An Introduction to Psilocybin Mushrooms
Psilocybin (also known as psilocybine) is a psychedelic alkaloid of the tryptamine family, found in psilocybin mushrooms. It is present in hundreds of species of fungi, including those of the genus Psilocybe, such as Psilocybe cubensis and Psilocybe semilanceata. But it is also reportedly isolated from a dozen or so other genera. Psilocybin mushrooms are commonly called “magic mushrooms” or more simply “shrooms”. The psilocybin content of psychoactive mushrooms varies and depends on species, growth, drying conditions, and mushroom size. The intensity and duration of recreational and entheogenic use of psilocybin mushrooms vary depending on species of mushrooms, dosage, individual physiology, set, and setting.
Psilocybin is a product that is converted into the pharmacologically active compound psilocin in the body by dephosphorylation. This chemical reaction takes place under strongly acidic conditions or enzymatically by phosphatases in the body. Psilocybin is a zwitterionic alkaloid that is soluble in water, moderately soluble in methanol and ethanol, and insoluble in most organic solvents. Mature mycelium contains some amount of psilocybin, which can be extracted with an acidic solution, usually of citric acid or ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Young mycelium (recently germinated from spores) does not contain substantial amounts of alkaloids. It is also known to mimic the effects of serotonin.
Psilocybin & Medicine
In a current study of psilocybin led by Charles Grob, 12 subjects are being administered with either the hallucinogen or a placebo in two separate sessions. Grob hopes to reduce the psychological distress(for instance, obsessive-compulsive behavior) that is associated with death by treating patients with psilocybin.
The effects of psilocybin are often pleasant, even ecstatic, including a deep sense of connection to others, confusion, hilarity, and a general feeling of connection to nature and the universe. Difficult trips may occur when psychedelic compounds are taken in a non-supportive or inadequate environment, by an inexperienced person, in an unexpectedly high dose, or when the substance triggers difficult areas of ones psyche.
At low doses, hallucinatory effects occur, including walls that seem to breathe, a vivid enhancement of colors and the animation of organic shapes. At higher doses, experiences tend to be less social and more entheogenic, often catalyzing intense spiritual experiences.
A very small number of people are unusually sensitive to psilocybin’s effects, where doses as little as 0.25 grams of dried Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms (normally a threshold dose of around 2 mg psilocybin) can result in effects usually associated with medium and high doses. Likewise, there are some people who require relatively high doses of psilocybin to gain low-dose effects. Individual brain chemistry and metabolism plays a large role in determining a person’s response to psilocybin.Psilocybin is metabolized mostly in the liver where it becomes psilocin. It is broken down by the enzyme monoamine oxidase. MAO inhibitors have been known to sustain the effects of psilocybin for longer periods of time; people who are taking an MAOI for a medical condition (or are seeking to potentiate the mushroom experience) should be careful.
Mental and physical tolerance to psilocybin builds and dissipates quickly. Taking psilocybin more than three or four times in a week (especially two days in a row) can result in diminished effects. Tolerance dissipates after a few days, so frequent users often keep doses spaced five to seven days apart to avoid the effect.
Adverse effects to Psilocybin
Individuals that have relatives with schizophrenia should be very careful about consuming psilocybin or any hallucinogenic drug at all due to the risk of triggering a psychosis. Because of the ease of cultivating psilocybin mushrooms or gathering wild species, purified psilocybin is practically nonexistent on the illegal drug market.
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