What Are Magic Mushrooms?

What Are Magic Mushrooms?

Gold caps, Mushies, Shrooms, Liberty Caps, Cubes, Blue Meanies. These are but a few of the nicknames that people use when referring to a group of fungi called magic mushrooms.

The term magic mushroom can refer to any of the psilocybin mushrooms that contain a few hallucinogenic substances, including psilocybin and psilocin.

While many countries still classify magic mushrooms as illegal substances, more and more scientists and healthcare experts are beginning to recognize the potential of using them beyond recreational purposes.


While interest in the use of magic mushrooms continues to grow, their use is nothing new. In fact, psilocybin mushrooms are embedded in the culture of many ancient civilizations.

Magic Mushrooms in ancient civilizations

According to some historians, the use of psilocybin-containing mushrooms can be traced as far back as 9000 BC in some North African cultures. Experts say that rock paintings suggest that magic mushroom use was prevalent during that period.

Moving to Central America, researchers believe that the Aztecs and Mayans may have used the hallucinogenic substance, with the former referring to the fungi as the flesh of the gods. These civilizations may have used magic mushrooms, along with peyote and other naturally hallucinogenic drugs for their religious rituals. Notes from Catholic missionaries seem to confirm this.

But despite suggestions that indicate magic mushroom usage in ancient cultures, there are some historians that disagree with these theories. These experts say that evidence of magic mushroom use in these cultures is inconclusive due to the lack of definitive evidence.

Magic Mushrooms in the Western World

The use of magic mushrooms in the West can be credited largely in part to the mycologist R. Gordon Wasson. Wasson was introduced to psilocybin mushrooms during his trip to Mexico in 1955. During this trip, the mycologist participated in a ritual officiated by a Mazatec shaman where magic mushrooms were used. Wasson did not take psychedelic mushrooms during this ritual.

Wasson shared his experience in an article that was published by Life magazine two years later. In fact, one of the magazine’s editors is credited for coining the term magic mushroom.

Later on, a colleague of Wasson named Roger Heim called on the Father of LSD Albert Hofmann to study these mushrooms. Eventually, Hofmann was able to isolate psilocybin and psilocin.

Timothy Leary, known for his advocacy of hallucinogenic drugs, also helped popularize the use of magic mushrooms. After reading Hofmann’s article, Leary was inspired to experiment with psilocybin mushrooms. And from there, the use of psilocybin mushrooms has been invariably tied to the Hippie culture.

Scientific research on magic mushrooms and their potential benefits beyond recreational use began in the fifties. However, a ban on research on psilocybin mushrooms as well as other hallucinogenic drugs suddenly came down during the seventies, due in large part due to fears of widespread drug abuse and unfavorable media coverage.

Fortunately, things have begun to change with some places legalizing the sale and use of shrooms. But more importantly, reputable institutions like Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research are spearheading studies on the potential therapeutic uses of this naturally-occurring psychedelic drug.


The psilocybin in magic mushrooms is primarily responsible for the effects associated with the fungi. According to studies, the substance activates the serotonin receptors in the brain, specifically the prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for controlling functions like moods, cognition, and perception. It has also been suggested that psychoactive drugs like psilocybin can also affect other parts of the brain, including those responsible for panic and arousal responses.

Contrary to popular belief, psilocybin does not really cause hallucinations. Instead, the substance distorts your perception of your environment, including the people and objects that are already there.

The effects of magic mushrooms are highly subjected and can vary from one person to another. Factors like dosage, magic mushroom species, personal experiences, and expectations can dictate whether you are going to have a good or bad trip.

Additionally, psilocybin mushroom potency can be affected by species, place of origin, growing conditions, and whether the fungi are consumed and prepared fresh or dry. According to users and experts, dried mushrooms are 10 more potent than fresh mushrooms.

The effects of psilocybin usually kick in half an hour after ingestion. The effects can last between four and six hours.


Magic mushrooms can be consumed in a variety of ways, including smoking, mixing with beverages and food, and eating them raw. But around psychedelic circles, psilocybin mushrooms are usually taken with food or brewed into tea. The primary reason behind this is to hide the bitter taste of the fungi.

