Magic mushrooms & truffels
Magic mushrooms (shrooms) are mushrooms that contain the substances psilocybin and/or psilocin. Psilocin is the most active substance in magic mushrooms and therefore responsible for their hallucinogenic (trip) effect. In the body, psilocybin is converted to psilocin. Different strains of mushrooms contain different amounts of the active substance. This causes the difference in strength between the strains. There are different strains of mushrooms, for example Copelandia, Psilocybe, and Stropharia which can be found all over the world. The most known strains are Psilocybe cubensis (also called ‘Mexican mushrooms’), Copelandia cyanescens (the ‘Hawaiian’) and Psilocybe semilanceta (‘liberty caps’). Psilocybin-containing mushrooms grow in the wild in many parts of Europe (the ‘liberty caps’ are the most common). Sclerotia (truffles, ‘philosopher’s stones’) grow underground and – just like magic mushrooms – contain psilocin and psilocybin and therefore have the same effects. The best know truffle is Psilocybe tampanensis.
History and the law of magic mushrooms and truffles
Psychedelic mushrooms have been used by humanity for thousands of years. Various references to psychedelic mushrooms can be found in Central America. During excavations in Mexico and Guatemala, hundreds of figurines in the form of mushrooms have been found that are thousands of years old. In the sixteenth century, the Spaniards conquered Mexico and banned the, in their eyes, diabolical use of magic mushrooms. The Mexican mushroom cult was only really discovered in 1955, when the first white man was allowed to participate in a nightly mushroom ritual. In 1976, a guide to growing mushrooms was published in the United States. The book was a great success. In 1993, the first smart shop selling magic mushrooms in the Netherlands opened its doors.
The sale of magic mushrooms started in 1993. For a long time it was unclear whether this was allowed. Following a number of incidents (in which magic mushroom use may have played a role) with foreign tourists in Amsterdam in 2006-2008, the Dutch minister of health decided to ban the sale of magic mushrooms as of December 1st, 2008. Since then, mushrooms, fresh or dried, have been covered by the Opium Act and both possession and sale have been prohibited.
All mushrooms with a hallucinogenic effect, both fresh and dried, are on list II of the Opium Act. The active substances of magic mushrooms, psilocin and psilocybin, are on list I of the Opium Act. List I of the Opium Act contains substances with an unacceptable risk to health. Truffles (Sclerotia) are not included and cultivation kits that allow you to grow magic mushrooms yourself are also legal.
Check the topic Drugs and the law for more info.
How to use magic mushrooms and truffles
Truffles and mushrooms are generally eaten, although smoking (if the mushrooms/truffles are dried!) is also possible. However, smoking leads to much weaker effects than eating. Because they have a nasty taste, some users make tea or soup with the mushrooms / truffles, but you can also just eat them straight. When eating mushrooms, part of the active substance can be absorbed through the oral mucosa when chewed slowly. It is not wise to put mushrooms or truffles in the oven or fry them. Because of the high temperature, the active substances (psilocin and psilocybin) can break down. Making tea from mushrooms / truffles is possible and ensures that the body can easily absorb the active substance.
Dosing magic mushrooms and truffles
It is difficult to indicate a clear dose, because magic mushrooms and truffles can vary a lot in strength. In addition, there a big difference between fresh or dried mushrooms / truffles. Different people may also respond differently to equal dosages.
A typical dose is 15-30 grams of fresh Psilocybe cubensis (Mexican), which is equivalent to 1.5-3 grams of dried mushrooms or 10-30 milligrams of psilocybin (0.6-1% psilocybin per gram of dried mushrooms). This is a dose for a good (solid) trip. If you want a quieter trip or if you are using mushrooms for the first time, take a little less, for example 7 grams (fresh Psilocybe cubensis). Preferably take the mushrooms on an empty stomach; it is best not to eat for 4 hours before the trip.
You can never stop a trip immediately, so always start with a low dose and build it up if you want to experience stronger effects. Never take a large dose at once and do not take more if you are not feeling well. For your first time, always take a low dose to feel whether you like the effects and how sensitive you are.
For truffles, the dosage for a normal trip is around 5 to 9 grams and for a strong trip between 10 and 15 grams.
Using truffles two days in a row does not make much sense since your body immediately develops a tolerance to psilocin. The effects will be weaker than on the first day. You should wait at least three to four days before taking truffles again if you want to experience the full effects. Most users wait several weeks or months before planning their next trip. This way, the experience remains special.
Effects of magic mushrooms and truffles
The effects of magic mushrooms and truffles depends on the amount taken. The more you take, the stronger the effects. The effects always depend on your mental and physical condition (set) and the situation / environment (setting). This is especially important for all hallucinogens and can determine whether a trip is a positive experience or whether you end up in a so-called bad trip.
