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Everything You Need to Know About Psilocybin Mushrooms and Mushroom Drugs

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Psilocybin mushrooms and other mushroom drugs are trending big time. Whether it’s a new decriminalization or a recent study to come out, we keep hearing about the many wellness benefits and increased access to shrooms. Granted, there are still no consumer products available, but the fact that laws are beginning to loosen up is a positive sign in and of itself. Scroll down to learn everything you need to know about psilocybin mushrooms.

What are Psilocybin Mushrooms? 

Psilocybin is the main psychedelic compound in mushrooms and truffles. It’s a basic tryptamine hallucinogen, with properties similar to lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and mescaline, although the chemical structure is different. Research shows a common mechanism of action through serotonergic (5-HT) pathways. Psilocybin is a strong agonist at 5-HT receptors which are located within the thalamus and cortex of the brain. 

The onset of hallucinogenic effects typically kicks in around 20 to 40 minutes after consumption, and they last up to 6 hours. Psilocybin’s threshold for intoxication is approximately 40 mcg/kg of body weight. In wild mushrooms with lower levels of psilocybin, this translates to about 2 grams, although some people use up to 4 grams for a good psychedelic trip.  

Psilocybin was first isolated by Swiss chemist Albert Hoffmann in 1958, using the Psilocybe Mexicana mushroom species from Central America. Psilocybin is found in both wild and cultivated mushrooms, although just like with cannabis, cultivated mushrooms tend to be more potent. Through cross-breeding, cultivated mushrooms can have up to 10 times higher levels of psilocybin than wild species.  


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Other Types of Psychedelic Mushrooms 

There are many different strains of psilocybin mushrooms, which are the more popular of the psychedelic mushroom varieties. Another type that’s been of growing interest are Amanita muscaria. Amanita muscaria, often referred to as the fly agaric or fly amanita, is a member of the Basidiomycota family of fungi, of the genus Amanita.  

This mushroom species gets its common name from its ability to attract and kill flies and possibly, mosquitos. The fly agaric is native to the temperate and boreal regions of the Northern Hemisphere including Europe, North America, and Siberia/Northern Asia. It’s a highly adaptable mushrooms species that can now be found throughout the world, and it’s closely tied to various deciduous and coniferous trees, commonly found growing under birch and pine. Amanita muscaria mushrooms have round, often dome-shaped, red caps with white spots and white gills.  

They are without a doubt one of the most recognizable of the toadstool mushroom species. You can spot Amanita muscaria mushrooms in the Mario franchise games, the Alice in Wonderland mushroom scene, and many other cartoons and animated games. Although they have many features that make them easily discernible from other mushroom varieties, there are several known subspecies of Amanita muscaria, some more potent/toxic than others.  

In classic psychedelics like psilocybin/shrooms, mescaline, and LSD, the active compounds interact with our serotonin and/or dopamine neurotransmitters, which are 5-HT2A agonists. In A. muscaria, the psychoactive ingredients are muscimol and ibotenic acid. Muscimol activates the major inhibitory neurotransmitter system, gamma amino butyric acid (GABA). As an inhibitory system, muscimol works by suppressing the activity of neurons in the brain.  

Ibotenic acid is a neurotoxin and agonist of glutamate receptors, specifically at both the N-methyl-D-aspartate, or NMDA, and trans-ACPD receptor sites. Neurotoxins interrupt communication between neurons across a synapse, changing the way the nervous system functions. Ibotenic acid is a secondary metabolite that converts to muscimol via decarboxylation.  

While that may sound pretty intense, people who use these mushrooms compare the feeling to being drunk, but with a bit more of a curious and psychedelic vibe to it. The muscimol in these mushrooms can produce feelings of euphoria, hallucinations, muscle jerks, drowsiness, sweating, pupil dilation, and increased body temperature. 

