Can Mushrooms Cause Mystical Experiences?

Can Mushrooms Cause Mystical Experiences?

Questions answered on this page:

  • What are mystical experiences?
  • Can taking psilocybin cause mystical experiences?
  • What is the history of psilocybin usage?
  • What are the benefits of taking mushrooms?

While our modern usage of psychedelics can sometimes feel like a cultural relic of the 1960s, they have a long history of consumption in Mesoamerican religious ceremonies and practices. The connection between psychedelics and spiritual or mystical experiences has long held, and that naturally makes today’s psychonauts curious about the history of their practice.

While things like ‘mystical experiences’ can seem hard to quantify or understand through analytical research, the growing body of study being done into mushrooms can’t help but show these effects when they do occur—and the powerful benefits to be had from a mystical experience of your own.

We have a number of articles to discuss today, so let’s dive in!

History of Usage

While psilocybin mushrooms grow naturally across the globe, their major pre-modern usage was amongst the various peoples of Mesoamerica. There, they have a long and storied history of usage in religious ceremonies and mystical experiences. We’ll start by looking at a few studies that describe this historical context, and that also provide a bridge forward to our modern moment where mushrooms are becoming evermore popular.

  1. Hallucinogenic drugs in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures

Authors: F.J. Carod-Artal

Journal of Publication: Neurologia

Date of Publication: January 2015

Summary: This article attempts to provide an anthropological investigation of the history of the usage of hallucinogens and psychedelics substances in the Americas. The author notes the long historical track record of their usage (up to 3500 years in Central Mexico!), and also the heavy importance that hallucinogens more generally played in the mysticism, religious experiences, and the divination practices of the Mayan and Aztec peoples. These included Psilocybe cubensis, the magic mushroom that we all know and love today.

  1. Diversity, biology, and history of psilocybin-containing fungi: Suggestions for research and technological development

Authors: R.C. Van Court, M.S. Wiseman, K.W. Meyer, D.J. Ballhorn, K.R. Amses, J.C.Slot, B.T.M.Dentinger, R.Garibay-Orijelg, and J.K.Uehling

Journal of Publication: Fungal Biology

Date of Publication: April 2022

Summary: The authors of this study helped to contextualize some of the history of psilocybin mushroom consumption, and point to a manuscript from the Mixtec people as the first recording of the usage of these mushrooms. An image of their gods consuming mushrooms points to the central nature of the mushrooms in the mystical and religious experiences of the pre-Columbus people of Mesoamerica. While the Spanish attempted to root out the practice, it has continued into the present day and bears a special significance in the religious history of the Americas.

  1. Psilocybin: from ancient magic to modern medicine

Authors: David E. Nichols

Journal of Publication: The Journal of Antibiotics

Date of Publication: May 12, 2020

Summary: Our third article bridges the gap between the pre-Columbian history of usage in the Americas to our usage and cultivation of these mushrooms in the present. We likely have a 16th-century Spanish Franciscan friar named Bernardino de Sahagún to thank for the modern interest boom in psychedelics—his anthropological studies in Mexico included the usage of “teonanacatl”, the sacred mushroom of the indigenous peoples. While this wasn’t well received by historians for a long time, there is a direct throughline from this manuscript to Wasson’s seminal 1957 essay “Seeking the Magic Mushroom” that put psilocybin squarely into the zeitgeist.

We have established that psychedelic mushrooms were important for religious rituals, which makes it a little surprise to see the modern usage so heavily tied to mysticism and spiritual experiences. While there was a long history of these practices pre-Columbus, the Spanish tried to put an end to pagan practices and forced these practices underground.

Psilocybin only really re-enters the modern consciousness in the 50s and 60s, which led to a boom in experimentation and research before falling afoul of American drug laws. But with the demonstrable benefits to taking psilocybin, there has been a corresponding relaxing of policy that has led to a flourishing of research in the field over the last twenty years.

Mystical Experiences: A Closer Look

But what exactly is a mystical experience? The inherent subjectivity of such an idea makes it hard to properly discuss unless we’re all on the same page about what it is we’re talking about. To that end, we will be using the definition provided by Alan Watts in a review done in 1968, early into the modern research boom about psychedelics. He describes mystical experiences as “those peculiar states of consciousness in which the individual discovers himself to be one continuous process with God, with the Universe, with the Ground of Being, or whatever name he may use by cultural conditioning or personal preference for the ultimate and eternal reality”.

This feeling of unity and oneness is reported frequently by people taking psilocybin and these experiences can be incredibly powerful. in addition to taking on greater meaning in one’s life in the future. People frequently report taking a high dosage of psilocybin as being one of the more important or meaningful moments in their lives, and that seems to be inherently connected to these powerful spiritual events.

While history may show a record of mushrooms being used in spiritual and mystical purposes, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they’re the catalyst to these mystical experiences. Luckily, the evidentiary track record does that well enough! There are three studies that we’ll be discussing that will help to establish some evidence for the correlation between psilocybin and these mystical experiences, how these experiences could be beneficial for the participant, and potential causal mechanisms for the relationship.

  1. Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance

Authors: R. R. Griffiths, W. A. Richards, U. McCann, and R. Jesse

Journal of Publication: Psychopharmacology

Date of Publication: May 27, 2006

Summary: The first of these studies attempted to provide a more rigorous and quantifiable explanation for how and why people have these mystical experiences, and with what frequency. With a double-blind and multi-staged experimental design, the authors were able to keep both the participants and the monitors in the dark about who was truly receiving the psilocybin. They found a high rate of mystical experiences among those who took psilocybin, and participants consistently reported the experience of taking a high dose of psilocybin as within the top five most spiritually significant moments in their lives. When coupled with the result that 79% of participants found that psilocybin either “moderately” (50%) or “very much” (29%) improved their general satisfaction with life, it’s not surprising that these moments are so important to people, or that they can take on such importance in people’s individual narratives.

  1. Psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience in combination with meditation and other spiritual practices produces enduring positive changes in psychological functioning and in trait measures of prosocial attitudes and behaviors

Authors: Roland R. Griffiths, Matthew W. Johnson, William A. Richards, Brian D. Richards, Robert Jesse, Katherine A. MacLean, Frederick S. Barrett, Mary P. Cosimano, and Maggie A. Klinedinst

Journal of Publication: Psychopharmacology

Date of Publication: October 11, 2017

Summary: This study divided the participants into three groups and provided them with different dosages and levels of counseling and spiritual guidance in several sessions over two months, and then evaluated the change in the participants after six months. They found significant increases in the quality of life metrics they used between the group that had a low dose of psilocybin and the two that had higher doses. The differences in results seemed to be more tied to the dosage strength than to the level of support. Still, they also found that the high dose group who had a lot of support during their sessions ended up performing slightly better on the metrics than the group that only had a moderate amount of support. This suggests that while both the dosage and the setting are important, the dosage tends to matter more for occasioning mystical experiences.

  1. Classic Hallucinogens and Mystical Experiences: Phenomenology and Neural Correlates

Authors: Frederick S. Barrett and Roland R. Griffiths

Journal of Publication: Current Topics in Behavioural Neuroscience

Date of Publication: August 23, 2019

Summary: One important aspect of our final article is that it serves as a literature review and aggregator, compiling many of the more critical results from other studies in the field and distilling them down. When looking at the results laid out together, the correlations between psilocybin and mystical experiences and between those experiences and overall quality of life metrics become very clear. The authors also attempt to describe the commonalities between the mystical experiences occasioned by psilocybin and those brought on through meditative practices and to establish a hypothesis for a causal mechanism for these experiences.

The long history of usage of psychedelic mushrooms in religious and mystical ceremonies combined with the rigorous experimental design of the studies done in the last 20 years shows the strong correlation between psilocybin and these mystical experiences. The studies that have been done have also shown improvements in the general quality of life and mental health of participants, which suggests that these experiences can have strong therapeutic benefits.

The studies also reaffirmed that the single most important variable in these experiences is dosage, with higher dosages being much more likely to occasion these profound experiences. While set and setting obviously play a significant role in your experiences too and the studies were conducted in such a way as to support these experiences, it doesn’t seem to be as significant as the dosage.


There seems to be a strong correlation between taking psilocybin and having mystical experiences, and it also seems like the mystical experiences are beneficial in myriad ways for the majority of participants. While this is obviously not a guarantee that the same experiences will hold true for everyone, we can safely establish a connection between these ideas through larger sample sizes.

If you’d like to have some mystical experiences of your own, remember that while dosage is the most important factor, the environment that you’re in will strongly impact your experiences as well. A relaxing environment with supportive people around you will really help you to have the best time possible.

Is it Safe to Mix Alcohol with Psilocybin?

Is it Safe to Mix Alcohol with Psilocybin?

Alcohol and Shrooms

Answered on this page:

  • What is psilocybin and how does it impact the body?
  • What is alcohol and how does it impact the body?
  • What are the expected effects from mixing alcohol and psilocybin?
  • What is a safe amount of alcohol while using psilocybin?
  • What are the general risks of polysubstance use?

Over the last twenty years, discussion about psychedelics (including psilocybin) has become increasingly more normalized, in both medical research and in day-to-day life. When coupled with shifting societal standards and small-scale pushes towards legalization, people have become more curious about the role psilocybin could play in their lives.

In spite of this renewed interest, there have been significant bottlenecks to researching psilocybin historically. It being listed as a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act made research almost impossible until the floodgates opened in the early 2000s.

This has also led to a rise in research into polysubstance use, and especially around mixing alcohol with psilocybin.

In this article, we will briefly explain what psilocybin and alcohol are and how they impact the body. We’ll also explore the literature that covers mixing psilocybin with alcohol and evaluate the relative safety concerns.

Disclaimer: Hey reader, we are not doctors! We’re doing our due diligence to try and find the best resources available, but if you have questions about medical issues, you should consult your doctor


Psilocybin: What is it and what does it do in the body?

Jar of Magic Mushrooms

Psilocybin naturally appears in most psychedelic mushrooms, which grow primarily in subtropical humid forests but can be found naturally occurring on all continents but Antarctica. Psilocybin is present in both the caps and the stems of the mushrooms, with greater concentrations found in the caps.

Psilocybin itself is inactive in the body but it is very quickly metabolized into psilocin, the main psychoactive substance found in mushrooms. Psilocin acts as a serotonin receptor agonist and triggers those receptors in the same way that serotonin would. Serotonin is partially responsible for mood regulation, and triggering those receptors leads to a generally more positive mood and affect. This also makes the user more receptive to sensory input and more excitable towards that input.

While the experiences that people have after ingesting psilocybin vary widely depending on set and setting, the social, psychological, and cultural parameters that influence your experiences with psychedelics, there are a set of commonly occurring side effects. These include:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Restlessness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Muscular relaxation
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Potentially synesthesia, the involuntary triggering of secondary sensory experiences (hearing colours, seeing sounds)

Negative side effects could include:

  • Heart rate modulation (typically increases, but decreases are also occasionally reported)
  • Chills
  • High body temperature
  • Nausea

Bad Trips

Many of the experiences that we have described so far are self-reported, and there is a certain level of subjectivity to the experience. When people have so-called bad trips, they tend to report effects including increased anxiety, panic attacks, disturbing visions, or paranoia.

Research has been conducted around this phenomenon over the last ten years, and there are three studies that we found that help add some context to this discussion.

