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Psilocybin Mushrooms

Psilocybin: /3-(2-Dimethylaminoethyl)-1H-indol-4-yl/ dihydrogen phosphate

Overview

Psilocybin mushrooms are more than just a drug and sacrament, however. They’ve been used in therapeutic settings to treat a variety of ailments and disorders including cluster headaches, obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and addiction, and a recent resurgence in research into psilocybin’s therapeutic effects is showing promising results.

While psilocybin mushrooms have been decriminalized in three North American cities (see “Legality” for details), they are still illegal at the federal level and are categorized as a Schedule I controlled substance in the U.S. Recently, however, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have allowed several small, highly controlled human studies on their potential for use in medical and psychiatric settings. The FDA also designated psilocybin as a “breakthrough therapy” for depression, which could accelerate the process of psilocybin drug development and review.

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Experience

What to expect

Psilocybin mushrooms are generally eaten in their whole, dried form and most people agree they don’t taste great. To mask the flavor, some people brew the mushrooms into a tea, put them in Nutella or peanut butter, blend them a juice or smoothie, or grind them up and put them into capsules. Each of these ways will have a slightly different effect. Drinking a mushroom tea, for example, will bring on the effects faster than eating them; swallowing capsules will make the effects come on a little later.

A typical trip on a moderate dose of psilocybin mushrooms (1-2.5g) includes an increased intensity of emotional experiences, increased introspection, and altered psychological functioning in the form of “hypnagogic experiences,” which is the transitory state between wakefulness and sleep. Brain imaging studies show that a psilocybin trip is neurologically similar to dreaming, which gives you a good idea of the mindset you’re entering when undertaking a psychedelic experience.

During a psilocybin experience, you can expect to experience perceptual changes, synesthesia, emotional shifts, and a distorted sense of time. [1] Perceptual changes can include visuals such as halos around lights and objects as well as geometric patterns when your eyes are closed. You may also experience vivid colors, tracers, distorted vision, and a sense of the world breathing around you.

Thoughts and emotions can change, too. It’s not uncommon to have a sense of openness to thoughts and feelings that you avoid in your everyday life, as well as a sense of wonder and delight with the world around you, the people in your life, and your own mind. You may also feel a sense of peace and connection with the world.

Strong emotions, both enjoyable and challenging, are common during a journey. When undesirable feelings do arise, it’s best not to resist but rather let the feelings run their course. Many people who have reported the presence of strong negative emotions also report feeling a simultaneous sense of calm acceptance and detachment, especially if they don’t resist and remind themselves that the emotions are temporary. Resisting the emotions can lead to a “bad trip.” (See “Bad trips” for more details.)

Physical side effects vary from person to person, but they can include a change in heart rate (up or down), change in blood pressure (up or down), nausea, increased tendon reflexes, tremors, dilated pupils, restlessness or arousal, and trouble with coordinated movement. Some also report feeling deeply relaxed and calm.

One study also found that psilocybin can cause headaches that last for up to a day in healthy individuals. [2] None of the subjects reported severe headaches, however, and psilocybin is actually used to treat a clinical condition called cluster headaches (see “Therapeutic Uses” section).

Phases of a Psychedelic Mushroom Trip

The four basic phases of a mushroom trip are ingestion, onset, the trip (peak), and the comedown. Each phase comes with its own set of perceptions and observations. The peak, which typically occurs a couple of hours after ingestion, results in the most intense sensory and psychological shifts. No matter what phase you’re in, it’s important to relax and remember that what you’re experiencing is temporary, and there is nothing to fear.

Check out our detailed guide on what to expect during a psilocybin mushroom trip for more information.

Bad Trips

Anyone curious about trying psilocybin mushrooms for the first time will inevitably worry at some point about having a “bad trip,” which can happen. A bad trip might include dysphoric hallucinations, uncontrollable paranoia, and reckless behaviors. However, the risks associated with a psilocybin experience can be minimized by adhering to the 6S’s of the psychedelic experience—set, setting, substance, sitter, session, and situation. Being prepared and knowing your motivations before undertaking a psychedelic experience can help manage the risks. Also, it’s best to ignore the many portrayals of bad trips in popular culture. These scenes rarely capture the experience accurately and allude to bad trips being more common and out of your control than they actually are. Most bad trips can be managed with interpersonal support and without pharmaceutical intervention. [3]

Effects

Pharmacology

Psilocybin is the active psychedelic ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms. The threshold dose for feeling the effects from dried mushrooms is typically in the 0.2-0.5g range, though it varies for each person. A moderate dose in the 1-2.5g range, taken orally, typically produces effects that last from three to six hours. Psilocybin is about 100 times less potent than LSD and 10 times less potent than mescaline.

When you take psilocybin, your body metabolizes the substance into psilocin, both of which produce the psychedelic effects. Psilocybin and psilocin primarily interact with serotonin receptors in the brain and have an especially high affinity for the 5-HT (serotonin) 2A subtype receptors. In rodents, psilocybin has shown a strong interaction with receptors in hub regions of the brain that integrate sensory experiences. This could explain effects such as synesthesia—the experience of mixing sensory modalities, such as hearing colors or tasting sounds—and altered sensory experiences during mushroom trips.

Effects by Dose

NOTE: The effects listed below aren’t meant to be comprehensive, particularly at the lower dose ranges. They may be subject to change as more reliable, widely representative data become available.

These dose ranges are for Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms. They may apply to other psilocybin-containing species, but some (e.g. P. semilanceata) are more potent on average.

Microdose (0.05-0.25 g)

A microdose is a sub-perceptual (unnoticeable) dose, which many people incorporate into their weekly routines. The idea behind this is to enhance levels of creativity, energy, and focus, and decrease levels of stress, anxiety, and emotional instability. Find out more in our microdosing guide. Common effects include:

  • Mood enhancement
  • Decreased stress
  • Emotional stability
  • Mindfulness, presence, and peace
  • Openness and self-forgiveness
  • Conversational fluidity
  • Alleviation of persistent conditions such as depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, and PTSD
  • Increased motivation (e.g. to make positive lifestyle changes)
  • Increased flow states
  • Clearer, more connected thinking
  • Improved memory
  • Increased creativity
  • Easier meditation
  • Enhanced athletic endurance
  • Increased energy overall (without anxiety or a subsequent crash)
  • Slight amplification of mood, positive or negative
  • Possible manic states
  • Potentially increased neuroticism

Mini-dose (0.25-0.75 g)

While a proper microdose shouldn’t be felt, a mini-dose of psilocybin takes you just above the perceptual threshold—but it’s not a full-blown trip. As one of our community members put it, a mini-dose gives you “that total expansion of being, total freeflow feeling” without losing touch with your surroundings. Common effects include:

  • Mood enhancement, mild euphoria or excitement
  • Mindfulness, presence, and peace
  • Openness and self-forgiveness
  • Introspective insights
  • Alleviation of persistent conditions such as depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, and PTSD
  • Increased motivation (e.g. to make positive lifestyle changes)
  • Increased flow states
  • Clearer, more connected thinking
  • Enhanced senses
  • Easier meditation
  • Increased enjoyment of physical activity and everyday tasks
  • Preference for introspection over socializing
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Very mild visuals, if any
  • Possible manic states
  • Difficulty focusing or thought loops
  • Difficulty with some cognitive tasks
  • Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
  • Difficulty or discomfort socializing

Museum dose (0.5-1.5 g)

The effects of psilocybin are more apparent with a museum dose than with a mini-dose, but a museum dose still won’t give you a full psychedelic experience. The name “museum dose,” coined by the biochemist and pharmacologist Dr. Alexander Shulgin, refers to the fact that on this dose, you can still participate in public activities (such as viewing paintings in a museum) without attracting attention. Common effects include:

  • Mood enhancement, euphoria or excitement
  • Mild to moderate visuals (e.g. “breathing” environments)
  • Increased empathy
  • Conversational fluidity
  • Introspection
  • Increased flow states
  • Enhanced senses
  • Enhanced appreciation for music, art, etc.
  • Increased creativity
  • Amplification of mood, positive or negative
  • Altered perception of sound
  • Time dilation or contraction (time passing more slowly or quickly)
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Pupil dilation
  • Difficulty focusing or thought loops
  • Difficulty or discomfort socializing
  • Frustration at dosage (the “no man’s land”)

Moderate dose (2-3.5 g)

This is where the full psychedelic experience begins. You’ll likely see visual hallucinations, including patterns and fractals, and things like time and depth perception will be distorted. But with this dose, you’re still able to grasp your surroundings—they’ll just be highly altered. Common effects include:

  • Life-changing introspective or philosophical insights
  • Increased flow of ideas
  • Enhanced appreciation for music, art, etc.
  • Finding otherwise mundane things funny or interesting
  • Clear come-up, peak, and come-down
  • Amplification of emotions, whether good or bad
  • Open- and closed-eye visuals (e.g. patterns, auras)
  • Synesthesia
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Compulsive yawning
  • Disorientation
  • Fear and anxiety (“bad trip” experiences)
  • Difficulty with cognitive tasks
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

Megadose (5+ g)

A megadose brings on a total loss of connection with reality. This is where you’ll experience intense hallucinations, as well as ego death, mystical experiences, and deep introspection. Common effects include:

  • Mystical experience and intense feelings of wonder
  • Life-changing introspective or philosophical insights
  • Ego death
  • Very strong open- and closed-eye visions (e.g. memories coming to life)
  • Synesthesia
  • Time becoming meaningless
  • Disorientation
  • Compromised motor functions (sitter recommended!)
  • Strong fear and anxiety (extreme “bad trip” experiences)
  • Extreme difficulty with cognitive tasks
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

Interactions With Other Drugs

So far, not much data exists around psilocybin’s interaction with other drugs, whether good or bad, but it’s best to be intentional and err on the side of caution when mixing any two substances together. Here’s what we do know.

Positive Interactions

  • Cannabis: Cannabis has the potential to enhance the psychedelic nature of the mushrooms, but it’s best to wait until the latter half of the experience so you don’t interfere with the insight provided by psilocybin.
  • Ketamine: Psilocybin + ketamine is the classic Burning Man combination. If you combine ketamine with psilocybin, wait until the intensity of the psilocybin experience has passed before utilizing ketamine.
  • MDMA: Colloquially known as “hippy flipping,” mixing MDMA and psilocybin is a common practice. While no existing research supports the safety or danger of this combination, anecdotal reports show that MDMA can enhance the psilocybin trip and even help you avoid being overcome with negative emotions.

Neutral Interactions

  • Coffee: There are no known side effects to mixing coffee and psilocybin, but some believe the energy boost of caffeine can enhance the psilocybin experience.

Negative Interactions

  • Alcohol: Anecdotal reports from emergency rooms suggest that abstaining from alcohol while on mushrooms is the safest and smartest bet. In fact, it’s best to abstain from alcohol while using any psychedelic. [4]
  • Adderall, Xanax, SSRI antidepressants: These are powerful psychoactive drugs with largely subjective side effects, and psychedelic use should be approached with extreme caution if you regularly take any of these substances. On top of that, psilocybin is a potent serotonin agonist, which means it could interfere with any medications that alter the serotonin system.

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Benefits & Risks

Potential Benefits

Among the many historical cultures that have used them, psychedelic mushrooms have a longstanding, profound, and storied reputation as an agent for healing and change. Beyond lore, the benefits of these powerful little fungi are being recognized today in a big way. Studies into the vast and multifarious use of psychoactive mushrooms are being conducted across the United States and abroad, and evidence is strong that they are indeed drivers of personal growth. One recent study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that “a single dose of psilocybin produced substantial and enduring decreases in depressed mood and anxiety along with increases in quality of life.”

Additionally, the mystical and profound experiences that occurred when psilocybin entered the American psychedelic lexicon in the 1960s are now being researched and explored in mainstream medical science. The results are promising and compelling and suggest that psilocybin could be a powerful healer.

More specifically, clinical trials involving patients dealing with life-threatening cancer have been and are currently being conducted in the United States and abroad. These trials are mainly attempting to understand the efficacy of high-dose psilocybin experiences administered in therapeutic environments as a tool for reducing the psychological stress and anxiety that often accompanies a life-threatening diagnosis. The results so far have been promising. Under double-blind, placebo-controlled conditions, a single high dose of psilocybin has been shown to reduce symptoms of psychological distress among people with terminal diagnoses, and the effects of that experience have been substantial and enduring.

Additionally, there is a growing body of research suggesting that part of why psilocybin is so effective is that it impacts neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to learn, grow and, most importantly, change.

Risks

Psilocybin is largely considered one of the safest psychoactive substances you can take. The 2017 Global Drug Survey found that psilocybin is the safest of all the recreational drugs on the market and that just 0.2% of the people who took psilocybin in 2016 needed emergency medical treatment. That’s five times lower than that for MDMA, LSD, and cocaine. Psilocybin is also non-addictive and there’s no known lethal dose, meaning that even if you have a bad trip, you’re unlikely to overdose.

That being said, taking any drug isn’t without risk. At the outset and during a trip, psilocybin can cause some physical side effects such as nausea, perspiration, numbing, and tremors. It can also lead to anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, and mood swings. A survey published in Substance Abuse and Misuse found that up to 33% of people surveyed who had taken mushrooms experienced paranoia and anxiety at some point during their trip. Long-term physical and psychological effects are rare. When they do occur, research suggests the cause was latent psychological disorders, not the mushrooms themselves.

There is, however, something called Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD), which is commonly known as “flashbacks.” Unlike flashbacks associated with PTSD, however, HPPD is unique to psychedelics and involves perceptual changes in the weeks or months following the use of psilocybin (or other psychedelic). The prevalence of HPPD is unknown, but it’s considered a rare disorder and is not associated with any physical changes or neurological damage.