Research and Legality  

In the United States, use of psychedelic mushrooms has been illegal since the Controlled Substances Act was implemented in 1970. Since then, clinical studies have pretty much ceased, but recreational use definitely has not.  

However, in 1992, the National Institute on Drug Abuse linked up with an FDA advisory team to revamp research efforts of psychedelic agents – albeit extremely limited research. In 1993, the Heffter Research Institute in New Mexico was founded. It’s one of the only institutes in the world the is entirely dedicated to uncovering the medical benefits of psychedelic compounds found in nature. Despite these developments, psilocybin is still banned in the U.S. 

psilocybin mushrooms and mushroom drugs

Around the world, novel and alternative treatments for mental illnesses becoming increasingly sought after, new resources are being aimed at age-old therapies including cannabis, ketamine, mescaline, and psilocybin. Dr. George R. Greer, co-founder and president of the Heffter Research Institute, “Our mission is two-fold: one to do research that helps us understand the mind, the brain, how all that works, and number two, to help reduce suffering through therapeutic use of psychedelics.” 

Dosing and Fostering a Good Trip 

Defined simply, or if you look up the term in an online dictionary, a “trip” can be described as a “temporarily altered state of consciousness”. This is accurate, but an incredibly lackluster explanation for something that can be transcendental and life-changing for many people. A “temporarily altered state of consciousness” can technically be achieved through the use of any drug that produces a “high”. Even sleeping puts you in a “temporarily altered state of consciousness”.  

But psychedelic trips are different – they’re more sentient in nature. Trips can vary greatly in intensity, but they generally make you feel something. Psychedelics affect all the senses and can change a person’s thought process, and their sense of time, space and reality. They are known to produce auditory, visual, and sensory hallucinations; however, some users experience no hallucinations at all, but rather a sense of general well-being, connectivity, and euphoria. Numerous factors make tripping a very subjective experience.  

Dosing (which can range from microdoses that are less than 0.5 grams, to “heroic” doses that are 5 grams or more) and other elements can significantly impact a psychedelic trip, so you want to make sure that you’re doing everything possible to guarantee an uplifting and beneficial high.  

Although a psychedelic trip can be achieved via meditation, sensory-deprivation, light therapy, and a handful of other methods; the easiest and most common ways to achieve this state of mind is through the use of psychedelic drugs. Psychedelic drugs, also referred to entheogens, are a subset of hallucinogens which contain compounds that can alter perception. The term entheogens come from Greek and can be roughly translated to mean “building the God within”.  

To utilize these compounds to their full potential, a few things need to be kept in mind, all of which largely have to do with a concept known in the psychonaut world as ‘set and setting’. Set refers to your state of mind, while setting describes the environment of your trip. Psychologist and author, Timothy Leary, could not emphasize it more… “set and setting are of utmost importance when it comes to having a happy and therapeutic psychedelic trip,” he says. 

Risk of Addiction and Overdose 

Psilocybin mushrooms and other mushroom drugs have a very low potential of both addiction and overdose. As a matter of fact, recent studies confirm that only 0.2% of magic mushroom users seek emergency medical care after use… the lowest of any recreational drug, including cannabis. A psilocybin “overdose”, or a bad trip rather, can lead to various psychological symptoms, the primary one being very intense panic attacks.    

One risk when eating magic mushrooms, especially if you’re foraging for them yourself, is picking the wrong type. Given that there are over 14,000 different mushroom species in the world, it’s easy to conclude that some many have very similar characteristics – making them hard to tell apart in real life situations. Eating a poisonous mushroom can be fatal, so that’s definitely something you’ll want to be very careful about. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that there is a big difference between an overdose and a bad trip. Some people might mistake the two, but they are fundamentally different. The main contrast between the two is that overdoses are physical and bad trips are mental. Overdoses can be fatal, whereas bad trips are mostly just scary and confusing.  

