These mushrooms are natural sources of psychedelic compounds that produce a mix of sensory experiences. The two major active ingredients are known as psilocybin and psilocin, and they enhance the senses and heighten emotions. These mushrooms can also produce hallucinations.
Usage of these mushrooms can be traced back to the Mesoamerican period, where natives used them for healing rituals. Fast forward to the 20th century, they became popular as a psychedelic drug.
Once eaten, these so-called “magic mushrooms” produce effects similar to those of LSD. A user’s perception is altered, making him see and hear things that may not be there. His vision would also be distorted, making objects around him seem to ripple and wave. The user may then feel extremely happy but also anxious.
Psilocybin mushrooms have a number of street names, such as boomers, caps, cubes, magic mushrooms, shrooms, silly cybin, and simple Simon.
If you’d like to know more about what psilocybin mushrooms are and their effects, here are some interesting facts about them.
1. Psilocybin mushrooms can be eaten raw
The simplest way to ingest this drug is by eating the mushrooms as they are. Other times, they are boiled with tea or combined with other substances like cannabis. Raw mushrooms taste bitter, so they are often made into a tea and mixed with sugar and other ingredients.
2. Psilocybin mushrooms can serve as remedies for some mental illnesses
In a 2008-2012 National Survey of Health and Drug Use, it was shown that small doses of psilocybin can minimize suicidal tendencies as well as help with depression, anxiety, and alcoholism. Additionally, more and more studies have been looking into using psilocybin and other hallucinogenic drugs to treat such mental disorders.
3. Dried mushrooms have 10 times more psilocybin than fresh ones
While fresh, raw mushrooms can be consumed directly, they have a much lower amount of the active ingredient. The dried variants, having no more water content, are 10 times more concentrated.
The actual potency depends on a number of factors, including species, environment, and harvest time. More potent species require only 1 gram to take effect, while the less potent ones require about 5 grams.
4. Hallucinations from psilocybin mushrooms can persist for up to 6 hours
After ingestion, it takes half an hour for the hallucinogens to kick in. These effects reach their peak after 1.5 hours, and they only die down after about 4 to 6 hours. Later on, after 13 hours, around 95% of the ingested psilocybin will have left the body. Higher doses, however, will take much longer to clear.
5. Psilocybin mushrooms can cause persistent flashbacks of previous hallucinations
This is known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder or HPPD. Users who have this condition experience vivid flashbacks of hallucinations they’ve had before. This can happen even long after shrooms were first taken, hence the “persisting” part of HPPD.
While psilocybin mushrooms in themselves are not addicting, the fact that it can cause HPPD is a cause for concern. Not to mention there are other side effects that are damaging to the brain, such as panic attacks, paranoia, and possibly, psychosis. These symptoms, while not fatal, are quite damaging to users’ mental health. They would also adversely affect the way they relate to other people.
6. Psilocybin mushrooms interfere with the action of serotonin
Once the active ingredients reach the brain, they target nerve cells and mess with a brain chemical called serotonin. This molecule is involved in higher cognitive skills and other psychological processes. The resulting effects vary, and they often include the following:
- Detachment from reality
- Intense emotions
- Loss of coordination
- Feeling of floating
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Distorted vision and hearing
These effects are more pronounced when users take the mushrooms regularly, and they manifest 20 to 90 minutes after ingestion.
7. Dependence on psilocybin mushrooms will disrupt a user’s lifestyle
Consistently using the drug will later lead to behavioral changes that hinder normal life. Users would have stronger urges to the point that they are no longer willing to do anything if they cannot get a dose of the substance. Dependence also compels them to take ever-increasing doses, and they will find it extremely hard to cut down their intake. Eventually, they would give up normal day-to-day activities to get more of the drug. It will also become their go-to coping mechanism when faced with problems in life.
Long-term use of the drug would also lead to a number of side effects, including loss of focus, impaired judgment, and a phenomenon called synesthesia (swapping of the senses).
8. Psilocybin mushroom addiction can be treated
Despite mushrooms having less addictive qualities than other drugs, users may still develop addictions to it. Psilocybin mushroom rehab involves many treatment options, but a primary method is to wean a user off the drug. Users may experience withdrawal symptoms once they try to quit, but these are usually subtle. These signs are often psychologically related, such as:
- Panic attacks
- Psychotic breaks
- Extreme mood swings
- Cycling between pleasant and unpleasant emotions
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty speaking straight
There are also physical effects on the body, which include:
- Pupil dilation
- Reduced appetite
- Elevated or lowered body temperature
- High blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Dry mouth
Sometimes, medications need to be prescribed. If users experience seizures or aggressive tendencies, they may be advised to take benzodiazepines, which are tranquilizers. In other words, these are medicines to calm them down. However, benzodiazepines can also be addictive, so they must only be used with a prescription.
Rehab centers also employ counseling and psychotherapy to help users deal with the addiction. Support networks are also encouraged, which helps curb drug dependence further by developing healthy social habits. Users who talk about the problem regularly with friends and family often have better chances of recovery. With the constant encouragement from people they care about, users would feel more hopeful that they can take control of their lives once again.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from addiction to this substance, help is available. Talk to a professional to know more about getting on the road to recovery.