  1. Survey study of challenging experiences after ingesting psilocybin mushrooms: Acute and enduring positive and negative consequences

Authors: Theresa M. Carbonaro, Matthew P. Bradstreet, Frederick S. Barrett, Katherine A. MacLean, Robert Jesse, Matthew W. Johnson, and Roland R. Griffiths

Journal of Publication: Journal of Psychopharmacology

Date Published: August 30, 2016

Overview: The first of our three studies was led by Theresa Carbonaro and focused on surveying people who had so-called “challenging experiences” after taking psychedelic mushrooms, looking at short- and long-term effects of ingesting psilocybin mushrooms. The goal of the research was to better contextualize the experiences that people describe as “bad trips” and to understand their ramifications.

Key Findings: Of the 1993 participants in the survey, the majority (68%) endorsed having taken a moderately high dosage; this was also the first experience with psilocybin for 16% of the group, and the first experience with any hallucinogen at all for another 10%. The median number of usages being between two and five suggests a generalized inexperience with psychedelics in many of these “challenging experiences”. In spite of the majority (59%) listing the experience as one of the ten most challenging ones in their lives, an even larger majority (84%) positively endorsed the effect that their bad trip had on their life. About a fifth (19%) of participants reported having consumed alcohol prior to their negative experience.

  1. The Challenging Experience Questionnaire: Characterization of challenging experiences with psilocybin mushrooms

Authors: Frederick S. Barrett, Matthew P. Bradstreet, Jeannie-Marie S. Leoutsakos, Matthew W. Johnson, and Roland R. Griffiths

Journal of Publication: Journal of Pharmacology

Date Published: November 17, 2016

Overview: Our second study, directed by Frederick Barrett, focused on accurately describing parameters for talking about bad trips. A series of survey questions (the Challenging Experience Questionnaire) were issued to two groups of participants who self-identified as having taken psychedelic mushrooms and having a bad trip. The two groups varied on most common demographic indicators (race, gender, education level, age) to help give a more representative view of the population.

Key Findings: While the research was largely predicated on fine-tuning the questionnaire, the results of the questionnaire are quite interesting. As seen above, moderate to high doses are likely to be associated with the meaningfulness of the event, but many of the traits that people view as being negative also end up forming a part of the overall positive experience. The participants also attributed positive changes in their well-being and behaviour to the experience

  1. Making “bad trips” good: How users of psychedelics narratively transform challenging trips into valuable experiences

Authors: Liridona Gashi, Sveinung Sandberg, and Willy Pedersen

Journal of Publication: International Journal of Drug Policy

Date Published: January 2021

Overview: Our third study was conducted via qualitative interview, rather than generalized survey questions. A lower number of participants (50) were involved, but were given more opportunity to describe their individual stories about their experiences and delve deeper into the meaning they had. The goal of the study was to look at the narratives created by users of psychedelics and to better understand how they contextualize and derive meaning from their challenging experiences.

Key Findings: The interviews focused largely on how people understood their own challenging experiences, and what benefits or consequences they had had on their lives. Many of these “bad trips” included similar elements to those discussed above: paranoia, anxiety, panic attacks, and physiological distress. But framing these experiences positively also played a role in the participant’s overall sense of self, and trying to find meaning in the “bad trips” was important to many of them.

All of this can be a lot to deal with, so for new users with relatively low experience and tolerance, it is definitely recommended that you keep cross-contamination and polysubstance use at a minimum. Other substances could exacerbate many of the issues that already crop up when people have challenging experiences with psychedelics.

Alcohol: What is it and what does it do in the body?


For such a well-known and widely used substance, the exact mechanism by which alcohol acts on the body is surprisingly poorly understood. The strange properties of alcohol had made it difficult to research outside of functional studies until the last few decades, but our understanding of the function it has on the system is quickly growing.

Alcohol seems to operate chiefly as an inhibitor of the GABA(a) receptor, but it also directly acts on several other neurotransmitters and ion channels—including the 5-HT3 receptor for serotonin. One study suggests that it could have synergistic effects with psilocin and help to create stronger experiences.

The positive effects of alcohol are well-known and enjoyed, but at small doses include:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Muscular relaxation
  • Lessened feelings of social inhibition
  • Generalized joyousness

The negative effects are also widely known but may be enjoyed a little less, and include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Impaired sensory and motor function
  • Dehydration
  • Dulled reflexes

Where toxicity is generally considered a non-issue with psilocin, alcohol toxicity is well documented in the record. Maintaining a moderate dosage is key to having a positive experience with alcohol most of the time, both in the short and long term.

Is it safe to combine psilocybin and alcohol?


Owing to the difficulty of researching psilocybin in the USA, there haven’t been many conclusive studies about the substance or it’s potential use in combination with other substances. This leaves us largely relying on aggregated, subjective information (ie. Polls and surveys), but these are sufficient to make reasonable inferences.

As noted above, psilocybin and alcohol have many similar negative side effects so their conjunction can lead to increased incidence of:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty regulating body temperature
  • Sweating or chills
  • Difficulty regulating heart rate
  • Dehydration
  • Headaches

People self-report feeling the impacts of the alcohol that they are drinking less while also taking psychedelics, so it may also lead to increases in the occurrence of acute alcohol poisoning.

There are some studies that look at the relation between alcohol and psilocybin, so let’s see if they can shed any light on the potential impacts of taking both substances at once.

  1. Prediction of Psilocybin Response in Healthy Volunteers

Authors: Erich Studerus, Alex Gamma, Michael Kometer, Franz X. Vollenweider

Journal of Publication: PLOS One

Date Published: February 17, 2012

Overview: This paper sought to figure out the relative importance of the set and setting characteristics, including current mental state, experience with psychedelics, expectations, and social/environmental considerations, and how they compare to the importance of the size of the dose of psilocin.

Key Findings: This study found a statistically significant correlation between moderate alcohol use and incidence of audio-visual synesthesia as well as general pleasurable effects or visual distortions. While the size of the dose was found to be far and away from the most important component in likely experiences with psychedelics, it also points to the generally synergistic effects of moderate doses of alcohol with psilocin.

  1. The Therapeutic Potential of Psilocybin

Authors: Henry Lowe, Ngeh Toyang, Blair Steele, Henkel Valentine, Justin Grant, Amza Ali , Wilfred Ngwa,  and Lorenzo Gordon

Journal of Publication: Molecules

Date Published: May 26, 2021

Overview: This article delves into the potential uses of psilocybin in treating a number of psychiatric disorders, and provides a thorough explanation for the structure and mechanisms behind how psilocin impacts the body.

Key Findings: While the authors find psilocin itself to be of great interest for use in potential therapies, they identify alcohol and other substance use as being potentially complicating factor that could exacerbate the psychological and physiological risks associated with psilocin usage.


Polysubstance use

Without significant experience and understanding of how different substances affect you, mixed usage is almost never recommended by doctors. While there are potentially synergistic results on the triggering of serotonin receptors, the dangers of unexpected reactions tend to outweigh the perceived benefits.

While moderate drinking is unlikely to seriously increase risks, there is a fine balance that becomes trickier to maintain when your body is trying to process multiple substances having different but complementary effects on the mind. For people new to taking psilocybin, it makes sense to acclimatize yourself to the effects before you consider mixing it with other substances that may have intensifying effects


While the evidentiary record is limited, it seems like taking alcohol and psilocybin in tandem is likely to cause adverse effects, especially in people with low exposure or tolerance to the substances, or in people who drink to excess.

While moderate drinking and a moderate dose of psilocybin should be fine, maintaining that balance can be tough while under the effects of both substances.

As such, we would only recommend mixing to people with significant previous exposure, who know the impacts that psilocin will have on their systems a little better.

20 Quick Tips to Boost your Creativity


In life, we are constantly being tested in different ways to see what our limits and capabilities truly are. Creativity is no different: it is a gift that not everyone possesses and the only way to strengthen this gift is through constant diligence and practice. All that being said, we all sometimes feel stuck – I know I do!

So, we’ve compiled a list of some of some simple things anyone can do to boost their creativity. If you’re looking for a way to get past your writer’s/artist’s/musician’s/whatever-you-like’s block, then this tip might help! So, here you have: 20 ways to boost your creativity!

The List

1) Practice every day – the only way to get better is by making mistakes, and there is no easier way than by practicing. It may not be perfect, but you will find out exactly where your weak spots are!

2) Listen to new types of music – explore the depths of different genres and see what moves you. If it doesn’t move you – don’t keep listening to it! It’s important to keep your mind fresh and new ideas flowing.

3) Keep a notebook on you at all times – there is nothing more frustrating than when you get an incredible idea, but then forget about it minutes later. Make sure that never happens again by keeping a small notebook with you wherever you go. You can even record audio – just be sure to back it up!

4) Be willing to fail – don’t be afraid of being wrong. In fact, if you never fail, you will NEVER get anywhere. Without failure, there is no success. Remember that and embrace it.

5) Take a break every now and then – creativity comes from the world around us and new ideas can come from anywhere.

6) Look at things differently – see the positive in every experience, even if it is extremely difficult to find. It is a good way to get out of a rut and provoke the creative juices going.

7) Go outside – being active in your daily life has a direct link to your creativity, as well as preventing you from becoming dreary and boring. There is no better way to get new inspiration than by coming in contact with different types of people and life styles.

8) Be social – it’s not about the quantity of friends you have, but rather the quality. It’s important to find people who will understand your creativity, who you can bounce ideas off of, and who will help you grow. This may take some time – but it’s well worth it!

9) Take a walk every now and then – again, creativity comes from the world around us. So occasionally disconnecting to let your mind absorb everything is an excellent way to come up with fantastic ideas and unique solutions.

10) Enjoy yourself – this one seems painfully obvious, but it’s lost on some people! Creativity is meant to be fun, not laborious. If you don’t enjoy the process of creation – you will never enjoy the end result.

buy microdose magic mushrooms in Canada

11) Try boosting your creativity with psilocybin microdose capsules – microdosing is an increasingly popular method many people are using to help get the creative juices flowing. You can read all about the history and benefits of microdosing including at our guide here. We here at Shroom Bros offer mail order magic mushroom microdose capsules shipped to anywhere in Canada!

12) Remember that ideas are everywhere – don’t just stop at the first idea you have. There are plenty more where that one came from, so stay positive and keep trying!

13) Be open to everything – let new ideas flow freely into your mind without hesitation. If you feel yourself closing off to an idea, simply push yourself to think about it for longer. It will become easier the more you try!

14) Remember that you are not always right – if someone else’s idea is better than yours, go with it. You can improve on it and make something even more amazing! Nothing will kill your creativity faster than thinking you are the best there ever was.

15) Get to know people – this one may be difficult for some people who are more introverted, but it is extremely important to get out there and meet new people. Most likely, they will be more than happy to share their ideas with you – after all, isn’t that what friends are for?

16) Be selfless – forget about yourself for once. Think about the needs of others and how your creativity could help them in some way. If you are at a loss for ideas, just ask someone close to you if they need any help – they may surprise you.

17) Have fun – sometimes the best ideas come when we least expect it. So don’t feel bad if something pops into your head while watching television or playing video games! It’s normal and it’s okay!

18) Stay true to yourself – while you should be open to other people’s ideas, you should never change your goals and dreams. Keep trying to achieve them through your creativity.

19) Surround yourself with the right people – the people in our lives have a major impact on who we are. Make sure you are surrounded by people who will support your creativity and talents, not tear them down.

20) Think outside the box – this is hands down the best way to boost your creativity, but it’s also the most difficult. Tearing down all of your old barriers can be an excruciatingly hard process, but it will push you to new

How do Magic Mushrooms Affect the Brain

With regard to hallucinogens like psilocybin—an ingredient of so-called “magic mushrooms” (e.g., Psilocybe cubensis)—it may be high time to reconsider long-standing hypotheses related to their actions in the human brain.