Therapeutic Use

However, after the federal government reclassified psilocybin as a Schedule I drug in the 1970s, research on its therapeutic effects became virtually non-existent. All that has changed with the third wave of psychedelics. With anecdotal accounts of psilocybin’s therapeutic effects finally capturing the attention of medical professionals and regulators and trickling into the mainstream, today, research is being funded and conducted by many organizations, including MAPS, The Beckley Foundation, and The Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research. Like the research in the 60s and 70s, so far research is showing that psilocybin could have profound therapeutic effects.

Psilocybin in the Treatment of Mood and Anxiety Disorders

For years, anecdotal reports have shown psilocybin (and other psychedelics) to be an effective treatment for mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Now in the third wave of psychedelics, this is one of the most prevalent areas of modern clinical research involving psilocybin, leading the federal government to allow some small, highly controlled studies to be conducted on the therapeutic potential of psilocybin on mood disorders. In 2011, for example, a pilot study tested the effects of psilocybin on depression and end-of-life anxiety in terminal cancer patients. [6] Patients in this study had advanced-stage cancer and a clinical diagnosis of stress or anxiety related to their disease. After psilocybin treatment, researchers observed significant improvements in measures of depression and anxiety up to six months after the trial. This study was eventually granted Phase II status by the FDA, meaning a larger study could be conducted.

Another study by a prestigious research group in London suggests psilocybin could be used to treat major depression. [7] In the study, twelve patients were given two doses of psilocybin (one low, and one high), combined with psychological support. One week after the second dose, depression scores were significantly reduced in nearly all patients, with eight out of 12 showing no symptoms of depression. Three months later, five patients were still depression-free, and four of the remaining seven had a reduction in the rating of their depression from “Severe” to “Mild or Moderate.”

Psilocybin treatment has also been shown to successfully reduce symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in a small study of people who didn’t respond to conventional serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI) drug therapy. [8] In this study, all patients showed a reduction in OCD symptoms ranging from 23% to 100%.

Psilocybin in the Treatment of Addiction

In the 50s and 60s, “classic psychedelics” were used in preclinical trials to treat addiction with promising results. But again, once many of these psychedelics were made illegal in the U.S. and most of Europe, research into their use for therapeutic applications came to a halt. But recent years have seen a resurgence of research looking at psilocybin and other psychedelics as promising treatments for addiction.

In a 2015 study, for example, psilocybin proved useful in treating alcoholism as part of an assisted treatment plan. [9] Significant reductions in drinking and abstinence from drinking were reported after psilocybin administration as part of a treatment program.

Psilocybin also appears to be a potential tool in helping people quit smoking tobacco. In a recent trial, 15 smokers experienced two to three psilocybin sessions as part of a larger cognitive-behavioral therapy program for smoking cessation. Twelve of the participants (80%) were able to successfully quit. [10] By comparison, conventional smoking cessation method success rates—including gum, patches, and going cold turkey—have about a 35% success rate.

Psilocybin in the Treatment of Cluster Headaches

More intense but shorter in duration than migraines, cluster headaches are often described as the most painful and disruptive type of headache and they interfere significantly with a person’s life.

So far no systematic studies have been published that describe psilocybin’s potential to treat cluster headaches, but anecdotal reports claiming this use have caught the attention of the medical community. In the mid-2000s, medical professionals began taking notice of psilocybin and LSD as possible treatments for cluster headaches after some of their patients reported remission of their condition following recreational psychedelic use and subsequent self-medication. [11]

One recent survey reported that psilocybin could be a more effective treatment of cluster headaches than currently available medications, with nearly 50% of sufferers reporting psilocybin as a completely effective treatment. [12] Several clinical studies into this use are underway and more research should be available soon. [13] [14]

Does Psilocybin Re-Wire the Brain?

Some researchers are beginning to theorize that many of psilocybin’s beneficial effects on mental health conditions may be due to its ability to “reset” the Default Mode Network (DMN), the brain’s control system. An overactive DMN been linked to depression and other mood disorders, and psilocybin has been shown to dramatically reduce activity in the area. [15] This has been linked to antidepressant effects. [16]

Personal Growth

Anecdotal reports have long supported these initial findings. After a psilocybin experience, people often report a greater appreciation of music, art, and nature along with more tolerance for others and increased creativity and imagination.

A 2011 study also found that more than a year after participants had a single psilocybin experience, their self-reported measures of openness remained significantly elevated, which researches in this study and beyond attribute to a somewhat mysterious but powerful aspect of a mushroom trip: the mystical experience.

In this case, a mystical experience is defined as “feelings of unity and interconnectedness with all people and things, a sense of sacredness, feelings of peace and joy, a sense of transcending normal time and space, ineffability, and an intuitive belief that the experience is a source of objective truth about the nature of reality.” The religious identification of people who have reported having a mystical-type experience during a mushroom trip span the spectrum, but interestingly the profundity of such experiences don’t seem to correlate to religious belief—even atheists have reported the importance of their psilocybin-induced mystical experiences. Additionally, research has shown that the more intense the mystical experience, the greater the positive, long-term changes a person sees. [20]

These subjective effects, such as feelings of interconnectedness, are likely a result of psilocybin’s ability to decrease the interconnectivity of integration hubs in the brain. [21] In plain speak, that means psilocybin allows for more “cross-talk” between regions of the brain that are typically segregated. Researchers speculate that this enables a state of “unconstrained cognition,” meaning the ways we typically organize, categorize, and differentiate the aspects of conscious experience are broken down, and thinking becomes more flexible. [22] To understand how this might be beneficial, it helps to know that similar brain activity patterns are also observed during various states of meditation. For more about this, see our blog post about combining psychedelics and meditation.

It might not surprise you, then, to learn that research has shown that psilocybin can be used to enhance one’s spiritual practice. In a recent study, 75 participants engaged in a six-month spiritual course involving meditation, awareness, and self-reflection. During the course, participants were given either a low or high dose of psilocybin. At the end of the six months, the participants given the high dose of psilocybin showed significantly greater improvements in measures of spirituality such as interpersonal closeness, life meaning, death transcendence, and forgiveness. [23]

With all this in mind, many people believe psilocybin (and other psychedelics) could be a key component of self-improvement and self-optimization. By occasioning the experience of feeling connected to the universe (in whatever individual form that takes) and confronting the deepest part of yourself, many believe psilocybin can help you take the necessary steps to become the best version of yourself you can be.

Microdosing

While the modern history of psychedelics reaches back to the 1950s, interest in microdosing surged with the publication of Dr. James Fadiman’s 2011 book, The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys. The book explores microdosing as a subculture of psychedelic use. While many indigenous cultures, as well as modern professionals, have used microdosing to unlock a host of benefits, Fadiman’s book formally introduced the term “microdosing” into the psychedelic mainstream.