That distinction is extremely important, because it really highlights the sheer insanity of keeping psychedelic drugs illegal. How are drugs like Oxycontin and other opioids (which kill an average of 44 people per day in the U.S.) legal with prescriptions, while psychedelics that are considerably safer remain prohibited? 

Psilocybin for Depression 

Although there are many possible uses for psilocybin, at the moment, it’s most frequently used to treat conditions relating to mental health. Depression and anxiety are among the most researched indications for psilocybin treatment.

“There’ve been some promising preliminary results in such areas such as the treatment of overwhelming depression and existential anxiety in people who are facing the end of life, who have diagnoses of advanced-stage cancer,” Dr. Charles Grob, professor of psychiatry at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, stated in an interview with Healthline. “The thing that we have the most evidence for is cancer-related depression and anxiety. That seems really strong, and I’d be surprised if those results didn’t hold up,” he added.

Another possible use for psychedelic mushrooms is in the cessation of smoking, drinking, and other addictions. In a small pilot study conducted at Johns Hopkins University, people who partook in psilocybin therapy successfully abstained from smoking cigarettes over the following 12-month period.

“The general idea is that the nature of these disorders is a narrowed mental and behavioral repertoire,” says Matthew Johnson, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavior Sciences at John Hopkins. “So, in well-orchestrated sessions, there is the ability to essentially shake someone out of their routine to give a glimpse of a larger picture and create a mental plasticity with which people can step outside of those problems.”

Final Thoughts

In the coming years, we can expect to see more research and legalizations coming in the realm of psilocybin mushrooms and mushrooms drugs. Remember to subscribe to our newsletter to learn more, and to be update as soon as new products become available.

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My Experience: Taking Magic Mushrooms in Goa

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If there’s one place on Earth where magic mushrooms are meant to be consumed it is the sun-kissed, stretched out beaches of Goa. With palm trees hanging over you like an omnibenevolent presence, the sea glinting for what seems like forever, the sky bluer than you’ve ever seen and, of course, the sound of light trance music comfortably guiding you into a meditative state – is there anywhere better to enjoy a psychedelic trip?

Whilst the south Indian state of Goa had its hallucinogenic hayday in the 60s and 70s, this does not mean that the place has completely lost its charm and soul. Drugs are not as easy to find as they were back then and the party scene has definitely become more commercialized, but when I was offered magic mushrooms by a green-haired lady who looked like a character from a Studio Ghibli movie, I knew I couldn’t let the opportunity pass. Maybe this was the chance to experience what the hippie paradise used to be like. This is the story of how I took magic mushrooms in Goa. 

Goa

Goa is one of the 25 districts that exists within the incredibly diverse and huge nation of India. It is the 7th largest country in the world, with the second biggest population. Whilst most know India for its temples, mountains, deserts and spiritual getaways, there is also another reality. This reality is, in essence, Goa. A coastal district in the south of the country, which still has the remnants of its Portuguese colonial past.

This place has some of the best food in the entirety of India, has beaches that stretch for miles and, significantly, had a large part to play in the 60s hippie trail. This was a gigantic journey around the globe that many westerners took in the 1960s – mostly with only a VW van, some light luggage and some great friends. It was a right of passage, a chance to see the world after generations of conflict. The trip for many started in London, went through Europe, into the Middle East and deep into Asia.


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This was, for many, where it ended; others boated over to Australia. Goa was like the promised land, the light at the end of the road. Those who’d managed to get that far would sleep in beach shacks, live in peace and enjoy all types of mind-altering substances. Duncan Cambell writes about his experiences in the Guardian:

“It was possible to live for months on a few quid. A bed in a shared bedroom could be secured for six rupees a night. “Imagine no possessions” was a creed as well as a line in a John Lennon song. Fresh fish, coconut rice. Paperback copies of Hermann Hesse and Rabindranath Tagore, William Burroughs and the Bhagavad Gita were swapped… Disconnection from the west was complete”

The question people seem to ask when they wander around Goa now is: is this still a paradise or is it a paradise lost? In other words, has its time passed? It is often irritating being told by older generations how much better life was in their day. An image of an old man, sitting in his armchair, reading a copy of Nietzsche comes to mind, saying: “back in my day, no one sat around looking at their screens, they would read books and explore the world”. Well maybe Goa was better in the 60s, but at least we have better healthcare, eh? 

