Psilocybin/psilocin containing hallucinogenic or psychedelic “Magic Mushrooms”
Mushrooms such as Liberty Caps Psilocybe semilanceata which contain psilocybin and psilocin take effect 10 to 30 minutes after being consumed, and these effects last for 4 to 5 hours, or somewhat longer with large amounts. About one gram of dried mushrooms is a common recreational dose. The intensity and length of effects depend on the amount consumed.
The first sign of activity is a brief period of yawning, rapidly followed by a sense of exhilaration, euphoria with a tendency toward being introspective and meditative, inability to concentrate, uncontrollable laughter, confusion, visual hallucinations involving colours and shapes and also the senses of sound and touch, and distortion of time and space perception. Pupils are dilated. There is often muscle weakness and difficulty in walking. Rapid heartbeat and increased blood pressure can occur especially in cases of a panic reaction.
Young children react differently to magic mushrooms than adults do, and may develop high fevers and convulsions. In at least one case this has caused death.
Set and Setting
Hallucinations may be enjoyable or frightening depending on the setting, dose and person involved. The major factor in determining whether a person is likely to have a bad trip is the person as an individual. Psilocybin mushrooms do not create emotional events, but only enhance the existing personality characteristics and emotional state of the user. They may precipitate an underlying psychosis but do not cause it. If a person is experiencing serious difficulties of a psychological or emotional nature or is in a state of anxiety when they do magic mushrooms, a bad trip is likely to result. At the best of times hallucinogens are a way to explore the psyche and emotions, not to avoid or escape them.
The other major influence in determining the outcome of a mushroom trip is the setting in which it occurs. Traditional use of hallucinogens was in contexts of ceremony and ritual, traditions that defined and controlled the purpose and outcome of the medicine. Natural hallucinogens have been described in many aboriginal cultures as “sacred medicine” which must be honoured and used appropriately, supervised by the elders according to traditions – use outside of this is cultural/drug abuse.
Modern recreational use of mushrooms often occurs in situations that are uncontrolled and unpredictable. Many problems result when they are eaten without planning on the “spur of the moment”, just because they happen to be available or are offered; especially in party situations where alcohol and other drugs are also being consumed. Mushrooms are sometimes added to food and drinks or disguised as chocolates, and may be consumed by accident.
When wild mushrooms are gathered and eaten there is always a risk of serious poisoning if a deadly mushroom is mistakenly consumed. With the magic mushrooms this is especially of concern because several little brown mushrooms (LBMs) that contain dangerous toxins closely resemble Psilocybe mushrooms.
Wild magic mushrooms have largely been replaced by cultivated Psilocybe cubensis, a tropical or subtropical mushroom which is easy to grow indoors. Now magic mushrooms are available year-round often in the form of chocolates or other edibles.
Availability of cultivated magic mushrooms eliminates the danger of mistaking poisonous species for wild magic mushrooms. Unfortunately, other problems have emerged from mushrooms incorporated into chocolates or other edible food products. There may not be good information about dosage or how much to eat for a desired effect, they may be accidently eaten by people unaware of the special contents or by pets or toddlers, and edible products might be prepared with inadequate hygiene for food safety. There is also a possibility of accidental or malicious contamination of black market mushroom products with dangerous opioids or other undesirable or noxious drugs and substances.
Legally sanctioned medical research into possible therapeutic uses of psilocybin mushrooms has resumed after a hiatus of more than four decades. Hallucinogens are once again being investigated as potentially useful agents for treating post-traumatic stress disorders, depression, chronic pain, alcoholism and addiction to hard drugs, as well as other psychological and neurological medical conditions. Especially promising is research among terminal cancer patients dealing with anxiety over death and dying.
Recreational use of magic mushrooms has been common for more than four decades and millions of people have tried them. Most people consider these experiences to have a positive influence in their personal development. When used with respect and careful deliberation the magic mushrooms can be powerful agents for positive personal growth, but when used casually and without care they may be fraught with risks.
Please take care.
By Paul Kroeger. Updated March 6, 2018.