Fadiman’s ongoing research also serves as one of the few modern studies into the effects of microdosing specifically. While there have been some recent clinical studies examining the efficacy of microdosing, we know more about what large doses of psychedelics do to the brain. But chances are microdosing does similar work, just on a smaller level. To learn more about microdosing, read our comprehensive microsing guide.

Legality

While psilocybin is illegal at the federal level in the U.S., psilocybin mushrooms were deemed legal to grow and possess (as long as they’re not dried) in New Mexico in 2005. In 1978, the Florida supreme court ruled that harvesting wild psilocybin mushrooms was effectively legal until the state legislature said otherwise. So far, no new have been passed to regulate the harvest of wild-picked psilocybin mushrooms.

On May 7, 2019, citizens of Denver, Colorado, voted to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. [24] This means it’s no longer a punishable offense for adults aged 21 and older to possess them for personal use. This doesn’t make them legal, though. If you’re caught selling or otherwise distributing psilocybin mushrooms, and possibly even growing them, you could still face criminal charges. The law remains unchanged for the rest of Colorado—at least for the time being.

In June the same year, Oakland, California, followed suit with an amendment of its own: Council members voted unanimously to decriminalize not just psilocybin mushrooms but all “entheogenic plants” containing indoleamines, tryptamines, and phenethylamines. Like in Denver, this only applies to adults aged 21 years and older and doesn’t include synthetic substances derived from plants or fungi, such as LSD. However, unlike in Denver, it also decriminalizes (or rather deprioritizes for law enforcement) the cultivation and distribution of the specified psychedelics—which includes psilocybin mushrooms. [25] [26] Oakland is implementing a “Grow, Gather, Gift” framework for legalization, which encourages people to grow their own, gather their own, and gift their own plant medicines rather than establishing a for-profit market.

With the exception of three states, psilocybin mushroom spores are perfectly legal to possess in the U.S., as the spores don’t contain psilocybin or psilocin, the chemicals that are specifically regulated by federal law. However, despite the spores being legal, growing mushrooms from the spores is still considered an illicit activity.

For other legal mushroom products that can boost your health (without the psychoactivity!), check out Four Sigmatic.

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History & Stats

Brief history

Archaeological evidence from the Sahara desert suggests that humans have been using psychedelic mushrooms for 7,000 years or more and mushrooms are represented in prehistoric art across many geographic regions. [27] In most cases, they’re thought to be religious symbols, often in the context of ceremonies celebrating rights of passage. It’s thought among some that if our ancestors did use mushrooms, the experience may have influenced prehistoric culture, from art to religion to social values that regulated everyday life.

Listen to our podcast episode with Jerry Brown talking about Were Early Christians Tripping On Psilocybin Mushrooms? or Click here to read the transcript

Some take this theory pretty far. In the 90s, ethnobotanist and psychonaut Terence McKenna posited the “Stoned Ape Hypothesis,” which suggests that when early humans or pre-human hominids ingested psychedelic mushrooms, it triggered intellectual advancements that lead to evolutionary benefits—include the mind as we know it today. It should be noted that the scientific community regards this hypothesis with skepticism due to a lack of evidence support some of its assumptions.

There are, however, extensive accounts of pre-Columbian psilocybin use among the Mayan and Aztec cultures of Mesoamerica, namely in Mexico and Guatemala. After conquering these areas in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Spanish forbade psychedelic mushroom use by indigenous peoples, regarding it as a savage and uncivilized cultural practice. Despite this, the indigenous shamans ignored Spanish law in secret for over 400 years and continued to use and administer these mushrooms to preserve their cultural heritage.

The first reliable account in the West of “intoxication” with psilocybin mushrooms came in 1799 when four children were accidentally fed Psilocybe semilanceata, a species of psychedelic mushroom, which their father had unknowingly gathered and cooked into a stew.

The famous Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann (who synthesized LSD) first isolated psilocybin in the lab in 1957 from Psilocybe mexicana, a species of mushroom found primarily in Central America. A year later, it was produced synthetically for the first time. [28]

Gordon Wasson, former vice president of J.P. Morgan & Company, apparently had a fascination with psilocybin mushrooms, which grew into an obsession. In 1955, he traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico, to meet mushroom shaman Maria Sabina, a member of the indigenous Mazatec Indian tribe, who introduced him to psilocybin mushrooms. On his first mushroom trip, he reported feeling as if his soul had been scooped out of his body. [29] Wasson effectively kickstarted the psychedelic mushroom movement in the West when, in 1957, Time Magazine published his photo essay, “Seeking the Magic Mushroom,” in which he detailed his experiences.

After reading of Wasson’s experiences and then traveling to Oaxaca to experience psilocybin mushrooms for themselves, Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, researchers at Harvard University, founded the Harvard Psilocybin Project, which got them fired shortly after. So they did what any jobless, charismatic academics would have done in 1962: they started a psychedelic movement. Psilocybin mushrooms were quickly adopted into the 1960s counterculture.

In 1971, psilocybin was listed in the UN’s Convention on Psychotropic Substances as a Schedule I drug in the U.S., making it illegal for all purposes. [30] However, psilocybin mushrooms were not part of the UN convention, which, to this day, allows countries who have signed the convention (essentially a treaty) to regulate mushrooms that naturally contain psilocybin as they see fit. However, psilocybin mushrooms are illegal in most countries today, although there are exceptions.

Current Usage

  • Psilocybin mushrooms are the most commonly used psychedelics among people ages 34 and younger. [31]
  • A 2012 study of 409 university students in the northeast U.S. found that nearly 30% had tried psilocybin mushrooms at least once. [32]
  • A report from data collected in the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows that, compared to other drugs, psychedelics—which include LSD, PCP, peyote, mescaline, psilocybin mushrooms, and MDMA—were used by about 1.2% of the population of people 12 years of age and older within the past month. Interestingly, “psychotherapeutics” (such as prescription antidepressants and antipsychotics) are reportedly used illegally at a rate nearly six times that of psychedelics.
  • Surveys in 12 E.U. member states found that the use of psilocybin mushrooms among people aged 15–24 ranges from less than 1% to 8%.
  • In the UK, almost 340,000 people aged 16–59 had used psilocybin mushrooms in the last year as of 2004/2005, right before they were made completely illegal in the U.K.

Types of Mushrooms

Of the 180+ known types of psychedelic mushrooms, the most widely known and consumed species are:

  • Psilocybe cubensis: The most well-known and widely cultivated of psilocybin mushrooms.
  • Psilocybe cyanescens: Less well-known compared to psilocybe cubensis, but no less cultivated. These are slightly smaller and slightly more psychoactive.
  • Psilocybe azurescens: Discovered by world-renowned mycologist Paul Stamets in the mid-90s, this is likely the most potent psilocybin mushroom in the world.
  • Amanita Muscaria (Fly Agaric): A red and white mushroom containing the psychoactive elements ibotenic acid and muscimol. This mushroom was regularly used in shamanic tradition by indigenous Siberian and Baltic cultures.