The first effects appear after around 20 to 40 minutes after ingestion. Depending on the dose and the contents of your stomach, it can even take up to an hour. One to one-and-a-half hours after intake, the peak phase starts, which lasts about 3 to 4 hours. The average trip lasts for 4 to 6 hours, comes in waves, and decreases gradually.
The first noticeable effect is that you start to feel different. It is possible that you have to start laughing. You soon notice that you will experience reality differently. That can be a lot of fun and it can make you giggle. On the other hand, it can also be confusing, especially if you don’t have previous experience with tripping. Slowly the changing sensory perceptions become stronger. You can sometimes have a strong urge to yawn when you take magic mushrooms, even if you don’t feel tired at all. Tears may also flow out of your eyes even if you don’t feel sad at all.
Magic mushrooms cause an altered state of consciousness and changes in sensory perceptions and mental thought processes. The state you enter is called “a trip” or “tripping”. This refers to the mental journey you are going through. While the change in sensory perception speaks to the imagination most, hallucinogens have other important effects.
· Change in sensory perception
· Change in mood
· Time is experienced differently
· Different thought processes
· Dilated pupils
· Mild increase in heart rate and blood pressure
· You become extra sensitive to sensory impressions. The parts of your brain that are involved in processing sensory stimuli (seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, tasting) get disturbed.
· Colors, sounds and shapes are experienced more intensely.
· Objects can deform. For example, you may see table legs are slightly more convex, walls might seem to breathe and sometimes seem to vibrate with energy or glow.
· You may possibly experience textures as being more pronounced.
· You may see rotating, swirling and moving patterns or structures in, for example, a wooden floor or a lawn, sometimes these are three-dimensional.
· When looking at moving images it is possible that you see an ‘afterimage’ for a few seconds (‘tracers’).
· Colors may flow into each other.
· You may see colored speckles in your field of vision, like pixels.
· Objects may have colorful, breathing auras.
· When looking at faces, facial features become more pronounced (like in cartoons), sometimes someone looks older or younger.
· When you close your eyes all kinds of colorful images may appear (‘closed eye visuals’)
· At high doses, sounds can be seen, visible things can be heard and smells can be felt. For example, music can be seen as changing patterns of light. Visible things can be heard as weird noises.
Changes in mood
All hallucinogens, so also psilocin, can have strong effects on your mood. You may become very happy and be in a kind of ecstasy. But it is also possible that you become very calm and feel harmonious and peaceful. A lot of laughing can also be part of the trip. The opposite effects, however, can also occur and you may feel very anxious and confused.
Perception of time
The sense of space and time changes, and time sometimes seems to stand still. You can feel like you spent hours on something and then, for example, only half an hour has passed.
During a trip, thought processes become more associative, unusual connections are made, which can lead to surprising insights, but also to almost psychotic ideas. For example, you may have the idea that your thoughts come back in loops (thought loops), or that you think in circles. If these are bad thoughts, you can imagine that this is a very negative trip experience (bad trip).
At a reasonable dose, the boundaries of your own self begin to blur, this is called ego dissolution. You no longer know where you end and the other person or the environment begins. You have the feeling that everything is connected, sometimes on a spiritual or religious level.
Risks of magic mushrooms and truffles
Short term risks
The physical risks of psilocin are negligible. There is no scientific evidence that psilocin causes brain damage. However, not a lot of research has been done yet, so the fact that no brain damage has been found yet does not mean that it does not occur.
In fact, you could say that the main physical risk is that you might eat the wrong mushrooms, for example when you pick them yourself in nature. There are many poisonous mushrooms that are very similar to psilocybin containing mushrooms.
You may be overwhelmed by the intensity of the psychedelic experience, for example due to taking too high of a dose. Such an experience can certainly be frightening, especially for inexperienced users. This is not only because of the confusion caused by too high of a dose, but
also because someone is no longer completely in control of the flow of their own thoughts. In a situation like this it is important to put someone at ease by making it clear that it is an effect of the drug and that they will be fine again after a short time. Give the person as much rest as possible, preferably in a familiar environment. Accepting the condition is often the first step someone should take to sit out the trip in calmer waters. If you feel bad during a trip, it is very important not to resist that feeling, but to go along with the flow of the trip. You can try to change your environment, dim the light and put on other music.
Using hallucinogens when you are not feeling well increases the chance of unpleasant experiences during the trip and is therefore not recommended.
The greatest danger of psilocin and other trip products is not being able to judge things properly. Inexperienced users in particular can become very anxious and suspicious. Users can also get a sense of delusions of grandeur which can sometimes lead to dangerous behavior. You can also start worrying about a trip and get completely caught up in negative thoughts and that can also lead to a bad trip.
