Psilocybin mushrooms

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Summary sheet: Psilocybin mushrooms
Psilocybe cubensis, one of the most famous Psilocybin containing mushrooms.

Psilocybin mushrooms (also known as magic mushrooms and shrooms) are a family of mushrooms that contain a mixture of psychoactive indole alkaloids, particularly the tryptamines psilocybin, psilocin, baeocystin, and norbaeocystin. When consumed, these mushrooms produce "classical psychedelic" effects (i.e. those associated with Mescaline, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms and DMT).[1]

As the name implies, the principal psychoactive component of these mushrooms is psilocybin, which is thought to be converted into psilocin in the body before exerting their characteristic psychedelic effects. Both psilocybin and psilocin share a close structural relationship with the powerful visionary entheogen DMT, as well as the endogenous neurotransmitter serotonin.

Psilocybin mushrooms have been noted for their connection to a number of shamanic and ceremonial traditions among various cultures that used these mushrooms to produce visionary or entheogenic states of consciousness for spiritual or religious purposes.

Unlike most highly prohibited substances, psilocybin-containing mushrooms are not considered to be toxic or addictive by the scientific community.[2] Nevertheless, unpredictable adverse reactions such as anxiety, paranoia, delusions and psychotic breaks can still always occur, particularly among those predisposed to psychiatric conditions.[3] While these negative reactions or "bad trips" can often be attributed to factors like the user's inexperience or inadequate preparation of set and setting, they have been known to happen spontaneously among even the most experienced of users as well.

History and culture

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Cave art in Tassili n'Ajjer, Algeria (look at the shoulders and knees)

Psilocybin mushrooms may have been used since prehistoric times. Evidence shows that they have been consumed by ancient cultures since as far back as 7000 B.C.[citation needed] They are possibly depicted in Stone Age rock art in Europe and Africa, and have a history of use in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. Many cultures have used these mushrooms in their religious rites and ceremonies.[citation needed]

Psilocybin mushrooms are the most commonly used form of psilocybin and psilocin. They have likely been used since prehistoric times and may have been depicted in ancient rock art.[4] There are hypotheses of psilocybin mushrooms playing an evolutionary role in the advancement of human consciousness and language.

Many cultures such as the Mazatecs and even the Aztecs have used these mushrooms in religious rites for centuries and are still used today in Oaxaca, Mexico by the indigenous Mazatec people for divinatory purposes. In modern Western society, they are used medicinally, recreationally, scientifically and spiritually for their psychedelic effects.


Psilocybin, or 4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (4-PO-DMT), is an organic indole alkaloid molecule of the tryptamine chemical class. Tryptamines share a core structure comprised of a bicyclic indole heterocycle attached at R3 to an amino group via an ethyl side chain. 4-PO-DMT is substituted at R4 of its indole heterocycle with a phosphoryloxy (-PO) functional group; it also contains two methyl groups CH3- bound to the terminal amine RN. This makes psilocybin the 4-phosphoryloxy ring-substituted analog of DMT, and is largely thought to be inactive until it dephosphorylates into psilocin (4-HO-DMT) by the alkaline phosphatase enzyme, via hydrolysis.[5].


The diagram above demonstrates the neural connections associated with sobriety in comparison to being under the influence of psilocybin as demonstrated through the use of MRI scans. The width of the links is proportional to their weight and the size of the nodes is proportional to their strength. Note that the proportion of heavy links between communities is much higher (and very different) in the psilocybin group, suggesting greater integration[6]
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Further information: Serotonergic psychedelic

Psilocin's psychedelic effects are believed to come from its efficacy at the 5-HT2A receptor as a partial agonist. Unlike LSD, this compound has no significant effect on dopamine receptors and only affects the noradrenergic system at very high dosages.[7] However, the role of these interactions and how they result in the psychedelic experience continues to remain unknown and is subject to ongoing scientific investigation.

