• What does smoking cannabis during a shroom trip do?

    It can either intensify the experience, reduce nausea, or it can help you relax into the experience and have less resistance to ego death.

  • What’s the low-down on how to use cannabis while tripping on shrooms?

    Right before a trip, cannabis might help to reduce nausea. As soon as you take the mushrooms, smoking a joint might help you relax a little into the experience. And during the peak, it can intensify the experience.

  • How do you handle a bad reaction?

    Breathe; try to relax; remember you’re not dying. The more composed you can stay, the better you’ll be able to turn the whole thing around.

Cannabis and shrooms — arguably the most common poly-drug cocktail that exists. And there are a lot of anecdotal reports that smoking cannabis while tripping on shrooms potentiates the journey. But is a more-intense journey what everybody wants? Just because a joint is being passed around during a magic mushroom trip, does that mean you should accept it?

When you smoke cannabis during a mushroom trip is also a factor. You can use cannabis before, during or after a journey, and depending on where in the journey you decide to introduce cannabis, the effect can be totally different. 

It goes without saying — if you’re a newbie to either mushrooms or cannabis, do yourself a favour and don’t cocktail. Firstly, it will be hard to understand which effects come from mushrooms and which ones come from cannabis. And secondly, you might be signing yourself up for a too-intense experience that will leave you with a sour taste in your mouth (which neither you, nor any mushroom/cannabis advocate wants).

So before you smoke cannabis while tripping on shrooms, read this informational article about the effects, and when is the best time to use cannabis in a mushroom journey.

Cannabis can help reduce nausea associated with shrooms.

Everything You Need to Know About Smoking Cannabis While Tripping on Shrooms | Magic Mushrooms 101 | My Supply Co.
@raphaellacosteart

A number of anecdotal reports on Reddit and Shroomery that suggest that using cannabis can help to reduce the nausea associated with shrooms. For a lot of mushroom users, the upset belly can really impede on the experience, making it less pleasurable.

Cannabis is a common therapy for nausea, so it’s no real surprise that it helps to reduce a mushroom-induced upset belly. Most of the anecdotal reports suggest using cannabis as soon as you take the shrooms so that during the come-up, you’re protected from nausea.

There are other ways to reduce nausea on shrooms such as making mushroom tea or using the lemon-tek method. If you’re a beginner, it’s recommended to use the lemon-tek or tea as a means of reducing nausea instead of introducing another psychedelic substance.

Cannabis during the peak intensifies a magic mushroom trip. 

Other users claim that using cannabis at the peak of a magic mushroom trip (around 2 hours in) intensifies the trip. Users have reported intensified auditory and visual hallucinations and increased physical sensations. 

For seasoned users, this could be an interesting experiment. Obviously we don’t recommend this for inexperienced users. Be really mindful about the importance of set and setting and the kind of preparation you should do before a mushroom journey, especially if you plan on intensifying it with cannabis.

A more intense experience isn’t always a better one; keep that in tow when deciding to use cannabis at the height of a mushroom journey.

Cannabis might relax you into the mushroom experience.

Everything You Need to Know About Smoking Cannabis While Tripping on Shrooms | Magic Mushrooms 101 | My Supply Co.
@stephen_fraser_art

Using cannabis to relax yourself into a mushroom experience is another way to look at things. Those who use cannabis at the beginning of a mushroom journey report that it helps them relax, be more open, and be less resistant to the ego death phenomenon.

That’s another way of saying that cannabis might help you feel your way into the kind of God experience that mushroom users talk about.

Is that always the case? Well, probably not. Depending on who you are and how you handle cannabis, it might not have this effect at all. For some people, cannabis is a stimulant that gets the mind racing with ideas. This isn’t exactly conducive to relaxation.

Then again, the strain could be an important factor. High CBD strains are more associated with balance and relaxation than high THC strains, so that’s something you might want to consider if you’ll be using cannabis and shrooms for this purpose. 

Handling a bad reaction. 

Everything You Need to Know About Smoking Cannabis While Tripping on Shrooms | Magic Mushrooms 101 | My Supply Co.
@psychedelicnymph

So, what happens if you planned an astral travelling adventure with cannabis and shrooms but it all goes sour? The first step is to relax. 

There is, unfortunately, no “undoing” what you did. You can’t “un-take” all those shrooms and cannabis, so instead of trying to stop yourself from feeling what you’re feeling, you have to buckle up, breathe, and get through it.

Hopefully you’re reading this before you experiment with smoking cannabis while tripping on shrooms. You have to remember to remind yourself that you’re not dying and that this too, shall pass.

Some magic mushroom experiences are scary and uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad for you. If you can patiently experience what you’re going through, you can “reframe” a bad trip into a really powerful, enlightening experience about your own psyche. 

To mitigate having a bad reaction, be in the right place, and take shrooms and cannabis together at the right time. We have detailed articles on how to correctly prepare for a psychedelic journey and how to integrate a journey post-dose. We recommend reading these before embarking on a cannabis-shroom cocktail.

Have you ever smoked cannabis while tripping on shrooms? At what point in the journey did you do it? Let us know your experience in the comments!

There is a bizarre mystery that pervades the world of magic mushroom taking called Wood Lover’s Paralysis. This phenomenon seems isolated to wood loving species such as Psilocybe cyanescens and Psilocybe subaeruginosa, and is characterised by transient muscle paralysis.

For the time being, Wood Lover’s Paralysis remains a phenomenon recounted only from anecdotal reports and hasn’t made its way into scientific research yet. Psychedelic Science Review continues to reach out to those who have experienced the phenomenon to continue to gather data.

Wood Lover’s Paralysis doesn’t seem to affect everybody, and as we mentioned, not all mushrooms seem to bring about these effects. In this article, we’re going to have a look at different user experiences and then we’ll check out some of the theories as to why Wood Lover’s Paralysis occurs.

What is Wood Lover’s Paralysis?

A collage art depicting a person near mountains with a cat and magic mushrooms.
@anarkoiris7

If you’ve never experienced Wood Lover’s Paralysis, the entire concept might sound very farfetched. For those who do, it ranges anywhere from mild facial paralysis to complete paralysis of a limb or section of the body. 

There are an abundance of reports of Wood Lover’s Paralysis on shroom forums such as Shroomery and Erowid. There are overarching themes that appear from all reports, which we’ll list first, and then we’ll share some of the funnier personal accounts.

The most common symptoms consistent across reports of Wood Lover’s Paralysis are:

  1. Loss of motor control, ranging from lack of coordination to complete paralysis
  2. Loss of motor function in the eyes and face
  3. Takes about 4-6 hours into the trip to start happening
  4. Doesn’t last for more than 24 hours

An important aspect here is that all the symptoms are resolved within 24 hours. It’s one of the main characteristics of Wood Lover’s Paralysis. Many user reports describe going from bouts of complete paralysis of limbs to complete normality within 24 hours. 

What do people feel when Wood Lover’s Paralysis occurs?

“About 4 hours into a trip, “I got halfway to the kitchen and suddenly my legs felt like they were going to collapse. I sat down for 5 minutes, got up again, walked for a bit- and then my legs DID collapse. It was a little scary because I felt clear headed, there was no pain or numbness… just non-functional legs.”

“First noticeable symptoms are blurred vision, hand cramping/numbness, then loss of facial/mouth movement followed by having a hard time walking then full loss of the ability to walk properly or even stand period.”

My friend … would try to stand up and his legs would collapse like jelly….he was also getting weird facial contractions where his mouth would distort similar to a mentally disabled person.”

“I was fine that night. The next morning I woke up and was having a hard time focusing my eyes and felt very uncoordinated….All of a sudden I completely lost control of both legs, and my hands got seized up weird and stuff. I was in the middle of the road in the campground paralyzed. My mind was clear but I couldn’t get up no matter how many times I tried….My hands were seized up and my face was numb and the muscles unresponsive for up to a couple of hours and it went away.”

“I’ve experienced the [paralysis] situation after [consuming]  fresh, dried and boiled (steeped) [mushrooms]. “

Theories about the cause of Wood Lover’s Paralysis.

The Magic Mushroom Mystery of Wood Lover’s Paralysis | Magic Mushrooms 101 | My Supply Co.
@astralmoonbeam

Without any kind of clinical research or definitive lab studies, it’s impossible to say what genuinely causes Wood Lover’s Paralysis, but there are some theories. 

