sexual behavior
- muscle control
Are Mushrooms Legal in the U.S.?
Psilocybin is a Schedule I substance under the federal DEA’s Controlled Substances Act, which is defined as a substance with a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S., and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.