Shrooms: What You Need to Know

Learn what you need to know about shrooms. The safety and therapeutic uses might surprise you.

Quick info

Topic Info
Safe in lab studies? Yes, safe in lab studies1
Chemical names Psilocybin, psilocin
Street names Shrooms, magic mushrooms, psychedelic mushrooms, mushies, liberties
Risks 1. ~8 hour stressful bad trip
2. Doing something unsafe due to impaired perception
3. Psychotic reaction particularly in individuals with schizophrenic relatives
4. Visual changes that in extremely rare cases can last for weeks or years
Temporary desirable effects (~6 hours) Joy/intense happiness, peace/harmony2
Long term desirable effects In therapeutic settings: Increased well-being, increased self-confidence, reduced addiction342
Temporary side effects (~6 hours) Anxiety, impaired judgement
Medical potential In combination with therapy, as treatment for cancer-related emotional distress, general emotional distress, and addictions (e.g. smoking addiction, alcoholism)

1. 🍄 Shrooms are a psychedelic drug, with psychedelic effects

The word shrooms refers to magic mushrooms. Magic mushrooms are a kind of mushroom that contain psilocybin.

Psilocybin is a psychedelic compound found in certain mushrooms.

In the US, most people eat them dried. People dry them so that they can maintain their potency when stored.

Dried shrooms look something like this:

Dried Shrooms

What does it mean that Shrooms are psychedelic?

In the case of shrooms, it means that they alter your mindstate for around ~6 hours. Users in psilocybin research often describe the state as being dreamlike, or as if the world is not real.

Psilocybin can make you feel both positive mood, and negative moood. Moods can change rapidly.5

“People describe being in touch with awe-inspiring elements, with something sacred. They describe a sense of infinite love, a sense of peace, humility, being transported back into their lives,” said Ross, an associate professor in the NYU Department of Psychiatry. “They described a sense of internal and external oneness.”4

Psilocybin has also been shown to produce mystical or peak experiences, which may be involved in the medical uses.5

“To my utter amazement,” he would later recall. “I soon discovered in my visual field the emergence of an exquisitely beautiful, multidimensional network of intricate, neon-like geometric patterns … I recognized life within the undulating designs and began to feel as though I somehow could enter into the energy flowing between them … My awareness was flooded with love, beauty, and peace beyond anything I ever had known or wildly imagined to be possible.”4

2. The safety profile of shrooms might surprise you

“Since the early 1990s, approximately 2000 doses of psilocybin (ranging from low to high doses) have been safely administered to humans in the United States and Europe, in carefully controlled scientific settings, with no reports of any medical or psychiatric serious AEs, including no reported cases of prolonged psychosis or HPPD (Studerus et al., 2011).”1

“Hallucinogens generally possess relatively low physiological toxicity, and have not been shown to result in organ damage or neuropsychological deficits (Strassman, 1984; Gable, 1993, 2004; Halpern and Pope, 1999; Hasler, et al., 2004; Nichols, 2004; Halpern, et al., 2005).”6

“This finding is consistent with a US population (2001–2004 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health) based study that found no associations between lifetime use of any of the serotoninergic psychedelics (including psilocybin) and increased rates of mental illness (Krebs and Johansen, 2013).”1

“There is no evidence of such potential neurotoxic effects with the prototypical classical hallucinogens (i.e. LSD, mescaline and psilocybin).”6

“Cohen (1960) reported that only a single case of a psychotic reaction lasting more than 48 hours occurred in 1200 experimental (non-patient) research participants (a rate of 0.8 per 1000). Notably, the individual was an identical twin of a schizophrenic patient and thus would have been excluded under the proposed guidelines.” The key methods to minimize this risk are the medical condition guidlines below.6 It is not a good idea to take any psychedelics, including mushrooms, if you or any of your first or second-degree relatives have a current or past history of psychotic disorders including schizophrenia, Bipolar I or II disorder.6

A research paper ranked psilocybin mushrooms as the third safest drug (Nutt et al). All drugs can still be harmful under certain circumstances.7 A separate study also found that magic mushrooms were the drug with the lowest rate of emergency room visits after use, lower than alcohol, and even marijuana.8

Relative side effects of LSD and Shrooms

3. If you’re going to take shrooms, you need to read this guide

Follow the steps on TripSafe to be as safe as possible, and have the best, most rewarding mushroom experience. Remember, no drug use is perfectly safe. But you can take shrooms in a safer manner.

We do not endorse the acquisition and use of illegal drugs. If you make the choice to use psychedelic drugs, please do your research.