The effects of magic mushrooms are usually felt 30 minutes after ingestion and can last between four to six hours.

Magic mushrooms produce physical and mental effects. Among the most common of these are

  • Dilation of pupils
  • Muscle weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased temperature
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Euphoria
  • Altered perception
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Spiritual experience.


Finding the optimal dose for magic mushrooms isn’t straightforward due to the variety of factors to consider. For example, the dosage for one species to another may be different. Dried mushrooms are more potent than fresh mushrooms and as such, you need to take that into account.

It certainly does not help that there are no established dosing guidelines for psilocybin mushrooms due to a lack of research.

Members of the psychedelic community say that the dosage can vary from microdoses to high and heroic doses. If you are unsure how to start dosing magic mushrooms, it is better to start low and slow, like you would with cannabis products such as THCA flowers.

Your dosage is also influenced by your needs and goals. Microdoses are perfect for people who wish to become more productive and improve their mood. Taking magic mushrooms at higher doses is recommended for people who wish to experience the psychedelic effects of shrooms.


Aside from the psychedelic effects of magic mushrooms, scientists are exploring the use of fungi for treating and managing a variety of conditions.


Researchers are studying the possibility of using magic mushrooms for the treatment of depression. In fact, the psychedelic drug has been given the status of breakthrough therapy by the FDA.


Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have discovered that magic mushrooms can be used by people who have been struggling with quitting cigarettes. Aside from this, scientists are exploring the use of psilocybin mushrooms in freeing people from their dependence on alcohol and other drugs.

Psychological distress

People who are nearing death often succumb to psychological distress. According to another research conducted by experts from Johns Hopkins, psilocybin mushrooms can help combat depression while improving the quality of life and mental health of patients that have been diagnosed with cancer.


Many researchers are enticed to study magic mushrooms and their potential therapeutic benefits. However, taking magic mushrooms carries a few risks.

One of the more serious risks associated with this naturally occurring psychedelic drug is hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder, a form of a visual flashback. Users who succumb to this adverse side effect recall a traumatic experience that is vastly different from a simple bad trip. These flashbacks can haunt magic mushroom users for a period ranging from weeks to years.

Some magic mushroom users have also been hospitalized for experiencing symptoms that are similar to schizophrenia like fear, confusion, and agitation. Typically, these symptoms wear off as the patients come down from their trip.

But one of the greatest risks of using magic mushrooms is mistaking poisonous mushrooms for psilocybin mushrooms. This often happens when people forage for psilocybin mushrooms in the wild. Effects can range from gastrointestinal issues to liver damage and death.


Compared to other drugs, magic mushrooms are considered safe. In fact, in a study conducted by the Global Drug Survey in 2017, it was discovered that psilocybin mushroom users were more careful. In turn, this has translated to lower risks among users.

Another key difference between psilocybin mushrooms and other drugs is that the former does not aggravate existing mental health issues. In fact, some Norwegian scientists are challenging the long-held notion that magic mushrooms can cause flashbacks.

Magic mushrooms are unique among psychoactive substances because they do not cause addiction and drug abuse. However, frequent use of psilocybin use can lead to tolerance. Tolerance simply means that your dosage of a substance increases when you use it regularly. It has also been theorized that tolerance for magic mushrooms can also increase tolerance for other substances like LSD.


While it is difficult to eliminate risks associated with mushroom use, there are a few things that you can do to avoid most of these.

Get your shrooms from trusted sources

One of the most common risks of using magic mushrooms is poisoning. As such, take great care in finding a reputable source that will provide you with quality products.

And while foraging for mushrooms is a rewarding experience, you have to learn to identify psilocybin mushrooms from poisonous mushrooms. Alternatively, you can consider growing your own mushrooms.

Start with a lower dosage

Like other drugs like Delta 8, magic mushrooms should be used at lower doses, especially if you are a first-timer. Take your time and begin with lower or microdoses and gradually increase until you find your sweet spot.

Set and setting

When you are going on a mushroom trip, your immediate environment has a direct effect on your psychedelic experience. As such, make sure that you prepare your environment before taking mushrooms.

Enlist the help of a trip setter

Psychedelic circles have long known the value of having a trip sitter around for a trip. Essentially, the trip sitter does not partake. Instead, they watch over the people who are taking mushrooms and attend to their needs.


