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A digital illustration of Mushroom Gummies Ingredients floating in the air.
August 9, 2023 By Wild Orchard Co.

What are Psilocybin Mushrooms?

“Magic mushrooms” have fascinated humans for generations upon generations, offering a one-of-a-kind psychoactive experience ranging from stress relief to spiritual introspection.  The key compound in magic mushrooms is psilocybin.  This is a hallucinogen that supplies psychedelic effects that can be, without exaggeration, life-changing.  Psilocybin mushrooms have been a staple of spiritual and religious ceremonies for thousands of years.  And yet, they remain deeply misunderstood here in the United States.  Let’s take a closer look at what makes these mushrooms so distinctive.

Psilocybin Mushrooms: The Basics

Psilocybin mushrooms refer to any mushrooms that contain psilocybin, a naturally occurring hallucinogen.  They grow wild in various regions throughout the world.  The earliest evidence of their use pointing back to 4000 B.C., in Spain.

Psilocybin gets its effects through its interaction with serotonin receptors in the brain, largely in the prefrontal cortex.  To a lesser extent, the compound works on other regions of the brain as well.  The effects can start in 30 minutes after ingestion, lasting for several hours – usually 5-6 – but potentially longer, depending on dosage, type of mushroom, and the user’s unique bodily system.

The most common way by far to consume these mushrooms is to ingest them.  That seems to be the most bioavailable method, and even allows for a long-lasting experience that gives the user plenty of time to explore a new state of consciousness.  The mushrooms are almost always dried after harvesting to preserve them.  From there, the user can consume them as is, brew them into tea, or add them to food, as their earthy, bitter taste can be really unpleasant on its own.

While psilocybin mushrooms have been used recreationally for ages, recently, their clinical use has been explored, in hopes of one day using psilocybin to treat, among other things, mood disorders and psychiatric disorders.

What Kinds of Effects Can These Mushrooms Offer?

Psilocybin is a hallucinogen, which means that it can distort one’s perception, and cause hallucinations if taken in a high enough dose.  It can also introduce effects such as euphoria and relaxation.  More than that, lots of people use these mushrooms to gain insight into past events in their lives, or experience a greater sense of spirituality.  The mind-altering effects of psilocybin creates an altered state of mind in which a person can view things through an entirely different perspective, often in a very positive way, which can allow a person to process difficult emotions or events in their lives, and experience true healing.

There is also a growing trend of micro-dosing with psilocybin mushrooms.  Translation: taking small, often daily doses that are below the threshold for intoxication.  Micro-doses of psilocybin may improve a person’s mood, and provide genuine relief from a host of mental health disorders, while improving things like creativity, sociability, focus, and motivation, without actually causing mind-altering effects that could interfere with a person’s daily functionality.  Many people micro-dose, who are able to maintain their busy work schedule and social life.

Are Magic Mushrooms Dangerous?

People have been consuming psilocybin for thousands of years, and it’s not generally dangerous, as it’s nontoxic at the doses which are typically consumed.  But, the family of mushrooms isn’t without risks, either.

The most common side effect by far is having a “bad trip.”  This can happen if you have an existing mood disorder, go into the experience fearfully, take too much, or take the mushrooms in a less-than-ideal setting – like an unfamiliar place that makes you uneasy, or with people who you don’t feel particularly comfortable around.  A bad trip can cause anxiety and paranoia, which subsides as the substance wears off.

If you are predisposed to psychotic episodes, you may experience psychosis after taking magic mushrooms, and in some cases, the mushrooms can bring on an early onset of a psychiatric disorder that you’re already predisposed to.

Otherwise, side effects can include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Motor impairment
  • Muscle weakness

As for the psychological side effects (ones associated with a “bad trip”), they can be avoided to an extent.  First, be mindful of your dosage, since they are very dose-dependent.  Secondly, make sure that you’re in a setting you feel comfortable in, with people who you feel safe to be around.  Finally, make sure that you only take these mushrooms when you feel that you are ready, mentally.  Going into the experience with a feeling of anxiety or apprehension can lead to an unpleasant session.

Is Psilocybin Legal?

We’ve talked a lot about magic mushrooms and their many potential benefits.  To point that we totally get if you’re now enticed to give them a try.  But, there’s some bad news – they’re illegal.  Psilocybin is a federally illegal substance (illegal in all 50 states), with one exception: Oregon.  OR is still working out regulations to allow them to be available for purchase – for medical use, only.  Still, a few parts of the country have decriminalized possession: Colorado, as well as Washington D.C., along with certain municipalities in California, Washington State, and Massachusetts.  Meanwhile, a growing number of states are presently pushing for decriminalization or legalization.

Psilocybin Mushrooms: What Does the Future Hold?

Psilocybin mushrooms aren’t just fun – they can provide legitimate therapeutic benefits, and clinical researchers are diving deep into these possible benefits as we speak.  At the same time, many states are looking at possible legalization for the first time in American history.  Clearly, there’s something more to these mushrooms than getting high off of them.  And, also a reason they’ve been a staple of ceremonies around the world for millennia