The first theory relates to dystonic reactions or acute movement disorders. Dystonic reactions occur as a reaction to certain drugs, most commonly antiemetics and antipsychotic drugs. Dystonia is the involuntary movement of the face, neck extremities, abdomen, pelvis, or larynx in intermittent patterns. It sounds a lot like Wood Lover’s Paralysis, though it’s not characterised by paralysis but by involuntary movements. Benadryl, an over the counter antihistamine, is often used as a treatment for dystonic reactions.

Some users have reported using benadryl to reduce symptoms of Wood Lover’s Paralysis with success. And so the theory is that there may be a histamine reaction at the root of Wood Lover’s Paralysis. The histamine theory supports the bacteria theory, because certain bacteria produce histamine. If a mushroom is infected with a certain bacteria, there may be a histamine reaction that causes paralysis.

Others speculate that it’s got less to do with histamine and more to do with receptors. If Benadryl, which is an H1 blocker, reduces the symptoms of Wood Lover’s Paralysis then it may be caused by some kind of modulation or alteration of the histamine or dopamine receptors.

Dose, contamination, and unknown constituents.

The Magic Mushroom Mystery of Wood Lover’s Paralysis | Magic Mushrooms 101 | My Supply Co.
@riverlotusmoon

Dose or contamination are also possible culprits in the Wood Lover’s Paralysis mystery, although it seems that it can occur even at smaller doses under 2 or 3 grams. It does seem to get worse or more severe as the doses increase. 

Given that Wood Lover’s Paralysis pertains to shrooms grown specifically on wood; that’s to say the kinds of shrooms that grow in forests, on logs, and in local parks on tanbark. They’re usually wild mushrooms and so there’s a possibility they’re sprayed and might be contaminated by pesticides or fungicides, for example.

Finally, we all have to step back a little and acknowledge how small our understanding is of what’s in magic mushrooms. So far, we have only identified and isolated a handful of compounds and there’s likely other unknown chemical constituents in magic mushrooms that might trigger Wood Lover’s Paralysis in certain vulnerable individuals.

Have you ever experienced Wood Lover’s Paralysis? We’d love to hear from you in the comments if you have. Let us know your story and help grow the understanding and awareness of Wood Lover’s Paralysis in the mushroom community.

Key takeaways.

  • What are the different kinds of antidepressants?

    SSRI’s and SNRI’s are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants although there are more of them (such as MAOIs).

  • Is it safe to take antidepressants with magic mushrooms?

    It may be unsafe to take SSRI’s and SNRI’s with magic mushrooms because of the way they both interact with the serotonergic system. However, it might also be safe when both are taken at the same dose.

  • Is it recommended to wean off antidepressants before using mushrooms?

    The overall advice is to wean off antidepressants before using magic mushrooms, even though it’s possible they might be safe together. You shouldn’t wean off antidepressants without the supervision of the doctor who prescribed them to you.

We get asked a lot of questions about whether or not it’s safe to mix magic mushrooms with antidepressants. Which is a really valid question because those with depression often seek out alternative therapy through psychedelics. The answer is long winded because there’s more than one kind of antidepressant and because a lot of antidepressants belong to classes of drugs that are known to have a lot of interactions.

The most common class of antidepressants, SSRI’s work on the human body’s serotonergic system. The problem is that a lot of psychedelics and even recreational drugs work on the very same system and excessive levels of serotonin are associated with severe and even fatal events. 

That’s not to say that all antidepressants react with magic mushrooms or psilocybin the same way, or that all interactions with SSRI’s can cause this. But this starts to shed light on some of the interesting interactions between antidepressants and psychedelic drugs that users and seekers of alternative medicine should be aware of. 

It goes without saying that if you’re in the group of people who are taking antidepressants but want to experiment with magic mushrooms, the most important thing to do is talk to the doctor who prescribes your antidepressants. If they aren’t friendly to the concept of alternatives, find one who is. You may be required to wean off antidepressants before using psychedelics, but this should only occur under the supervision of the professional who prescribes to you.

Mixing magic mushrooms with SSRI’s.

A collage image of women wearing different magic mushrooms as skirts.
@theweeklybloom

SSRI’s are one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants because they are actually the class considered to have the fewest drug interactions. SSRI stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, and as we mentioned, it works on the nervous system’s usage and production of serotonin. 

The most common ones include:

  • Citalopram (Celexa, Cipramil)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro, Cipralex)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox, Faverin)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Seroxat)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft, Lustral)

It’s really important to note that at this stage, there are currently no clinical trials that specifically address the interaction between magic mushrooms and antidepressants. There’s a massive gap in the understanding and it’s desperately called for. 

Some researchers theorize that because psilocybin and SSRI’s work on the serotonergic system in different ways, magic mushrooms and SSRI’s might actually be complementary. However, recently, researchers discovered that magic mushrooms contain much more than psilocybin, and that they also contain an alkaloid called b-carboline. This alkaloid falls into a category of compounds called MAOI’s (monoamine oxidase inhbiitor), which are known to adversely interact with SSRI’s. However, in this study, researchers concluded that MAOI’s (if they are an MAO-B inhibitor) can be safely co-administered with SSRI’s. But for this to be safe, the SSRI dose has to be at the lower end of the therapeutic index and has to be monitored closely. 

So what does this mean for SSRI takers?

It means — talk to your doctor. It seems as though there is a safe way to co-administer magic mushrooms and SSRI’s but it should be done under supervision to ensure that your SSRI dose is safe with your psilocybin dose. 

Mixing magic mushrooms with SNRI’s.

SNRI’s are similar to SSRI’s except that they also work on norepinephrine as well as serotonin. They are typically prescribed when SSRI’s aren’t tolerated and might also be beneficial for people with anxiety.

SNRI drugs include:

  • Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq, Khedezla)
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
  • Levomilnacipran (Fetzima)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)

Given the SNRI’s work in a very similar way to SSRI’s, the same assumptions can be made about SNRI’s. There’s a possibility that magic mushrooms are safe to use with SNRI’s depending on the dose of both, but again this should be supervised by the professional who prescribes the SNRI.

Mixing magic mushrooms with Lithium and other antidepressants.

A digital collage art of a human body with different magic mushrooms growing from out of it.
@jannayotte

Though there are no clinical trials on the co-administration of lithium with magic mushrooms, this is not recommended. There are reports of people mixing lithium with LSD and psilocybin mushrooms and experiencing seizures and heart attacks.

Because MAOI-type antidepressants are, in fact, MAOI’s, it’s not recommended to use them with psilocybin. Psilocybin mushrooms also contain an MAOI and so it might sound counterintuitive to avoid mixing, but it’s not known to what degree MAOI antidepressants potentiate the effects of magic mushrooms or even dampen them.

For all other antidepressants, there is next to no information about interactions. For this reason, we recommend avoiding concomitant use unless you have been given the OK from your doctor, or until you are able to wean off them.

It’s possible antidepressants might dampen the effects of magic mushroom treatment.

An illustration of a love heart made out of magic mushrooms
@ispyfungi

Tryptamines, such as psilocybin, are lovers of serotonin receptors, and like we just talked about, so are pharmaceutical antidepressants. Antidepressants like SSRI’s don’t just affect serotonin levels but they also modulate and affect serotonin receptors.

Benjamin Malcolm, owner of Spirit Pharmacist hypothesizes that because of the way that SSRI’s and SNRI’s modulate serotonin receptors, that antidepressants actually dampen the potential of mushroom therapy. He offers this chart for interactions between different kinds of antidepressants and psychedelic drugs.   

When you look through the chart, you’ll notice that most of the time Benjamin Malcolm recommends weaning off antidepressants and discontinuing their use at least two weeks before using magic mushrooms. He also says that prolonged, chronic antidepressant use can lead to an overall dampened effect of magic mushrooms.

Don’t try this at home, folks.

The overwhelming advice, in light of how little we know, is to wean off antidepressants before you take magic mushrooms in any kind of therapeutic fashion. Although it’s unlikely to walk yourself into any kind of fatal event, not knowing at which correct doses to co-administer the two is unsafe. Plus, you don’t know how much of a disservice you’re doing to your antidepressant treatment or your magic mushroom experience.

If you’re one of the many people who is seeking an alternative treatment for depression and wants to try psilocybin, we recommend talking to your doctor to wean off before you try magic mushrooms. It’s the safest way to dip your foot in this ocean and your overall treatment might be much better off for not mixing the two.

