When talking about magic mushrooms, you can’t possibly talk about psilocybin and psilocin, the components responsible for the mind-altering effects of mush. Research on these two started to pick up just recently, and here is a summary of what we know about them so far.
According to a study published in 2002, psilocybin “is a substituted indoleakylamine.” It is categorized as a hallucinogenic tryptamine and has low toxicity and a small possibility of harming humans. In 1958, scientists were able to produce synthetic psilocybin, thanks to Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, who obtained the prodrug compound from Psilocybe Mexicana mushrooms in 1957.
According to scientists, moderate dosages of psilocybin can produce manageable amounts of alterations to your state of consciousness. According to a review of the literature on psilocybin published in 2002, “this state is marked by stimulation of affect, enhanced the ability for introspection and altered psychological functioning in the direction of Freudian primary processes, known otherwise as hypnagogic experience and dreams.”
The psychological effects of this compound can last anywhere from 3 to 6 hours and can include effective activation, visual illusions, distorted sense of time, altered thoughts, and the so-called synesthesia, a phenomenon in which individuals claim to be able to “taste” smells and “see” sounds, for example.
Because of this effect, scientists produced psilocybin synthetically and distributed it commercially worldwide for psychotherapeutic processes. According to reports, no complications were encountered in the therapeutic and experimental applications conducted.
Findings regarding the somatic effects of consuming psilocybin remain inconsistent. The only relatively consistent observation is the dilation of the pupils. The rest, including hypertension and hypotension, nausea, heart rate acceleration, and deceleration, tremors, and the like, occurred in only small proportions of subjects.
A few decades ago, psilocybin was manufactured for experimental reasons. At present, there are still no medical indications for both compounds. However, scientists are looking into using and developing psilocybin for potential use in treating such issues as obsessive compulsiveness, alcohol or drug addiction, PTSD, depression, and the like.
It is commonly thought that monoamine oxidase inhibitors, alcohol consumption, and smoking tobacco can enhance the effect of psilocybin.
When you drink alcohol, your body breaks it down to numerous metabolites, and one of those is acetaldehyde. This breakdown metabolite reacts with the biogenic amines that are found inside your body, and this reaction results in the production of monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
Meanwhile, smokers may experience the effects of increased concentrations of monoamine oxidase inhibitors, whose activity in peripheral organs and the brain is restricted by the person’s exposure to smoke.
A metabolite of psilocybin, psilocin is the component that is directly related to the psychedelic effects of magic mushrooms. We say metabolite because this is what psilocybin gets converted to after consumption by a human. In chemistry, this is known as the pharmacologically active form.
Psilocin does not affect the dopamine neurotransmitter (which takes care of the brain’s pleasure and happiness centers), unlike LSD. Nevertheless, the consumption of magic mushrooms has been linked to improvement in the overall mood of people.
Just like psilocybin, psilocin can be produced synthetically. However, such items are hard to find, so people still prefer to just buy mushrooms online or get some from the wild. Shops sell anything from fresh magic mushrooms to spore prints and grow kits. You have substantially better luck finding such products than synthetic psilocin and psilocybin.
Magic mushrooms, even those that belong to the same species, can vary considerably in terms of psilocybin and psilocin levels. Therefore, they can also differ greatly when it comes to potency.
In general, potency is affected by harvest period, growing conditions, origin, and species. A psilocybin concentration of 1% (10 mg per 1 g) is considered high. You can find this in such species as Psilocybe semilanceata.
Meanwhile, P. cubensis, which is also known as “ordinary” psylocybe and often recommended for first-time magic mushroom users, has a psilocybin concentration of just 0.6%. Take note that concentration percentages tend to be higher in dried mushrooms than in fresh ones because of the large proportion is taken up by water in fresh mushrooms. Also, cultivated mushrooms tend to exhibit smaller potency variations than do “wild” shrooms.
Other Related Components
Baeocystin and Norbaeyocystin – Like psilocybin and psilocin, these two are tryptamines. Some scientists believe that they are also present in magic mushrooms, and some disagree. Regardless of whether they do exist in the mushrooms themselves or not, they are surely not as active as psilocybin and psilocin.
Before experiencing the psychedelic buzz offered by magic mushrooms, it is important that you know what they contain and how they can affect your body. This reduces the amount of uncertainty (and thus risks) involved in your experience.