The Effects of Mushrooms
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Today we’re going to talk about different types of magic mushrooms; more specifically speaking, the effects of mushrooms – psychedelic mushrooms, that is. This particular species of fungi has, over the last 25 years, had quite an impact on modern society. This is mostly due to the legalization of shrooms in Holland regarding growing and consumption.
These types of hallucinogenic mushrooms have been used for over 2000 years by tribes and religious groups from all over the world. It’s also been documented to have been used as a medicine, helping patients recover from post-traumatic stress disorder among many other issues such as stressful family life or anxiety in general. It’s also said that they’re used in certain religious rituals to “heal” or “exorcise” those that have apparently been possessed.
Effects of Mushrooms | Before Taking Them
There are over a hundred different species of fungi that have high amounts of psilocybin or psilocin, which are the two ingredients that cause the desired hallucinogenic effect. You should learn about each strains’ characteristics and effects before consuming so that you can be sure it’s the kind of trip you’re looking for. Keep in mind that you should take it in careful doses in accordance with your environment; you should take mushrooms somewhere where the environment isn’t static so that the trip doesn’t get too intense or enclosed.
Some of the most interesting types of psychedelic mushrooms that have been taken and studied for years are Mazapatec, Thai, Mexican, Mc Kennaii, B+, Ecuadorian, Colombian and Golden Teacher. Keep reading if you want to find out how each of these strains might affect you, as well as other lesser known strains.
Magic Mushroom Strains
This particular strain comes from Colombia, as its name would suggest, and it’s one of the most sought-after strains thanks to how easy it is to grow, the large amounts of mushrooms that it produces and its potent effect. It has a tall pale stem that darkens as it reaches the head and it’s quite a bit stronger than Mexican strains. It produces average visual effects, although it has quite an introspective effect that’s perfect for social interactions, which is one of its most intense effects. This strain is highly recommended for magic mushroom beginners.
These particular hallucinogenic mushrooms come from Mexico and are incredibly easy to grow. They’re pretty sturdy and can deal with more stress than other strains, which is why they’re a good idea if you’ve never grown your own before and don’t know where to start. They grow easy but slow, producing quite a lot of mushroom heads. They were first found and used in Mexico, where they were taken from the wild and improved. They’re tall, pale mushrooms with open heads.
This strain comes from the Andean Ecuadorian region and they are super easy to grow. They can grow even when given less than optimal conditions, so it’s a great strain for beginner growers. It’s capable of producing large mushrooms with just a little extra care, and it can even grow in colder temperatures. Its effect is quite potent, introspective and mental, causing your deepest thoughts to come to the forefront of your mind, putting all 5 of your senses to the test.
The fungi strain B+ was given that name due to how beautiful and large it’s mushrooms can grow – up to 35cm in some cases. It’s one of the most highly productive strains that we’ve ever seen. It may produce slight nausea when ingested, unlike the other strains. Its effect, however, is incredibly positive and highly creative. You can grow this strain without using a heated blanket as it’s used to cold in its natural habitat.
This special strain was created artificially in a lab with a specific objective in mid; large yields and intense psychedelic effects. This type of hallucinogenic mushroom was named after one of the biggest magic mushroom activists, the writer, ethnobotanist, “psychonaut” and historian Terence McKenna. This strain can produce more mushrooms after harvesting, and is known for its thick stem and rounded caps. It grows quite fast and isn’t that complicated to take care of. It’s quite a potent strain, though, so we do not recommend it for the less-experienced.
Effects of Mushrooms | Taking Them
When taking magic mushrooms it’s always best to do so in an environment in which you know you will be able to have nice social interactions, which help to comfort your trip and can also be quite the spiritual experience. We recommend having someone around that isn’t taking them or an experienced guide. This allows you to feel safer in your environment, especially when taking them in a group of people. Depending on the people around you when tripping, you’ll experience it in one way or another, depending on how close you are to those people.
You will need to take them surrounded by people that you like and transmit good vibes in a calm place where you can relax if needed. Keep in mind that the effects can last from 2 hours up to 25 depending on the amount taken, so you will need to carefully control your first dose and tolerance.