Subjective effects

The cognitive effects and general head space of psilocybin is described by many as extremely relaxing, profound and stoning in style when compared to other commonly used psychedelics such as LSD or 2C-B which tend to be energetic and stimulating, it is also regarded as being significantly less clearheaded than other commonly used tryptamines such as DMT and ayahuasca. It contains a large number of psychedelic typical and unique cognitive effects.

The effects listed below are based upon the subjective effects index and personal experiences of PsychonautWiki contributors. The listed effects should be taken with a grain of salt and will rarely (if ever) occur all at once, but heavier doses will increase the chances and are more likely to induce a full range of effects. Likewise, adverse effects become much more likely on higher doses and may include serious injury or death.

Physical effects

Visual effects

Cognitive effects

Multi-sensory effects

Combinational effects

  • Cannabis - When used in conjunction with cannabis, both the visual and cognitive effects of psilocybin can be intensified and extended with great efficiency. This should be used with extreme caution, especially if one is not experienced with psychedelics. This interaction can also amplify the anxiety, confusion and delusion producing aspects of cannabis significantly. The THC and psilocybin synergy is unique in that the severity of its mind-altering qualities can greatly depend on when during the experience the cannabis is taken. Those who choose to use this combination are advised to start off with only a fraction of their usual cannabis dose, and slow down the pace of their normal intake considerably.
  • Dissociatives - When used in combination with dissociatives, the geometry, euphoria, dissociation and hallucinatory effects are often greatly enhanced. Dissociative-induced holes, spaces, and voids while under the influence of psilocybin can result in significantly more vivid visuals than dissociatives alone present, along with more intense internal hallucinations, confusion, nausea, delusions and chances of a psychotic reaction.
  • MDMA - When used in conjunction with MDMA, the physical and cognitive effects of MDMA are amplified. The visual, physical and cognitive effects of psilocybin are also intensified with an overwhelming euphoric bliss manifested through uniquely pleasurable body highs and headspaces, and uniquely colorful, intricate and majestic visuals. The synergy between these substances is unpredictable, and it is best to start with lower dosages than one would take for both substances individually. It should be noted, however, that the potential toxicity of this combination is unknown.
  • Alcohol - This interaction is not typically recommended due to alcohol’s ability to cause dehydration, nausea, and physical fatigue which can negatively affect an experience if taken in moderate to high dosages. This combination is, however, considered to be reasonably safe in low doses and when used responsibly, this can often "take the edge off a trip" as well as dull its psychedelic effects in a fashion somewhat similar to benzodiazepines, albeit in a more physically draining way. With psilocybin mushrooms in particular it is often recommended that the user waits until the "come down" phase if they wish to consume any alcohol due to the sometimes already nauseating and disorienting physical effects of mushrooms, especially within the first 2 - 3 hours of the experience.
  • Benzodiazepines - When used in combination with benzodiazepines, benzodiazepines can, depending on the dosage, slightly to completely reduce the intensity of the cognitive, physical and visual effects of a psilocybin trip. They can be very efficient at largely stopping or mitigating a bad trip at the cost of amnesia and reduced trip intensity. Caution is advised when acquiring them for this purpose, however, due to the very high addiction potential that benzodiazepines possess.
  • Psychedelics - When used in combination with other psychedelics, each substance's physical, cognitive and visual effects intensify and synergize strongly. The synergy between those substances is unpredictable, and for this reason, is generally not advised. If choosing to combine psychedelics, it is recommended to start with lower dosages than one would take for either substance individually.

Experience reports

There are currently 0 anecdotal reports which describe the effects of this compound within our experience index.

Additional experience reports can be found here:

Natural occurrence

Biological genera containing psilocybin mushrooms include Copelandia, Galerina, Gymnopilus, Inocybe, Mycena, Panaeolus, Pholiotina, Pluteus, and Psilocybe. Over 100 species are classified in the genus Psilocybe.

Some common psilocybin and psilocin containing mushroom species include:


Psilocybe semilanceata, also known as the liberty cap.


