There are many naturally occurring psychoactive chemical compounds available in flowers, leaves, berries, seeds, and fungi. Two types of psychedelic fungi are the commonly known Psilocybin mushroom, and the less well known Fly agaric mushroom. The effects are markedly different.
Psilocybin Mushrooms aka Magic mushrooms, aka ‘Shrooms, produce primarily visual hallucinations and general alteration of sensory perception similar to LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide). Psilocybin works by agonizing, or increasing levels of the brain chemical serotonin. The effective dose is about one to 2.5 gms of dried mushrooms. The dried mushrooms are eaten or immersed in water to make tea. About 30 minutes to two hours after consumption, Psilocybin produces the following effects, which can persist for three to eight hours:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Altered time perception
- Visual hallucinations
Psilocybin does not appear to be addictive. The euphoria they cause is not rewarding enough to promote compulsive re-use, and many people dislike the bitter taste and the subsequent nausea and vomiting which is part of the experience. The adversity of these symptoms also inhibits the desire to compulsively re-use the drug, as is the case with heroin and cocaine. There is no evidence that psilocybin causes any type of long-term physical or psychological harm.
Fly Agaric Mushrooms
Fly agaric mushrooms are a very different experience, and their use carries multiple risks, which may explain their lack of popularity among users of psychedelics. Fly Agaric Fungi aka Amanita muscaria is an Amanita type mushroom, which antagonizes or blocks the action of the brain chemical acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is responsible for muscle contraction and memory formation. It is very important to select the correct type when picking wild mushrooms for food or when seeking a psychedelic experience. Some of the deadliest mushrooms known are in the Amanita genus. They contain compounds which are very toxic to the liver, and can cause irreversible damage resulting in liver failure and death within days of eating them. Picking and consuming wild mushrooms is ill advised without the instruction of an experienced mycophile (literally a lover of mushrooms, trained and experienced in selecting edible types) It is suggested somewhat comically that the more elderly your instructor, the better, implying they have been picking and eating wild mushrooms for decades and are still alive. Anticholinergic substances can be very toxic. They can induce temporary paralysis which can cause asphyxiation, and bradycardia, or dangerously slowed heartrate. About three to ten grams of dried Fly agaric mushroom will produce some of the following effects:
- Detachment and disconnection from oneself and your surroundings
- Delusions- very bizarre and irrational beliefs
- Feelings of invulnerability
- Hyper salivation (drooling)
- Muscle spasms and twitching
- Constricted pupils
- Partial, temporary paralysis
- It is noted that the effects of Fly Agaric mushrooms are unpredictable from one batch to the next, and among different users.
There is no evidence that psilocybin mushrooms are harmful or addictive. While Fly agaric mushrooms are non-addictive, the immediate affects are potentially harmful and do not even sound pleasant or enjoyable. Another concern that applies to any psychedelic drug is that the user will be so out of contact with reality and their surrounding that they may accidently injures themselves. Many experienced users of psychedelics are escorted through the experience so to speak, by a person who is experienced with the use of psychedelics, which stays with them and minds their safety. Many people use psychedelics out of curiosity, or they are seeking some profound spiritual insight, or change in perception. Before embarking on this, alternative methods should be considered and the risks and rewards must be weighed carefully, including that possession of most psychedelics is illegal, and that products sold illicitly are typically mislabeled or adulterated.