If this is your first time taking magic mushrooms, we recommend starting with less than 1g – between 0.25 and 0.95g. This allows you to test how tolerant you are, as you’ll be able to feel the beginnings of the main effects produced by that particular strain. Lights will begin to look brighter, you’ll be more perceptive and your peripheral vision may improve. You may feel lighter, emotional, and you might feel pins and needles up and down your body.
If you’ve already had your first experience and you want something a bit more intense, you can take between 1-2.5g at most. This much should allow you to experience visual effects even with your eyes open; colors will begin to intensify, forming into rainbow-like shapes, and you’ll begin to see auras and light reflecting off of every surface. Everything you see may begin to seem a lot slower, as if you’re re-living it as it happens. This type of high allows for many distractions and is incredibly fun when it hits right; you’ll be obsessed and enamored with the details of the world.
Those that have not built up their tolerance may feel a bit uncomfortable and unsafe when tripping on this amount. That’s why you need to build tolerance before taking more, as some people may go into trances in which they begin to feel scared of the world and their life, leading to quite an intense internal battle. However, experienced consumers will be able to bask in pleasing visual sensations; like coming home after a long journey.
The most potent effects are to be had from taking 2.5g onwards, depending on your tolerance. The effects are the same as doses from 1-2.5g, although you’ll feel the high a lot quicker and a lot more intense; it may even be uncomfortable at times. You’ll experience much more intense visual effects, especially with your eyes closed – you’ll enter a whole other dimension in your brain. If taken when in a good place mentally, the effect is colorful and comforting, full of light, colors and shapes.
You may even see your surroundings become covered in a hopeful, colorful sort of fog – you may go into an existential trance that will have you going over everything you’ve ever done up until that point, losing your place in space and time which can be confusing. The most experienced consumers may have their clearest moments when taking this amount, unleashing their inner creativity. After your trip you may feel like you’ve left behind everything that was weighing you down, giving you a new lease on life as if you have just awoken.
Duration and Good/Bad Effects of Mushrooms
You’ll begin to feel the effects after one to two hours, which is where you should be at your highest point. You should stay there for about 2-6 hours, depending on the amount you’ve ingested. After that, you’ll begin to come down over the next 4 or 5 hours.
Remember: the strongest part of this process is when it begins to take effect and the following hours in which it’s in full effect. You’ll need to be ready for it, as the come down is quite slower and more pronounced, which can be anxiety inducing if you’re in a static environment.
Its effects can be divided into three categories; positive effects, which are fun and distracting, neutral effects, which are introspective, and negative effects which are highly introspective. We always try and make sure that everything is in place for the most positive trip possible.
Positive effects of mushrooms:
A major part of the positive effects magic mushrooms have is laughter – you may even laugh so hard that your face hurts the next day! You may feel like you’re floating in a philosophical cloud that’ll have you feeling wise and at peace. You’ll feel renewed, with a new perspective on life and the need to keep harmony with nature.
Its introspective effect can also help to solve internal mental battles that you may have been having. Some studies have stated that it’s incredibly useful for treating migraines when used in micro-doses, and it can also be used to improve moods in general when taken in incredibly small amounts.
Neutral effects of mushrooms:
Magic mushrooms can also produce certain neutral effects and this generally has a lot to do with your state of mind when taking them. If you have accumulated emotions or issues going on at the time, you may experience them in a more intense way, whether they’re negative or positive. You’ll feel more emotionally sensitive, whether you’re emotionally stable or not. If you have nice interactions during the drip, you’ll feel them much more intensely and may create stronger bonds with friends.
Everything will be much more sensitive, including the speed at which you see light – everything will be much shinier and your brain may even feel overloaded with lights. You may lose sense of time, seeming like time hasn’t passed or that time is passing much too fast. You’ll feel energy running through your body, making you feel light and floaty with episodes of heaviness. You may even begin seeing auras of certain people and objects, or electrified silhouettes.