Panaeolus cyanescens, also known as the pan cyan.
  • Panaeolus africanus
  • Panaeolus campanulatus
  • Panaeolus cinctulus
  • Panaeolus cyanescens
  • Panaeolus subbalteatus
  • Panaeolus venezolanus


Gymnopilus luteofolius
  • Gymnopilus aeruginosus
  • Gymnopilus luteofolius
  • Gymnopilus luteus
  • Gymnopilus purpuratus

Risk of species confusion

As psilocybin mushrooms are capable of being harvested in nature, there is a major risk in misidentifying mushroom species and accidentally consuming poisonous, if not lethal varieties. This can be avoided by educating oneself in advance on how to properly identify the correct species of mushroom and the potential look-alike mushrooms found within one's local area. It is recommended to not learn to do this by oneself, but instead, have someone experienced in mushroom-picking as a mentor.

Dosage and preparation

The dosage of psilocybin mushrooms depends on the potency of the mushroom (the total psilocybin and psilocin content of the mushrooms), which varies significantly both between species and within the same species, but is typically around 0.5–2.0% of the dried weight of the mushroom.[citation needed]

The concentration of active psilocybin mushroom compounds varies not only from species to species, but also from mushroom to mushroom inside a given species, subspecies or variety. The same holds true even for different parts of the same mushroom. In the species Psilocybe samuiensis, the dried cap of the mushroom contains the most psilocybin at about 0.23%–0.90%. The mycelium contains about 0.24%–0.32%.[9]

Psilocybe cubensis

Psilocybe cubensis (also known as cubes) is one of the most commonly used species of psilocybin mushrooms. The doses for oral consumption for dried cubensis mushrooms are generally considered to be:

  • Threshold: 0.25 - 0.50 grams
  • Light: 0.5 - 1.5 grams
  • Common: 1.5 - 3 grams
  • Strong: 3 - 5 grams
  • Heavy: 5 grams +

Preparation methods

Preparation methods for this compound within our tutorial index include:


Antidepressant effects

While further research is needed to establish the utility of psilocybin and other psychedelics in treating depression, a pilot study has observed significantly decreased depression scores in terminal cancer patients six months after treatment with psilocybin.[10] An open-label study was carried out in 2016 in the UK to investigate the feasibility, safety and efficacy of psilocybin in treating patients with unipolar treatment-resistant depression with promising results; although the study was small and involved only twelve patients, seven of those patients met formal criteria for remission one week following psilocybin treatment and five of those were still in remission from their depression at three months.[11]

The mechanism behind this is not known as of yet, but researchers have suggested that psilocin's deactivation of the medial prefrontal cortex[12] (mPFC) may be relevant to its antidepressant effects, as the mPFC is known to be elevated in depression and normalized after effective treatment.[12] mPFC hyperactivity has been associated with trait rumination.[13] Another possible factor to psilocybin's potential against depression may be that depressed patients with high levels of dysfunctional attitudes were found to have low levels of 5-HT(2A) agonism.[14][15]

Toxicity and harm potential

Radar plot showing relative physical harm, social harm, and dependence of benzodiazepines in comparison to other drugs.[16]

Psilocybin is non-addictive, is not known to cause brain damage, and has an extremely low toxicity relative to dose. Similar to other psychedelic drugs, there are relatively few physical side effects associated with acute psilocin exposure. Various studies have shown that in reasonable doses in a careful context, it presents little to no negative cognitive, psychiatric or toxic physical consequences.

Lethal dosage

The toxicity of psilocybin and psilocin is extremely low. In rats, the median lethal dose (LD50) of psilocybin when administered orally is 280 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg). Psilocybin comprises approximately 1% of the weight of Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms and so nearly 1.7 kilograms (3.7 lb) of dried mushrooms or 17 kilograms (37 lb) of fresh mushrooms would be required for a 60 kilogram (130 lb) person to reach the 280 mg/kg LD50 value of rats. Based on the results of animal studies, the lethal dose of psilocybin has been extrapolated to be 6 grams, 1000 times greater than the effective dose of 6 milligrams.

Despite its lack of physical toxicity, however, it is still strongly recommended that one use harm reduction practices if choosing to use this substance.

