Psilocybin, also known as “magic mushrooms”, “shrooms”, and “psychedelic mushrooms”, is a hallucinogenic drug that has a chemical relation to LSD. It can be produced synthetically or extracted from psilocybin Mexicana mushrooms or other species of mushrooms. The use of this back goes back thousands of years and was used in religious rituals of varying cultures in Central America and Mexico. Today, psilocybin is used as a hallucinogen for those seeking a drug that is more natural and not as severe in side effects as LSD.
Psilocybin: How is it Used?
This drug can be administered in a variety of ways. Some users prefer to take psilocybin orally, as dried or fresh mushrooms, or as powder filled capsules. Others prefer to brew the drug into tea form, commonly known as “fungus delight”. In some cases, though not common, it is turned into powder form is snorted or injected. A typical dose will range from 4 to ten milligrams, however, this is difficult to measure because each mushroom’s hallucinogenic effects varies depending on its genus, strength, and condition (whether it is fresh, dried, or brewed). Most doses less than 8 milligrams will produce side effects in the user with thirty minutes, and these will continue for the next 3-6 hours. The most common side effects of psilocybin include:
- Mental and physical relaxation
- Feeling detached from one’s surroundings
- Perceptual distortions
- Mood swings
- Perceiving the body to feel heavy or light
These effects vary from person to person and depend on numerous factors, including:
- Mood and environment the user is in
- Weight and age of the user
- Whether or not the user has recently eaten
- Whether or not the user has any medical or psychiatric conditions
- Amount of psilocybin taken
- If any other prescription, non-prescription, illegal drugs or alcohol is in the users system
Addiction and Legal Ramifications of Psilocybin
Medical literature states that addiction to psilocybin is not common. In addition, there is little evidence suggesting that a user can become physically or psychologically dependent on psilocybin with regular use, however, someone can become tolerant. For example, if an individual continues to use the drug continually for several days, they can build up a complete tolerance, where no amount of the drug can produce the desired effects.
Psilocybin is illegal in the United States and the use, possession and sale of the drug can carry steep jail or prison sentences.
Short-term Effects and Dangers of Psilocybin
In terms of the dangers of psilocybin, misidentification of a mushroom tops the list. Many mushrooms looks similar and poisonous mushrooms can also cause a user to experience hallucinogenic effects. If a user ingests a poisonous mushroom, he or she will experience stomach pains, diarrhea and vomiting. In addition, some poisonous mushrooms can be lethal.
In terms of side effects, even small amounts of the drug can cause physical and psychological side effects for its user. Hallucinating can occur in very small doses in certain individuals. For some, hallucinating can be a terrifying experience, and the fear from this experience can remain with some people for a lifetime. Having a frightening experience while taking psilocybin is often referred to as “having a bad trip”. Signs of a “bad trip” include extreme anxiety, panic, hysteria and confused thinking.
If an individual takes more than 13 mg of psilocybin, they will experience extremely altered perceptions and the same side effects an LSD user would experience. Amounts higher than 13 mg often produce severe side effects and put the user at a risk of overdose.
Common side effects include:
- Facial flushing
- Slowed sense of time
- Feeling separated from one’s body or surroundings
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Severe agitation
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of urinary control
- Facial numbness (paresthesia)
- Blurred vision
Long-term Side Effects of Psilocybin
Though long-term side effects of this drug have not been studied, it has been recorded that one bad trip while on the drug has remained with certain users over the course of his or her life. People with a history of mental illness are urged not to use it as the drug can aggravate or trigger mania, depression and schizophrenia.
Other long-term side effects include psychosis. Some people using psilocybin on a continual and long-term basis have developed prolonged psychosis, resembling paranoid schizophrenia. In addition, it is urged that anyone who is pregnant or breast feeding not use psilocybin as the long-term effects on a developing fetus or baby are unknown.
Can You Overdose on Psilocybin?
Overdosing on psilocybin is associated with intense and prolonged side effects but has not been directly associated with death. It is important to note that consuming this drug with other hallucinogenic substances such as LSD or Peyote, alcohol, or other prescription or street drugs will increase the risk of experiencing severe side effects, some which may be lethal.