How to Identify Psychedelic Mushrooms

Of course, when you first begin mushroom hunting, heed caution. There are many types of similar-looking mushrooms with varying levels of toxicity, and usually, only well-trained mushroom hunters can differentiate between species. If you know what to look for, choosing a deadly mushroom is unlikely, but it’s important to be aware of what you’re doing. Misidentified mushrooms can cause sickness or (though rarely) even death when consumed.

That said, psilocybe cubensis grows in abundance in tropical zones throughout the world. They are classic stubby-stemmed parasol-shaped mushrooms with predominantly light-to-golden-brownish caps that are bulbous before fruiting, and flat and wide in diameter when fully mature. Psilocybe azurescens, on the other hand, is endemic to the West Coast of the United States and appear slimmer and more convex. Read more about how to identify psychedelic mushrooms.

How to Grow Psychedelic Psilocybin Mushrooms

Disclaimer: Growing psilocybin mushrooms for consumption is a potentially illegal activity, and we do not encourage or condone this activity where it is against the law.

Growing your own psilocybin mushrooms is a good alternative to the potentially dangerous practice of collecting them. As well as providing a reliable, year-round supply, home cultivation eliminates the risk of misidentifying mushrooms in the wild. For many growers, it’s also a fun, low-cost hobby.

While there are ready-made mushroom kits available online, it’s usually best to start from scratch. The kits do contain a living mycelium substrate (the material underlying mushroom growth), which you need to grow your own mushrooms, but making your own substrate is not only more consistent, it’s also less prone to contamination. For more information on how to start your own psilocybin grow, check out our guide here.

Myths

“Psilocybin mushrooms cause brain bleeding, stomach bleeding, and/or kidney failure”

A “bleeding brain” would be diagnosed as a stroke, hemorrhage, or aneurysm. There is no evidence of this ever happening after ingesting psilocybin mushrooms, nor is there any evidence to suggest that these mushrooms cause stomach bleeding. A 1981 report found that the two most common complications with mushroom use were dilated pupils and overly sensitive reflexes. [33] Other literature reviews have found no complications related to mushroom use in healthy individuals. [34] [35]

As for kidney problems, the issue is actually a mushroom identification problem. The psychedelic mushroom species Psilocybe semilanceata does not cause kidney issues, but mushrooms in the family Cortinarius are often mistaken for P. semilanceata, and are harmful to the kidneys.

“Shrooms make you go insane”

Researchers have drawn similarities between psilocybin mushroom trips and psychotic episodes like those found in schizophrenia, but in almost all cases, this is temporary (hence, the term “trip”). [36] Even people who are admitted to the emergency room after taking psilocybin mushrooms return to their normal physical and mental state within a matter of hours. [37] A recent large, population-wide study found a reduced likelihood of psychological distress and suicidality among those who use classic psychedelics such as psilocybin mushrooms and LSD. [38]

While there is no conclusive evidence suggesting that latent mental health problems can be exacerbated by psychedelic use, many scientists believe this is the case. [39] As such, if you have a history of mental illness (especially schizophrenia), you may want to avoid psychedelic drugs.

“Magic mushrooms are poisonous”

This depends on your definition of “poisonous.” If you categorize a chemical substance that induces an intoxicated state, alters your consciousness, and causes some physiological changes as poisonous, then sure, psilocybin mushrooms are poisonous. But if that’s the case, then all drugs are poisonous, including alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and caffeine. A narrower definition of a poisonous substance, however, would not categorize psilocybin as such.

While mushroom poisoning from non-psychedelic species can cause serious physical illness and, in rare cases, death, psilocybin mushrooms are not toxic. Proper identification of mushroom species, therefore, is critical.

Can psilocybin be detected in a drug test?

Psilocybin mushrooms and their metabolites are not included in most standard drug screens. However, they are sometimes included in extended drug screens. [40]

Can psilocybin cause psychological trauma?

If you follow the 6S’s of psychedelic use and avoid taking psychedelics if you have a family history of mental health issues, psilocybin will not cause psychological trauma.

In some cases, psilocybin can lead to a short period of acute psychosis, known colloquially as a “bad trip,” if you don’t follow the 6S’s. Although there is no concrete evidence, some scientists suspect that psilocybin can cause latent mental health issues to surface.

How do I know if I have psilocybin mushrooms?

Many species of mushrooms contain psilocybin, and some look similar to poisonous mushrooms, so it’s important to identify your mushrooms correctly. Many species of psilocybin mushrooms are recognizable by their long, thin stems and short cone-like caps.

Is it legal to grow psilocybin mushrooms?

In most countries, it is illegal to possess, buy, or grow psilocybin mushrooms. However, the spores are legal to buy in many places, as long as you don’t use them to grow mushrooms. Read our full article on the legality of psilocybin mushrooms.

How do I take psilocybin mushrooms?

Psilocybin mushrooms can be eaten whole, brewed in a tea, or cooked into food. A moderate dose is 1-2.5g, which can be weighed on a scale.

How do I microdose with psilocybin mushrooms?

Psilocybin mushrooms can be microdosed by ingesting around 0.05-0.25g, but everyone’s tolerance is different.

How does psilocybin tolerance work?

Taking a moderate dose of psilocybin will produce immediate tolerance. If you take the drug again soon, it will have a weaker effect. You should wait at least three days between psilocybin doses.

Can I mix psilocybin with other drugs?

Psilocybin should not be mixed with Tramadol, as it can lead to serotonin syndrome. Be cautious of mixing psilocybin with cannabis, amphetamines, or cocaine. Click here for a detailed chart of safe drug combinations.

Footnotes

[1] Passie, T., Seifert, J., Schneider, U., & Emrich, H. M. (2002). The pharmacology of psilocybin. Addiction Biology, 7(4), 357–364. Retrieved from: https://maps.org/research-archive/w3pb/2002/2002_Passie_22704_1.pdf.

[2] Johnson, M. W., Sewell, R. A., & Griffiths, R. R. (2012). Psilocybin dose-dependently causes delayed, transient headaches in healthy volunteers. Drug & Alcohol Dependence, 123(1), 132–140. Retrieved from: https://cpdd.org/publications/drug-and-alcohol-dependence/.

[3] Studerus, E., Kometer, M., Hasler, F., & Vollenweider, F. X. (2011). Acute, subacute and long-term subjective effects of psilocybin in healthy humans: a pooled analysis of experimental studies. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 25(11), 1434–1452. Retrieved from: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0269881110382466.

[4] van Amsterdam, J., Opperhuizen, A., & van den Brink, W. (2011). Harm potential of magic mushroom use: a review. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 59(3), 423–429. Retrieved from: https://www.ovid.com/product-details.12163.html.

[5] Vollenweider, F. X., & Kometer, M. (2010). The neurobiology of psychedelic drugs: implications for the treatment of mood disorders. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 11(9), 642–651. Retrieved from: https://www.nature.com/articles/nrn2884.

[6] 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. Retrieved from: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/210962.