Tolerance and addiction potential

Psilocybin is not habit-forming and the desire to use it can actually decrease with use. As with most psychedelics, it is generally considered to have a built-in, self-regulating aspect to it, though cases of dependence and addiction have been documented in the scientific literature.[citation needed] Notably, there it has been claimed that is virtually no withdrawal syndrome when the chronic use of this substance is ceased.[17]

Tolerance to the effects of psilocin are built almost immediately after ingestion. After that, it takes about 3 days for the tolerance to be reduced to half and 7 days to be back at baseline (in the absence of further consumption). Psilocin presents cross-tolerance with all psychedelics, meaning that after the consumption of psilocin all psychedelics will have a reduced effect.

Dangerous interactions

Although many psychoactive substances are safe to use on their own, they can become dangerous or even life-threatening when taken with other substances. The list below contains some potentially dangerous combinations, but may not include all of them. Certain combinations may be safe in low doses but still increase the possibility of injury of death. Independent research should always be conducted to ensure that a combination of two or more substances is safe before consumption.

Legal status

Under international law, the possession and sale of psilocybin (including psilocybin-containing mushrooms and psilocin) is prohibited in most countries.

  • Austria: Psilocybin containing mushrooms are illegal to possess in dried form, to sell and to offer, give or get somebody under the SMG (Suchtmittelgesetz Österreich). It is illegal to grow them with the intention of "producing psychotropic substances" (as psilocin and psilocybin) mentioned in BGBl. III Nr. 148/1997 .[19]
  • Brazil: Possession, production and sale is illegal as it is listed on Portaria SVS/MS nº 344,[20] but mushrooms fall under religious use laws.[citation needed]
  • British Virgin Isles: The sale of mushrooms is illegal, but possession and consumption is legal.[citation needed]
  • Bulgaria: The sale of mushrooms is illegal, but possession and consumption is legal.[citation needed]
  • Belgium: Possession and sale of mushrooms have been illegal since 1988.[citation needed]
  • Canada: Psilocybin and psilocin are illegal to possess, obtain or produce without a prescription or license as they are Schedule III under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.[21]
  • Czech Republic: The distribution (including sale) of mushrooms is illegal, but consumption is legal. The possession of over 40 hallucinogenic caps is considered a crime if they contain more than 50mg of psilocin or the corresponding amount of psilocybin. The possession of more than 40g of hallucinogenic mycelium is considered a crime. If these limits are not exceeded, the act is considered a minor offense and a fine of up to 15 thousand CZK may be imposed.
  • Cyprus The possession, sale and consumption of mushrooms is illegal.[citation needed]
  • Denmark: The possession, growth, sale and consumption of mushrooms is illegal.[citation needed]
  • Finland: The possession, growth, sale and consumption of mushrooms is illegal.[citation needed]
  • Germany: The possession, growth, sale and consumption of mushrooms is illegal.[citation needed]
  • Greece: The possession, growth, sale and consumption of mushrooms is illegal.[citation needed]
  • Ireland: The possession, growth, sale and consumption of mushrooms is illegal.[citation needed]
  • Japan: The possession, growth, sale and consumption of mushrooms is illegal.[citation needed]
  • Latvia: Hallucinogenic mushrooms, psilocin and psilocybin are Schedule I controlled substances.[22]
  • Mexico: The possession, growth, sale and consumption of mushrooms is illegal. Rules are relaxed regarding religious use however.[citation needed]
  • The Netherlands: The possession, growth, sale and consumption of mushrooms is illegal. However, due to a legal loophole, psilocybin truffles can be legally possessed, grown, sold and consumed.[citation needed]
  • New Zealand: Psilocybin is Class A.[citation needed]
  • Norway: Possession, growth, sale and consumption of mushrooms is illegal. Spores, even though not containing psilocybin, are also illegal.[citation needed]
  • Turkey: The possession, growth, sale and consumption of mushrooms is illegal.[citation needed]
  • United Kingdom: According to the 2005 Drugs Act, fresh and prepared psilocybin mushrooms are Class A.[23]
  • United States: Psilocybin and psilocin are illegal Schedule I drugs.[24]