Although psilocin (the active metabolite of psilocybin)and other classical hallucinogens like lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) have complex pharmacology with high affinities for multiple neurotransmitter receptors, it has long been appreciated that their psychedelic actions correlate best with 5-HT2A–serotonin receptor agonism. Indeed, in 5-HT2A knockout mice, classical hallucinogens are devoid of activity. Importantly, the psychedelic actions of psilocybin in humans are abolished by pretreatment with relatively selective 5-HT2A antagonists. Taken together, these findings support the hypothesis that psilocybin and other classical hallucinogens exert their psychedelic actions in humans via activating 5-HT2A serotonin receptors.

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Psilocybin diminishes brain activity and connectivity. (A) Psilocybin, which is inactive, is metabolized to the active ingredient psilocin. Psilocin then activates many neurotransmitter receptors (B) to modulate activity on excitatory pyramidal and inhibitory GABA-ergic neurons (C). (B) Affinity values for psilocin are expressed as –log in nanomoles (pKi) and are from the National Institute of Mental Health Psychoactive Drug Screening Programs Ki Database. (C) Psilocin interacts with various receptors on large excitatory pyramidal neurons and smaller inhibitory neurons. Psilocin may interact with excitatory (orange) or inhibitory (red) receptors to augment or inhibit neurotransmission. Psilocin’s net effect is a decrease in neuronal activity and connectivity as measured by fMRI.

Although there is consensus regarding the pharmacological actions of classical hallucinogens, the neuronal mechanisms responsible for the psychedelic actions of hallucinogens remain controversial. Thus, some investigators have observed that LSD-like hallucinogens can enhance pyramidal neuron activity by activating 5-HT2A serotonin receptor signaling. These findings that hallucinogens activate glutamatergic neurotransmission are consistent with many other studies demonstrating that 5-HT2A receptors were enriched on Layer V glutamatergic neurons although we and others have noted that 5-HT2A receptors are also found on GABA-ergic interneurons. Indeed, 5-HT2A agonists can also augment inhibitory neuronal activity. Taken together, these previous findings have implied that the actions of hallucinogens such as psilocybin might be due to a mixture of actions on both excitatory (e.g., pyramidal) and inhibitory (e.g., GABA-ergic interneuronal) neuronal circuits. Conceivably, then, hallucinogens like psilocybin could induce their psychedelic effects via augmenting either excitatory or inhibitory neuronal activity in humans. Unfortunately, because of medical, legal, human use, and societal concerns, well-controlled studies of hallucinogen actions in humans have languished since the early 1960s.

In PNAS, Carhart-Harris et al. successfully execute an important study that begins to fill in our gaps regarding hallucinogen actions in humans. Surprisingly, they demonstrate that psilocybin decreases surrogate markers for neuronal activity [cerebral blood flow and blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signals] in key brain regions implicated in psychedelic drug actions. They also report that psilocybin appears to decrease brain “connectivity” as measured by pharmaco-physiological interaction.

To perform these studies, Carhart-Harris et al. recruit 15 experienced hallucinogen users for arterial spin labeling (ASL) perfusion and BOLD fMRI studies. The individuals were scanned before and after receiving i.v. doses of placebo or psilocybin (2 mg). Individuals were also rated for the subjective effects of psilocybin or placebo. Not surprisingly, psilocybin exerted a robust psychedelic effect with individuals reporting alterations in consciousness, time perception, and visual perceptions within minutes of psilocybin administration.

Coincident with these profound perceptual alterations, decreases in cerebral blood flow were observed in key brain regions long implicated in psychedelic drug actions—the anterior and posterior cingulate cortices and thalamus. Intriguingly, the intensity of the psychedelic experience significantly correlated with decrements in blood flow in the thalamus and anterior cingulate cortex. Carhart-Harris et al. also report what they refer to as decreases in “functional connectivity” between the ventral medial

Psilocybin appears to decrease brain “connectivity” as measured by pharmaco-physiological interaction.

prefrontal cortex and other regions that they interpret to indicate overall diminished connectivity.

Overall, these findings are consistent with the hypothesis that psilocybin diminishes activity in key brain regions and networks implicated in hallucinogen actions. These provocative findings are important because they challenge many long-held models regarding hallucinogen actions that have focused mainly on their ability to enhance excitatory neurotransmission and overall brain activity.

The findings of Carhart-Harris et al. are also important because they provide nice proof that, provided appropriate safeguards are in place, psychedelic drug actions can once again be rigorously deconstructed in normal human volunteers. Psychedelic drugs are unique in their abilities to profoundly alter human awareness and perception, and these studies provide important hints regarding the neuronal substrates of human consciousness.


This study is based on brain images taken from nine participants who were either injected with psilocybin or a placebo. The scientists used those images to create a “whole-brain connectome” which provides a picture of all the physical neurons in the brain, as well as the activity of the neurotransmitters that are being shuttled back and forth.

During your average day in the human brain, neurons are constantly firing and neurotransmitters are traveling well-trodden paths through the brain, somewhat like cars on a freeway. On magic mushrooms, those networks are “destabilized”, Kringlebach explains.

Previous research has shown that new networks appear in tandem. It’s as if those cars on the freeway were given free rein to stray from the highway and take back roads towards new destinations.

Scientists are beginning to understand how this works. For instance, psilocybin (as well as psychedelics like DMT) mimic serotonin, a neurotransmitter related to feelings of happiness or love. Kringelbach suggests that these mushrooms do more than simply affect serotonin flow in the brain.

“We wanted to investigate the role of neurotransmission in dynamically changing the activity in whole-brain networks — and how this changes neurotransmitter release in return,” he explains.

The models showed that the brain is able to tap into new networks by coupling the effects of neuron activity and the release of neurotransmitters, like serotonin. The release of neurotransmitters and the firing of neurons work together – and when you have one without the other, the whole system falls apart.

When the scientists adjusted their model to have these processes work independently, they found that they weren’t able to recreate the same “destabilization” of networks that you would usually see when someone is on magic mushrooms. The same breakdown in their pattern happened when they replaced the typical serotonin receptors utilized by magic mushrooms (5-HT2A receptors) with other types of serotonin receptors.

Taken together, this suggests that both the receptors themselves, and the patterns of neuron activity are necessary for psilocybin to really work.


Knowing that both receptors and neuron activity are needed, says Kringlebach, could help better understand how to use the drug as a therapy. In turn, these models can help us visualize an enduring mystery within the human brain, says Kringlebach.

“It has long been a puzzle how the brain’s fixed anatomical connectome can give rise to so many radically different brain states; from normal wakefulness to deep sleep and altered psychedelic states,” he says.

We only have a fixed amount of hardware in the brain, yet we’re running highly complicated software that produces dreams, consciousness, and — if someone is on a drug like DMT — “breakthrough experiences.”

If the magic mushrooms demonstrate anything, it’s that the brain can learn to use its fixed hardware in very different ways, if the right ingredients are involved. The trick is figuring out what tools the brain needs to run different types of software on that hardware.

In the future, the team hopes that their model could help us learn how we can run different types of software in our brains, and in doing so, help treat conditions like depression.

“This new model will give us the much needed, causal tools for potentially designing new interventions to alleviate human suffering in neuropsychiatric disorders,” Kringlebach says.

Recent therapeutic trials of “classical” psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin (from magic mushrooms) or LSD, have reported benefits to wellbeing, depression and anxiety. These effects seem to be linked to a sense of “ego dissolution” — a dissolving of the subjective boundaries between the self and the wider world. However, the neurochemistry behind this effect has been unclear. Now a new paper, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, suggests that changes in brain levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate are key to understanding reports of ego dissolution — and perhaps the therapeutic effects of psychedelics.

Natasha Mason at Maastricht University, the Netherlands, and colleagues recruited 60 participants for their study. All had taken a psychedelic drug before, but not in the three months prior to the study. Half received a placebo and the other half were given a low to moderate dose of psilocybin (0.17 mg/kg of body weight).

The team then used a technique called proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to look at concentrations of glutamate (as well as other neurochemicals) in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the hippocampus — two regions that have been implicated as key to the psychedelic drug experience. The team also looked at patterns of “functional connectivity” within networks of brain regions, a measure of how closely correlated brain activity is across those regions. Six hours after taking the drug or placebo, the participants reported on their subjective experiences using two surveys: The 5 Dimensions of Altered States of Consciousness and the Ego Dissolution Inventory.

As the researchers expected (based on the findings of earlier research), those given the drug reported increased feelings of ego dissolution, as well as altered states of consciousness. They also showed disruptions in the connectivity of particular networks, including the default mode network, which has also been implicated in past work on the effects of psychedelic drugs..

But, for the first time in humans, the team also observed higher levels of glutamate in the mPFC and lower levels in the hippocampus after taking psilocybin — and they linked these changes to different aspects of ego dissolution. Increases in the mPFC were most strongly linked to unpleasant aspects, such as a loss of control over thoughts and decision-making, and also anxiety. Decreases in the hippocampus, meanwhile, were most strongly linked to more positive aspects, such as feelings of unity with the wider world, and of having undergone a spiritual-type experience.

The hippocampus is our most important memory structure. Based on earlier work on the impacts of psychedelic drugs on patterns of brain connectivity, it’s been suggested that a temporary reduction or loss of access to memories about our own lives might contribute to a weakening of the “self”. The new work suggests that changes in glutamate levels in the hippocampus might be key to this process.

But if glutamate rises in the mPFC are linked to unpleasant aspects of ego dissolution, and also to anxiety, how does this fit in with trial results finding that psychedelic drugs can treat anxiety disorders?

It’s not entirely clear. Psychedelics are known to bind with one particular type of serotonin receptor, called 5-HT2A receptors. This then causes immediate changes in the glutamate system, which could be responsible for producing short-term feelings of anxiety. But it might be that longer-term reduction in anxiety levels is related more to 5-HT2A receptor activation itself, rather than glutamate, the researchers suggest.

It’s also been suggested that activation of glutamate networks (via the 5-HT2A receptor) increases levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, which promotes the health and growth of new brain cells. Animal work provides evidence that psychedelic drugs indeed promote plasticity in the brain. And people with major depression and stress disorders have been found to have reduced plasticity. The new data provide indirect evidence that psychedelics might increase neuroplasticity in the human cortex by increasing glutamate, the researchers write. If correct, this could help with understanding how psychedelic drugs can treat depression.

More work is clearly needed to fully understand all these processes. But there’s a lot of interest in the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelic drugs right now, and the new study does help to clarify the underlying neurobiology of the psychedelic state. As the researchers write, the findings “provide a neurochemical basis for how these substances affect individuals’ sense of self, and may be giving rise to therapeutic effects witnessed in ongoing clinical trials.”

How Long Do Shrooms Last?

How do shrooms work?

how long do shrooms last?

Psilocybin mushrooms, commonly known as magic mushrooms, or more simply, shrooms, are considered a psychedelic. Psychedelics are commonly known as drugs with hallucinogenic effects, and while that is partially true, psychedelics are actually a very specific set of drugs that can bond to the 5-HT2a serotonin receptor.

Shrooms contain a drug called psilocybin. When ingested, your body breaks that psilocybin down into its dephosphorylated cousin, psilocin. Psilocin is molecularly very close to serotonin – a naturally-occurring neurotransmitter in humans, other mammals, and even some worms and insects as well as plants and fungi. It’s so close to serotonin, in fact, that it’s capable of bonding with certain serotonin receptors, especially the 5-HT2a receptor. It’s not perfectly understood how exactly shrooms cause their psychedelic trips, it’s understood that it has to do with this interaction.

How long do shrooms take to kick in?