Negative effects mushrooms:
Negative effects are much more likely to occur in those that have had rough periods or that are not emotionally stable at the time, or those that have recently been stressed for whatever reason. Due to the introspective effect, you may end up in a sort of mental battle with yourself.
This type of effect essentially takes all of your fears and problems and brings them to the forefront, and you may feel the urge to release all of your secrets and get rid of all of the bad stuff. If you don’t know how to control these impulses you may begin feeling severe anxiety which can cause mental disorders that may extend beyond the lasting effect. You may feel consumed and vertigo, and in some cases you may even faint if it gets too intense.
An important part of consuming for the first time is finding the right people and place that you feel fully comfortable with to try mushrooms for the first time. Make sure to have water, food and something sweet nearby. Make sure that the environment is not static so that you don’t get stuck in your trip. There should also be someone that is sober or an experienced spiritual guide to go with you on this trip, as they can help calm down any anxiety or fears that may arise.
If you're interested in learning about the effects of mushrooms, this is the place for you; full strain guide and advice on taking magic mushrooms.
Best strain of magic mushrooms
There are over 200 species of Psilocybe mushrooms, each possessing visually unique characteristics along with varying levels and ratios of three psychotropic compounds — psilocybin, psilocin, and baeocystin. A few of the most prevalent species are P. azurescens, P. cyanescens, P. semilanceata, and P. cubensis (which is the most widely known and easily cultivated).
There are also hundreds of “strains” or “subspecies” which have been genetically isolated and classified by both professional mycologists and recreational enthusiasts. While taxonomically these strains are all considered members of their respective species (and most are P. cubensis), they too can differ drastically in appearance, conditions required for cultivation, and potency.
*Psilocybe cyanescens *Psilocybe cubensis *Psilocybe semilanceata
*Huaulta cubensis *Penis Envy cubensis *Golden Teacher cubensis
This introduction to mushroom strains and species may seem contradictory or confusing. That said, a useful analogy for understanding the differences can be drawn between Cannabis and Psilocybe mushrooms. The separation of cannabis species into indica, sativa, and ruderalis corresponds to the separation of Psilocybe species into azurescens, semilanceata, cubensis, etc. Meanwhile, the separation of cannabis strains like Northern Lights, Purple Kush, and Jack Haze corresponds to mushroom strains like Penis Envy, Golden Teacher, and Huaulta.
Unlike cannabis, where the crossing of genetics combines plant traits to create a new weed strain, mushroom strains often start with a desirable mutation, such as being albino or growing especially large mushrooms. These random mutations can be selected and cloned for several generations from the largest, healthiest mushrooms of each life cycle, to create a new strain in a process known as “isolation.”
The effects, duration, and onset of the psychoactive experience provided by different species and strains (along with many other variables) can differ quite drastically among shrooms. However, all members of the genus Psilocybe share a few key identifying factors that can aid in their identification.
- They all bruise an azure-bluish color when handled or damaged, due to oxidation of the compound psilocin at the site of impact
- They all have a thin gelatinous veil, known in mycological terms as a “pellicle,” that separates the cap (or pileus) from the stem (or stipe). In maturity, this veil often disintegrates, leaving a darkened section (annular zone) on the stem
- They all have dense gills on the underside of the cap (or pileus) and a shiny or silky film on the outside of the cap
- They all have a hygrophanous nature (meaning coloration changes with the state of hydration)
Psilocybin-Containing Shroom Species
The differing Psilocybe species have a much longer and more intensive taxonomical history than the relatively recent distinctions among strains. The first reliable documented case of Psilocybe intoxication occurred in 1799, when a man picked several semilanceata from the shores of the Thames River in London, and cooked a meal for his family with them. This surprise trip spurred the classification of a new species of mushroom, which was placed in the genus Agaricus, then moved to Psilocybe in 1871. For the purpose of remaining succinct, this article focuses on the four species most commonly found in North America.