Have you ever weaned off antidepressants to use magic mushrooms? We’d love to hear your story — drop it in the comments.

Key takeaways.

  • What is an MAOI?

    MAOI stands for monoamine oxidase inhibitor and is a class of compounds found in a number of psychedelic plants. These compounds inhibit an enzyme in the body responsible for the breakdown of certain neurotransmitters.

  • Are MAOI’s in magic mushrooms?

    Yes — early in 2020 researchers published a paper uncovering the presence and biochemical pathways of MAOI production in magic mushrooms. This is the first time an MAOI has ever been isolated from magic mushrooms.

  • Is it a game changer?

    This discovery might lead to new guidelines on how to consume magic mushrooms as MAOI’s are contraindicated in certain diets and certain medications.

Just as cannabis has an entourage effect, so do magic mushrooms. In fact, every consumable plant out there has an entourage effect because plants and fungi typically contain a variety of biologically active compounds. Because of a 50-year moratorium on the research of psychedelic substances, we’re still only just beginning to understand what’s in magic mushrooms. And early in 2020, researchers made a discovery that multiple species of Psilocybe magic mushrooms contain β‐carbolines — an MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor).

For the avid psychonaut, MAOI will be a familiar term. It’s a class of compounds present in a number of psychoactive plants. For example, the Ayahuasca vine contains MAOI’s, and it’s these MAOI’s that allow the psychedelic effects of DMT to take place. Essentially, without the MAOI, the brew wouldn’t work.

The first antidepressant ever made was an MAOI — and its antidepressant effects were well documented. However, because of safety, they were replaced with other forms of antidepressants (SSRI’s). To understand these safety concerns, we first have to look at the pharmacokinetics of MAOI’s. 

Β‐carbolines, which have now been isolated from magic mushrooms, contribute to the entourage effect of magic mushrooms, potentiating and enhancing the effects of psilocybin. Like we just mentioned, they might also contribute their own pharmacological effects (antidepressant). 

What is a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI)?

A digital artwork depicting two neon mushrooms and an abstract neon background.
@triphazzzard

MAOI’s are a class of compounds often found in plants but they can also be synthesized. As their name suggests, MAOI’s inhibit the monoamine oxidase enzyme in our body tissues. Monoamine oxidase enzymes are present in almost all body tissues and are responsible for the breakdown of certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and tyramine. 

When a person consumes an MAOI, the monoamine oxidase enzyme is inhibited — that is, it doesn’t carry out any of its activities. This leads to slower degradation of the aforementioned neurotransmitters, therefore increasing their serum levels. This is essentially the foundation of why MAOI’s are therapeutic.

At the same time, with an inhibited enzyme all throughout the body, there is the potential for accumulation of compounds — tyramine is the main culprit. Certain foods contain high levels of tyramine and if a strict diet isn’t observed during MAOI consumption, tyramine can reach toxic levels and might even be life-threatening.

On top of this, MAOI’s have interactions with a number of pharmaceutical drugs that range from mild to life-threatening. For example, MAOI’s, when consumed with SSRI’s (another form of antidepressant), can cause life-threatening side effects.

Β‐carbolines are a magic mushroom’s MAOI.

In a study published in Chemistry early in 2020,  researchers uncovered a biochemical pathway through which magic mushrooms make β‐carbolines. They isolated β‐carbolines from a number of different species of magic mushrooms including Psilocybe mexicana and Psilocybe cubensis. 

The MAOI is produced by the mushroom pretty much simultaneously with its production of psilocybin, psilocin and baeocystin. 

Thanks to previous studies, we know that psilocybin is active even if an MAOI is not present. However, we also know that pure psilocybin is less effective than a whole mushroom extract. This doesn’t strictly mean that the MAOI potentiates mushrooms or makes them more effective, but it’s thought that the interplay between all the compounds in magic mushrooms are responsible for this result.

What does this mean for magic mushroom users?

An illustration of a hand where magic mushrooms are growing out of each finger.
@art.by.rene

There’s a few things to consider here. Firstly, now that we know that magic mushrooms contain MAOI’s, it starts to raise questions about the concurrent use of magic mushrooms with other medications. At the same time, there’s virtually no research on drug interactions with magic mushrooms.

Some people think that because magic mushrooms are natural, they can be used however and whenever. But that’s not true. The ayahuasca brew is natural but it can actually kill people if it’s not taken in the correct context (diet, abstinence from drugs, etc.) With that in mind, those who take antidepressants (especially SSRI’s) should seriously consider whether or not they want to mix magic mushrooms with their antidepressant drugs. It also means that those on antidepressants should consult their mental health professional before taking magic mushrooms.

It’s an especially important topic to talk about because lots of people who take magic mushrooms do so to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety — which means it’s entirely possible that they are already on some kind of antidepressant or anxiolytic medication.

Knowing that magic mushrooms contain MAOI’s also means that users can optimize their experience by optimizing their diet in the days leading up to it. It’s also recommended that those who are microdosing observe a low tyramine diet to optimize effects. Examples of high tyramine foods that should be avoided:

  • Strong or aged cheese
  • Processed and cured meats
  • Soybeans and soy products
  • Alcohol
  • Onions
  • Overripe avocados and bananas
  • Chocolate

Avoiding these foods reduces the amount of tyramine in your body and therefore less of a reaction with the MAOI present in magic mushrooms. In turn, this should optimise your experience, making it more pleasant and smoother.

Our diets and choices are part of the entourage effect.

Enhancing Psilocybin: MAOI’s & the Entourage Effect | Magic Mushrooms 101 | My Supply Co.
@e.a.harper

What this teaches us is that how we approach the magic mushroom experience is part and parcel of the entourage effect. After all, you are a fundamental part of what happens, aren’t you! Once you understand the fact that compounds you consume are constantly interacting with compounds in your body, you start to understand that your dietary choices are part of the entourage effect.

Knowing that magic mushrooms contain MAOI’s means that you can avoid certain foods and include others to create a smoother experience for yourself. Sounds a lot like the entourage effect, doesn’t it?

We are learning more and more every day about how magic mushrooms produce their therapeutic effects. And naturally, the more we learn, the better we’re all going to get at taking them.

Key takeaways.

  • Why is integration important?

    Integrating a psychedelic journey is important so that its therapeutic potential can last for longer, and also to reconcile any confusing thoughts or feelings that arose during the experience itself.

  • What are the most important integration practices to use?

    The best ones are spending time in nature, meditating, breath work, journalling, and talking to people you trust.

  • What are some integration practices to avoid?

    Avoid making rash decisions in the days after your journey and don’t go around telling everybody that they should use magic mushrooms or other psychedelics!

We recently shared with you an article on the importance of preparing for your magic mushroom experience. The lead up plays a big role in what happens during the journey. But what happens after is equally as important. Integrating a psychedelic journey is just as important as preparing for it.

Timothy Leary says that the moment you start to “come back” to the physical world, you’ve begun “re-entry”. Re-entry doesn’t end after a good night’s sleep. Rather, the next few days can be spent achieving a good re-entry — if you know how to create the correct environment. 

In all fairness, integration looks a lot like preparation, but there are a few extra tips we have for you for post dose care. In order for the therapeutic, positive effects of your magic mushroom experience to be felt long after the journey itself, integration is absolutely vital.

Your magic mushroom experience might have a great impact.

A digital artwork using perspective of trees and road to create the effect there is no sky.
@swissgo4design

The reason it’s important to integrate your psychedelic journey is because the journey itself can be one of the most impactful events of your life. Many LSD, ayahuasca, and magic mushroom users report that the experience is transformative, although scientists are still trying to understand this phenomenon.

Experiences that have this great of an impact on our lives don’t come around very often. It’s like our wedding day, the death of a loved one, or the birth of a child. There are certain moments in life that seem to mean a great deal. And those events typically tend to carry that importance throughout the rest of your life.

So if magic mushrooms is like that (or can be like that), then preparation and integration are due. The same way we don’t just get over the death of a loved one, we don’t just get over a mushroom journey. It can take time to integrate what you’ve seen, learned, and felt. You wouldn’t process the passing of a family member while you were at work; you’d probably take a few days off work for that. Even researchers have included post-drug integrative therapy sessions to support their study subjects. 

Well, the principle is exactly the same with magic mushrooms or any other psychedelic experience. It’s impactful; it’s transformative; and you ought to take some time for processing that experience. Here are some tips on how to do that.