How long it will take for you to start feeling the effects of magic mushrooms depends primarily on how they are ingested. If the mushrooms are eaten as whole mushrooms, the onset can be anywhere from 20-40 minutes. If the mushrooms are ground into a fine powder and mixed with lemon juice or made into tea, the onset can be much faster – around 5-10 minutes. Gummies and chocolates tend to come on in about 15-30 minutes.

How long does a shroom trip last?

How long your magic mushroom trip is going to last will depend primarily on the following factors:


  • How much did you take?
    You should be able to quantify this in the weight of the dried product for consistent measuring.
  • What kind of shroom did you take?
    You can read details about all the different kinds of shrooms in our shroom shop – but some tend to last longer than others.
  • How were they taken?
    As a general rule of thumb, whole shrooms will last a little longer but produce a more mellow trip, and teas/chocolates/gummies tend to be more intense, but shorter in duration.
  • Who’s taking them?
    A number of factors matter here: height, weight, age and all play a role. People who have consumed psilocybin recently will also exhibit higher tolerance to subsequent doses. There are also certain pre-existing medical conditions that can affect the overall duration of the trip.
  • Have you taken any other drugs?
    It can be hard enough to estimate what psilocybin will do and how it will last; adding other psychoactive drugs can have unpredictable effects on the overall experience.
  • Are you in a calm and peaceful, or a more high-energy environment?
    The kind of energy that you surround yourself with and take in while you’re tripping will affect a number of things, including the duration of the trip.

And many more. In general, you should budget about 4-8 hours for the trip to completely end, including any sort of “afterglow.” Typically the peak will be around 1-2 hours in, and will fade from there – although it is common to experience “waves,” so if you think you feel yourself coming down, don’t be caught off guard if it was just a bump on the roller coaster!

What’s it like coming down from shrooms?

coming down from shrooms

Coming down from shrooms by most accounts is considered to be a generally pleasant experience as compared with coming down off other drugs. Psilocybin is not inherently addictive, and it is quite rare for people to get addicted to mushrooms. There are a few reasons for this – but a big one is thought to be the fact that psilocybin doesn’t affect the body’s dopamine receptors. Most addictive substances somehow manipulate the body’s regulation of dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical that makes us feel motivated, accomplished, and productive while serotonin (which is what psilocin mimics) is what makes us feel calm, relaxed, and happy.

In general, your “come down” from shrooms will be about the back half of your trip. So, a 6-hour trip you might spend 1 hour climbing, 2 hours speaking, and 3 hours “coming down.” It’s a very gentle kind of experience that tends to lend itself well to introspection and deep conversations. It’s a really important and wonderful part of the experience, because it gives you time to connect the wild thoughts and deep insights that came to you from the fungus with your conscious, sober mind.

This is also a great time to journal about your experience, and record your thoughts. Just make sure not to jump behind the wheel of a car or anything, until you’re sure you’re firmly planted back in reality.

How Long Do shrooms stay in your system?

Shrooms are almost completely flushed from the body’s system within 24 hours. If you’re being tested for drugs, shrooms are completely undetectable after 48 hours in urine tests. Traces can last up to 90 days in hair follicles, but this form of testing is extremely unlikely.

Unlike with LSD which can have a longer half-life, psilocybin and psilocin are both completely broken down by the body and expelled within a couple days. The chances of experiencing flashbacks, etc. as you might have heard of before is also quite small.

How long are shrooms detectable in a drug test?

how long are shrooms detectable in a drug test

Shrooms are detectable in your urine up to 48 hours after consumption – so if you’re planning a camping trip with some buddies, try not to have to piss in a cup on Monday morning. It is, however, quite likely that shrooms will go completely undetected, as the majority of commonly used urine tests for drug use do not actually search for psilocybin or psilocin.

It’s worth mentioning that there are certain drug tests that are capable of detecting much more trace amounts of psilocybin in the body’s hair follicles, and those can stick around for 90 days. These are extremely uncommon in day-to-day use though – so if you’re not training for a boxing match, or applying to the CIA, you should be A-OK.


So, there are a number of factors but the Cole’s Notes:

Shrooms will last in total anywhere from 4-8 hours.

You’ll be at the “peak” of your high from about a quarter of the way through to halfway through, and start coming down from there.

Shrooms will be completely undetectable in a urine test after 48 hours, and all traces will be gone from your body within 90 days.

What is the Difference Between Psilocybin and LSD?

Introduction – What is a Psychedelic

What is a Psychedelic

So the first step to understanding the differences between LSD and the psilocybin found in magic mushrooms is to understand what they have in common – they are both psychoactive compounds that are grouped in the family of psychedelics.

Psychedelics are a specific class of hallucinogenic drug who cause “non-ordinary states of consciousness” (that’s a boring way to say “trips.”) They do this through a process called “serotonin receptor agnoism,” which is essentially what we call it when a chemical compound is capable of mimicking the effects of serotonin which is naturally produced in the body. Your serotonin receptors are separated into 7 categories – 5-HT1 through 5-HT7. Each of these types can have separate subtypes – these are lettered A, B, C, etc. Psychedelics like psilocybin and LSD specifically are specifically capable of binding with the 5-HT2A receptors. Although this is understood on a molecular level, the precise mechanics through which psychedelics are able to induce changes in cognition, mood, behavior and personality is a new frontier for neuroscience, and something that we are still only beginning to understand.

One thing that does seem to be consistent across all psychedelic drugs is that they reduce activity in the what’s called the default mode network of the human brain. This is a part of your brain is best known for being active during periods in which a person is not focused on things in the outside world. It is especially active during activities like daydreaming, and sometimes activated during cognitive planning phases, and when a person is thinking about others, about themselves, remembering the past and planning for the future. It’s thought that the reduced default mode network activity is one of the main ways psychedelics work, and the effect this reduction is similar to the ones that occur during meditation, mystical experiences, and near-death experiences.

Although research into psychedelics and the potential of psychedelic therapy experienced a bit of a Golden Age through the 1950s, The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 threw a monkey wrench into the works. This was a treaty signed by all members of the United Nations to prohibit the production and supply of drugs classified as “narcotics.” Although some exemptions were made for certain narcotics for medicinal uses and clinical experimentation, psychedelics at the time were not believed to have any legitimate medicinal uses, and it was made illegal to conduct any further research on the substances using human subjects.

This restriction slowed down the tide of research for obvious reasons, but psychedelics still remained widely popular as recreational drugs, and increasing droves of people began to report on the positive changes they experienced as a result of using psychedelics. Some dedicated researchers such as Terence McKenna and Alexander Shulgin continued to experiment with these substances (serving as their own subjects,) and writing about their experiences which has helped contribute to a growing understanding of the benefits of psilocybin we hear about so much today.

In 2021, as of the time of this writing, there are 21,000 papers on Google Scholar that make reference to the term “psychedelic,” with over half of these published after 2014. This is because psychedelics have become an increasingly hot-button issue in the world of therapy – with new results published every week, and the vast majority of them pointing in a singular direction: that psychedelics represent an unprecedented untapped resource in the treatment of a wide array of mental health disorders.

What is Psilocybin?

Whay is Psilocybin?

Okay, so we’ve talked about what psychedelics are and how they work, so let’s delve a little deeper into psilocybin to understand more specifically how it works. There’s a lot that we could say about psilocybin, but we’re going to focus for now on its pharmacological profile – that is to say, how exactly it behaves as a molecule and how it interacts with human body when consumed.

Psilocybin is the primary psychoactive ingredient found in psilocybin mushrooms, whose use predates written human history – and of which there are more than 200 separate strains that can be found all over the world. Psilocybin is what is technically referred to as a “prodrug” – that refers to a substance that, while not psychoactive itself, is metabolized by the body into a pharmacologically active drug. In this case, psilocybin when it is broken down through the process of human digestion is converted into psilocin – and when we talk about psilocybin as a serotonin agonist, we are actually referring to the product of psilocybin metabolism, psilocin.

When consumed it undergoes rapid dephosphorylation and is converted into psilocin. Psilocin binds with the highest affinity to 5-HT2A receptors, and with low affinity to 5-HT1A, 5HT1D and 5-HT2C receptors. As mentioned before, it’s thought that most of what one considers to be the “psychedelic experience” is a result of 5-HT2A agonism – although some have theorized that less predictable interactions with the other receptors could be responsible for variable reports in levels of anxiety, mood, and nausea.

It’s also noteworthy that psilocin has no distinguishable effect on the body’s dopaminergic system – meaning that there are no significant changes in the levels of dopamine produced by the body when ingesting psilocybin by itself. More on dopamine later.

It’s also worth noting that when we talk about “psilocybin,” the issue is further complicated by the fact that what we’re really talking about from a practical standpoint are psilocybin mushrooms. These are complex living organisms that are most often consumed in their entirety. That is to say, we are not independently synthesizing the compound psilocybin in a laboratory, but rather consuming these “magic mushrooms,” which contain not only psilocybin and psilocin, but a range of other possibly psychoactive compounds as well.

Baeocystin is an analog of psilocin that has been isolated in psilocybin mushrooms – that means it behaves similarly (though not identically) to psilocin, and there is considerably less research that has been done on baeocystin (about 450 published articles on Google Scholar, compared with 5,601 for psilocin and 21,000 for psilocybin.) Norpsilocin and norbaeocystin are other examples of compounds that have been isolated and identified only recently (in 2017), and whose truth we are only beginning to unfurl.

Another noteworthy psychoactive compound found in magic mushrooms in phenethylamine. Phenethylamine is a natural monoamine alkaloid that behaves as a central nervous stem stimulant by regulating monoamine transmission. Some phhenethylamine-based drugs are also incredibly popular recreationally such as 2-CB (or ‘“tucibi”), MDA (“sally”), and MDMA (“molly.”) Although psilocybin behaves radically differently from these drugs on a brain chemistry level, the presence of trace amounts of phenethylamine is still something that should be taken into consideration when considering the overall pharmacological profile of psilocybin mushrooms.

What is LSD?

What is LSD?

Again, this is a question that can be answered in a number of different ways, but for the purposes of this article we are going to deal very briefly with the history and original origins of the drugs, and focus primarily on its pharmacological profile.

So, LSD (or Lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly known as “acid”) is a psychedelic drug that was first synthesized on November 16, 1938 by the Swiss chemist, Albert Hoffman in Basel, Switzerland. It was created with lysergic acid, which is a chemical derived from ergotamine – an enzyme found in the ergot fungus which grows on rye and other grains. Like many amazing scientific discoveries, LSD was something of an accident. Hoffman accidentally absorbed some LSD through his skin which caused him to first take note of its astounding effects. Later, on April 16 of 1943, Hoffman deliberately dosed himself with 250 µg of LSD and went for a bike ride. Needless to say, he was absolutely floored by the experience, and realized he’d stumbled on… something. Even if he didn’t know exactly what it would become at the time.

Since then, LSD has had a rich and colourful history, including a period of time where the CIA bought up the entire world’s supply of acid and conducted the now infamous MKUltra experiments over the course of 10 years, testing the substance on often unknowing subjects including members of the army, political prisoners, and many more. During the 1960s it was made illegal by the same UN Convention that outlawed mushrooms, but became an equally important part of a growing counterculture movement, and more recently has been explored as a potential therapeutic aid.

Chemically, LSD functions as a seretogenic agonist (like psilocybin), as well as a dopaminergic agonist. This means that it is capable of mimicking serotonin and dopamine. This makes it relatively unique in the world of psychedelics, as there are very few compounds that are both seretogenic and dopaminergic.

