Magic Mushrooms

Psilocybin mushrooms, more commonly known as magic mushrooms, are a group mushrooms that grow in the wild which have similar effects to LSD when consumed. Psilocybin is the psychoactive chemical in the mushrooms. There are many types of psilocybin mushrooms, psilocybe semilanceata being the one most often consumed for recreational drug use. There are other species of mushrooms, not containing psilocybin but still containing psychoactive substances, which are often called magic mushrooms. The most frequently quoted of these is amanita muscaria which is highly poisonous and potentially deadly. Appearance-wise, psilocybin mushrooms look similar to normal mushrooms, and amanita muscaria mushrooms are spotted red and white.

Magic mushrooms are normally consumed orally (ie. eaten) either raw or dried out. Raw magic mushrooms are about 90% water. Amanita muscaria is not often eaten raw as the user can experience severe nausea. Magic mushrooms may also be cooked or combined in food dishes though heating generally breaks down the psychoactive substance. 1 to 5 grams are normally consumed.

The effects of taking magic mushrooms are similar to that of taking LSD, but the trip will normally be shorter and milder. It takes 30 minutes to two hours to be noticeable. A taker might feel euphoric, confident, excited or relaxed. One may feel more emotionally sensitive, creative or enlightened. Magic mushrooms are hallucinogens, as such hallucinations can occur, especially with larger doses. Colours, sounds and objects can be distorted and senses might be confused, such as thinking you can see sounds. One's senses can also be slowed down and the experience can feel like dreaming. Whilst not being addictive, one becomes tolerant of magic mushrooms quickly, requiring a greater dose to achieve the same high.

With magic mushroom use, one can never be sure of what they are taking. There are hundreds of different types, some of which are highly poisonous and can cause serious illness and can be potentially fatal. The strength depends on the freshness, season and origin of the mushrooms so the amount of psychoactive chemical entering the body is difficult to predict.

Magic mushrooms can make you feel nauseated, tired and disorientated. One can also have 'bad trip' which is a frightening experience during which the user will experience severe anxiety or paranoia. There's no way to tell if a particular use of magic mushrooms will be a bad or good trip and there's no way of going back other than waiting for the effects to wear off. As a hallucinogen, you're not always aware and in complete control of what you do, which could cause you to do or get involved in dangerous situations.

Also, any mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety or paranoia, can be complicated by magic mushroom use and can result in long term mental health problems.

Photo: dried Psilocybe cubensis, by Retinafunk,