See also

External links




  1. Nichols, D. E. (2016). Psychedelics, (April), 264–355.
  2. Lüscher, C., & Ungless, M. A. (2006). The Mechanistic Classification of Addictive Drugs, 3(11).
  3. Strassman, R. J. (1984). Adverse Reactions to Psychedelic Drugs: A Review of the Literature. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 172(10), 577-595. PMID: 6384428
  4. The oldest Representations of Hallucinogenic Mushrooms in the World |
  5. Horita, A., & Weber, L. J. (1961). Dephosphorylation of psilocybin to psilocin by alkaline phosphatase. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, 106(1), 32-34.
  6. Petri, G., Expert, P., Turkheimer, F., Nutt, D., Hellyer, P. J., & Vaccarino, F. (2014). Homological scaffolds of brain functional networks, 14–18.
  7. Psilocybin Investigator’s Brochure |
  8. Johnson, M. W., Garcia-Romeu, A., Cosimano, M. P., & Griffiths, R. R. (2014). Pilot study of the 5-HT2AR agonist psilocybin in the treatment of tobacco addiction. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 28(11), 983-992.
  9. Gartz J, Allen JW, Merlin MD (2004). "Ethnomycology, biochemistry, and cultivation of Psilocybe samuiensis Guzmán, Bandala and Allen, a new psychoactive fungus from Koh Samui, Thailand". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 43 (2): 73–80. PMID 7967658.
  10. Grob, C. S., Danforth, A. L., Chopra, G. S., Hagerty, M., McKay, C. R., Halberstadt, A. L., & Greer, G. R. (2011). Pilot study of psilocybin treatment for anxiety in patients with advanced-stage cancer. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68(1), 71-78.
  11. Carhart-Harris, R. L., Bolstridge, M., Rucker, J., Day, C. M., Erritzoe, D., Kaelen, M., ... & Taylor, D. (2016). Psilocybin with psychological support for treatment-resistant depression: an open-label feasibility study. The Lancet Psychiatry, 3(7), 619-627.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Carhart-Harris, R. L., Erritzoe, D., Williams, T., Stone, J. M., Reed, L. J., Colasanti, A., ... & Hobden, P. (2012). Neural correlates of the psychedelic state as determined by fMRI studies with psilocybin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(6), 2138-2143.
  13. Farb, N. A. S., Anderson, A. K., Bloch, R. T., & Segal, Z. V. (2011). Mood Linked Responses in Medial Prefrontal Cortex Predict Relapse in Patients with Recurrent Unipolar Depression. Biological Psychiatry, 70(4), 366–372.
  14. Bhagwagar, Z., Hinz, R., Taylor, M., Fancy, S., Cowen, P., & Grasby, P. (2006). Increased 5-HT 2A receptor binding in euthymic, medication-free patients recovered from depression: a positron emission study with [11 C] MDL 100,907. American Journal of Psychiatry, 163(9), 1580-1587.
  15. Meyer, J. H., McMain, S., Kennedy, S. H., Korman, L., Brown, G. M., DaSilva, J. N., ... & Houle, S. (2003). Dysfunctional attitudes and 5-HT2 receptors during depression and self-harm. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160(1), 90-99.
  16. Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse (ScienceDirect) |
  17. Diaz, Jaime (1996). How Drugs Influence Behavior: A Neurobehavioral Approach. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. ISBN 9780023287640
  18. Talaie, H., Panahandeh, R., Fayaznouri, M. R., Asadi, Z., & Abdollahi, M. (2009). Dose-independent occurrence of seizure with tramadol. Journal of medical toxicology, 5(2), 63-67. doi:10.1007/BF03161089
  21. Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of Canada
  22. Noteikumi par Latvijā kontrolējamajām narkotiskajām vielām, psihotropajām vielām un prekursoriem (I saraksts) |
  23. Legislation - Drugs Act 2005|
  24. FDA - Controlled Substances Act|