LSD can affect a wide range of different serotonin receptors, including 5-HT2A, 5-HT2B, and 5-HT2C. Also, there is an interesting distinction between the ways LSD interacts with serotonin receptors as compared with other psychedelics. When the LSD molecule fits into the serotonin receptors, it causes those receptors to fold in on themselves (imagine something like the lid closing overtop a wastebin.) This means that the LSD molecule remains in place until the lid “pops off”, and the molecule is capable of detaching. This results in the LSD trip being a significantly longer experience as compared with most other psychedelic drugs.

As for the dopamine system and D2 receptors, that forms the second major component of how LSD affects the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is highly related to how we experience pleasure, how we set and achieve goals, and how we focus and motivate ourselves. There are many popular drugs such as cocaine, MDMA, and methamphetamine which function as “dopamine reuptake inhibitors.” Basically, stopping dopamine from being re-absorbed into the synaptic neurons after its released into the brain’s synaptic pathways, and causing increased concentrations of dopamine within those pathways.

Agonism, if you recall from our definition earlier, is very different than reuptake inhibition. An agonist mimics a naturally occurring neurotransmitter molecule, while the reuptake inhibitor dysregulates the body’s natural management of its own naturally occurring neurotransmitters. Dopamine agonists are not commonly used recreationally, however, they are used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, restless leg syndrome, and depression.

LSD’s agonism of dopamine receptors in addition to serotonin receptors are thought to be what gives it its unique psychoactive effects.

So What’s the Difference?

Once again, there are a lot of different ways to look at this, and psychedelics are something that we are just beginning to understand – but the following points represent the biggest differences:

1. Magic Mushrooms are grown organically, while LSD is synthesized in a lab

LSD was originally found from rye fungus, it’s true – but these days it is synthesized directly in a lab. This has a couple of ramifications, but the biggest one is that when you consume LSD, you are consuming a single concentrated molecule. When you’re eating shrooms, you’re eating an entire fungus – only 1-2% of whose weight is actually composed of psilocybin and psilocin. The other 98% is mostly non-psychoactive, but it’s impossible to discount the potential effects caused by the other psychoactive chemicals in psilocybin mushrooms. If you are looking to purchase magic mushrooms in Canada, you should make sure you find a reliable source!

2. LSD can affect both serotonin receptors and dopamine receptors, while psilocin only affects seretonin receptors.

As mentioned, these are both two completely distinct monoamines. Although psychedelic effects are commonly associated with serotonin receptor agonism, the dopamine receptor agonism likely plays a large role in the more energetic type of high that is often associated with LSD as compared with psilocybin.

3. Although both interact with 5-HT2A receptors with high synergy, the other seretonin receptors they affect are a little different.

Again, psychedelic effects are often thought to be associated with 5-HT2A receptor agonism, but the different seretonin receptors activated by the different molecules could be partially to explain for the different effects.

4. LSD can last much longer

This goes back to the unique “wastebin” trick of the LSD molecule when they bind to the seretonin receptor. While the psilocin molecule is almost always decoupled within 4-6 hours, once the LSD molecule bonds with the seretonin receptor, it creates a sort of lid that keeps it in place for up to 20 hours.

Can Magic Mushrooms Help Me Quit Smoking?


One of the questions our team here receives more frequently than almost any other about the potential uses for magic mushrooms is: can they help me quit smoking? There has actually been quite a lot of research done around this subject, and although the results are still preliminary, and there’s a lot of additional supplemental research that needs to be done, the early results are quite promising. In the content of this post, we’re going to provide a little background context to smoking and nicotine addiction in Canada, discuss the results of some of the most prominent studies that have been conducted on psilocybin and addiction, and conclude with our own recommendations as to how you might be able to use psilocybin to help you out in your own battle with addiction.

Smoking in Canada

Can Magic Mushrooms Help You Quit Smoking?

It is certainly no secret that smoking is bad for you – but it still remains one of the most popular addictive substances across the country. In 2015, Statistics Canada published a stunning statistic that 13% of Canadians aged 15 and over smoke tobacco. Smoking is connected with a wide array of different cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and is to this day considered to be the leading cause of preventable death in the country, with 100 Canadians dying every day from a smoking-related illness. Smoking is responsible for about 30% of all cancer deaths, and 85% of lung cancer cases in Canada. Smoking contains highly dangerous carcinogens which can adversely affect the body in a number of ways. Furthermore, smoking is an activity that is increasingly being restricted by Canadian lawmakers. Lawmakers across the country have continued to restrict where smoking is allowed – in 2008, British Columbia banned smoking in all public spaces and workplaces, for example. Other provinces have almost unilaterally followed suit; smokers are increasingly finding themselves with fewer and fewer places in which they can actually smoke, and in 2019, Ontario introduced new legislation that would seek to punish those littering cigarette butts with much higher fines. So, we know that smoking is bad for us, and we know that the government is increasingly taking away the space to do it, and there are fewer and fewer depictions of smoking as a “cool” activity in popular media, and the general perception of smoking being “cool” is rapidly declining as well. One 2016 study found that 80% of people polled thought smoking did not look cool – and this number is continuing to climb. Additionally, the Truth Initiative published a report in which they show that over 70% of smokers want to quit. So, what’s the deal? We know it’s bad, it’s expensive, most people don’t like it, and we want to quit. The Canadian government is even actively funding a multitude of different smoking cessation programs across the country, giving smokers access to free resources including Nicorette gum and patches. So, why are so many people still smoking?

Why Is Smoking So Hard to Give Up?

Well, I think we all more-or-less know why this is the case as well. Tobacco contains the chemical nicotine, which is a central nervous system stimulant that triggers the release of dopamine when it’s absorbed into the bloodstream. And nicotine is one of the most addictive substances on the planet. “From a scientific standpoint, nicotine is just as hard, or harder, to quit than heroin … but people don’t recognize that,” says Dr. Neil Benowitz, a nicotine researcher at the University of California, San Francisco. “Every drug of abuse, including nicotine, releases dopamine, which makes it pleasurable to use,” said Benowitz. “And when you stop smoking, you have a deficiency of dopamine release, which causes a state of dysphoria: you feel anxious or depressed.” Gary A. Giovino, a nicotine researcher at the State University of New York at Buffalo, said as helpful as medication can be, people who really want to quit smoking also have to be willing to modify their lifestyle.

“People need to focus on behavioral change … they need the right skills and knowledge and social support. They need a plan,” said Giovino, a professor and chair of his school’s Department of Community Health and Health Behavior, who quit smoking 40 years ago.

Giovino said good nutrition may be an important factor in helping people quit. He hopes to launch a study that will look at whether there is a correlation between smokers’ vitamin D levels and their ability to stop smoking. He said he’d also like to see researchers explore whether plant-based diets, B vitamins and hydration impact nicotine addiction.

Giovino advises people to tap into the “mind-body connection” and try yoga and deep breathing techniques to help them quit. “After a meal, instead of taking a long breath on a cigarette, (a smoker could) try taking a long, deep breath and exhale without the 7,000 chemicals,” he said.

It’s also important for those who have decided to quit to prepare themselves for how difficult it will be, says Giovino.

“There’s this real roller-coaster ride of not feeling well and being irritable and having cravings,” he said. “The first few days might be very intense, then it might level off and come back again. But the longer you’re off cigarettes, the more your brain goes through the process of neural adaptation, the more you recover. And eventually, the ride subsides.” And yet still, more than 80% of people who attempt to quit smoking will relapse. So where does psilocybin factor into all of this? Well, here’s where we come to the part of the article focusing on the new research emerging that indicates that psilocybin might be able to help many people in their efforts to quit.

Psilocybin Therapy Helps Create a Lasting Change

In 2016, a team of researchers led by Albert Garcia Romeau, PhD, published an article online in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse which detailed the summaries of their findings using psilocybin-assisted cognitive behavioral therapy to help chronic smokers kick the habit. A grand total of 15 daily smokers participated in the experiment, which consisted of 2-3 sessions of psilocybin-assisted therapy. These participants were paired with trained therapists who used the time with their patients to create a “mystical” experience in which the patients were guided through a psilocybin-induced high with a focus on helping them abstain from smoking over the long term.

Researchers were attempting to beat the average results that have been achieved in clinical studies not involving psilocybin. As of the time of the study, the most effective smoking cessation studies that had only shown about a 35% rate of success in graduates remaining abstinent after a period of six months. Romeau and co. were interested in seeing whether they could beat those numbers through psilocybin therapy, and the results were incredibly encouraging. Participants were relatively well educated, with all individuals reporting some college, and 11 (73.3%) having received at least a Bachelor’s degree. The sample was racially homogeneous, including 14 (93%) White participants and 1 (7%) Asian participant.

This study was approved by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Institutional Review Board, and all participants provided informed consent. Participants underwent a 15-week smoking cessation treatment intervention, with moderate (20mg/70kg) and high (30mg/70kg) dose psilocybin sessions occurring in weeks 5, and 7 respectively, and an optional third high dose session in week 13. The intervention consisted of weekly meetings for 15 weeks and was delivered by a team of 2 to 3 facilitators. The Target-Quit Date (TQD) was set for week 5 of treatment, concurrent with the first psilocybin session. Afterward, study treatment facilitators met weekly with participants to discuss psilocybin session experiences, encourage and socially reinforce the use of CBT techniques, and provide support for smoking abstinence.

Although definitive conclusions about the role of psilocybin in this study’s smoking cessation outcomes cannot be drawn due to the open-label design and lack of control group, the mystical-type qualities of psilocybin sessions (measured the same day), as well as their personal meaning, spiritual significance, and impact on well-being (measured 7 days after these experiences) are significantly correlated with measures of smoking cessation treatment outcomes at 6-month follow-up. Furthermore, the intensity of psilocybin session experiences was not significantly associated with smoking cessation treatment outcomes, suggesting that mystical-type effects specifically, rather than the general intensity of subjective drug effects, are associated with long-term abstinence.

In other words, even those participants who didn’t indicate that their psilocybin experiences were especially “mystical” or life-changing showed similarly boosted rates in maintained abstinence from smoking. The results from the 6-month follow-up indicated that 12 of the 15 participants (80%) remained smoke-free for 180 days after the conclusion of the treatment. Although the research is preliminary, the sample size is small and there was no control group, it is certainly promising that this small study revealed that people were more than twice as likely to be successful in quitting smoking when assisted through psilocybin therapy as opposed to conventional non-psychedelic treatment.

A Qualitative Analysis of Psilocybin-Assisted Smoking Cessation Programs

In 2018, a team of researchers led by Tehseen Nohri published a paper in the Journal of Psychopharmacology which aimed to consolidate the findings of a wide number of studies conducted a qualitative analysis into the use of psilocybin in smoking cessation programs. So, the idea here is, through interviewing people who had participated in previous smoking cessation studies, to get a better idea as to exactly how magic mushrooms helped them quit smoking, in their own words. These results were separated into a few categories, and the findings are quite interesting.

Insights into Self-Identity

Many respondents reported valuable insights into their understanding of themselves occurring during their psilocybin experiences that were directly relevant to their efforts to quit smoking. Session experiences were described as revealing a deeper, better, or more essential self that either led to a decreased desire to smoke, or to smoking not making sense anymore. One participant said,

“I used to hide sitting on the air conditioning unit on the side of my house when I used to smoke. And so the image was me sitting there, smoking, all hunched over, stupid, smoking. And the vine just rising up and this purply flower face thing looking down at me like, ‘how ridiculous!’ And then I’m not really that [person], I’m really this vine, that’s really me, and the Goddess within me…how silly to think that [smoking]… was going to do anything or solve anything. So it was really just that rising up feeling, and that powerful feeling, and it just filled me with such beauty and strength and life.”