1. Have at least 2 days post dose to chill.

Integration begins with time and space. That means time that you don’t have to work or attend commitments. Even family lunches or social events are considered too much work for post-psychedelic integration.

These couple of days should be spent at your leisure, doing any number of the activities we’re about to suggest to you.

Most importantly, you can’t do any proper integration while you’re busying yourself with meetings, work, emails or commitments. Take the time; at least 2 days. 

2. Spend some time in nature.

An illustration of two people sitting under the clouds and the moon, surrounded by flowers, on a floating plate.
@zoomy317

While your brain and mind are in a very malleable, hypnagogic state, it can be very meditative to spend some time in the elements. Spending time in nature improves mental health in a number of ways, but the environment itself is also very conducive to meditation. And that’s something you should do a lot of while you’re “re-entering” the physical world.

While you’re spending time in nature, you might reconnect with some of the thoughts, feelings, or visions you had during your experience. It’s a chance to see those experiences from a “sober” perspective and begin integrating them into your daily life and behaviour.

3. Journal. Draw. Express.

You might find that in the days after your journey, you have a lot of emotions, memories, and abstract thoughts. Part of the integration process is to express those feelings and emotions. Plus, there’s a lot that you might have experienced that will soon begin to fade away, so journaling about your experience both during and after can help to solidify those experiences into your memory.

You might write about some of the memories you had, some of the people who popped up in your head, or some of the scary parts of the journey. It’s entirely up to you; journaling should feel free and natural.

Emily Williams, a San-Francisco psychotherapist who specialises in post-psychedelic integration suggests a mandala art activity. It’s unguided and intuitive. You give yourself a set period of time and just start filling the page with mandala patterns. 

4. Breathwork and meditation.

For some psychedelic users, meditation is the only way to stretch out the clarity and quietude that can come with a psychedelic experience. Plenty of people feel relaxed or “cleansed” and want to maintain that feeling for as long as possible. Meditating on that feeling or doing breathwork activities can help.

Breathwork and meditation are also useful in the event that the experience didn’t leave you feeling so relaxed or peaceful. Meditation and breathwork exercises can help you settle into your body so that you’re better able to process difficult experiences and transform them into healing ones.

5. Pay attention to your dreams.

You might also find that after your magic mushroom experience, your dreams are more vivid for a few days. It’s a good chance to check in with your dreams. Keep your “eyes” open for symbols and people that connect you with the psychedelic experience you had. They can be clues as to what kind of emotional processing is happening for you.

You can also keep a journal of your dreams alongside your daytime journal.

6. Talk to people you trust. 

It can be an important time to share. With the many ideas and feelings that are coming to you, it pays to have people you trust around to offload onto. It’s important that those who you share your psychedelic journey with aren’t judgemental. They should be able to sit there and listen to all of your meanderings without calling you crazy!

It’s even better if they’re people that have also had a psychedelic experience before.

Things not to do during post dose integration.

An illustration of a mushroom with an eye; a concept illustration of the psychedelic landscape.
@chrissukut

Just as there are do’s, there are some very clear don’ts. With all of the feelings and the sense that what you’ve gone through was the most epic thing of your life, it can be easy too carried away. So here are some post-dose practices we definitely don’t recommend.

Don’t try to convert everybody into a mushroom tripper.

Ahh, everybody has that friend. Trust us, you don’t want to be them. The person who sounds a little too much like an evangelical and after their journey, wants to go around telling everybody that they must get on the psychedelics. 

Your feelings probably come from a good place. But people still don’t want to be told what to do. Plus, your experience with psychedelics might not be the same for them, and it’s not up to you whether or not others use psychedelic drugs.

Don’t tell everyone what your journey was like.

Keep a few things personal or between yourself and people you trust. You should treat your experience as if it’s a little dream and if you tell everybody about it, it’ll lose its power and won’t come true. And it is kind of like that. 

The visions you receive of your deepest desires or your deepest fears are so delicate. When you talk to people about it, it’s very easy for them to plant a seed of doubt in your mind. And every time you repeat what happened, your experience loses a little bit of its magic.

Don’t make rash decisions to try and change your life.

It’s very normal to get the feeling that you have to change some things in your life after a magic mushroom or psychedelic journey. After you get insights into your bad habits or bad relationships there comes a sense of urgency to rectify those shortcomings. Of course it’s important to follow through with the guidance you receive — but don’t make rash decisions.

Before you go quitting your job or dumping your husband, take a few days to meditate on it and again, talk with people you trust.

Integration is the most important part of entheogenic practice.

Sometimes, the most profound parts of a magic mushroom experience happen after it’s done. A conversation you have with your lover; a moment you share with your book or a meditation on the beauty of a flower. For reasons we don’t understand, the healing effects of psychedelics go on long after the experience itself is over. And so you have to still treat yourself as if you’re in that healing process. 

If the most you get out of your post-psychedelic integration is a couple of days of self-care, that’s also warranted. After a journey like that, a little self-care goes a long way.

What are some of your post dose integration practices? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Key takeaways.

  • What can psilocybin do for addiction?

    It seems from the research that the subjective experience of magic mushrooms might be the therapeutic factor in depression, giving people a different relationship with their addictions.

  • How does it stack up compared to conventional therapies?

    So far, the research shows effects even in the long term. Long-term efficacy is something that conventional therapies lack, and the little research we have suggests psilocybin can overcome that hurdle.

  • What addictions can psilocybin work with?

    In this article, we include research on psilocybin for tobacco and alcohol dependencies. But it has a wide scope for use in many addictions.

Not that long ago, we shared with you an article about the potential of cannabis for addiction. We showed that especially when it comes to opioids and pain medication, cannabis can be a great tool for addiction. Now we’re talking psilocybin magic mushrooms and their clinical potential for treating addiction. The scope of magic mushrooms for addiction is much larger than cannabis, with the potential to treat a huge array of addictions.

From alcohol dependence to tobacco addiction, magic mushrooms have consistently showed positive and long-lasting results for addiction. Research also points to the likelihood that psilocybin works psychologically with the person to promote these positive changes. That’s to say that researchers genuinely believe that it’s the subjective experience that facilitates the therapeutic effect, and that this might be why the effects are so long lasting.

It’s estimated that around 15% of Canadians drink a “risky” amount of alcohol, and around 13% of the population smoke tobacco. And most scary of all is that Canada is in the middle of an opioid crisis. Between January 2016 and December 2018, there were 11,500 deaths attributable to opioid consumption.

More than there is an ongoing need for addiction treatment, there is an ongoing need for understanding addiction. The many therapies employed in the last handful of decades have been, for the most part, unsuccessful, with too many patients relapsing to call them hardy therapies. And this probably has more to do with the fact that as a society, we barely understand addiction.

What we’re proposing in this article is that in some ways, the study of magic mushrooms helps us do that as users report the changes in the ways they process information, understand themselves, and cure themselves of addiction.

Addiction, theories, and current practices.

An illustration of a woman holding her face and fragmented pieces coming off her body.
@skuttlebug

Addiction is characterised by repetitive consumption of a substance or drug or activity (such as gambling, sex, or shopping), without being able to stop even if you want to. And even if that activity is causing you a great deal of harm.

Addiction has been around as long as humans have been around. Pretty much as soon as humans discovered and developed intoxicants, they liked them a lot (check out Terrence McKenna’s stoned ape theory in his book, Food of the Gods). 

It’s also important to recognize man’s journey with substances since the days of tasting funky cacti growing in the desert. With technology, we were able to further refine naturally existing psychoactive substances. For example, during traditional fermentaiton, we were able to reach alcohol levels of about 5%. After the development of distillation equipment, we were able to produce alcohol with over 50% ethanol concentration, allowing people to get drunk faster.

Another great example is the coca leaf, which when chewed is a gentle stimulant. Chemical refinement of coca brings us to cocaine exactly the same way that chemical refinement of the poppy flower brings us to opium and opioids. The transformation of these naturally occurring substances into further refined chemicals has essentially allowed them to travel to the brain faster, causing stronger, short-lived, and drastic effects.

This is a world away from the magic-mushroom eating apes that we might’ve been according to Terrence McKenna. And now we find ourselves in an addiction crisis that’s worthy of epidemic status. Pretty much every country in the world confronts some sort of addiction crisis.

The addicted brain — neuroscientifically.

