Is it Safe to Take Psilocybin?

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Is Psilocybin safe?
Photo by Matthijs B on Unsplash

This post is also available in: French Chinese (Simplified)

Psilocybin is a psychedelic compound naturally available among 200 different species of mushrooms such as Psilocybe Cyanescens, Psilocybe Mexicana, etc., commonly known as “magic mushrooms.” Psilocybin comes under schedule 1 drugs, which indicates that it is of no use for any legitimate medical purpose.

More about It

Many individuals use Psilocybin as a recreational drug along with many others like LSD, cocaine, heroin, etc. It is a hallucinogen and creates sensory distortion and feelings of euphoria when ingested.

The effects of which are similar to LSD, another hallucinogen drug. Psilocybin affects the prefrontal cortex part of the brain, which is responsible for perception, mood, and cognition. That said, psilocybin does not directly impact the user with auditory or visual hallucinations but rather depends on the perception of the user in the environment they are present.

However, according to studies, psilocybin, or magic mushrooms help in treating anxiety and depression. Surprisingly, it is also one of the safest recreational drugs compared to others, such as cocaine and LSD.

According to a survey conducted by the Global Drug Survey in the year 2017 among 120,000 people from around 50 countries, only 0.2 percentage of the people required emergency medical treatment after its consumption. These numbers are six times lower than other recreational drugs such as MDMA, LSD, alcohol, cocaine, and three times lower compared to marijuana. However, to establish whether it is safe to take psilocybin or not, it’s essential to understand its causes and how it works in detail.

How Psilocybin works

After the process of ingestion, psilocybin converts into psilocin. The time taken by the drug to show its hallucinating effects is around 30 minutes from ingestion.

Its effects may last about 4 to 6 hours. However, in some users, sensory perception and thought patterns may last for a few weeks as well. Psilocybin activates the sensory receptors in the prefrontal cortex region of the brain, therefore affecting the mood and perception. Geometric patterns and colours become vivid to the user.

Effects of Psilocybin

LSD and Psilocybe Cyanescens almost have similar effects on their users. Another interesting fact about psychedelic drugs is that they amplify the feelings or emotions of the person before consuming them. For instance, if a person is nervous or paranoid about consuming the drugs, then the after-effects of ingestions will be the same, but only on higher levels resulting in an unpleasant experience, commonly known as ‘bad trip.’ Some of the common effects of psilocybin include:

  • Derealisation – The feeling of the surroundings and environment not being real
  • Spiritual awakening (another major reason why most people prefer psychedelics as recreational drugs),
  • Distortion, and visual variation such as vivid colours and lights, and depersonalization, etc.

However, paranoia and frightening hallucinations are also the major psychological effects of psilocybin. Still, as mentioned earlier, it depends more on the environment the user is while consuming, in the case of psilocybin. Dizziness, vomiting, yawning, nausea, and muscle weakness are some of the physical effects of psilocybin.

More Research

However, according to some studies, there is no increase in mental health problems among people with regular use of psilocybin, unlike cannabis and cocaine. James J H Rucker, a psychiatrist, has also stressed that psychedelic drugs can help in treating depression and are not responsible for psychosis. Magic mushrooms are also less toxic to the internal organs compared to heroin and cocaine. There were almost zero cases of flashbacks like panic attacks or hallucinations from its sole use.

The head of psychedelic research at the Imperial College of London, Dr Robin Carrhart-Harris, has also stated the similarities between psilocybin and LSD. However, he mentioned that the effects of psilocybin are weaker and limit itself only by affecting the serotonin activity of the brain, which makes it a safer recreational drug than others.

Whereas LSD affects a wide range of receptors in the brain, including dopamine, serotonin, etc. Also, the effects of psilocybin on the sensory receptors are weak compared to that of LSD, he mentions.

He considers magic mushrooms as more of a self-exploration drug. For example, he states that the environment in which the user is present is essential for a positive experience.

How do They Look?

Magic mushrooms or Psilocybe cyanescens have a cap-like structure known as the hygrophanous pileus. It is tan to brown. When dried, the colour turns to yellowish or pale buff. The height of the cap ranges from 1.5 cm to 5 cm.

The common problem with identifying magic mushrooms is that people often confuse them with the poisonous type. As magic mushrooms bear a bitter taste, people usually prefer to consume it in the form of either brewed tea or add them as an ingredient in a food item. Though magic mushrooms grow in almost all continents of the world, prominent places to find them are the United States, Europe, Mexico, and South America.

Final Thoughts

Psilocybin helps eliminate depression, anxiety, stress, and other psychological problems. It does not even cause any physical problems in the human body, even for regular users.

Compared to other recreational drugs such as cocaine, heroin, LSD, Psilocybin is safe. However, abusing psilocybin may cause withdrawal symptoms, just like any other psychedelic drugs. It is not one of the psychedelic drugs that are chemically addictive. However, abusing psilocybin may lead to developing tolerance towards the drug and also cause psychological withdrawal symptoms. So, before starting this, ensure to consult your doctor for dosage.

This post is also available in: French Chinese (Simplified)