Goa now still has its long beaches and palm trees, but they are no longer empty. The majority of the beaches in the North and South are full of resorts and thousands of tourists, many of them more interested in taking the perfect Instagram photo rather than learning about the culture. However, not all hope is lost. The soul of a place cannot be eradicated, but it can be led astray. One writer exemplifies this perfect: 

“While Goa today may not exude the carefree nature of the early 1970s when it was a hub for hedonistic Hippies from around the world, much of the culture that sprung the movement still remains in pockets.”

That is why when I was offered the chance to take magic mushrooms on a Goan beach I simply could not say no. It would be a disrespect to my ancestors. 

Magic Mushrooms in Goa

The drug scene in Goa is certainly different in 2022 from what it was back in the ‘glory years’. Many substances were easily available in the 70s due to a lack of police authority – hashish, LSD and basically anything else. In fact, it wasn’t until the mid 1970s that the majority of recreational drugs were deemed illegal by the government, before that they were accepted. Now, of course, all common drugs are banned and dealt with harshly. You may have to bribe a police officer 100,000 rupees if caught or be put in prison. Many of Goa’s best and most beloved clubs – including Curly’s and Hill Top – have recently been closed down due to drug controversy. Goan authorities are on a dogged mission to end the reputation of the beach district as a substance tourist spot. 

However, whilst I was in Goa it was still possible to find drugs. In the north beach of Arambol it was possible to slyly find hashish or some dodgy meth that was being disguised as cocaine. However, it wasn’t what I had imagined. I dreamt of a chilled shack that sold shroom shakes and hash, but instead I found myself in a dark alleyway and could feel the fear in the dealer’s eyes; being caught by the police being a terrible threat. The India Times writes:

“In the last seven months, Goa police has seized around 100kg of narcotic substances worth over Rs 2.5 croce. Goa police have not only arrested Goans in the trade but also people from outside the state and foreigners… Ganja, caracas, LSD, MDMA, ecstasy tablets and powder, cocaine, hashish oil, heroin and cannabis are among the drugs that have been seized.”

In essence, this wasn’t what I had really been expecting. However, hope was not lost. A few weeks into my trip I was visited by an elder Indian Canadian woman with striking green hair. She was incredibly warm and comforting, I felt like I’d known her my entire life. She approached me at a beach bar in Ashwem and we got chatting. Her line of work was rather extraordinary. She lived in Goa and worked as toad venom shaman; helping people through their trip. I told her my ambition to try psychedelics whilst in Goa and within 30 minutes she’d sold me 10 grams of magic mushrooms. After that she sort of disappeared into the etha, never to be seen again. 

The Trip

I was in Goa with my girlfriend and we were pretty overjoyed that we’d finally managed to find hallucinogens. The next step was to ensure our set and setting were perfect – we didn’t want any bad vibes to ruin our trip. We decided to take them early – 3pm – this way we’d be able to have dinner in the evening and enjoy a chilled sleep. Although, we managed to buy some valium at the pharmacy just in case we found sleep difficult.

We divided the mushrooms into 2 grams each and found a perfect shaded spot on the beach. We didn’t want to overdo the amount – I mean, they looked like liberty caps but how can you ever be sure? A magic mushroom trip usually lasts around 4-6 hours, with the peak coming at around 3 hours in, which we hoped would bring us to the beautiful Goan sunset at around 6pm. 

