The season of mushroom picking is upon us – and that includes hallucinogenic varieties as well.
To avoid confusion and sort out numerous misconceptions, here are some key facts that have been scientifically proven beyond any doubt.
As far as naturally occurring psychedelics go, mushrooms are probably regarded as the most readily available source of intoxicants since times immemorial. Despite long history of human use, these interesting living organisms are frequently misunderstood and subject to various myths – both in their favor and against them. In reality, they are relatively harmless when compared to most other drugs and may even bring some beneficial psychological effects if used properly.
Having a basic understanding of biological, chemical and pharmaceutical background is essential for anyone considering a ‘shrooming trip’. That’s especially true for those who intend to pick mushrooms in the wild rather than buy them from a trusted supplier. This overview can serve as an introduction to the world of magic mushrooms, even if it’s far from comprehensive:
- Which kinds of mushrooms are hallucinogenic?
While all psychoactive mushrooms are usually lumped together into a single category, in biological terms we are actually talking about numerous biological entities. Hundreds of individual species belong to the general group that’s referred to as ‘magic mushrooms’ and all of them can cause fairly similar effects when ingested. Some of the most important families include Psilocybe, Copelandia, Galerina, Inocybe, Mycena, Pholiotine and many others. For example, Psilocybe genus alone comprises more than 100 different species, each with its own distinct features, which goes to illustrate how common it is for fungal organisms to be saturated with psychotropic substances.
Examples of hallucinogenic mushrooms can be found all over the world, with various strains favoring certain climates. Due to the huge degree of diversity between the species, extensive knowledge about the exact type of mushroom being sought out is necessary if the collection takes place in a natural environment. In general, most psychoactive mushrooms can be identified by dark spores and presence of gills under the cap, although this is far from universal. At present time, many of the most potent species are cultivated indoors, which obviously simplifies their recognition and reduces the possibility of the mix up. Most popular varieties for controlled growing include P. Cubensis , P. Subcubensis and P. Semilanceata, among others.
- What active substance causes the effects?
Of course, biomass must contain a chemical agent capable of interacting with the brain cells in order to cause a transcendent experience. Two main active substances are identified in all the aforementioned types of mushrooms – psilocybin and psilocin. These compounds are classified as hallucinogenic and produce effects somewhat similar to LSD, mescaline and DMT, although their impact is considered to be milder than that of other drugs from this family. The range of effects is quite broad and consists of visual and audio hallucination, followed by mild euphoria and altered mental processes. Adverse reactions are known to happen to some users and may include nausea and panic attacks, but usually subside spontaneously after a short while.
Technically speaking, psilocin is able to directly interact with the nervous system, while psilocybin is broken down to psilocin after entering the organism. For this reason, these two substances can be regarded as analogous, even if their chemical composition is not identical. Mechanism of psilocin action on the nervous system closely mimics other psychedelic drugs, binding to serotonin receptors and activating phospolipase C molecules. Some impact on norepinephrine receptors is present at higher doses as well, while there is no action on the dopamine system. Half-life of psilocin is between one and three hours, which is why mushroom intoxication doesn’t last as long as an LSD session.
- When should the mushrooms be collected?
The answer to this question greatly depends on geographic location. A majority of psilocybin-rich mushrooms are found in the tropics, with Mexico accounting for more than 50 varieties, while dozens of species grow in the Northern latitudes, from Canada to Northern Europe. In the equatorial range, mushrooms are available during the dry season, while the best time for a harvest in colder climates is late October or early November, when mushrooms can be found in abundant quantities.
There are two ways to consume magic mushrooms – fresh or dried. Both variations can be equally effective for accomplishing mind altering effects, so it’s basically a matter of preference and availability. Fresh mushrooms used to be legal in the United Kingdom (until 2005) and Netherlands (until 2008), so both varieties are equally risky to procure under the current regulations. One thing to keep in mind is that dosage should be determined based on the selected species and ingested form – dried mushrooms contain comparatively higher percentage of active substances, which should be taken into account.
- What to do and not do when consuming magic mushrooms?
Like all other hallucinogenic compounds, mushrooms can be more than a little unpredictable, so it is paramount to control all outside factors as much as possible. Before anything else, it is necessary to ascertain which type of mushrooms are at hand and precisely determine their potency, thus helping to prevent unwanted episodes of nausea and bad trips. Mixing mushrooms with another intoxicant is a particularly bad idea since it can lead to strange interactions and possibly unpleasent side effects. Also, it’s best to avoid eating for two to three hours before mushroom intake, as empty stomach is least likely to be irritated.
While some people enjoy eating magic mushrooms in the nature, it may not be a good idea to indulge in a trip in overly public place – those mind-altering fruits of nature are banned in most countries and too much attention can lead to legal problems, not to mention completely ruined experience. Indoor locations might be preferable for less experienced users, most appropriately a relatively dark room with relaxing music and comfortable surfaces to sit or lie on. Hallucinogenic drugs should never be consumed alone – it is essential to have a reasonable person nearby to provide support if necessary.
This article was originally written in English, If you see any errors please email us at words@The-TripReport.com