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Psilocybin or Magic mushrooms have been used for thousands of years. There are over 200 species of magic mushrooms. Since many species look alike, it can be hard to tell the different species of mushrooms apart. It is possible for people to consume poisonous mushrooms, mistaking them for magic mushrooms.
The active ingredients in magic mushrooms are chemicals called psilocybin and psilocin. Psilocybin and psilocin are hallucinogens that produce effects similar to LSD. Individuals using magic mushrooms experience hallucinations and an altered state of consciousness. Effects appear within 15-45 minutes and usually last for four to six hours. The strength of magic mushrooms can vary greatly. One mushroom may have different concentrations of the active ingredients compared to another and, consequently, the effects of the magic mushroom can depend on the dose and type of mushroom used.
Taking magic mushrooms may cause you to see, hear or feel things that are not there, or to experience anxiety, fear, nausea and muscle twitches accompanied by increased heart rate and blood pressure. In some cases, the consumption of magic mushrooms can lead to "bad trips" or "flashbacks".
A number of factors influence the effects of magic mushrooms, including dosage, age, weight, personality, emotional state, environment, and history of mental illness.
Magic mushrooms have been used for thousands of years for both spiritual and medicinal uses among indigenous people of America and Europe.
Shrooms have a long history of being associated with spiritual experiences and self-discovery. Many believe that naturally occurring drugs like magic mushrooms, weed, and mescaline are sacred herbs that enable people to attain superior spiritual states. Others take magic mushrooms to experience a sense of euphoria, connection, and a distorted sense of time.
The psilocybin found in shrooms is converted to psilocin in the body and is believed to influence serotonin levels in the brain, leading to altered and unusual perceptions. The effects take 20 to 40 minutes to begin and can last up to 6 hours—the same amount of time it takes for psilocin to be metabolized and excreted.
Studies have shown that magic mushrooms were effective and relieving the emotional distress of people with life-threatening cancer diagnoses.
One study found that people who self-medicated with small dosages of psilocybin were able to relieve cluster headaches while avoiding any psychoactive effects of the drug.
The Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins is also researching how psychedelics affect a variety of conditions such as:
Common Side Effects of Psilocybin
All hallucinogens carry the risk of triggering mental and emotional problems and causing accidents while under the influence. Among adolescents, magic mushrooms are frequently taken in combination with alcohol and other drugs, increasing the psychological and physical risks.
The amount of psilocybin and psilocin contained in any given magic mushroom is unknown, and mushrooms vary greatly in the amounts of psychoactive contents. This means it's very hard to tell the length, intensity, and type of "trip" someone will experience.
Consuming shrooms can result in a mild trip with feelings of relaxation or drowsiness to a frightening experience marked by hallucinations, delusions, and panic. In the worst-case scenario, magic mushrooms have even been known to cause convulsions.
Side effects of magic mushrooms can include both physical and mental effects.
More research is needed on the long-term, lasting side effects of magic mushrooms but it has been reported that people can experience long-term changes in personality, as well as flashbacks long after taking mushrooms.
Tolerance, Dependence, and Withdrawal
Like most drugs, the more you use magic mushrooms, the more tolerance you develop. Tolerance also develops quickly with regular use, meaning that with regular use, a person will need more of the drug to achieve the same effect.
Developing a tolerance can be especially risky with shrooms because consuming a large amount can result in overdose symptoms, which while not fatal, can include:
How Long Does Psilocybin Stay in Your System?
The short-term effects of magic mushrooms typically wear off in 6 to 12 hours.
But people can experience long-term changes in personality and flashbacks long after taking the drug.
The average half-life of psilocybin ranges from an hour to two, and it generally takes five to six half-lives for a substance to be eliminated from your system.
The typical urine drug screening for employment does not test for psilocybin, but there are specific tests that can be ordered to test for it. Like many other drugs, magic mushrooms can be found in hair follicles for up to 90 days.
Psilocybin is not addictive and does not lead to compulsive use. This is partly because the drug can cause an intense “trip.” Plus, people can build a tolerance to psilocybin fairly quickly, making it hard to have any effect after several days of repeated use.
Individuals are encouraged to speak to their healthcare provider regarding the use of psilocybin or magic mushrooms.