Then we ate. They tasted awful but we washed them down with a beer. It had been a few years since my last psychedelic trip so I was full of nerves, but I was actively telling myself to simply allow the experience to happen. My intention for the trip was: to see the beauty in everything. To be honest, I realise in hindsight that this intention was a little vague. Anyway, it was hot, very hot. Within 30 minutes I decided to go into the sea to refresh but as I walked back to the sun beds everything went strange. The beach stretched out for miles and everything sounded different; enhanced.

My body was heavier than it had ever been and I felt like I needed to sit down. The trip had begun. With magic mushrooms you often can’t quite work out why you feel a certain way, which is why it took us maybe another 30 minutes before we finally realized that it was the heat that was making our bodies feel so tired. We decided to walk back to our hostel. On the way back everything felt wavey and technicolor, and each interaction with another human felt like a video game. We tried to buy water from a shop owner and it felt like we had some sort of secret. 

The peak of the trip happened in our air conditioned room. We showered probably around 10 times each just because of how good the water felt on our skin. We cried, we had moments alone, we had moments together. An entire lifetime happened in that wavey, orange room. Nothing and everything had the space to occur. It was only when the visuals began to subside slightly that we felt able to go and see the sunset on the beach.

The trip was on its way down but one overriding sense remained: beauty. The world was beautiful. The people, the sunset; everything. We enjoyed some deliciously tasty food – enhanced by the shrooms – and watched as the sunset turned to stars. Whilst the trip was no longer at its peak, we were refreshed, rid of our anxieties and issues. All there was left was to allow the world to truly be its spectacular self in front of our eyes. 

Final Thoughts

Had we found old Goa? Of course not. You cannot recreate the past and you’ll spend your life disappointed if you try. However, we’d found our own version of Goa. Whilst the overriding sun may have caused us to spend a great deal of the trip inside our hostel room, it didn’t stop the experience from being wonderful.

My intention had been to see the beauty in the world and it certainly had worked. I felt clarity. One of the reasons why psilocybin is now being explored as a therapeutic substance is due to this exact experience – people report feeling happier and clearer for months after a psychedelic trip. If I ever return to Goa I hope I will one day meet that green-haired, studio Ghibli character again but – if not – I will simply write it here: thank you.

Hello and welcome readers! We appreciate you making it over to Cannadelics.com; where we work hard everyday to bring you fully-rounded coverage of the growing cannabis and psychedelics spectrumHang out with us regularly to keep up with everything going on, and sign up for the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter, so you’re never late on getting a story.





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Local Decriminalization Efforts – Cannabis | Weed | Marijuana

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Local decriminalization efforts in last week’s midterm elections shouldn’t go unnoticed. While the US midterms saw Maryland and Missouri legalize cannabis, these smaller ballot measures are just as important.

In fact, one can make the case that local efforts are superior to state-wide top-down enforcement. Just as liberals don’t want to live in states without gun control, many conservatives don’t want legal pot stores in their towns.

The solution is decentralization. You do you. Live and let live. So long as people’s mobility rights aren’t infringed, what’s the issue?

With that in mind, let’s examine some of the local decriminalization efforts from last week’s midterms.

Local Decriminalization Efforts in Texas 

Local Decriminalization Efforts

Texas will likely be the last state to legalize recreational cannabis. Assuming they ever do. But in the meantime, some cities have taken prohibition into their own hands.

Local decriminalization efforts in Austin are old news. Last year the city council passed a resolution to stop arresting and ticketing people for possessing small amounts of cannabis.

But last week, the lesser-known cities of San Marcos, Denton, Harker Heights, Killeen, and Elgin decriminalized cannabis.

The Texas chapter of NORML was happy to see this, of course. But they caution against these kinds of “patchwork” enforcement policies based on location.

Local Decriminalization Efforts in Ohio 

Local decriminalization efforts in Ohio also saw five municipalities approve cannabis ballot measures. The municipalities of Corning, Kent, Shawnee, Rushville and Laurelville decriminalized cannabis.

In Ohio, twenty-five cities have now decriminalized cannabis.

