Psilocybin is a mind-bending substance that people consume from certain types of mushrooms that grow in parts of Europe, South America, Mexico and the United States.
Psilocybin-containing mushrooms are known as magic mushrooms.
Psilocybin is a controlled Schedule I substance, meaning that it has a high potential for misuse and does not support any legitimate medical purpose.
It is used by individuals as a recreational drug. It causes feelings of euphoria and sensory distortion that are common to hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD.
While medical organizations do not consider psilocybin to be an addictive substance, users may experience disturbing hallucinations, anxiety and panic as a result of using the drug.
Psilocybin Quick Facts
- Psilocybin has physical and psychological effects that are both positive and negative.
- Psilocybin is completely addictive by nature.
- It can trigger psychotic episodes.
- Patients with a family history of schizophrenia or early mental illness face an increased risk of psychiatric adverse reactions to psilocybin.
What is Psilocybin?
Psilocybin is a common natural hallucinogen.
Psilocybin is a hallucinogen that works through activation of serotonin receptors, mostly in the prefrontal cortex. Brain receptors affect mood, cognition and perception.
Hallucinogens work in other areas of the brain that regulate arousal and panic reactions. Psilocybin may not always cause active visual or auditory hallucinations. Rather, it distorts the way some people who use the drug perceive objects and people already in their environment.
Medication quantity, past experiences, and expectations about how the actual experience will unfold can all have an impact on the effects of psilocybin.
After psilocybin is ingested and absorbed by the gut, the body converts it to psilocyn. Hallucinogenic effects of psilocybin usually occur within 30 minutes of taking psilocybin and last for 4 to 6 hours.
For some people, changes in sensory perception and thought patterns may last for several days.
Mushrooms containing psilocybin are tiny and usually brown or ochre in colour. In nature, individuals often confuse psilocybin-containing mushrooms with a number of other toxic mushrooms.
Commonly, people drink psilocybin in the form of brewed tea or prepare it with food to mask its bitter taste. Producers also crush dried mushrooms into powder and prepare them in capsule form. Sometimes people who eat these mushrooms cover them with chocolate.
The potency of a mushroom depends on:
- The species
- Growth conditions
- Perio harvest
- Whether a person eats them fresh or dried
- Amount of active ingredients in dried mushrooms is about 10 times higher than the amount found in their fresh counterparts.
Areas of use
In the US, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) have suggested that between 2009 and 2015, approximately 8.5% of people reported using psilocybin at some point in their lives.
When people use psilocybin, it is usually in dance clubs or in certain groups of people seeking a transcendent spiritual experience.
In medical settings, doctors have tested psilocybin for use in the treatment of cluster headaches, anxiety related to terminal cancer, depression and other anxiety disorders.
But scientists have questioned its effectiveness and safety as a therapeutic measure.
Psilocybin Street Names
The drug dealers rarely sell psilocybin under its real name. Rather, the drug may be sold as:
- magic mushrooms
- baby boomers
- Simple Simon
- little smoke
- sacred mushrooms
- passion violet
- mushroom soup
It can distort reality and have an impact on mental health.
In general, the effects of psilocybin are similar to those of LSD.
These effects include altered perception of time and space and intense changes in mood and feeling.
Potential effects of psilocybin include:
- Spiritual awakening
- quickly change emotions
- the derealization or feeling that your environment is not real
- depersonalization, or a dreamlike feeling of being disengaged from your environment
- distorted thinking
- visual alteration and distortion, such as halos of light and vivid colors
- dilated pupils
- altered concentration
- muscle weakness
- lack of coordination
- unusual bodily sensations
- frightening hallucinations
Each person’s effects of psilocybin vary, depending on the user’s mental state and personality and the immediate environment.
Recreational users who experience mental health problems or anxiety about using the hallucinogen are at greater risk of having a bad experience.
The most commonly reported adverse event following recreational use of psilocybin is psychological distress. This may take the form of extreme anxiety or short-term psychosis.
Psilocybin as a Treatment for Depression
There are discussions about whether psychologists can use psilocybin and similar hallucinogens to treat depression.
Very recent studies have looked at psilocybin as a treatment. In one study, the ability of psilocybin to reduce the symptoms of depression without blunting emotions was examined, and the other explored the relationship between positive therapeutic outcomes and the nature of psilocybin-induced hallucinations.
Some researchers are investigating some therapeutic uses of psilocybin, however, they still consider psilocybin to be dangerous and illegal.
Patients who have taken psilocybin in non-controlled situations may engage in reckless behaviour, such as drinking and driving.
Some people may also experience persistent and distressing alterations in the way they view the world. Such effects are often visual and can last from a few weeks to several years after using the hallucinogen.
This condition is now diagnosed by doctors as persistent hallucinogenic perception disorder (PPD), also known as flashback. A flashback is a traumatic recall of an extremely upsetting experience. The recollection of this upsetting experience when using hallucinogens would be a bad trip, or a hallucination that takes a disturbing turn.
Sometimes people experience more unpleasant effects than hallucinations, such as fear, agitation, confusion, delirium, psychosis and syndromes that resemble schizophrenia, requiring a trip to the emergency room.
Most often, a doctor will treat these effects with medications, such as benzodiazepines. Such effects often disappear within 6 to 8 hours as the effects of the medication wear off.
Lastly, while the risk is low, there are some psilocybin users who risk accidental poisoning by accidentally eating a poisonous mushroom.
Mushroom poisoning symptoms may include muscle spasms, confusion and delirium. You should visit an emergency room immediately if these symptoms occur.
These symptoms may include muscle spasms, confusion and delirium. Due to the fact that hallucinogenic and other poisonous mushrooms are common in most living environments, a person should regularly remove all mushrooms from areas where children are regularly present to avoid accidental consumption.
The most common accidental ingestion of mushrooms leads to minor gastrointestinal illness, with only the most serious cases requiring medical attention.