P. semilanceatas, often referred to as “Liberty Caps,” are one of the most widespread, potent, and commonly-recognized members of the Psilocybe genus. They are easily distinguishable by their conical-bell-shaped cap which holds its shape throughout the life cycle, dissimilar to most other Psilocybe shrooms whose caps flatten in maturity. They are also, on average, smaller than other species, often with a thin, elongated, somewhat fragile-looking stem, and a spear-shaped cap from which the name “semilanceata” (meaning “spear-shaped” in Latin) comes from.
Testing done by mycologists Paul Stamets and Jochen Gartz placed Liberty Caps as the third most potent Psilocybe species, with an exceptionally high concentration of psilocybin, low concentration of psilocin, and moderate levels of baeocystin. The high concentration of psilocybin often leads to semilanceata mushrooms eliciting a very visual experience that also lasts longer than those of other species, due to the body having to break down this psilocybin into psilocin before the effects are felt.
P. cyanenscens are another prolific species of mushroom that can be found worldwide, but are thought to have originated in North America. They are distinctly more mycorrhizal than other species, meaning they require decaying wood in order to grow. This makes them more difficult to cultivate indoors, though that has not hindered their spread into every habitable continent.
Unlike many other organisms whose habitats have been encroached on by humans, these mushrooms are thought to share a symbiotic relationship with urbanization. They are commonly found on piles of ligneous debris or in mulched garden beds, and sometimes in enormous quantities exceeding 100,000 mushrooms in a single patch.
They can be identified by the undulating edges of their caps, and aside from this wavy cap, possess visual characteristics quite similar to P. cubensis — thick stems and caps that begin rounded or bell-shaped and flatten (sometimes even becoming convex) in maturity. Despite their visual similarity to P. cubensis, they are significantly more potent than their more common brethren, on average containing 30 to 60 percent more psilocybin, similar concentrations of baeocystin, and slightly less psilocin. The experience occasioned by taking P. cyanescens is mostly analogous to that of P. cubensis, though with notably intensified visuals (a result of higher psilocybin concentration).
P. azurescens are the rarest, most potent, and most recently-discovered Psilocybe species. Similar to many other mushrooms, they were discovered by recreational mycology enthusiasts (a group of Boy Scouts, ironically enough). This potential to find an entirely new species is undoubtedly one of the attractive properties of mycology (the study of mushrooms) and exists whenever one embarks on a mushroom-hunting adventure.
To date, over 120,000 species of fungi have been discovered, and this number is constantly growing. Unlike other Psilocybe species, P. azurescens are only found in the Pacific Northwest region of North America and carry the highest concentration of psilocybin out of all members of the genus. Due to extremely high psilocybin levels, they produce vivid hallucinations, intense amplification of emotions, and sometimes even temporary paralysis.
Generally when someone speaks about “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms,” they are referring to P. cubensis. The natural geographic range of this species is limited to tropical and sub-tropical regions, but they can be (relatively) easily cultivated indoors, making them the most popular and most easily accessible “magic mushrooms.” Many websites even offer ready-to-grow kits, which are legal in many countries, as mushroom spores do not contain psilocybin. Other websites go even further abreast of the law to offer dried mushrooms and microdose capsules.
P. cubensis mushrooms often have thick, dense stems and large, broad caps. They also grow larger than most other species, although this is likely due to generations of genetic isolation. This species provides the classic psychoactive mushroom effects of euphoria, feelings of love and unity, introspection, philosophical ideation, synesthesia, visual augmentation, and a less ego-influenced perspective.
Results in this graph are taken from testing done by Stamets and Gartz
Due to the comparative ease of cultivation (at least, those not requiring decomposing wood or dung to grow), the vast majority of recognized strains all fall under the umbrella of the P. cubensis species. Although the exact number is difficult to determine, and new strains are consistently being created, mycologists estimate that there are around 150 distinctly identifiable P. cubensis strains. This article cannot possibly cover them all, so we will focus on three of the most prominent strains. If you are interested in delving further into the differences among strains, check out Psilopedia.ca which offers the widest catalog of P. cubensis strains online.