[7] Carhart-Harris et al. (2016). Psilocybin with psychological support for treatment-resistant depression: an open-label feasibility study. The Lancet Psychiatry. Retrieved from: https://www.thelancet.com/action/showPdf?pii=S2215-0366%2816%2930065-7.

[8] Moreno, F. A., Wiegand, C. B., Taitano, E. K., & Delgado, P. L. (2006). Safety, tolerability, and efficacy of psilocybin in 9 patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 67(11), 1735–1740. Retrieved from: https://maps.org/research-archive/w3pb/2006/2006_Moreno_22868_1.pdf.

[9] Bogenschutz, M. P., Forcehimes, A. A., Pommy, J. A., Wilcox, C. E., Barbosa, P. C. R., & Strassman, R. J. (2015). Psilocybin-assisted treatment for alcohol dependence: A proof-of-concept study. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 29(3), 289–299. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/270909625_Psilocybin-assisted_treatment_for_alcohol_dependence_A_proof-of-concept_study.

[10] 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. Retrieved from: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0269881114548296.

[11] Sewell, R. A., Halpern, J. H., & Pope, H. G. (2006). Response of cluster headache to psilocybin and LSD. Neurology, 66(12), 1920–1922. Retrieved from: http://www.en.psilosophy.info/pdf/response_of_cluster_headache_to_psilocybin_and_lsd_(psilosophy.info).pdf.

[12] Schindler et al (2015). Indoleamine hallucinogens in cluster headache: results of the Clusterbusters medication use survey. J Psychoactive Drugs, 47(5), 372-381. Retrieved from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02791072.2015.1107664?journalCode=ujpd20.

[13] Research into psilocybin and LSD as cluster headache treatment. Retrieved from
https://maps.org/research-archive/html_bak/totestcsses.html

[14] Psilocybin for the Treatment of Cluster Headache. Retrieved from
https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02981173

[15] Carhart-Harris et al. (2012). Neural correlates of the psychedelic state as determined by fMRI studies with psilocybin. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 109(6):2138-43. Retrieved from: https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/109/6/2138.full.pdf.

[16] Carhart-Harris et al. (2017). Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression: fMRI-measured brain mechanisms. Scientific reports, 7:13187. Retrieved from: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-13282-7.pdf.

[17] Leary, T., Litwin, G. H., & Metzner, R. (1963). Reactions to psilocybin administered in a supportive environment. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 137(6), 561–573. Retrieved from: https://journals.lww.com/jonmd/Citation/1963/12000/REACTIONS_TO_PSILOCYBJN_ADMINISTERED_IN_A.7.aspx.

[18] Alpert, R., Leary, T., & Metzner, R. (1971). The psychedelic experience. Retrieved from: https://amzn.to/3fXDXFI.

[19] Studerus, E., Gamma, A., & Vollenweider, F. X. (2010). Psychometric Evaluation of the Altered States of Consciousness Rating Scale (OAV). PLOS ONE, 5(8), e12412. Retrieved from: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0012412&type=printable.

[20] Griffiths, R. R., Richards, W. A., Johnson, M. W., McCann, U. D., & Jesse, R. (2008). Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later. Journal of Psychopharmacology. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3050654/pdf/nihms252841.pdf.

[21] Carhart-Harris, R. L., Erritzoe, D., Williams, T., Stone, J. M., Reed, L. J., Colasanti, A., … others. (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. Retrieved from: https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/109/6/2138.full.pdf.

[22] Restructuring consciousness –the psychedelic state in light of integrated information theory. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4464176/

[23] Griffiths et al. (2017). Psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience in combination with meditation and other spiritual practices produces enduring positive changes in psychological functioning and in trait measures of prosocial attitudes and behaviors. J Psychopharm. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5772431/pdf/10.1177_0269881117731279.pdf.

[25] AP. (2019, Jun 5). The Latest: Oakland 2nd US city to legalize magic mushrooms. Retrieved from https://www.apnews.com/ff023dfbf4534eba8622f504d272ff00.

[28] Passie, T., Seifert, J., Schneider, U., & Emrich, H. M. (2002). The pharmacology of psilocybin. Addiction Biology, 7(4), 357–364. Retrieved from: https://maps.org/research-archive/w3pb/2002/2002_Passie_22704_1.pdf.

[32] Hallock, R. M., Dean, A., Knecht, Z. A., Spencer, J., & Taverna, E. C. (2013). A survey of hallucinogenic mushroom use, factors related to usage, and perceptions of use among college students. Drug & Alcohol Dependence, 130(1), 245–248. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0376871612004516?via%3Dihub.

[33] Peden, N. R., Macaulay, K. E. C., Bissett, A. F., Crooks, J., & Pelosi, A. J. (1981). Clinical toxicology of “magic mushroom” ingestion. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 57(671), 543–545. Retrieved from: https://pmj.bmj.com/content/postgradmedj/57/671/543.full.pdf.

[34] Passie, T., Seifert, J., Schneider, U., & Emrich, H. M. (2002). The pharmacology of psilocybin. Addiction Biology, 7(4), 357–364. Retrieved from: https://maps.org/research-archive/w3pb/2002/2002_Passie_22704_1.pdf.

[35] van Amsterdam, J., Opperhuizen, A., & van den Brink, W. (2011). Harm potential of magic mushroom use: a review. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 59(3), 423–429. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0273230011000080?via%3Dihub.

[36] Vollenweider, F. X., Vollenweider-Scherpenhuyzen, M. F., Bäbler, A., Vogel, H., & Hell, D. (1998). Psilocybin induces schizophrenia-like psychosis in humans via a serotonin-2 agonist action. Neuroreport, 9(17), 3897–3902. Retrieved from: https://journals.lww.com/neuroreport/Abstract/1998/12010/Psilocybin_induces_schizophrenia_like_psychosis_in.24.aspx.

[37] L, S., H, G., & K, C. (2004). Poisonings resulting from the ingestion of magic mushrooms in Krakow. Przeglad Lekarski, 62(6), 394–396. Retrieved from: http://www.oit.cm.uj.edu.pl/documents/31784089/35444205/Magic_mushroom2005.pdf.

[38] Hendricks, P. S., Thorne, C. B., Clark, C. B., Coombs, D. W., & Johnson, M. W. (2015). Classic psychedelic use is associated with reduced psychological distress and suicidality in the United States adult population. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 29(3), 280–288. Retrieved from: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0269881114565653.

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Everything you need to know about Psilocybin Mushrooms, the fungi that enable mystical experiences, personal development, and spiritual growth.

Beyond Psilocybe Cubensis: 10 Magic Mushroom Species You Should Know About

Michelle Janikian // April 6, 2020

DoubleBlind is devoted to fair, rigorous reporting by leading experts and journalists in the field of psychedelics. Read more about our editorial process and fact-checking here. Editorially reviewed by Madison Margolin.