And another shared that,

“It felt like I’d died as a smoker and was resurrected as a nonsmoker. Because it’s my perception of myself, and that’s how I felt. So I jumped up and I said ‘I’m not a smoker anymore, it’s all done.”

Insights into Smoking Behavior

Many participants also reported specific smoking-related insights during psilocybin sessions that they perceived as helpful for quitting. Here’s some of what they had to say: One participant noted the realization that smoking even one cigarette entailed an ongoing commitment to smoking. A specific image from her first session led them to the insight that to smoke at all was to be ‘a smoker’:

“It was me in the red coat, lighting up a cigarette, and then it spread into a grid. So it was like that one cigarette was 1000 cigarettes.”

Similarly, another participant explained,

“Cigarettes don’t seem like a short-term solution anymore. They seem exhausting to me. Like…oh my god – just, having a cigarette now and opening up this whole thing all over again?! To have one cigarette would be a long-term commitment.”

Experiences of Interconnectedness

Many participants described experiencing a profound sense of unity and interconnectedness during their psilocybin session experiences. One had this to say:

“I had always had the sense of everything being connected. And [the psilocybin session] reinforced that, very strongly… [If I were to smoke] I would be a polluter…ashtrays and butts all over the place, and you’re causing harm to other people’s health as well. And so you were re-looking at your place in the universe and what you were doing to help or hinder it. The universe as such. And by smoking, you wouldn’t be helping.”

Sustained Feelings of Awe and Curiosity

Many participants reported that the profound significance of the psilocybin session experiences made smoking seem trivial in comparison. These participants described psilocybin sessions as evoking a powerful, sustained sense of awe and a lingering curiosity into unsolvable life mysteries, all of which diminished the relative importance of smoking. One participant described his experience as…

“…beyond what I have ever been to or any place I ever thought about going to…I was just totally inundated, mentally and emotionally, by that experience. So the smoking was like, ‘who cares!’, you know? Somewhere that’s so special and so unique and it’s shown me so much in such a brief period of time…[after that] smoking is not important anymore!”

Reduced Withdrawal and Cravings

The first psilocybin session was followed by a marked reduction in the reported intensity and frequency of withdrawal symptoms for 91% of the participants when compared with their previous experiences attempting to quit smoking. These individuals went on to maintain abstinence between their first and second psilocybin sessions.

Closing Thoughts: How to Use Magic Mushrooms to Help you Quit

Of course, as with any time we create a post that discusses a mental health condition such as addiction, we need to include the caveat that the safest way to engage in any of this is to consult directly with a physician or therapist before taking anything on. However, for those who are looking to take this on themselves, we do have some specific recommendations.

1: Have Clear Intentions

We’re beginning to feel a bit like a broken record, constantly repeating this one piece of advice – but it holds true in this case especially. If you’re looking to use magic mushrooms as a way to help you quit smoking, keep your intentions clear and pure in your head before you take your dose. If your intentions aren’t clear going into a trip, it can be easier to become distracted and miss the insights you might have gained by remaining focused on your goal.

2: Do it for You

Anecdotally, we’ve heard stories about people who’ve tried to use mushrooms to help them quit because of pressure from a family member or friend, instead of for their own reasons. Almost invariably, we’ve found that these people have less success with quitting than those who are doing it for their own reasons. Like we mentioned at the beginning of the article, smoking is bad for you! It’s expensive, addictive, and harmful. There are plenty of great reasons why any smoker should want to quit the habit for their own benefit, and you’re going to get a much more lasting effect from the experience if you’re doing it for your own reasons and not for someone else’s.

3: Be Humble

It’s important that, if you’re going into this with the idea that you’ll get some kind of benefit out of it, you go into it with some humility. The entire concept is based around the idea that the mushrooms will give you some kind of insight that is not alien to you, but which you have not been able to access before. It is likely that you will experience insights or ideas that run counter to ideas that have been ingrained in you for some time, and it requires humility to welcome these ideas. Keep your goal of quitting smoking front of mind, and be willing to accept the novel ideas that come to you in support of this goal.

4: Use a Trusted Source

It is of absolute importance that you use a trusted source when attempting to take magic mushrooms for any reason, but especially when looking for magic mushrooms for therapy. Of course, we would be happy to help – you can buy shrooms online here!

4: Document your Experience

This is another constant piece of advice that we offer to anyone who is looking to use mushrooms for purposes related to self-improvement, or mental health. Take note of what it is that you’re feeling – this could be by writing it down, or even simply through conversations with a friend. Notice how you feel about smoking while you’re under the influence of the mushrooms, notice how you feel as the effects wear off, and days and weeks after.

What Are the Risks of Psychedelics?


Risks of Using Psychedelics

For starters, assessing risk is tricky. A lot of what both scientists and the general public think they know about the potential risks of psychedelic use comes from the first wave of research and experimentation in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. But this body of knowledge includes studies that wouldn’t meet today’s scientific standards; urban legends, and unsubstantiated news stories.

Also, reporting and describing adverse events is often subjective to some extent, psychiatrist Rick Strassman noted in a 1984 paper. Some people consider the drug-induced state itself pathological, he wrote, while others believe even the worst reactions are part of “throwing off ‘straight’ society’s ‘shackles’ and in reaching a higher level of consciousness.” And many of the more recent studies on the potential harms of LSD and other hallucinogens draw on data from the 1950s and 60s. Those studies had a lot of methodological problems; many lack baseline data about their subjects, didn’t use placebos and/or failed to specify the source of the drug or the setting in which it was given.

Also, though it’s tempting to generalize from case reports or news stories, Krebs and Johansen argue it’s important to take a “statistical perspective to risk” and they point out that nothing we do is without risk. Here are some of the specific reasons why they say case reports (and news reports, I’d argue) of mental distress/problems arising from psychedelic use should be taken with a major grain of salt.

Several issues are important to keep in mind when considering case reports:

1) Adverse effects of psychedelics are usually short-lived; serious psychiatric symptoms following psychedelic are typically resolved within 24 hours or at least within a few days.

2) Both mental illness and psychedelic use are prevalent in the population, likely leading to many chance associations; for instance, about 3% of the general public will have a psychotic disorder sometime in their lives.

3) The typical onset period of both mental illness and psychedelic use occurs in late adolescence and early adulthood, again leading to mistaken causal inferences.

4) Most case reports do not rule out preexisting psychiatric difficulties, life stresses, or use of other drugs. Many psychiatric disorders are believed to be heavily influenced by genetics and earlier experiences, even if symptoms are often first triggered by a stressful event. Note, however, that people with first-episode psychosis often have no apparent family or personal history of mental illness, whether or not if they have previously used psychedelics.

5) Because of the subjective effects of psychedelics, some people attribute psychiatric symptoms to the use of psychedelics even if the symptoms started months or years later.

6) Some health professionals may have a biased view since they meet people with mental health problems and have little or no contact with the majority of psychedelic users.

7) Caution should be used when generalizing from LSD to other psychedelics because of emerging evidence of unique effects of LSD.

8) Case reports of mental health problems following psychedelics are often comparable to case reports of mental health problems linked to intensive meditation, visiting holy sites or viewing beautiful artwork and sublime natural scenes.

To complicate things further: People may think they’ve taken LSD when they’ve really taken something else. For example, a West Virginia man was charged with murdering his wife in 2013. He and his wife took what they thought was LSD and the wife started having convulsions and died. There were a number of media reports blaming her death on LSD, but it later came out that the couple had unwittingly taken a synthetic hallucinogen 25b-NBOMe, which isn’t illegal in West Virginia. The husband then pled guilty to a lesser charge: involuntary manslaughter. I also found a case report about an 18-year-old man who called 911 saying he’d tried to kill himself after taking two hits of acid. He’d actually taken NBOMe, as well, which seems to be more dangerous and potent than LSD.

General safety information

In Drugs – Without the Hot Air, David Nutt calls psychedelics “among the safest drugs we know of”. He and a team of experts in addiction, drug policy, psychology, and other fields ranked 20 drugs on their harmfulness, using criteria ranging from drug-related mortality (death by overdose) to environmental damage. Overall, psilocybin mushrooms were ranked as the least harmful drug, followed by LSD and the addiction drug buprenorphine, which had the same score. Alcohol was ranked most harmful (more than ten times as harmful as mushrooms or LSD), followed by heroin, then crack. Referring to mushrooms and LSD, Nutt writes:

“It’s virtually impossible to die from an overdose of them; they cause no physical harm; and if anything they are anti-addictive, as they cause a sudden tolerance which means that if you immediately take another dose it will probably have very little effect.”

Matthias Liechti recently published a paper in Nature that reviews all of the clinical research on LSD that’s been done in the past 25 years. In these controlled settings, subjects’ experience of LSD was “predominately positive”, he writes, and no severe adverse reactions to LSD were reported.

Hardly Any Emergency Room visits

LSD and psilocybin accounted for just 0.005% of US emergency room visits, according to federal statistics published in 2013. There were an estimated 4,819 emergency department visits related to LSD use in 2011, according to the most recent federal data available. Another 8,043 ER visits that year were attributed to “miscellaneous hallucinogens”. Note that the substance use in both cases was self-reported, not toxicologically confirmed.

For comparison:

Drug Estimated number of ER visits in 2011
LSD 4,819
Misc. hallucinogens  8,043
Heroin 258,482
Marijuana 455,668
PCP 75,538

Toxicity and Overdose

In their 2008 guidelines for the safe administration of high doses of LSD and psilocybin in a clinical settings, Matthew Johnson, Bill Richards, and Roland Griffiths write that hallucinogens aren’t considered addictive and they don’t appear to cause organ damage or neurotoxicity. They can cause side effects like dizziness, blurred vision, weakness, and tremors, while they are active. The authors also note that hallucinogens can raise the pulse and blood pressure, but they say none of their patients ever experienced a medically dangerous spike in blood pressure or had to take blood pressure drugs. I did find a report published this year of a 34-year-old man with an undiagnosed heart condition who went into cardiac arrest after taking LSD recreationally and heroin, for example, is just 5 times larger than the effective dose.

Little Chance for Physical Harm

Even if psychedelics aren’t toxic, per se, there are a lot of pop-culture accounts of people getting hurt, dying or hurting others while on the drug — probably the most common stories are those of people think they can fly and fall to their deaths. But Johansen and Krebs write that these sorts of situations are very rare:

“Both the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and the health authorities in the Netherlands, where hundreds of thousands of servings of psilocybin mushrooms are legally sold in shops each year, report that serious injuries related to psychedelics are extremely rare. Furthermore, Dutch police report that legal sale of psilocybin mushrooms has not led to public order problems.”

Few Serious Mental Health Issues

Paula Daniëlse/Getty Images

Despite horror stories about people having psychotic breaks or other mental health problems after taking psychedelics, two recent large-scale studies (which examine a similar set of US data) suggest people who have used psychedelics may be less likely to have serious mental health problems or be suicidal than those who have not.

One paper, published in 2015 by a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins and the University of Alabama, analyzed data collected from more than 191,382 people between 2008 and 2012 during the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health. More than 13 percent of those surveyed (27,235 people) had used “classic psychedelics” (which the researchers defined as DMT, ayahuasca, LSD, mescaline, peyote or psilocybin) at some point in their life. The respondents who had used a classical psychedelic were 19 percent less likely to have been in psychological distress during the previous month, 14 percent less likely to have had suicidal thoughts over the last year, 29 percent less likely to have made plans for suicide and 36 percent less likely to have attempted suicide in the past year than the survey respondents who had never used psychedelics. Interestingly, the use of other, non-psychedelic drugs was associated with more psychological distress and suicidality in this group. Of course, the study had limitations — for one, people self-reported both drug use and psychological distress. Also, these sort of studies can only demonstrate association, not causation.