In most countries, mushrooms are still classified as illicit substances. However, many people who use psilocybin mushrooms as well as scientists are hoping that their classification will be changed as more discoveries about them are made.

Currently, there are a few places that have changed their outlook and existing laws regarding the use and sale of psilocybin mushrooms.

In the United States, Oregon has passed legislation decriminalizing magic mushrooms. While shrooms are still illegal, the prosecution of suspects in possession of the substance is discouraged.

In Australia, authorities have passed legislation that conditionally legalizes the use of magic mushrooms and other recreational drugs for people suffering from mental health problems. These substances were reclassified from prohibited substance status to controlled medicine status.


Is it safe to take magic mushrooms?

Psilocybin mushrooms are considered to be one of, if not, the safest recreational drugs. It is non-addicting and does not compound existing mental health problems, unlike other substances.

The only real risk of consuming magic mushrooms is taking a poisonous mushroom that you thought was safe for consumption. That can lead to gastrointestinal problems, liver damage, or even fatality.

How do you use shrooms?

Mixing mushrooms with food and drinks is one of the most popular ways of taking psilocybin mushrooms. But aside from that, there are other ways of consumption.

Some people prefer smoking shrooms because the effects wear off faster. However, smoking mushrooms, or any type of combustible for that matter, can cause other health issues, especially those related to the respiratory system.

If you do not like brewing mushrooms into tea, you can add psilocybin mushrooms to your juice or smoothie. This way, you get to enjoy the benefits of magic mushrooms without the unpleasant taste.

Finally, you can make edibles out of shrooms. Some prefer taking mushrooms with chocolates and other desserts. If you are using shrooms for baking, be aware that psilocybin begins to break down at around 87 C.

How do you microdose psilocybin mushrooms?

Microdosing has become fairly popular among people who want to enjoy a few of the benefits of psychedelic drugs like mushrooms and LSD without the hallucinogenic effects.

Essentially, a microdose is a small dose of your psychoactive drug of choice without the hallucinations. That means that your whole day won’t be lost coming down from the trip. Instead, you get to enjoy a wide range of benefits, from productivity to the management of symptoms for conditions like depression and anxiety.

Because the effects of mushrooms are subjected to and due to limited available research, finding a dose that works best for you can be difficult. For microdoses, you should start with 0.1 grams of shrooms and then add 0.05 grams until you reach your sweet spot.

How can you avoid a bad trip?

Bad trips are another drawback of using shrooms. However, there are a few things that you can do to prevent them or even come down from a trip faster.

Before you even start, plan your trip and prepare your environment. It is also helpful to have someone watch over you as you make your trip.

While you are waiting for the effects of the mushrooms to set in, reframe your mindset. Instead of trying to control things, let go, enjoy, and commit yourself to the journey. The more you resist and try to take control, the more you are likely to get a bad trip.

Keep yourself safe by finding an environment free from stairs, mirrors, and other potential causes of physical harm. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery, especially if you are taking large doses.

Is it safe to use shrooms with alcohol?

It is not a good idea to mix drugs, including mushrooms with alcohol.

Some users think that combining alcohol with mushrooms will help them come down from a trip much faster. However, mixing substances is more often than not a bad idea.

For starters, combining substances can worsen the adverse side effects of the drugs you are using. Additionally, using alcohol after consuming shrooms will lead to the two canceling each other out.

Finally, when you are already in an altered state, adding alcohol to the equation can leave you vulnerable to injuries. It is also possible that you make poor decisions due to the altered state of your brain.


The ban on research on psychedelic drugs like magic mushrooms has set back progress for decades. Fortunately, more scientists are taking interest in the use of shrooms to treat and manage different conditions.

It certainly helps that social acceptance of drugs typically associated with recreational use continues to grow. With Oregon and Australia taking the lead on this subject matter, experts are optimistic that other countries will follow suit and permit further research.

While decriminalization is a major development, researchers are pushing for the reclassification of mushrooms and other drugs with the hope that the relaxation of laws will create a hospitable environment for further study, and sometime later, treatments anchored upon the use of psilocybin mushrooms.

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