One of the challenges of understanding the addicted brain in terms of neuroscience is that addictions to alcohol and drugs of abuse often involve many different neurotransmitters and receptors. There is not a very good map of the human brain to begin with, so trying to understand tobacco’s addictive route through a neighbourhood we can’t define is pretty tough.

However, certain molecular targets have been identified as being of interest such as phosphodiesterase 10A which altered differentially during different stages of the alcohol withdrawal process in rats. In a 2013 study, researchers found that the brain’s GABA-ergic presynaptic terminals are triggered by alcohol in such a way that it might define the addictive mechanism. 

And overall, serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine, glutamate, and endocannabinoids are thought to be at play during the addiction process. It gets even more complicated when we consider the fact that not everybody who drinks alcohol gets addicted to it — so there can’t be purely biological factors at play unless there is already a biological predisposition to those effects from substances of abuse.

The addicted brain — psychologically.

Research shows a strong correlation between anxiety and substance use disorders. It has also been observed that many people with substance use disorders also meet the criteria for major depression. In another study, up to 39% of PTSD sufferers were addicted to alcohol, 34% to cocaine, and almost 7% to opiates. This is where we start to see some interesting and clear connections between a person’s emotional health and their addiction status.

Trauma is highly correlated with addiction and it’s for this reason that those with addiction shouldn’t be excluded from treatment for major depression, PTSD, or anxiety, depending on the person and the nature of their addiction.

Current practices for addiction.

The most obvious and common program for addiction is the Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12-Step Program. But there is not all that much success in these programs. The typical abstinence rate for those who undergo rehabilitation for alcohol addiction is around 13%. This is considered the “normal” rate of abstinence among problem drinkers.

There are a number of other treatment approaches when it comes to psychology. Cognitive behaviour therapy, brief opportunistic intervention therapy, and motivational interviewing are all included as potential treatment opportunities for those with addiction. But these therapies require constant participation from the recipient, take a long time to take effect, and may only have an effect for a short time. In this way, they are typically only effective in a small percentage of the addicted population.

The research on magic mushrooms for addiction.

An illustration of a person helping their chained self. A concept image of mental health.
@artistic_lj

In a 2018 qualitative assessment, researchers took to interviewing participants of a psilocybin-for-alcohol-dependence trial. In an attempt to understand exactly what was happening to participants on a psychological level, they were questioned the day after their psilocybin experiences. They retrieved information from patients saying they were more motivated for change (something completely delineated in the modern investigation of addiction), their relationship to alcohol felt different, and that they were committed to change. 

Most interestingly, the researchers point out that the subjective experience seems to be associated with the psychological changes and emotional processing. They also observe that dysphoric experiences that take place in a supported context are associated with lasting effects in wellbeing.

In an open-label pilot study that investigated the effect of psilocybin treatment on tobacco addiction and cessation, researchers found that up to 80% of participants were still abstinent from tobacco on the 6-month follow up. They received cognitive behavioural therapy alongside psilocybin treatment. 

The same researchers of that study then did follow-up studies of their participants. They found that long-term abstinence was associated with mystical-type experiences and they predicted that this type of experience might have a role to play in addiction intervention. 

The subjective experience is worth more than the biological one.

An illustration of a woman with psychedelic patterns over her face and a mandala-like pattern in the background.
@amberleesears

Ok, so the research is still preliminary (even though it’s been going on since the 50s). But it is all starting to point to something pretty important about how magic mushrooms seem to work for addiction. It may be pertinent to understand the biological mechanism, but what’s emerging is that it’s the actual psychedelic, subjective experience that seems to have the therapeutic benefit.

This is so contradictory to how we typically understand medicine. Most of the time the subjective experience of taking a medicine is bad — it tastes awful or has horrible side effects. There’s virtually no other drug or pharmaceutical out there that’s considered to work because of its subjective experience.

Unlocking an experience and trying to explain it in terms of biology could be a little tough. Plus, the experience seems to be very different for everybody, which also poses some complications in trying to explain it. 

It makes the whole thing pretty mysterious, if you ask us. The experience of a 4 or 5 hour psilocybin journey can, in and of itself, have a long lasting effect on addiction. We still need more research to say anything conclusively, but the horizon looks strong for magic mushrooms for addiction.

Key takeaways.

  • What does psilocybin do to the brain?

    Psilocybin causes modes of greater brain interconnectivity; i.e. the parts of the brain talk to each other better. This may explain the feeling of divine knowledge and synaesthesia.

  • Why is cannabis so euphoric?

    Some scientists think it’s because THC makes you forget. That means forgetting your worries and your traumas, and according to some researchers, forgetfulness is next to godliness.

  • Why do psychedelics make us feel so good?

    Emotional processing coupled with better brain interconnectivity might explain the divine experience or the euphoric realisations that come with using psychedelics. And ultimately, an improved state of mental health.

Closed-eye hallucinations. Rebounding of thoughts in the epic chamber that is the universal mind. Revelations. Mind-bending revelations. These are the hallmarks of a psychedelic experience. But what is it about psychedelic substances like psilocybin and cannabis that open up a person’s mind to entirely new realities, altering their mood, their perceptions, and their thoughts? 

There’s a harrowing lack of research into the neuroscience of psychedelics although a few rogue scientists have been deep in the idea. At the same time, it’s one thing to explain the change in brain activity under the influence in psychedelics and how that dictates the physical or mental perception of events and objects. But it’s all together another thing to explain the emotional response to the events and feelings we experience under the effects of psychedelics. What is it that bursts our hearts open into unconditional love and never-ending acceptance?

In this article, we explore these ideas and what some scientists believe is happening in our brains, bodies, and feelings when we consume psychedelic substances.

Psilocybin and connectivity.

An concept illustration of connectivity and magic mushrooms.
@mindfulsav

As we are, understanding the complex integration of aspects of the brain and the essential networking that takes place in there is a huge challenge for neuroscience. What’s beautiful is that studying the effects of psilocybin on the brain has actually taught us more about the human brain (much like the study of cannabis led to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system!). 

In 2014 at the Imperial College of London, a team of researchers (that included the famous Prof. David Nutt by the way) took advanced brain images of those who took a psilocybin dose and those who took placebo. The researchers observed less “constrained” brain function and greater intercommunicative modes in the brain in the psilocybin group. The researchers think this could occur as a result of stimulation of a specific serotonin receptor in the cortex. 

The researchers then went on to talk about the implications of this in the real-life, hands-on psychedelic experience. There is a phenomenon called synaesthesia, characterised by the overlapping of senses. Being able to hear or taste colours or to see music are examples. The increased intercommunication between brain parts might be responsible for synaesthesia, which is commonly reported in the psychedelic experience. 

Moments where it all… comes together.

Revelatory ideas and realisations are reported as part of the “mystical” psilocybin experience. But given the opportunity to explain these experiences, people define it as simply a light bulb moment. Everything simply comes together. It’s not farfetched that the simultaneous merging of thoughts into a single, coherent, idea (some call it singularity) resembles the scientific observation that scientists made.

Terrence McKenna talks at great lengths about archetypes and draws on Carl Jung (he actually gave a speech to the Carl Jung Society once). He talks about the merging of these different aspects of self and the resolution that can only come with their integration. It’s obviously unclear from a scientific perspective how much the inability to make those integrations contributes to mental illness or whatever makes us feel down. 

The reconciliation of memories, senses, thoughts, and emotions through interconnectedness of brain parts could be a precursor to the mystical experience that is so often reported on psilocybin.

Anandamide, man’s bliss molecule and THC; two peas in a pod.

A collage art of a woman with psychedelic cacti and flowers, staring into the sky.
@astralmoonbeam

During very clandestine research into cannabinoids in the 90s, scientists discovered the first human endocannabinoid, anandamide. It was a funny story actually, because it was the study of THC that led to the discovery of the cannabinoid receptor, which in turn led to the discovery of an endogenous cannabinoid. So you could thank THC for all this good science.

Anandamide and THC are structurally very similar. Anandamide also has some very interesting neurological properties as an endogenous cannabinoid. One of those qualities is forgetfulness. A lot like THC, spikes in anandamide levels are associated with impaired short-term memory. But this isn’t seen as a bad quality of anandamide. In fact, one of the researchers who gave anandamide its name said it was one of the very reasons that it was blissful. 

Anandamide gets its name from ananda, the Sanskrit word for bliss. Raphael Mechoulam, who was on the team in the discovery of anandamide said that it was an endogenously produced antidepressant that also made you forget, because why would you want to remember every face you saw on the train that day? 

