Mushrooms are nature’s survival champions, dating back millions of years ago, when they were the size of tall trees, shadowing the ground.
Though many confuse them for plants, they are in fact fungi, since they grow from spores in humid environments, on decaying plant material or dirt.
Some mushrooms are used for their meaty texture and flavor on a wide range of culinary recipes, but some are greatly appreciated among many cultures since prehistoric times for their psychotropic properties and for that reason, they are called “magic mushrooms”, or simply “shrooms”.
The psychedelic effects are due to the active compound knew a psilocybin and have a massive impact on the perception of space, time, and reality, causing mild to strong hallucinations and mood changes.
These specific mushrooms belong to the Psilocybe genus, many considering this type as the one true magic mushroom, since other species contain weaker psychotropic compounds like baeocystin or norbaeocystin. The psilocybin concentration in one mushroom varies from 0.2 to 0.4%.
This organic psychedelic drug can be found in the wild or can be grown at home with little expenses, thus being the user’s choice of psilocybin mushrooms, detrimental to other synthetic versions of this exact active ingredient, like LSD.
This is why the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2003, found that 8% of the adults with ages over 26 years have experimented at least once with psilocybin mushrooms, knowing that the consumption of this psychedelic substance is a millennial ritual practice, performed during many religious and spiritual ceremonies, unlike LSD which has been achieved in laboratory conditions, being basically a chemical product.
Like LSD, psilocybin mushrooms experiences are an intense distortion of space, time and reality, due to psilocybin’s effects on the central nervous system.
Many people prefer the milder and shorter trip of mushrooms than that of LSD.
It is important to note that the psychedelic effects do not cause the sighting of things that do not exist, like in the case of schizophrenia, but they only distort the perception of the surrounding objects.
An inexperienced user should expect an enhancement in the color tone, deeper nuances, or even complex patterns. While surrounding sounds, visual stimuli, textures and even taste can be distorted, the entire spectrum of feelings and emotions is augmented like never before, up to the point of overwhelming.
Sometimes, taking a portion of psilocybin mushrooms can make you feel dizzy, nauseous, numb, apathetic, and so forth.
In such extreme cases, marijuana is more than recommended, at least for nausea.
The entire psychedelic experience varies by dosage, type of mushroom and biological response from the user. While two people have taken an identical amount of mushroom, one can have a better or worse experience than the other, strictly depending on the emotional state of the user.
Negative emotions lead to a bad trip, causing paranoia, anxiety, or even a deep state of fear. The best and only cure for such an experience is patience. It will wear off sooner than you might think, only if you have patience and also it is recommended to be accompanied by someone in whom you trust and feel relaxed with.
Under the effects of psilocybin, almost all users have reported the illusion of time speeding up, slowing down or even stopping completely.
The state of mind and the feeling of awareness can be so heightened and illuminated that can make a person’s mind to feel interconnected with the Universe, communicate telepathically with a higher spiritual entity, a face of omnipresence.
By the end of the experience don’t be worried about addiction, for this is not the case. Worst case, you may develop some tolerance, which builds up quickly if you take it once every few days.
In the end, are they dangerous in any way?
There is no scientific evidence for psilocybin mushrooms to cause death (except for the poisonous ones, obvious), but strictly speaking about psilocybin, in order to have a lethal effect, it would require a dose hundreds of times greater than normal.
Whenever you intend to take a trip, don’t forget to make your homework, or else you may end up in a not so happy place.
*This article was originally published at science.howstuffworks.com