In general, the effects of psilocin are very similar to that of other hallucinogens such as LSD and psychedelic cacti. If you don’t like tripping, magic mushrooms are not for you!
Using psilocin can trigger psychoses. Psilocin can act as a trigger or worsen psychosis in people who are sensitive to this. People with a psychotic past, or with family members with a psychotic past, really should not use hallucinogens. Scientific evidence that psilocin causes brain damage or that you can ‘get stuck’ in a trip after a single use or become psychotic has never been found.
Read more about drug induced psychoses in Menno’s article on Drugs, Delusions and Hallucinations.
Long term risks
Little is known about the long term consequences. We do not know whether long-term use of magic mushrooms can lead to brain damage, for example memory problems. Scientific research so far does not point in that direction.
It sometimes happens that experiences of a mushroom trip come back later. The use of cannabis, fatigue, or situations reminiscent of previous use can cause these flashbacks. The trip is then relived, although you did not use any mushrooms. This is not very common, though.
There are users who suffer from abnormalities of sight for a long time after using mushrooms. They may see deviations in color, shape, movement, contrast, etc., even after the substance has worn off. These problems can even occur if someone has only using mushrooms for a short time.
It seems that people with ‘bad trips’ are more likely to develop these symptoms. Little is known about the extent to which these deviations occur and the circumstances under which they occur.
Psilocybin is not physically addicting. The body quickly gets used to the effects, so tolerance is rapidly build up. Tolerance means that you feel less effects the next day if you take the same dose. Due to the severe effects of psilocin, the risk of psychological dependence is very small and most people use it once or only once a year.
If you are mentally dependent on a substance, you will crave it more and you no longer feel comfortable without it. This hardly ever occurs with magic mushrooms. Another factor here is that there is no point in using magic mushrooms in quick succession. If someone has a hard time without them, it is probably because someone has a strong need for the experiences that such a trip brings with it.
Combined use of magic mushrooms, truffles and other drugs
Combining different drugs is extra risky and unpredictable. If you combine drugs, you are more likely to suffer from health problems. For more information, check the topic Drugs and combination use.
Magic mushrooms / truffles and cannabis
Hash and weed prolong and intensify the mushroom trip and can cause your trip to become unpredictable, which is certainly not always pleasant. You may feel that you are reliving some of the magic mushroom effects when smoking weed.
Magic mushrooms / truffles and cocaine, speed, xtc or ghb
If you combine magic mushrooms or truffles with these drugs, you increase the chance of becoming anxious or panicking. You never really know what kind of effects you can expect. We therefore advise against combining magic mushrooms with other drugs if you would like to experience the full effects of the magic mushrooms.
Unity tips magic mushrooms and truffles
All hallucinogens are risky because they might worsen mental health problems. Especially people with a tendency to develop psychoses or other psychological problems are strongly advised against using psilocin. If you do decide to use psilocin, this is how you can minimize the risks:
· Use psilocin in moderation.
· Take a low dose first and never take more than the recommended maximum dose.
· Prepare well; use in a familiar environment with people you trust, most people absolutely do not like tripping at a party! If you are tripping for the first time, do it in nature or at home, but not at a party!
· You can get a dry mouth from psilocin, so it is a good idea to have water or soda / fruit juice nearby. It can also be nice to eat fruit and other healthy foods.
· It is difficult to distinguish psilocybin mushrooms from poisonous species. We do not recommend picking mushrooms yourself.
· Make sure that there is someone nearby who is not under the influence (trip-sitter), so that there is someone with you who can think clearly.
· Only use mushrooms when you are in a good physical and mental condition.
· Pay close attention to the effects; if these are too strong or unpleasant, take vitamin C, dextrose or sweet drinks. These allow your body to break down the substances faster and often improve the mood, but it does not immediately break down the trip.
· If you feel weak, eating something can help. Before you trip, make sure you have some easy and healthy things to eat.
· If you feel uncomfortable during the trip, don’t fight these feelings, but go with the flow of the trip and try to figure out why you are not feeling well. Try to reduce environmental factors that you find disturbing (other music, heat / cold, annoying people) or get away from the environment you are in.
· Do not combine hallucinogens with other drugs, alcohol or medication. Cannabis in particular can greatly strengthen and extend the effect of trip drugs, so be very careful with this!
· Afterwards it is nice to drink tea, but be careful with hot water if you are still tripping.
· Make sure to have a day off the next day to process the experience.
· Do not participate in traffic if you are tripping or are still languid and unconcentrated.
Read more on magic mushrooms/truffles (Psylocibine):