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What are magic mushrooms and psilocybin?

Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic substance people ingest from certain types of mushroom that grow in regions of Europe, South America, Mexico, and the United States.


The mushrooms containing psilocybin are known as magic mushrooms.

Psilocybin is a schedule-I controlled substance, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse and serves no legitimate medical purpose.

Individuals use psilocybin as a recreational drug. It provides feelings of euphoria and sensory distortion that are common to hallucinogenic drugs, such as LSD.

Although medical bodies do not consider psilocybin to be an addictive substance, users can experience disturbing hallucinations, anxiety, and panic from using the drug.

Fast facts on psilocybinPsilocybin has both positive and negative physical and psychological effects.
Psilocybin is not naturally addictive.
The drug can trigger psychotic episodes.
Individuals with a family history of schizophrenia or early onset mental illness face an increased risk of an adverse psychiatric reaction to psilocybin.
What is psilocybin?
 
Psilocybin is a natural hallucinogen.
Psilocybin is a hallucinogen that works by activating serotonin receptors, most often in the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain affects mood, cognition, and perception.

Hallucinogens work in other regions of the brain that regulate arousal and panic responses. Psilocybin does not always cause active visual or auditory hallucinations. Instead, it distorts how some people that use the drug perceive objects and people already in their environment.

The quantity of the drug, past experiences, and expectations of how the experience will take shape can all impact the effects of psilocybin.

After the gut ingests and absorbs psilocybin, the body converts it to psilocyn. The hallucinogenic effects of psilocybin usually occur within 30 minutes of ingestion and last between 4 and 6 hours.

In some individuals, the changes in sensory perception and thought patterns can last for several days.

 
Mushrooms containing psilocybin are small and usually brown or tan. In the wild, people often mistake mushrooms containing psilocybin for any number of other mushrooms that are poisonous.

People usually consume psilocybin as a brewed tea or prepare it with a food item to mask its bitter taste. Manufacturers also crush dried mushrooms into a powder and prepare them in capsule form. Some people who consume these mushrooms cover them with chocolate.

The potency of a mushroom depends on:

the species
origin
growing conditions
harvest perio
whether a person eats them fresh or dried
The amount of active ingredients in dried mushrooms is about 10 times higher than the amount found in their fresh counterparts.

Extent of use
In the U.S., the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) suggested that, between 2009 and 2015, around 8.5 percent of people reported using psilocybin at some point in their life.

When people use psilocybin, it is usually at dance clubs or in select groups of people seeking a transcendent spiritual experience.

In medical settings, doctors have tested psilocybin for use in treating cluster headaches, end-stage cancer anxiety, depression, and other anxiety disorders.

However, scientists have questioned its effectiveness and safety as a therapeutic measure.

Street names for psilocybin
Drug dealers rarely sell psilocybin under its real name. Instead, the drug may be sold as:

magic mushrooms
shrooms
boomers
zoomers
mushies
simple Simon
little smoke
sacred mushrooms
purple passion
mushroom soup
cubes
 
Effects
 
 
Psilocybin can distort reality and have an impact on mental health.
The effects of psilocybin are generally similar to those of LSD.

They include an altered perception of time and space and intense changes in mood and feeling.

Possible effects of psilocybin include:

euphoria
peacefulness
spiritual awakening
quickly changing emotions
derealization, or the feeling that your surroundings are not real
depersonalization, or a dream-like sense of being disengaged from your surroundings
distorted thinking
visual alteration and distortion, such as halos of light and vivid colors
dilated pupils
dizziness
drowsiness
impaired concentration
muscle weakness
lack of coordination
unusual body sensations
nausea
paranoia
confusion
frightening hallucinations
vomiting
yawning
The effects of psilocybin vary between people, based on differences in the mental state and personality of the user and the immediate environment.

If the recreational user experiences issues with mental health or feels anxious about using the hallucinogen, they face a higher risk of having a bad experience.

Psychological distress is the adverse event most often reported after recreational use of psilocybin. This distress can take the form of extreme anxiety or short-term psychosis.

Psilocybin as a treatment for depression
Discussions are on-going about whether psychological specialists can use psilocybin and similar hallucinogens as a treatment for depression.

Two very recent studies have looked at psilocybin as a treatment. One study examined the ability of psilocybin to reduce depression symptoms without dulling emotions, and the other assessed the relationship between any positive therapeutic outcomes and the nature of psilocybin-induced hallucinations.

While some researchers are looking into some therapeutic uses for psilocybin, they still, at present, regard psilocybin as unsafe and illegal.


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