This strain was first classified in the late ‘80s, and since then, the name Golden Teacher has become almost ubiquitous with psilocybin mushrooms. Golden Teacher mushrooms are medium to large in size and often feature a distinct triangular bump in the center of their golden caramel-colored caps. It is a moderately potent strain ideal for beginning shroom psychonauts, one that offers a subtly more spiritual, introspective undertone to the experience, along with feelings of euphoria and uncontrollable laughter. This makes Great Teacher well suited for both social recreational use and therapeutic or medicinal applications.
Penis Envy P. cubensis has an interesting history. It is theorized the strain was isolated from Amazonian P. cubensis (another popular strain) by legendary ethnobotanist and psychonaut Terence McKenna. Since Mckenna’s original isolation, many variations of Penis Envy have subsequently been created, such as Albino Penis Envy and Uncut Penis Envy. All of these variations have characteristics which are clearly distinct from other P. cubensis strains, consisting of substantially higher potency (30 to 50 percent); extremely thick, dense stems; and pale, underdeveloped caps — making them somewhat resemblant of the organ for which they were named. They are known to generate an experience filled with deep philosophical ideations and intense feelings of euphoria.
This strain was one of the first to be classified, and is thought to be the mushroom referred to by R. Gordon Wasson in the famous LIFE Magazine article “Seeking the Magic Mushroom” which popularized psilocybin mushrooms throughout Western cultures. Its name comes from the village of Huautla De Jiménez in Oaxaca, Mexico where Wasson’s experience took place. Huautla are typically medium-sized mushrooms of moderate potency that sporate very heavily, often turning the caps purple-black with spores. They are known to reliably elicit spiritually meaningful experiences permeated with intense feelings of love and unity, along with a sense of connection with nature and the universe as a whole.
The niche of strain categorization and review, inspired by sites such as the cannabis strain aggregator Leafly, is being explored by numerous organizations in the psilocybin mushroom space, too. Psilopedia.ca and Psillow.com, in particular, are recognized as two of the most comprehensive and accurate ones.
Psilopedia takes a science focused approach to offering in-depth information on many aspects of psilocybin, like its metabolic processes, pharmacodynamics, effects at macro- and microdosages, areas of study, and mushroom identification. They also have aggregated contact information for numerous psychedelic integration practitioners — therapists and psychologists who help integrate the insights realized during psychedelic-assisted therapy into one’s life. Additionally, the site has classified shrooms with pictures, detailed characteristics, and reviews over 70 P. cubensis strains, with full report-style overviews of the four primary Psilocybe species.
Psillow, on the other hand, is markedly more culturally focused, offering a consistently updated blog with informational and entertaining articles. They also have useful resources like a “Trip Report” template, along with a comprehensive catalog of Psilocybe species (more than Psilopedia), however, it contains less information on P. cubensis strains.
Why people have contrasting experiences from different species and strains of mushrooms is multifaceted and hypothesized to be a combined function of two factors. First, varied levels and ratios of the three psychoactive compounds; and second, the set, setting, and intention of the user. Differing levels of active compounds can alter the onset, duration, and intensity of the experience, while also playing a role in whether it is felt more in the mind or body. Conversely, the user’s set, setting, and intention play a larger role in determining whether the experience generates spiritual connection, philosophical enlightenment, or therapeutic benefit.
It is also important to note that across species/strains, the growing conditions, such as the composition of the substrate in which the mushroom mycelium (similar to the roots of a plant) and fruiting bodies are cultivated in, environmental variables, and when in the fruiting period the mushrooms are harvested (either before or after sporation), have significant effects on potency. Generally, the highest potency is achieved with nutrient-rich colonization and fruiting substrates, as well as the ratio of mycelium-to-substrate at the beginning of fruiting, consistent temperature and humidity, and harvesting just before the veil between the stem and cap breaks.
If you have any further questions about the differences between species and strains, or questions regarding mushroom cultivation, please do not hesitate to contact me through my website! And continue reading MERRY JANE for more coverage of psilocybin mushrooms and other entheogens.
Like cannabis, there are numerous species and "strains" of magic mushrooms. Here, we detail what makes the varieties of psilocybin-containing fungus unique, and how they affect your mind and body.