In May 2020, researchers were able to inhibit anandamide in mice and could therefore observe the consequences. They found anandamide inhibition disturbed the emotional processing and tone of emotional behaviour, suggesting that anandamide’s ability to make a person forget is part and parcel of emotional health. 

Remember that song, Don’t Worry Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin? That’s literally the sentiment. Cannabis has long been associated with “forgetting your worries”, but this was often looked upon as a negative consequence of cannabis use. At the same time all cannabis users know that this is exactly what makes it so damn beautiful.

Forgetfulness, something that’s always scorned, is also what we look for after a traumatic experience or an awful day. We want to forget. Because forgetting, moving on, and getting on with it are all really beautiful things. And maybe that’s what makes us feel high.

When emotional processing and increased brain connectivity come together.

Why do Psilocybin and Cannabinoids Make us Feel High? | Magic Mushrooms 101 | My Supply Co.
@robbieritchie

The psychedelic experience is all together emotional, mental, and physical. And even though we don’t know much, we know something extreme is happening under the effects of psychedelics. We also know that something emotional happens under the effect of psilocybin — a level of emotional processing and changes in limbic brain activity that facilitate mystical experiences. 

You can kind of think of it as a form of psychotherapy only there’s no therapist. You are the therapist. That “kind” of psychotherapy coupled with the fact that parts of your brain are talking to each other that haven’t spoken to each other in years begins to explain the euphoria and the highness of psychedelic drugs like magic mushrooms and cannabis.

It’s like receiving 10 years of psychotherapy in a few hours. And the long-lasting effects of psychedelics aren’t hearsay. At 6 month follow ups after only a single dose of psilocybin, patients showed lasting anxiolytic and antidepressant effects.

We want that connectedness within ourselves and our environment. We want to emotionally process these traumatic memories. The problem with psychotherapy is that it relies on the participation of the individual. With psilocybin or ayahuasca or even cannabis, it’s not asking for permission. We are essentially forced into a place that’s at once, safe to do the emotional processing and equipped with the tools for doing it. And sometimes, even if it’s not what you signed up for, it’s what you get.

This begins to touch on the importance of psychology in our long-term mental health and how understanding our own minds is fundamental to the “high” of life. What happens to us under the effect of psychedelics is a glimmer into the potential of feeling and understanding.

What makes us feel high when we use cannabis or psilocybin is us. Feeling the potential of a human brain or simply forgetting a worry to come back to what it feels like to be in your body, in your mind and in your feelings is what it means to be high. Perhaps that’s why the mind-bending, unfathomable realities and the boundless blissful feeling that comes with being high.

Key takeaways.

  • What kinds of detox should I do before a trip?

    When it comes to a magic mushroom trip, it’s important to do some kind of physical detox before the journey. This can include fasting, abstaining from alcohol and keeping the diet light.

  • How should I prepare my mind before a mushroom trip?

    Keep one day before the journey reserved for meditating, walking in the forest, or reading books. At least one day before journeying should be dedicated to quiet time.

  • Should I avoid any herbs or supplements before a mushroom trip?

    Avoid adaptogenic herbs before a mushroom journey.

  • How can I ensure I have a great trip?

    Having a question or intention helps to inform your journey, keep yourself grounded during the experience, and acts as a guiding tool throughout your magic mushroom trip.

You might be preparing for your first magic mushroom trip; you might be preparing for your tenth. Either way, how you prepare for a magic mushroom trip in the days leading up to it can affect a) how positive your mushroom trip is and b) how strong and vivid it is. 

Certain foods and herbs can impact the way that we experience magic mushrooms. Alcohol, for example, can interfere with the clarity of the journey and make it confusing. Adaptogenic herbs (found in many supplements) can diminish the effects of a magic mushroom trip, making it more subtle and less profound. And stimulants like caffeine can intensify the effects of a magic mushroom journey. With all of these things considered, you can prepare for your journey in a way that’s most conducive to what you would like to feel and experience.

As you’re going to learn, astral traveller, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Sometimes, preparation is also about preference. But as you’ll also learn, taking mushrooms and preparing for the trip turns into something like a ritual. How you perform your ritual will be all about you, but we have some guiding advice to make your mushroom experience as safe and pleasant as possible for your mind and body.

Allow a detox for 1-3 days before a mushroom trip.

Almost all civilizations that had an ethnobotanical culture emphasized the importance of preparation before a psychedelic journey. For example, the Shipibo people of Peru abstain from sex, alcohol, pharmaceutical medicine, red meat, garlic, and onions in preparation for an Ayahuasca ceremony. There is sometimes an element of fasting, too. Underneath all of these practises is the concept of detoxification.

The point of detoxifying the body is twofold: 

  1. Firstly, detoxifying the body also detoxifies the mind.
  2. The less toxins that are in the body and mind, the more you are able to experience the “spirit” of the psychedelic without interference by other things

For example, alcohol has a “psychoactive” effect all on its own. Drinking that in the days leading up to the journey may cause the effects of alcohol to “bleed” into the mushroom experience, confusing the purity and clarity of the mushrooms themselves.

There is also the chance of experiencing nausea with magic mushrooms, so having a clean, empty stomach and detoxified digestive tract can reduce some of these unwanted side effects.

You can detox by eating clean, whole, healthy foods. Include lots of vegetables and white meats (fish and chicken) but abstain from red meats. Drink lots of water. Don’t take any other recreational drugs leading up to a mushroom journey and abstain from alcohol for at least 3 days prior. 

Have quiet time for at least one day.

The shape of buddha cut out of a leaf with light shining through.
@marionstark_soultrust

In The Psychedelic Experience by Timothy Leary, he strongly advocates the importance of mental quietude around the time of taking psychedelics. Just as it’s important to detoxify the body, it’s also important to quiet your mind from the distractions and chitter-chatter of every day life.

For those who are looking for a deeper, more profound psychedelic experience from magic mushrooms, this is a very important preparation step. The more you can clear your mind from mundane thoughts like which day is trash day, when rent is due, what’s on for work and the like, the more space there is to invite in an enlightening experience. 

Spend the day before your mushroom journey in a quiet space, enjoying music, meditating, stretching, doing mild exercise, and just generally focusing on yourself. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you aren’t busying yourself with tasks. Reading a book, taking a bath, taking a walk, and hanging out with furry creatures are all totally acceptable forms of quiet time.

Avoid adaptogenic herbs for at least 3 days before a mushroom trip.

It’s quite common for those taking magic mushrooms to be on some sort of herbal or vitamin regime. Often, these herbal tinctures and supplements contain adaptogenic plants. For example, chaga, reishi, maca, ashwaghanda, and tulsi are all adaptogenic herbs. These herbs are commonly used in health products, so make sure to stop taking them for at least 3 days before a mushroom journey.

The rationale behind stopping adaptogenic herbs is that adaptogens are extremely grounding herbs that help the brain and body adapt to stress. Adaptogens are like stress vaccines — that’s literally how they’ve been referred to by scientists. This might sound really conducive to a magic mushroom trip, but it can actually reduce the strength and overall profundity of the experience.

Adaptogens keep you cemented to the ground. But you really don’t want that during a magic mushroom trip.

For the record, adaptogens are fine to use while microdosing because the objective of microdosing is entirely different. For macrodosing, it’s best for your body to be clear of any adaptogenic herbs and plants.

Forming an intention or question informs your journey.

A digital illustration of a shamanic woman with horns, surrounded by feathers and leaves.
@libinium

Finally, in the days leading up to your magic mushroom journey, you can take time to think about an intention or question for your journey. It can be something as simple as finding a lost object or you might just go in with the simple intention of curiosity. It could be something as deep as reconciling traumas or damaged relationships. Whatever it is, having a clear idea helps to inform and guide your journey.

Sometimes when you take magic mushrooms, it can be strong and overwhelming. Visual perception, mental perception and emotional activity all change under the effects of magic mushrooms. It’s sometimes easy to get lost in all of the experiences you’re having. Having an intention or question and being able to remember and circle back to that helps to keep you focused and less overwhelmed.

You might even be surprised by what happens when you go in with a specific intention, too.

Be prepared for the unexpected.

A digital illustration of a creature with a third eye smoking a joint, surrounded by serpents.
@voodoo.salad

A magic mushroom journey is different every single time. That’s why no matter how many times you’ve done it, you never really know what to expect. Having a preparation ritual helps you settle into a comfortable place in your mind and body so that when the unexpected occurs, you’re cool, calm, and collected. 

