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Psilocybin is the active compound found in psilocybin mushrooms, also called shrooms or magic mushrooms. Psilocybin is a psychedelic drug that affects the mind and can cause hallucinations, altered thinking patterns, and sensations of time distortion. The psilocin molecule contains a chemical structure similar to psilocybin with some small changes to the molecular structure including not having a phosphate group attached to psilocybin’s indole ring, indole being an organic compound that forms a dual ringed structure at the molecular level. To learn more about the structure of the psilocybin molecule please read on.
What are magic mushrooms?
Psilocybin mushrooms were first used in ancient times for their spiritual effects and in religious ceremonies. Today psilocybin-containing mushrooms are predominantly a recreational drug, to alter the way the mind perceives the world around us, or as an entheogen meaning a substance used in a spiritual setting. There have been some clinical trials and studies for use in medicine, particularly with helping addiction and depression. Psilocybin has been illegal since 1971 but is still commonly found since it is a classic psychedelic drug. The most common species of psilocybin mushroom is Psilocybe cubensis, or P. cubensis, although psilocybin is found in other species of mushrooms of the genus Psilocybe like Psilocybe azurescens, Psilocybe semilanceata, Psilocybe copelandia, and Psilocybe cyanescens.
Magic mushrooms are mushrooms that contain psilocybin. They are hallucinogenic drugs that cause the user to experience altered thinking patterns, sensations of time distortion, and hallucinations. These psilocybin molecules can be ingested by eating, drinking, or taking psilocybin mushroom capsules or pills. When you take magic mushrooms it is called “shrooming” or “tripping” with tripping also being applied to the effects of any other psychedelic substance.
What are the effects of magic mushrooms?
The psilocybin molecule has been known to cause a variety of different psychedelic effects on its user depending on how much psilocybin is used and what kind of environment they’re in. If a low dosage is taken then most users will feel pleasantly relaxed, more aware of their senses including sight and sound, auditory hallucinations, have a greater appreciation for music or art, feel emotionally connected to others around them, become more in tune with the natural world, and have a more vivid sense of colors. If psilocybin is taken in higher doses then the psilocybin user has a higher chance for adverse effects which include feeling nauseous, dizzy, or sickened by their surroundings. They may also experience feelings of anxiety or panic, extreme paranoia, and even psychosis. There are physical effects too such as pupil dilation, increased body temperature, and an increased heart rate to name a few.
To optimize your experience while tripping, we recommend that you are aware of your “set and setting” before your psychedelic experience. This means that you make sure you are in the right mindset for tripping and that you are comfortable with your surroundings, both people and environment. If you are not in a positive mindset, your mental health is suffering, or you are not in a comfortable setting it is recommended that you do not take hallucinogenic mushrooms as you are more likely to have a negative experience. If you follow are aware of your set and setting and only take mushrooms when you are in the right mindset and environment, you will give yourself the best opportunity for a positive experience.
Psilocybin, psilocin and their molecular structures
Psilocybin is the hallucinogenic compound found in psilocybin mushrooms, or “magic mushrooms.” Psilocin, which is the active metabolite or something produced when your body breaks down chemicals, is also found in magic mushrooms but in much smaller amounts of psilocybin. When psilocybin is ingested, your body breaks it down into the much less stable psychedelic compound of psilocin. This means that psilocybin is the prodrug of psilocin or the precursor chemical that gets broken down by the body to produce the active compound psilocin.
Psilocybin and psilocin are indole compounds that bind to serotonin receptors in the brain. This binding can lead to an altered state of consciousness for its user. Psilocin is the psilocybin molecule without a phosphate group attached and an added hydroxyl group.
How does psilocybin affect the brain?
Psilocybin works by acting as a serotonin receptor agonist, or a substance that induces a response from the body when it binds with a receptor. The neurotransmitter serotonin is one of the brain’s main neurotransmitter chemicals and psilocybin stimulates its receptors, which can lead to many psychological effects. psilocybin’s effect on the brain is similar to that of other hallucinogenic drugs like LSD or mescaline. You can expect to start feeling the effects of psilocybin within 15 minutes to an hour after taking them and the trip usually lasts 4 to 6 hours.
Are there any adverse effects to taking psilocybin mushrooms?
There are some adverse effects that we described above as bad trips do occur. These include paranoia, panic, fear, delusion, and even drug-induced psychosis in severe cases. There also is a risk of long-term adverse effects such as flashbacks and hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, or HPPD, but are not common. Flashbacks occur when you are taken back to an experience of tripping while you are not on the drug. HPPD refers to visual disturbances in your field of vision when you are not on the drug.
You may also develop a tolerance for shrooms if you take them often. You can reset your tolerance by stopping the frequency you take mushrooms. Since mushrooms are not physically addicting, most people stop taking them of their own volition.
Just because mushrooms are not physically addicting, it does not mean that they can not be psychologically addicting. Psychological addiction refers to being addicted to something not because your body tells you that it wants it, but because you feel the need to take it in certain situations and recapture certain feelings. If you feel you are psychologically addicted it is recommended that you remove yourself from any triggering circumstances and stop taking psilocybin.
Magic mushrooms are a psychedelic drug that involves ingesting mushrooms with the chemical psilocybin. When you take magic mushrooms there is a range of hallucinogenic effects with the most common being euphoria, auditory or visual hallucinations, and a distorted sense of time. There are negative effects too, including paranoia, fear, and panic. The physiological effects include pupil dilation, increased heart rate, and increased body temperature. This is why it is important to be aware of your set and setting before tripping, meaning you should only trip when you have a healthy mindset and in a comfortable environment around people you trust. Psilocybin and psilocin are very similar and both are in magic mushrooms. Psilocybin, when ingested, breaks down into psilocin. Psilocin is also very unstable in the environment and degrades at a much faster rate. Both molecules are indole hallucinogens that trick the brain receptors into thinking they are serotonin. Psilocybin is different on a molecular level than psilocin because it also has a phosphate group attached to it while psilocin does not; however, psilocin does have a hydroxyl group attached. We hope this article helps you understand the molecule psilocybin and its effects on us. Should you have any further questions, please check out the other articles on our site.
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Fact Checked and Editorial Process
The Magical Mushroom is devoted to producing expert and accurate articles and information for our readers by tapping into psychedelic users, experts, journalists, and growing community. We encourage you to read more about our content, editing, and fact checking methods here. This was fact checked by Chris Riley.
Owner, entrepreneur, enthusiast of natural medicine