The same year, Johansen and Krebs published a paper that looked at responses to the same survey from a slightly different time period. Of 135,000 US adults surveyed, 19,299 had used LSD, psilocybin, mescaline or peyote. The respondents who had used psychedelics were no more likely to have experienced serious psychological distress, suicidal thoughts or behavior, anxiety, depression or to have needed or received mental health treatment in the past year than those who had not. In fact, people who had used psychedelics were less likely to have undergone inpatient psychiatric treatment than never-users. Johansen and Krebs concluded: “There is little evidence linking psychedelic use to lasting mental health problems. In general, use of psychedelics does not appear to be particularly dangerous when compared to other activities considered to have acceptable safety.”

Data from the first wave of psychedelic research seems to support this idea. About 10,000 patients are thought to have participated in LSD research in the 1950s and 60s and the rate of psychotic reactions, suicide attempts and suicides during treatment “appears comparable to the rate of complications during conventional psychotherapy” according to an analysis of data from this era done in 2008 by Torsten Passie.

More recently, a 2011 paper by Erich Studerus, Franz Vollenweider and colleagues analyzed data from eight double-blind, placebo-controlled psilocybin studies conducted in their laboratory over the past decades. They looked at 110 subjects who’d undergone a total of 227 psilocybin sessions. None of the subjects had prolonged psychotic reactions to the psilocybin sessions and schizophrenia-spectrum disorders were not precipitated in any of the subjects. One subject did seek treatment for symptoms of anxiety, emotional disability and depression.

In their safety guidelines for hallucinogen research, Johnson and co-authors note that psychedelics could possibly provoke the onset of prolonged psychosis, but they say the chances are low. In their clinical research, they exclude people who meet the criteria for a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar I or II or other psychotic disorders. They also exclude people with a first or second degree relative with those disorders.

Bad trips & other short term ill-effects

The most common adverse reaction to psychedelics is the bad trip, which can involve feelings of fear, anxiety, dysphoria and/or paranoia. Johnson et al write: “Distressing effects may be experienced in a variety of modalities: sensory (e.g., frightening illusions), somatic (e.g., disturbing hyperawareness of physiological processes), personal psychological (e.g., troubling thoughts or feelings concerning one’s life) and metaphysical (e.g., troubling thoughts or feelings about ultimate evil forces.” Hallucinogens often intensify people’s emotional experiences, they write, which could lead to erratic and potentially dangerous behavior if people aren’t properly prepared and supervised. Other short-lived but negative effects can include: “temporary paranoid ideation and, as after-effects in the days following a LSD experience, temporary depressive mood swings and/or increase of psychic instability.” I didn’t find much information about how common bad trips are — one 2010 analysis of psilocybin studies done between 1999 and 2008 looked at the experiences of 110 patients. Negative experiences weren’t common and seemed to be dose-dependent — higher doses of psilocybin were associated with higher rates of adverse reactions. All of the short-term adverse reactions were “successfully managed through interpersonal support” and didn’t require taking any drugs and seemed to have no lasting effects, based on follow-up interviews.

If you’re interested in browsing our selection, you can buy magic mushrooms in our store here!

How Does Psychedelic Therapy Work?

What Is Psychedelic Therapy?

Psychedelic Therapy

Psychedelic therapy is a technique that involves the use of psychedelic substances to aid the therapeutic process. Hallucinogenic substances have been used in holistic medicine and for spiritual practices by various cultures for thousands of years.

Research on the use of psychedelics flourished during the 1950s and 1960s until such substances were made illegal in the United States. While psychedelic drugs such as LSD and psilocybin are still illegal in the U.S., they are believed to have the potential to treat a range of conditions including anxiety, depression, and addiction.

Over the last two decades, researchers have gotten approval from authorities to conduct trials on the use of these substances to treat various conditions. For example, researchers have found that psilocybin is not only safe but that it can produce significant positive effects on well-being.

When utilized under supervision in a carefully controlled setting, research shows that some psychedelic substances can produce lasting and significant psychological and behavioral changes.

Types of Psychedelic Therapy

There are a number of different types of substances that can have psychedelic effects. Some common psychedelic substance and their uses include:

  • Ayahuasca: This brew originating in South America is purported to help with addiction, anxiety, and depression. Possible side effects of Ayahuasca include serotonin syndrome and medication interactions.
  • LSD: Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) can lead to altered mood, perception, and consciousness. Potential uses include the treatment of addiction and anxiety.
  • Psilocybin: Like LSD, psilocybin alters consciousness, mood, and perceptions. It is being studied for its use in the treatment of addiction, anxiety, and depression.
  • MDMA (ecstasy): While not a classic psychedelic substance, MDMA (also known as ecstasy) is a drug that produces “psychedelic effects” including feelings of euphoria, altered perceptions, increased arousal, and increased sociability. Research suggests it has therapeutic potential in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Because there is no standardized method of administration and practice, individual practitioners have their own methods for administering psychedelic therapy. However, there are often a few common elements:

  • Administration of a low to moderate dose of a psychedelic drug
  • Supervision by a professional during the psychedelic experience
  • Repeating the psychedelic dose with one to two weeks between sessions

During a psychedelic session, factors known as set and setting are critical. Set refers to things such as mood and expectations. Setting refers to the environment where the session takes place and the relationship with the therapist. The goal is to be comfortable with the therapist and the room where the session will take place. It is also important for patients to go into the experience feeling calm and attentive.

After the psychedelic experience, the focus at the next step is a process known as integration. These psychotherapy sessions are designed to help the individual process, make sense of, and find meaning in the psychedelic experience.


One variation of psychedelic therapy is known as microdosing, which involves taking very small, sub-hallucinogenic doses of psychedelic substances. Proponents of microdosing suggest that even these very low doses can have beneficial health effects such as enhancing performance, increasing energy, and decreasing depression.

While there is some evidence that microdosing may have some beneficial effects, more research is needed.

What Psychedelic Therapy Can Help With

Psilocybin Therapy

Researchers have uncovered a number of potential applications for psychedelic therapy. Studies have found that anxiety, depression, substance use, alcohol use, and PTSD may all respond positively to psychedelic-assisted treatments.

  • Anxiety and mood disorders: Psychedelics appear to have potential mood benefits that may be helpful in the treatment of depression. A 2016 randomized double-blind controlled trial found that psilocybin treatment led to significant reductions in anxiety and depression in patients undergoing cancer treatment.
  • Alcohol and substance use disorders: Early research showed strong evidence that LSD could help in the recovery from substance use conditions. Some more recent evidence also supports the idea that psychedelic therapy holds promise as an addiction treatment.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Research also suggests that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy may be useful in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). MDMA is best known as the main ingredient in the club drug ecstasy (or molly), but it also has psychedelic effects that have been shown to be useful for severe forms of PTSD that have not responded to other forms of treatment.

Benefits of Psychedelic Therapy

Psychedelics are powerful substances that can produce profound mind-altering effects. These drugs are believed to work by affecting the neural circuits that use the neurotransmitter serotonin. Some of the potential benefits of these substances include:

  • Feelings of relaxation
  • Improved sense of well-being
  • Increased social connectedness
  • Introspection
  • Spiritual experiences

It is important to remember that while psychedelics can produce positive benefits, it is also common for people to experience effects such as:

  • Altered sense of time
  • Distortions of reality
  • Distorted perceptual experiences
  • Intense perceptions or emotions
  • Paranoia
  • Seeing, hearing, or sensing things that one would otherwise not experience

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), these effects are a type of drug-induced psychosis that affects a person’s ability to communicate with others, think rationally, and interpret reality. When used in a therapeutic setting where a trained professional can help a person understand and integrate these experiences, psychedelic therapy has the potential to help relieve the symptoms of certain psychiatric conditions.

After taking psychedelic substances, some people report having mystical or spiritual experiences. They may describe having feelings of peace, joy, unity, and empathy.

One study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that the mood improvements induced by psychedelic drugs also appear to have lasting benefits. People who took psilocybin continued to experience improved well-being and increased social connectedness even after the substances wore off.


Psychedelic therapy shows a great deal of promise in the treatment of a wide variety of mental health conditions including addiction and depression. While further research is needed, current trials are underway to better determine the applications and effectiveness of using different psychedelic drugs to treat specific conditions.

Anxiety and Mood Disorders

Psilocybin-assisted therapy was also associated with increased quality of life, improved optimism, and reduced anxiety over mortality. About 80% of participants continued to show improvements six months later.

Another study looked at the effects of real-world psychedelic use by surveying music festival attendees. The participants reported that taking LSD and psilocybin helped improve mood and feel more socially connected. They also reported that these effects continued even after the drugs had worn off.

Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders

A 2015 study found that psilocybin-assisted therapy was associated with decreased drinking, reduced alcohol cravings, and increased abstinence. Psychedelic therapy’s efficacy for alcohol and substance use has not yet been clearly established, however. One 2012 study found that a single dose of LSD had a beneficial effect on alcohol misuse up to six months after treatment, but the effects were not significant at the 12-month mark.

One 2019 study involved surveying people who had already quit using alcohol with the use of psychedelics. While only 10% of the respondents used psychedelics intentionally as a way to reduce alcohol use, more than 25% reported that the hallucinogenic experience played a role in changing their alcohol use.

It is important to note, however, that studies such as this are based on self-reports by people who have taken psychedelics in the past. In order to determine if psychedelic therapy is truly effective in the treatment of alcohol and substance use disorders, more research using randomized clinical trials is needed.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Clinical trials have demonstrated the treatment’s long-term efficacy in the treatment of PTSD. One study found that 54% of participants no longer met the criteria for diagnosis following treatment. Only 23% of participants in the control group no longer met the diagnostic criteria upon follow-up.

The benefits also appear to be long-lasting: 68% of those in the MDMA-assisted therapy treatment did not meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD a year after treatment.

Things to Consider

While psychedelic therapy is generally considered safe and is well-tolerated, there are some potential risks and adverse effects to consider. The classic psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin pose few risks in terms of physical or psychological dependence along with other risks such as the following.

Negative Psychological Reactions

The potential for negative psychological reactions such as the symptoms of anxiety, panic, and paranoia is something to consider. The use of psychedelics can also result in what is known as a “bad trip.” These experiences are marked by intense and terrifying feelings of anxiety and the fear of losing control.

Possible Personality Changes

Some have suggested that these drugs have the potential to produce long-term mind-altering, personality-changing effects. For example, one study found that psilocybin therapy was associated with increases in extroversion and openness. These findings suggest that people may become more outgoing and willing to try new things after being treated with psilocybin-assisted therapy.

Dangers of Self-Treatment

Another potential concern is the possibility of people using psychedelic substances to self-treat. Self-treatment can pose a number of risks including the psychological dangers of experiencing a bad trip, the possibility of drug interactions, and the fact that many street drugs are mixed with unknown and potentially harmful substances.

The effects that a person experiences with psychedelic substances can be unpredictable and can vary depending on the amount of the substance that is used as well as the individual’s personality, mood, and surroundings.5

How to Get Started

In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) named psilocybin-assisted therapy as a “breakthrough therapy.” This designation is designed to speed up the development and review of drugs that preliminary clinical trials have indicated treat serious conditions.

Currently, clinical trials into the use of LSD and psilocybin as treatments for alcohol dependence, anxiety, and depression are underway

If you are interested in trying psychedelic therapy, signing up for a research trial is an option. You can search for clinical trials that are recruiting participants through the National Institute of Health (NIH). The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and the John Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research may also sponsor research and trials that are accepting participants.