If you were about to go on the greatest journey of your life to meet a great wise sage, you would prepare. You might prepare your questions or your greeting, or you might prepare by brushing up on your knowledge of some scripture. It’s the same with mushrooms. Just because taking them doesn’t require you to walk out of your house, doesn’t mean it’s not a journey — and doesn’t mean it’s not worth the preparation.

Preparation for a magic mushroom trip doesn’t necessarily make you more prepared for what’s about to happen. As we said, it’s unexpected every single time. But preparation helps you to be ready and strong for the unexpected, and puts you in a welcoming space for profound thoughts, feelings and visions.

What are your most important preparation rituals for a magic mushroom journey? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Key takeaways.

  • What does the research say about psilocybin and depression?

    Psilocybin has showed positive effects in those with depression, especially those with terminal illnesses who confront the fear and anxiety associated with end-of-life.

  • Why is psilocybin different to conventional therapies?

    Psilocybin has, so far, showed a fantastic safety profile. On top of this, psilocybin works immediately whereas conventional therapies typically take a long time to work.

  • What’s the clinical significance of psilocybin in depression?

    Given how few treatment options there are for depression, many of which are not long lasting, there is a dire need for safe and effective alternatives for the treatment of depression. Psilocybin offers hope.

Depression is one of the most burdensome global health problems, affecting around 4% of the world’s population and 5.4% of Canadians over 15. One of the biggest hurdles of depression is its resistance to treatment, as currently available therapies are only effective for some, or simply only partially effective. 

A lot of people just don’t get to remission. And the instance of relapse is concerningly high.

The need for more effective therapies for depression has necessitated the new-age plight into psychedelic research. What early research began in the 60s came to an abrupt halt but has recently been picked back up again. Now, our new research is showing us that beyond the ability to put depression in remission, psilocybin also keeps it there for the long term.

The research on psilocybin and depression.

A collage of many kinds of mushrooms with human bodies.
@amyo426

What we’re observing in the clinical setting at the moment is very exciting. Although for many it’s “old news” that psychedelics such as psilocybin have the potential to treat depression, it’s nonetheless exciting to watch these revelations take place in the scientific sphere.

A number of preliminary clinical trials have already taken place on the effects of psilocybin and depression, as well as in the context of end of life patients battling anxiety and depression. Let’s check them out and break them down.

Carhart-Harris et al., 2016.

In this study, Carhart-Harris and his research team administered two high doses of psilocybin (10mg and 25mg) 7 days apart. Each of the patients was diagnosed with moderate-to-severe treatment resistant major depression. 

The primary outcome of the study was to measure the subjective effects at different doses, but the research team made secondary findings on the effect of psilocybin on depressive symptoms. Patients showed marked improvement in depression scores 1 week and 3 months after high dose treatment. Anxiety and anhedonia scores improved, too. 

The purpose of Carhart-Harris et al.’s 2016 research was to understand the safety of psilocybin treatment in the context of clinical depression. They reported transient anxiety and confusion, mild and transient nausea, and transient headache. Overall, the team concluded that psilocybin was poised to be a safe and effective treatment for clinical depression, pending more rigorous trials.

Ross et al., 2016

A concept illustration of depression, with the face removed from the head.
@artbylelo

In this double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trial, psilocybin was put to the test for the treatment of anxiety and depression in patients with life threatening cancer. The trial included 29 cancer patients with cancer related anger and depression. They were given a single dose of psilocybin at 0.3mg/kg or niacin, both in conjunction with psychotherapy. The psilocybin and niacin groups were compared at 7 weeks and 6.5 months after treatment.

Between treatment and 7 weeks, the researchers observed immediate, substantial, and sustained antidepressant and anxiolytic effects in the psilocybin group. The participants also reported better spiritual wellbeing and improved quality of life. At 6.5 month follow up, the psilocybin group (60-80%) continued to show clinically significant reduction in depression and anxiety as well as improved attitudes towards death. Interestingly, Ross et al. highlighted that the mystical experience appeared to be the driver of these changes.

The psychological distress caused by terminal illness is a special circumstance, but the findings of Ross et al. support the use of psilocybin for depression alongside psychotherapy.

Griffiths et al., 2016.

The Griffiths et al. study is a lot like the Ross et al. study, investigating the effects of psilocybin on depression in terminal cancer patients. The findings of this study are blaringly supportive of Ross et al.’s findings, showing a marked reduction in feelings of depression and anxiety pretty much immediately, and ongoing for at least 6.5 months.

However, in addition, Griffiths et al. identified that it was a musical-type psilocybin experience that mediated positive changes in depressive symptoms and quality of life.

Carhart-Harris et al., 2017.

In this more recent study from Carhart-Harris, MRI data was collected on patients with depression both pre and post psilocybin treatment to better understand the mechanisms at play. The research team conducted whole-brain analysis on 19 patients  both before and after treatment. The researchers observed decreased depressive symptoms in all 19 patients and their brain scans showed:

  • Decreased cerebral blood flow in the frontal cortex
  • Decreased cerebral blood flow to the amygdala that correlated with reduced symptoms
  • Changes in resting-state functional connectivity depending on the brain site

The researchers put this all together and proposed a “reset” mechanism by which psilocybin exerts long-lasting effects on the brain post treatment. The whole concept of post-treatment brain changes opens up a whole new world of understanding outside of what we typically accept as clinical outcomes.

Safety and swiftness of action vs conventional therapies.

An illustration of a woman whose skull is open, and from out of it grows flowers.
@caitlinhillart

When it comes to comparisons between psilocybin and conventional therapies, there are two standout beneficial aspects of psilocybin: safety and how quickly it works. Conventional therapy for depression includes SSRI’s (a class of antidepressant drugs) and psychotherapy. It’s important to recognize that antidepressant drugs are formulated on conventional theories about depression. 

It can take SSRI’s anywhere between 4 and 6 weeks to work. It’s hypothesized that this is because antidepressants aren’t direct mood enhancers, but that they have effects on emotional processing before they have any effect on mood. 

In every study we explored, psilocybin had effects virtually immediately after treatment, and was long lasting thereafter.

Treatment emergent adverse events aren’t uncommon with SSRI’s, with anything from weight gain to serotonin disorder (which is fatal) as a side effect. Fatal adverse events aren’t a common occurrence with SSRI’s, but compared to placebo, there are significantly more adverse effects reported from SSRI’s.

In the research we mentioned, adverse effects of psilocybin included transient headaches, confusion, and anxiety. They were overall deemed safe to use under clinical guidance. There nonetheless does exist the risk of psychosis, though it’s not clear for whom or under what circumstances. 

Clinical significance of psilocybin.

Why is all of this important? Well, for a lot of reasons. To start with, depression has become so common in the modern world, it’s almost a social disease. The recurrence rate is so high that depression becomes an ongoing challenge to the health system. For example, depression is the most prevalent diagnosis among suicide victims. Lifetime depression can increase the risk of suicide by 20 times compared to the normal population. 

The ongoing burden of depression demands alternative therapy that’s safe and effective, and demands it urgently. Psilocybin poses an unbelievably cheap, safe, and immediately effective treatment potential for those with severe depression, and even those whose depression hasn’t reached severity.

If psilocybin can live up to the expectations it’s setting, it can absolutely change the face of clinical depression forever.  

Key takeaways.

  • What are the differences between different strains?

    Different strains of magic mushrooms have varying levels of psilocybin and psilocin, they look different, have different environments, and different patterns of spore production. The effects produced by different strains also vary.

  • What are some popular strains of magic mushrooms?

    Some popular varieties include Golden Teacher, Amanita muscaria, African Transeki, and Amazonian cubensis.

  • How many strains of magic mushroom are there?

    There are literally millions of strains of magic mushrooms. Believe it or not, we still don’t know many of the species that exist. That’s why you should never go mushroom hunting without a mycologist!

Just like with cannabis, there are many different species and strains of magic mushrooms. It’s worth noting that there are really only two species of cannabis, but many strains. With magic mushrooms, there are many species, and within those species, many different strains. 

You might have heard of Psilocybe cubensis or Amanita muscaria; these are two different species of magic mushrooms. But when we’re talking about Golden Teachers or Amazonian Cubensis, we’re talking about different strains of Psilocybe cubensis. 