A risk of mushrooms is doing something unsafe to yourself or someone else while you’re under the influence. The risk of this is reduceable to near zero by only taking shrooms (“tripping”) with a trusted and sober guide who has experience supporting psychedelic sessions.

Read the guide on how to take shrooms.

4. Bad trips do happen, though research suggests they can be substantially minimized or avoided

The rates of fear and anxiety (“bad” trips) in research are surprisingly low at certain dosages. This indicates that by following certain guidelines for who should take mushrooms and how they take them, we can significantly reduce the incidence of bad trips.

At a dosage of 1.6 grams9 in a therapeutic clinical environment, we might expect 0% of people to experience some extreme fear,10 for an average of around 1 minute of strong anxiety11, and we might expect around ~45% to report a persisting positive increase in mood from this dosage

At a dosage of ~3.2 grams9 in a therapeutic clinical environment, we might expect 14% of people to experience some extreme fear,10 for an average of around ~2 minutes of strong anxiety 11

At a dosage of ~4.8 grams of mushrooms9 in a therapeutic clinical environment, we might expect 86% of people to experience some extreme fear,10 for an average of around ~11 minutes of strong anxiety11

From the page on how to take shrooms.

5. Shrooms are being researched medically to help people with emotional distress from cancer

Shrooms in the New York Times

Read the article in the New York Times: A Dose of a Hallucinogen From a ‘Magic Mushroom,’ and Then Lasting Peace

Read the research:

Rapid and sustained symptom reduction following psilocybin treatment for anxiety and depression in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized controlled trial.

Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial

6. Shrooms and LSD are decently similar in effects

This redditor puts it well: “LSD is electric, mushrooms are spiritual. Both are trippy. Your mood and mindset is more stable on LSD, but you are able to wade into greater emotional depths with shrooms.”

Note that:

Dosage has a much greater impact on effects than substance does - 100 micrograms of LSD is roughly equivalent to 2.4g of shrooms, and 100 micrograms of LSD will feel more similar to 2.4g of shrooms than it would feel to 300 micrograms of LSD.

LSD lasts longer, typically around 10-14 hours. The effects of shrooms tends to last for 4-6 hours.5 On the graph, magic mushrooms = psilocybin.

Effects of Shrooms Over Time

7. If you have specific medical conditions, you might be able to enroll in government-supported research using magic mushrooms

See active psilocybin studies here.

There may be studies for smoking addiction, alcohol addiction, cocaine addiction, and anxiety.

According to US government statistics, magic mushrooms have been used by 22.8 million Americans at least once.12

😮

9. Mushroom usage was associated with improved mental health, contrary to any myths

“Lifetime classic psychedelic use was associated with a significantly reduced odds of past month psychological distress (weighted odds ratio (OR)=0.81 (0.72–0.91)), past year suicidal thinking (weighted OR=0.86 (0.78–0.94)), past year suicidal planning (weighted OR=0.71 (0.54–0.94)), and past year suicide attempt (weighted OR=0.64 (0.46–0.89))”13

10. Mushrooms can have powerful long-term benefits

The sophisticated psychological assessments Griffiths conducted at two and fourteen months following the psilocybin sessions backed up the claims. In an article in Scientific American Griffiths coauthored with his fellow Heffter board member, Grob, he reported that “the data showed that participants experienced increased self-confidence, a greater sense of inner contentment, a better ability to tolerate frustration, decreased nervousness and an increase in overall well-being. Ratings of their behavior by friends, family members and work colleagues uninformed about the drug experience were consistent with the participants’ self-ratings.

More than 70 percent of the participants self-rated the experience as one of the five most important in their lives. Perhaps even more astoundingly, nearly a third rated it the single most important experience.3

11. Shrooms may help treat addiction

“In addiction medicine, the name of the game has been to somehow block the addictive drug’s effects at the brain’s receptor sites by substituting or antagonizing at the receptor-to reduce specific cravings for one drug. So you have a medication that seems to work for this drug or that drug.”

“What’s really exciting about psychedelics is that we are talking about addiction-rather than just alcohol addiction or nicotine addiction. It’s not about a particular drug.”4

It is our understanding that magic truffles are legal in the Netherlands, and in Jamaica magic mushrooms are either outright legal or the laws don’t seem to be enforced.

Retreats for therapeutic use of psilocybin:

Drug Harm Reduction: A List of What You Should Know If You’re Considering Using Other Drugs, like Salvia, Tobacco, Alcohol, etc.

References

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