Rhode Island Says Yes to More Cannabis 

Cannabis is already legal in Rhode Island. But local authorities can say no to legal cannabis shops within their towns or cities. After last week’s midterms, twenty-five municipalities in Rhode Island will now allow cannabis businesses to operate.

That said, Rhode Islanders may wait a long time until their local bureaucracy approves the paperwork.

Colorado Decriminalizes Magic Mushrooms

Local Decriminalization Efforts
Photo by Richard Vogel/AP/Shutterstock (10255885a)

Ten years ago, Colorado became the first state, along with Washington, to legalize cannabis. This year, Colorado spearheaded local decriminalization efforts relating to psychedelics like magic mushrooms.

Proposition 122, known as the Natural Medicine Health Act of 2022, means possessing, growing and sharing certain psychedelics is no longer a criminal act.

These psychedelics include psilocybin “magic” mushrooms, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, and mescaline. 

The Act also creates “healing centres” to be licensed by the state’s regulatory agency where the public can “buy, consume and take psychedelics under supervision.” 

This goes to show local decriminalization efforts can really pay off. The question is, why stop at drug prohibition? Why not make every political issue local and remove the D.C. bureaucracy from the picture altogether?





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Health

New study shows psilocybin can help with severe depression

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A large dose of psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms, was shown to help people suffering from a type of severe depression in a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study builds on previous research on psilocybin and depression, becoming the largest clinical trial of its kind to date, involving 233 participants across Europe and North America.

Some people who experience depression try various treatments, including antidepressant medications, which are sometimes ineffective for those suffering from “treatment-resistant depression.” This severe form of depression is thought to affect over 100 million people worldwide. 

For this study, researchers gave participants a single dose of either 25mg, 10mg, or 1mg of synthetic psilocybin while in the presence of trained professionals, and then took part in  follow-up therapy sessions. Participants who received the largest dose of 25mg indicated that psilocybin significantly mitigated their depression symptoms compared to those who received the 1mg dose. The beneficial effects of the 25 mg dose also set in more rapidly, over the course of 12 weeks, relative to the smaller doses. (25mg is considered a medium or high dose of psilocybin, the equivalent of roughly 2-3 grams of ingested dried mushrooms.)

Related

What are psychedelic mushrooms and psilocybin?

However, adverse effects, including headache, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue, occurred in a majority of the group that received the high dose. Suicidal thoughts were seen in all dose groups, which is common with this type of depression, but did not worsen for any group.

This is the latest study on the health benefits of psychedelics. In 2018, the FDA granted breakthrough therapy status to COMPASS’ synthetic psilocybin product, called COMP360, after a smaller trial for treatment-resistant depression. Psilocybin has also been shown to help treat alcohol and drug addiction as well as end-of-life anxiety for those with life-threatening cancer. 

Many other psychedelics, including MDMA, LSD, ketamine, ayahuasca, and many other substances, have been shown to treat a diverse set of conditions including anxiety, depression, trauma, substance addiction, and more.

The study was performed by scientists across 22 international sites including the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, in conjunction with mental health company COMPASS Pathways. 

Related

Psychedelic medicine: The benefits of psychedelics

“Treatment options are often limited, coming with troublesome side effects and/or stigma,” said Dr. James Rucker, Consultant Psychiatrist and Lead for the Psychoactive Trials Group at IoPPN, at King’s College London and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, in a press release. “Psilocybin therapy may be a new paradigm of treatment.”

“Our task now is to investigate psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression in larger clinical trials with more participants, comparing it both to placebo and to established treatments,” said Rucker.

COMPASS is also currently running phase 2 psilocybin therapy clinical trials for PTSD and anorexia nervosa. 

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Pat Goggins

Pat Goggins is a senior editor who handles Leafly’s informational content and specializes in cannabis cultivation after working for a commercial grower in Oregon. When not fixing typos, you’ll probably find him on a boat or in the mountains.

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