Psilocybe cubensis

Magic mushrooms are so incredible and mysterious, from the beautiful experiences they occasion to the mystical compounds that they naturally produce. But what’s even more mindblowing is that there are over 180 different species of mushrooms that grow wildly around the globe—and which all contain psilocybin. Not to mention, some species have dozens of different strains with their own signature shape, flavor, and trip (we’re looking at you, Psilocybe cubensis!). So let’s explore 10 of the most common and widespread magic mushrooms (which also happen to be our favorites), but remember, we’re just scratching the surface!

If you’ve eaten psilocybin mushrooms, but had no idea what species it was, chances are it was a strain of Psilocybe cubensis. That’s because “cubes” are the easiest magic mushroom to cultivate indoors, and since the 1970s, there have been a few pivotal books teaching hobby growers how to do so, including Terence and Dennis McKenna’s, Psilocybin: The Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide. In fact, due to decades of selective home breeding, there are now 60 different strains of P. cubensis, like Golden Teachers, B+, Penis Envy, and Pink Buffalo. In clinical trials looking at the potential of psilocybin to treat mental health conditions, subjects actually receive isolated, synthetic psilocybin, rather than the whole mushroom, so we don’t actually have any rigorous data on the differences between all the magic mushrooms for healing purposes.

While different strains of cubensis can also be found in the wild all over the world, the indoor-grown types are typically more potent. That’s one of the reasons that mushrooms you buy on the underground market are often stronger than the ones you pick in nature, since they’ve been bred for strength and are grown in specific substrates (the material in which you grow mushrooms) that increase potency.

However, you can find cubensis growing throughout the southern US, into Mexico, Central American and South America. They also grow in Cuba, India, Southeast Asia, and Australia. In nature, they prefer to live on dung and can also be found on well-manured land in the spring, summer, and fall.

In mycologist Paul Stamets’ mushroom identification guide, Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World, he calls P. cubensis “the most majestic of the Psilocybes” because of their easy-to-recognize size and golden color. Like all Psilocybes, P. cubensis’ color depends on its level of hydration; they also turn a bluish color when handled due to psilocin oxidizing (basically being exposed to oxygen). Cubensis is distinct from other Psilocybe species because of its relatively large size and the way the mushroom’s cap widens with maturity. Overall, this is the most famous and widely consumed magic mushroom in existence, but it’s not the only one.

Psilocybe semilanceata (Liberty Caps)

Psilocybe semilanceata, also known as Liberty Caps, are considered the most widespread naturally growing psilocybin mushroom in the world, according to Psilopedia. Not only that, but they’re also the third most potent, according to tests done in 1997 by Paul Stamets and Jochen Gartz, a German chemist and mycologist.

Identified in 1838, P. semilanceata was the first psilocybin mushroom native to Europe to be formally recognized. This species is still wildly popular and abundant, especially in England, where the first report of a family tripping out on them appeared in print: In London, 1799, a family reportedly picked and ate wild mushrooms growing in Green Park, which caused one son to laugh uncontrollably, the father to believe he was dying, and most family members to have vertigo.

Liberty caps, also known as Witch’s Hats, grow wildly all over the Northern Hemisphere. They prefer rich and acidic soil, like grasslands, meadows, pastures, and lawns, especially ones fertilized with sheep or cow manure. Because this is such a common environment around the world (think lawns, gardens, soccer fields), they grow in many countries throughout Europe, including France, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Finland, Iceland, Russia, and Turkey. They also grow in North America, on the West Coast from California to British Columbia in the fall to early winter, and to a lesser extent on the East Coast from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia, Canada. Plus, some varieties are known to grow in the Southern Hemisphere, too, in Chile and New Zealand.

Liberty caps are small and can blend in with the grass because their stems are only 40 to 100 mm (1.5 to 4 in) long. In fact, they’re the smallest of the top few most potent psilocybin mushrooms. They have a conical or bell-shaped cap, hence their name, and they reportedly taste similar to flour.

Although they grow all over the world, they’re very difficult to cultivate indoors, so most Liberty Caps that are consumed are picked in the wild. But be careful when identifying because they can easily be confused with a few similar looking poisonous species that grow in the same areas.

Psilocybe azurescens (Flying Saucer Mushrooms)

P. azurescens, also known as Flying Saucers, Blue Runners, Blue Angels, or Azzies, are the strongest psilocybin species that grows in the wild. As the story goes, they were originally found by Boy Scouts camping in Oregon in 1979, but weren’t an official species until Paul Stamets identified them in 1996 and published his findings.

Azurescens are only found on the West coast of the U.S. from California to Washington, and mostly cluster near the Columbia River delta in Oregon. That’s because they prefer to live in sandy soils, such as near dunes and sea grasses, and on loose, decaying wood. They can even withstand pretty chilly temperatures compared to other psilocybin containing mushrooms, from 16 to 24° C (60 – 75° F). Fortunately, that also makes Azzies easy to cultivate outside for home growers in the U.S. and Europe. Unfortunately, though, they apparently taste very bitter.

Psilocybe azurescens have some of the highest percentages of psilocybin (up to 1.78 percent), psilocin (0.38 percent), and baeocystin (0.35 percent), which is three to four times more than p. cubensis or p. semilanceata. Therefore, one dried gram could be a potent dose, so psilonauts should tread lightly with these extra powerful fungi.

Not to mention, there is also a potential side effect of paralysis after ingesting higher doses. Although only temporary, it can be an anxiety-inducing experience if you’re not prepared. However, flying saucers—named for their unique UFO-like shape—are known for their intense visuals and profound inner journeys. Their potent strength also makes them popular for microdosing according to strain database Psillow, and you would need very little for intended effects.

Psilocybe tampanensis (Magic Truffles, Philosopher’s Stone)

Psilocybin tampanensis produces truffles, or “sclerotia,” which contain psilocybin. These truffles are often called philosopher’s stones, magic truffles, or psilocybin truffles. P. tampanensis can also fruit into small yellow-brown mushrooms with conic caps, but most folks just grow and eat their sclerotia, which grow underground and contain up to 0.68 percent psilocybin and 0.32 percent psilocin, according to Stamets’ book.

These are the type of psilocybin mushrooms that are sold at specialty shops and given at magic truffle retreats in the Netherlands through a legal loophole. Although philosopher’s stones were first discovered near Tampa, Florida in 1977, they haven’t been found in the sunshine state since. In fact, they are very rare to find in the wild, but have become popular for home cultivators due to their relative ease of growing.

The experience of magic truffles in comparison to other psilocybin-containing mushrooms is said to be very similar, but depending on the dose, somewhat less intense. That said, it’s also been reported that the body load can be heavier and nausea more common due to the dense nature of the “stones.” Like all magic mushrooms, the trip itself really depends more on the person, their experience, the dose, and of course, the set and setting in which they were consumed. (You can learn more how to take shrooms in our guide, and if you’d like to go even deeper, we have a class that will walk you through every step of preparing for and navigating your shroom trip.)

Psilocybe cyanescens (Wavy Caps)

Psilocybe cyanescens is known as the Wavy Cap mushroom because of the rippled shape of its cap. It was first formally identified by Elsie Wakefield in England in 1946, although according to Psilopedia, she had been collecting Cyans since 1910.