Never try to self-treat with psychedelics. In clinical settings, people are given a specified, pure dose, are supervised during the psychedelic experience, and receive professional help from a therapist to integrate the experience.

It is also important to note that while psychedelic therapy has demonstrated that it can be helpful in the treatment of a number of conditions, researchers are still exploring the exact mechanisms of action. Further research will allow scientists to figure out which drugs are most helpful for specific conditions, what doses should be used, and when such treatments should be avoided.

Why do Magic Mushrooms Cause Nausea?


So, if you’ve ever done magic mushrooms, it’s extremely likely that you’ve experienced the nausea that is widely reported as one of the most common unpleasant side effects of ingesting psilocybin mushrooms. Often, this is a mild nausea that starts to come on about 15-20 minutes after ingesting the mushrooms, before the psychoactive effects kick in – but sometimes, it resurfaces later in the experience. For most, it’s a nuisance that passes relatively quickly, but sometimes can be quite severe and even result in vomiting. So, what is it exactly that causes nausea? Why does it happen? And maybe most importantly, what (if anything) can we do about it? All this and more, answered in this article!

How Humans Digest Mushrooms
How Humans Digest Mushrooms

Obviously, magic mushrooms are different than their non-psychoactive counterparts, but mycologically speaking, aside from the presence of the psychoactive compounds psilocybin and psilocin, the human body digest magic mushrooms in much the same way as it digests normal mushrooms – so looking at what we know about how mushrooms are digested might offer the first clues. Paul Stamets is the author of Psilocybin Mushrooms in the World, a leading mycologist, and psychonaut who has been at the forefront of helping to classify and organize human knowledge around magic mushrooms for some time. He explained that, outside of instances where people are looking to eat mushrooms for their psychoactive potential, we should almost never be eating mushrooms raw.

“Raw mushrooms are largely indigestible because of their tough cell walls, mainly composed of chitin. Raw mushrooms and raw mycelium may pose health hazards from harmful pathogens and heat-sensitive toxins—potentially causing red blood cell damage, gastrointestinal irritation, and allergic reactions, such as skin rashes.” – Dr. Paul Samets

Another mushroom expert, Dr. Andrew Weil, in an article on his website, noted that “mushrooms have very tough cell walls and are essentially indigestible if you don’t cook them. Thoroughly heating them releases the nutrients they contain, including protein, B vitamins, and minerals, as well as a wide range of novel compounds not found in other foods.” He goes on to explain that not only is the chitin material that composes the cell walls indigestible, but it’s possible for it to cause inflammatory and immune responses in the process of being broken down. Chitin doesn’t occur naturally in the human body, but we do produce an enzyme called chitinase – this enzyme breaks up the chitin in our system, and the smaller molecules that occur as a result of this breaking down can potentially cause these inflammatory responses. So, when it comes to mushrooms that are being used for culinary purposes, on all fronts it seems like the best bet is to simply prepare them beforehand by cooking them in any number of different ways. However, cooking shrooms is not necessarily the best option when we’re talking about magic mushrooms. This is because heating them can destroy the psychedelic compounds; this is why magic mushrooms are traditionally eaten raw, or, most commonly, dried. It’s entirely possible that the nausea experienced from eating magic mushrooms is simply related to eating raw chitin, but there are some other ideas that have surfaced related to the different array of chemicals that can be found in magic mushrooms.

The Other Chemicals in Magic Mushrooms

So, it’s well-known (and we’ve even mentioned earlier in this article) that psilocybin and pislocin are the two main compounds found in magic mushrooms that give them their psychedelic properties. There are a number of these compounds, but the most prevalent are baeocystin, norbaocystin, norpsilocin, aeruginascin and phenethylamine. Each of these compounds are similar to psilocybin, varying primarily in the different methyl groups on their amines. We do have records of studies in which people have taken pure, synthetic psilocybin and reported nausea as a side effect. These people had never taken mushrooms before and were not told beforehand to expect nausea as a side-effect, so it’s highly unlikely that this was a placebo effect.

So, contrasting what we just read in the preceding section, there may be something specific about the psilocybin compound itself that causes nausea, even when isolated from the other compounds found in the mushroom. We also know that the human body process psilocybin into psilocin in the process of digestion, and so it might be the psilocin being formed, or a side-effect of the processing that causes these issues Of all the compounds we listed, phenylethylamine is the most distinct.

Phenethylamine is a central nervous system stimulant and neurotransmitter that has potential hallucinogenic effects in humans. Amphetamine, methamphetamine, and MDMA are all examples of phenethylamines that enjoy widespread use in modern society for recreational, medicinal, and therapeutic effects. It’s also widely noted that these substances can cause side effects such as raising heart rate, increasing blood pressure, and inducing – you guess it – nausea. However, Alexander Shulgin (author of the famous books, Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved and Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved,) believes it is unlikely that phenethylamines in mushrooms are responsible for these effects. According the Shulgin, phenethylamines by themselves are “rapidly and completely destroyed” when ingested by humans, and that it’s only in the presence of a specific set of other molecules that phenethylamines will remain intact long enough for their psychopharmacological effects to be felt – and that these molecules are not present in psilocybin mushrooms.

The Role of Beta-Glucan

So, we’ve isolated the potentially nauseating components of magic mushrooms to: the chitin in the cell walls, and the psilocybin itself. Obviously, we don’t want want to do anything that would eliminate psilocybin from the mushrooms, as that would defeat the entire purpose – but can something be done about the chitin? Well, in order to understand that, we first need to understand what’s actually happening when it’s being broken down in the stomach. Biologist Ian Bollinger says that even though no one has pinned down exactly what it is that’s causing the nausea, there’s strong evidence that points to a substance called beta-glucan. Beta-glucan is a type of sugar that’s commonly found in oats, and other grains, but is found in significantly more abundance in the chitin of the mushroom cell walls.

His theory is that the excess amount of beta-glucan as it’s broken down in the stomach causes a reaction, because the stomach is acidic, and beta-glucan is basic – if you remember your elementary school science class lessons of missing vinegar and baking soda, that should be a quick reminder of what can happen when acids and bases are mixed! There’s more evidence to support this theory as well. Beta-glucan is sometimes taken as a supplement for people with high cholesterol, or who suffer from other heart health problems. One of the noted side effects of taking beta-glucan supplements is, you guessed it, nausea. Therefore, it seems likely that the nausea caused by ingesting magic mushrooms is largely attributable to the chitin in the cell walls, and the psilocybin compound itself. It’s also worth noting that the symptoms of nausea are far more likely to be experienced if a person is already dehydrated or in poor physical health, and also when taking exceedingly large doses. All of this is great, but… nausea still sucks! And is there anything we can do about it? Well, fear not fellow psychonaut – we have some answers that should help you with that, too!

How to Reduce Nausea When Taking Magic Mushrooms

Magic Mushrooms Citrus Bath
A Citrus Bath with Lemon Juice Will Help With Nause from Magic Mushrooms

So, if the prospect of experiencing nausea or potentially vomiting is enough to dissuade you from taking mushrooms, even though you think the experience might otherwise be beneficial for you, then there is something you can do that has been shown to help reduce the experience of nausea, if not eliminate it altogether. So, what is this “One Simple Trick to Make Mushrooms Go Down Easier?” (Damn – I probably should have named the article that!) Well, it’s pretty simple – and it comes back down to the relationship between the stomach acid and beta-glucan. And the trick is, essentially, using lemon juice. It looks like this:

1: Grind the mushrooms into a fine powder, or as small pieces as possible.

2: Put the powder in a glass

3: Pour enough lemon juice to submerge the powder completely, and stir for 1 minute.

4: Down the hatch!

The reason that this works, according to Bollinger, is that the lemon juice has around the same Ph level as your stomach acid. By exposing the cell walls of the mushroom and the beta-glucan to lemon juice, it begins the process of breaking it down before the mushrooms are ingested, resulting in less of a reaction once the mushrooms reach the stomach acid. This technique has been used by many people who have reported favourable results, although there are certainly some caveats that should be considered.

The first thing that should be considered is that a citrus bath will actually cause the onset of your trip to come on faster, be greater in intensity, and last for a shorter period of time. In Bollinger’s own words, “Lemon juice is an aqueous solution with a low Ph,” Bollinger explains. “Low Ph means excessive hydrogens. Putting psilocybin in that solution removes the phosphate group and replaces it with a hydroxyl group. That turns it into psilocin. If you think of the experience like a bell curve,” Bollinger says, “with the effects slowly ramping up, peaking, and ramping back down, a lemon [bath] will compress it. What you’re doing is heightening the curve but you’re also shortening the length.” Depending on the kind of experience you’re looking for, a shorter, more intense high might suit your needs – but it’s good to understand that the citrus bath will affect how the high actually happens. Secondly, it’s important to understand that although the citrus bath will help mitigate the experience of nausea caused by ingesting magic mushrooms, it won’t necessarily get rid of it altogether. As mentioned before, it seems like the human body has a tendency to react to psilocybin by itself with a slight nausea, so even if you are treating your mushrooms with a citrus bath, you should still be expecting the nausea.

An even easier solution would be to take a look at our selection of magic mushroom teas.

Advice from Reddit

If that’s not enough for you guys, I’ve consolidated some of the advice users have provided on the forum Reddit, here: One user recommends a more refined citrus bath:

1 – go to the store, buy a lemon or lime, whichever you prefer the taste of.

2 – grind up your shrooms with either a grinder or your fingers. Both work just fine.

3 – put the shrooms in a french press and squeeze the lemon or lime into the french press until the little bits are fully covered.

4 – Stirring every so often, let the sludge sit for about 30 minutes. To better understand what is going on here, just look up lemon-tek.

5 – Put some ginger, your favorite tea (I prefer chamomile for this), some honey (or sugar if you have no honey) into the mix.

6 – bring water to an almost boil and then pour it into the french press.

7 – put the lid and such on and put the french press aside. Go take a shower and get ready for your trip.

8 – once you are done showering, give it a good stir and press the french press filter down as far as it will go.

9 – pour yourself a nice warm cup of tea and enjoy it; make sure you get ALL the liquid out. Some suggest squeezing the bits until they are dry and others don’t care. This is up to you. I prefer to not gulp it all down as I love the taste and love tea. some friends however prefer to just pound it. whatever’s clever for you.

This will do a few things. First, the lemon tek will help offload some of the psilocybin->psilocin process from your stomach. While this will not do much for nausea, it will kick-start the trip sooner and can yank you right past the anxiety and anticipation stage if that also bugs you. Second, part of what makes most nauseous comes from when the body tries to break down the cellular wall on the shrooms. By not putting this in your system, you are going to find that you won’t feel nauseous at all, or shouldn’t.

When eating them, I used to feel so damn sick through an entire trip that it would ruin my trips. By making tea, I am able to enjoy all that the shrooms have to offer without a worry of nausea.

I hope this helps!


Closing Thoughts

In summary, there are a few different methods you can try – but by all accounts, the most consistent and best method seems to be the preemptive citrus bath. In addition, some quick tips that will help to mitigate the nausea: – Eat a light snack beforehand. Not a full meal, which might delay the onset and offset the potency of the high, but enough that the shrooms aren’t going down on a completely empty stomach. – Make sure you’re well-rested and hydrated. Lack of sleep and dehydration can cause nausea by themselves, no reason to add tinder to the fire. – Don’t mix mushrooms with other drugs. This is just generally good advice – but the more psychoactive chemicals you’re mixing together, the more likely your body is to have an adverse reaction. Play it on the safe side, and keep them separate!