This article has been medically reviewed by Dr Robert Lefever, a world-leading addictions specialist.
There are a plethora of varieties of mushrooms, and each of the mushrooms has different properties. Most of them are eaten for their flavour and health benefits. However, some mushrooms are consumed for their psychedelic effects. These are commonly known as magic mushrooms or shrooms. Ironically, these mushrooms are usually bitter or unsavoury in taste.
Magic mushrooms are hallucinogenic and can cause people to experience bizarre hallucinations. It is a naturally occurring fungus found in many species of gilled fungi.
Image source: Unsplash
What are magic mushrooms?
Magic mushroom is an umbrella term for mushrooms that are eaten for their hallucinogenic effects. Chemical compounds like psilocybin and psilocin are most commonly found in these hallucinogenic mushrooms. These chemicals share some similarities with Lysergic Acid Diethylamide or LSD, which mainly affects the serotonin receptors in the central nervous system. That’s one reason why these substances have similar psychedelic effects.
The problem with magic mushrooms is, there is no clarity about the safe dosage or amount of psilocybin. And the amount of these compounds vary from one mushroom to the other. This can be dangerous because an overdose can occur at any amount of consumption. Furthermore, a bad trip is very unpredictable and can occur with any dose.
Although there isn’t enough research done on this subject matter, a study done by John Hopkins University in 2011 has also indicated some positive effects. A single dose of Psilocybin has shown an increase in openness, a personality trait related to imagination, aesthetics, creativity, and abstract ideas. However, there is a general lack of extensive research on this subject matter.
Types of magic mushrooms?
There are over two hundred species of mushrooms that have been identified with some kind of psychedelic compound. Over hundred and eighty of them are known to have some level of psilocybin or psilocin. Most of these hallucinogenic mushrooms contain psilocybin, psilocin, baeocystin or norbaeocystin.
These mushrooms are generally categorised into nine categories:
Psychedelic mushrooms have been mainly identified by different tribes who used them during various rituals. The main element of magic mushrooms is psilocybin. However, illegal sellers have been found selling other species mixed with LSD. These can be dangerous for users because of unclear dosages and chemicals used in them. There are also multiple cases of severe allergies. These mushrooms are generally consumed orally. Some people just eat directly while others mix them with food or drinks. These mushrooms are found as fresh or dried products.
Image source: Unsplash
Effects and dangers of mushroom consumption.
There are a variety of mushrooms containing different dosages of hallucinogens. Therefore, it is impossible to determine what effects users may experience. The effects of these hallucinogenic mushrooms are mostly psychological rather than physical. But, the users should be careful not to mix these mushrooms with other substances or alcohol as they can react and create severe complications.
Some of the effects of psychedelic mushrooms are:
- Weakness and dizziness
- Lack of coordination and weakness
- Increased blood pressure
- Panic, paranoia, and psychosis.
Common hallucinogenic effects of magic mushrooms are:
- Change in mood
- Changes in sleep
- Difficulty in discerning fantasy from reality
- Intensified experience and sensory perception
- Slight difference in sexual behaviour
Addiction to mushrooms?
The addiction rate for magic mushrooms is difficult to quantify due to its semi-legal status and lack of specific criteria for diagnosis. Still, research can estimate that between 1% and 3% of users will develop an addiction with severe consequences. Magic mushroom addictions may not involve physical withdrawal symptoms like heroin or alcohol addictions; instead, they produce psychological cravings which manifest themselves through increased anxiety levels when not using them.
Even though the risk of addiction of dependence on psilocybin’s is relatively low, the risk of abuse is high with dangerous consequences. Misuse of the psilocybin mushroom can cause severe effects and overdose. There is also an increased risk of poisoning. Consuming large doses of these mushrooms can cause bad trips that can lead to psychosis, paranoia, panic attacks, and sometimes death.
Warning: If there are any signs of overdose, toxicity or poisoning. Please contact emergency services immediately.
The risk of toxicity from consuming psilocybin is lower than most other drugs or substances, as you can see on the chart below:
Source: Wikimedia creative common database.
Magic mushrooms have a low risk of dependency than other substances. But, they aren’t free of risk. People using psychedelic mushrooms can develop a psychological dependence on them. If you think you need an assessment for addiction to psilocybins, feel free to contact us. We at help4addiction use the best evidence-based methods of treatment and professional therapeutic treatment to help outpatients.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are magic mushrooms legal?
What are psychedelic mushrooms?
What are the street names for psychedelic mushrooms?
Can you die from mushroom consumption?
Can magic mushrooms treat depression?
- Psilocybin mushroom
- Single Dose of Hallucinogen May Create Lasting Personality Change – 09/29/2011
- Magic mushrooms show promise in treatment for depression, study says
- Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
- Potential Therapeutic Effects of Psilocybin
- Acute psychological and physiological effects of psilocybin in healthy humans: a double-blind, placebo-controlled dose-effect
- Comparison of acute lethal toxicity of commonly abused psychoactive substances
- List of psychotropic substances under international control
- Trial of Psilocybin versus Escitalopram for Depression