They’re believed to be native to Central Europe and the Pacific Northwest, but it’s hard to tell because they are now one of the most widespread wild psilocybin-containing mushrooms in the world. That’s because of the environment they prefer: woody debris, like the wood chips and mulch that populate gardens, trails, and parks. In fact, that’s how P. cyanescens is thought to have spread internationally, from lumber and other mulch production and distribution centers to gardens around the globe.

While they’re tough to grow indoors, they’re wildly popular with mushroom identifiers because of their strength. Wavy caps are known to be potent and can contain between 0.3 percent to 1.68 percent psilocybin, 0.28 percent to 0.51 percent psilocin, and 0.02 percent to 0.03 percent baeocystin, according to Stamets. When they’re found in the wild, they can be in enormous patches, and are stronger when eaten fresh, although still produce substantial effects when dried.

Copelandia cyanescens a.k.a. Panaeolus cyanescens (Blue Meanies)

Panaeolus cyanescens or Copelandia cyanescens are sometimes referred to as “Blue Meanies,” which can be confusing because there is also a strain of Psilocybe cubensis called Blue Meanies. However these mushrooms are different in a few ways. For one, these are the first species of mushroom we’ve listed that isn’t part of the Psilocybe genus, but instead, Panaeolus. Yet that doesn’t mean they aren’t magic. In fact, these shroomies are some of the strongest in the world, with two to three times the amount of psilocybin and psilocin than good ‘ol cubensis.

Copelandia cyanescens prefer to live in dung in pastures and fields in warmer, subtropical climates. Therefore, they can be found in the states of Hawaii, Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi, but they can also be found abroad in the Caribbean (including Jamaica, Bermuda, and Trinidad), Costa Rica, Mexico, South America, and even Australia, Africa (including South Africa and Madagascar), Thailand, Japan, New Zealand, and Europe (including France and Spain). Panaeolus cyanescens is very similar to Panaeolus tropicalis, which also contains psilocybin and grows in similar dung-loving environments.

Psilocybe caerulescens (Landslide Mushrooms, Derrumbes)

Psilocybe caerulescens are known as “Derrumbes” (meaning “Landslide Mushrooms”) in Mexico, where they grow naturally. They were first reported by the scientific community near Montgomery, Alabama, in 1923 on sugar cane mulch, and to this day, can be found in the Southern US in states like South Carolina and Georgia. But Psilocybe caerulescens became famous when curandera Maria Sabina gave mycologist Gordon Wasson thirteen pairs during a Mazatec ritual velada ceremony, which Wasson then wrote about for Life Magazine, when the term “magic mushroom” was born.

Derrumbes are still used ceremoniously by the Mazatec people of Oaxaca, Mexico, and continue to grow in the Sierra Madre mountain range. That’s because they are resilient to the low temperatures and high altitudes of those regions, and because they prefer to live in the former sites of landslides and other regions free of plants during the Mexican rainy season (May/June until September/October). They’ve been cultivated outside for centuries, and according to Stamets, can also be found growing in Venezuela and Brazil.

Derrumbes are small, with stems ranging from 40 to 120 mm (1.5 to 4 in), and have a silvery-blue metallic luster that makes them easy to differentiate from other species, according to Psillow. Their potency is low to moderate, and the trip can even be a bit shorter, lasting from three to six hours. They’re a good introduction to magic mushrooms for this reason, but can also be a disappointment to those with Psilocybe cubensis experience who travel to Mexico to try them.

Psilocybe mexicana (Teonanacatl, Pajaritos)

Psilocybe mexicana has a rich history. It’s believed that this is the species of mushroom that the Nahuatl or Aztec people used ceremoniously and called “Teonanacatl,” meaning “flesh of the Gods,” before Spanish colonization. P. mexicana is also the species that French botanist Roger Heim sent to Albert Hoffman in 1958. Hoffman, the chemist who discovered LSD, used that sample to cultivate more magic mushrooms and isolate psilocybin and psilocin for the first time in a lab.

Psilocybe mexicana still grows to this day in Mexico during the rainy season, especially in the states of Oaxaca, Michoacán, Puebla, and others. The species is common at altitudes between 1000 and 1800 meters (3280 to 5900 feet), and prefers to live in moss, meadows, deciduous forests, and soils rich in manure, as well as alongside roads and trails—but never directly on dung.

In Mexico today they’re often called “Pajaritos” meaning “little birds” for packing such a potent experience into such a small, fragile mushroom. Because they somewhat look like Liberty Caps and live in similar environments, Paul Stamets has taken to calling them “Mexicana Liberty Caps.” They can also grow truffles or sclerotia, which contain both psilocybin and psilocin. (Although, their fruiting bodies generally contain more psilocybin, psilocin, and baeocystin according to Psillow.)

Psilocybe caerulipes (Blue Foot Mushroom)

Psilocybe caerulipes, also known as the Blue Foot Mushroom, is a rare psilocybin mushroom that grows in the US. It’s a wood loving mushroom and can be found growing on or around decaying hardwood logs, “especially near river systems,” writes Stamets. They can also be found growing on hardwood slash and debris, and are “widely distributed” east of the Great Plains throughout the Midwest and the Eastern US and up to Canada. “Although widely distributed, P. caerulipes is not found frequently,” writes Stamets. But when they grow on forest floors after warm summer and fall rains, they’re known to fruit in the same place for years.

Blue Foot mushrooms are named for their appearance: They have a blue-hue at the base of their stem. They are a moderately potent psilocybin mushroom, roughly the same strength as Psilocybe cubensis. Psillow warns that the experience could possibly be strong, so start small with one to three grams of dried mushrooms before diving into headier experiences.

Psilocybe stuntzii (Blue Ringer Mushroom, Stuntz’s Blue Legs)

Psilocybe stuntzii is a rare psilocybin mushroom that only grows in the West Coast of the US and Canada. It was first found on the University of Washington’s campus and named for Dr. Daniel Stuntz, who made the first type collection. Their nicknames “blue ringer” or “blue legs” come from the significant bluing reaction that occurs when handled.

Blue Ringers are also wood loving mushrooms and prefer to live on decaying debris, fresh mulch and wood chips. They can be found in grassy areas, as well, like fresh sod and well-manicured lawns, or along roads, paths, and gardens, according to Stamets. He also says that these mushrooms can fruit in “prodigious colonies” within 90 kilometers (56 miles) of Oregon’s , Washington’s, and British Columbia’s coastal regions. However, be warned that Blue Ringers look very similar to a toxic species of mushroom, Galerina marginata. Psillow writes that P. stuntzii will be sticky to the touch when moist, unlike G. marginata, and Stamets writes that Galerina’s orangish brown cap and rusty brown spores distinguish it. Always be careful when collecting mushrooms and never ingest something you can’t absolutely identify.

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Psilocybe cubensis may be the most popular type of magic mushroom, but there are more than 180 species containing psilocybin. Read on at DoubleBlind.