We’ll go through the difference between species and strains in this article before sharing a little bit about the many varieties of magic mushrooms. Understanding a little bit of taxonomy helps to avoid confusion when talking about specific strains and species, and it will also make you feel like a little bit of a mycologist!

Understanding hierarchies; the difference between species and strains.

A painting of an amanita muscaria mushroom.
@teresaortegaart

In taxonomy of virtually any living organism on earth, there’s a taxonomical hierarchy. It goes in the order of Kingdom → Phylum → Subphylum → Class → Order → Family → Genus → Species.

For the purpose of naming magic mushrooms, we’re most interested in the genus and species. To understand this, we can look at Psilocybe cubensis and Psilocybe subaeruginosa. In these two species, the genus is Psilocybe. However, it’s their species that differ, one being cubensis and the other being subaeruginosa. 

A strain is something like a phenotype. It means that the organism is the same genus and species, but because it grows in different conditions, it has small variations in chemical composition. Strains can also be produced by crossing with other strains and can then be stabilised and grown in any optimum conditions consistently (this is exactly what we do with cannabis strains!). 

To understand the concepts of strains, let’s look at the example we gave early in the article. Amazonian Cubensis and Golden Teachers are both Psilocybe cubensis species of mushrooms. However, they vary in chemical composition and give a slightly different effect, so we refer to them as different strains of the same species of magic mushrooms.

Is there a difference between strains? Yes — absolutely. Much like cannabis, magic mushrooms have an entourage effect which means that the different ratios of compounds produce different effects. Some might be more visual while others might be more physical. Some are stronger than others, making them less appropriate for beginners, and so on. For more detailed information on dosing, check out our Magic Mushroom dosage guide.

Let’s check out some of the different species and strains of magic mushrooms and what they’re all about!

Disclaimer.

This is just an informational article about the different varieties of magic mushrooms. This is not a guide for picking mushrooms. Only mycologists should go out and pick mushrooms. We don’t recommend going out to identify mushrooms beyond pure leisure, as it’s very easy to accidentally pick a poisonous mushroom. Please do not use this as a guide for picking mushrooms.

1. Golden Teachers — Psilocybe cubensis.

A close up photograph of Golden Teacher magic mushrooms
@jesterpants

Golden Teachers are a strain of Psilocybe cubensis, and are marked by their golden top with little white spots. They’re given their name because they are “enlightening” in a gentle teacher kind of way. 

The stems of Golden Teachers are quite thick, often growing in families. As they mature, the intensity of the golden top starts to fade, so it’s said that they’re at their biggest when the veils open up and start to drop spores.

Golden Teachers are good for beginners because they’re gentle on the psychedelia. There’s still a strong effect, but it seems they’re much better tolerated by beginners than other, stronger species of Psilocybe. 

You can pick up Golden Teachers at the My Supply Co. store here.

2. Amazonian Cubensis — Psilocybe cubensis.

A close up of Amazonian Cubensis magic mushrooms
@unsocialconstructs

The Amazonian Cubensis has a thicker, fatter stem than the Golden Teachers and is quite fleshy. It’s primarily distributed in Central and South America but is now cultivated around the world. Amazonians are among the more potent varieties within Psilocybe cubensis.

This strain of Psilocybe might elicit more “wild”, “savage” feelings of enlightenment than Golden Teachers, which are typically much more gentle. They’re strong with heavier visuals than other, lighter varieties of Psilocybe too. 

Dosing is recommended with caution for Amazonians unless you’re already heavily experienced in magic mushrooms. 

You can pick up Amazonian Cubensis at the My Supply Co. store here.

3. African Transeki — Psilocybe cubensis.

A photograph of African transeki magic mushrooms.
Source: Mycotopia.net

As their name suggests, African Transkei’s hail from the African continent, South Africa to be specific. It’s the first strain of magic mushrooms to originate in Africa and be circulated around the world for cultivation. 

When Transeki’s are young, they make bright orange caps but as they mature they turn white, so you might notice slightly different colouring on dried African Transekis. 

Most lovers of African Transki mushrooms are those that love strong, psychedelic, visual effects. Less physical than other strains of magic mushrooms, African Transekis compensate with some of the strongest visuals. 

Beginners should beware with their dosing of African Transekis because they can easily become “too much”.

Find African Transeki mushrooms at the My Supply Co. store here.

4. Fly Agaric — Amanita muscaria.

An illustration of an Amanita muscaria mushroom.
@haysillustrations

Throughout the temporal and northern regions of the northern hemisphere, Amanita muscaria grows wild. It was introduced by accident to the Southern Hemisphere and now grows almost anywhere the conditions will allow it. It’s the characteristic Christmas mushroom with a big red cap, covered in white spots.

Amanita muscaria are actually toxic if consumed fresh, out of the ground. It’s rumoured that drinking the pee of reindeer that consume the Amanita is safe, but there are also other safe ways it’s prepared. The toxic compounds of Amanita muscaria mushrooms are water soluble, so boiling them in a lot of water for a longer period of time leeches them out.

Toxicity is quite common with Amanitas, so they’re very rarely (if ever) available for commercial sale. It’s actually possible to die if they aren’t prepared correctly, so they’re left out of commercial circulation all together. We also don’t recommend walking down the road of Amanita muscaria mushrooms unless you’re doing it with someone who has had a lot of experience using this species of magic mushroom.

5. Blue Meanies — Panaeolus Cyanescens.

Blue Meanies mushrooms growing in a grow tub.
Source: Botanical Shaman

Blue Meanies are another, all together different species of magic mushroom. Rather than growing on thick stems, Blue Meanies grow on thin, wiry stems and have a narrow, almost pointy, white cap. They look considerably different to Psilocybe species.

Blue Meanies get their name because they are super potent — so they’re not considered the most friendly bunch. They’re considered among the most potent strains of magic mushrooms in the world, with almost twice the psilocybin content of other common mushroom species.

Get your hands on Blue Meanies at the My Supply Co. store here.

6. Psilocybe azurescens.

An image of psilocybe azurescens in the forest.
@cowlitzgatherer

Psilocybe azurescens is a species of magic mushroom local to Canada. Though they originated in Oregon, they’ve spread across the Pacific West since the 80s. This species of mushrooms is a particularly wood loving species, preferring to grow on tanbark, under trees, and typically around the forest (in contrast to many other species which grow under cow dung).

It’s also thought that Psilocybe azurescens have stronger psilocybin and psilocin levels than other Psilocybes. 

Interestingly, Psilocybe azurescens is able to produce a phenomenon called “wood lovers paralysis”. This is a transient form of muscle paralysis that only happens to some people, some of the time with wood loving species. It most commonly occurs with Psilocybe azurescens and Psilocybe cyanescens (not to be confused with Panaeolus cyanescens). 

This strain is really only recommended for experienced mushroom users, if ever you come across it. The paralysis that is sometimes associated with Psilocybe azurescens is transient, and shouldn’t cause any concern.

7. Liberty Caps — Psilocybe semilanceata. 

An illustration of liberty caps magic mushrooms
@marenanne.art

By comparison, Liberty Caps look much more like Blue Meanies than they do Golden Teachers. But they have a noticeably yellowish, pointy cap that is pale everywhere except for the tip. They love to grow on grassy fields but aren’t associated with cow dung.

Overall, people consider Liberty Caps to be pretty strong, but also friendly. According to some old research, Liberty Caps were considered among the strongest Psilocybes. However, that research took place in the 70s when fewer species of magic mushroom had been identified. 

8. Teonanacatl/Mexicana — Psilocybe mexicana.

A cllose up of the underside of a psilocybe mexicana magic mushroom
@the_psilocybe_project

This species within the Psilocybe genus, as its name suggests, is native to Mexico. Its Aztec name (teonanacatl) literally translate to God-mushroom, or flesh of the Gods. It was used traditionally by the Aztec people for entheogenic purposes. It was this species of psilocybin mushroom that was used to isolate psilocybin and psilocin for the first time — it’s got quite the place in history.

In terms of appearance, they look a lot like Liberty Caps and Blue Meanies. The journey is strongly enlightening, much like Golden Teachers, but they also bring on a very visual experience too. It’s recommended that beginners start with a lower dose of Mexicana.

Pick up Mexicana mushrooms at the My Supply Co. store here.

There’s literally thousands more.

This is not an exhaustive list of magic mushroom species around the world. In fact, there are thousands more. One of the ongoing issues in mycology is the inability to identify varieties and strains. We are only aware of a small number of fungi species in the grand scheme of things.

Each part of the world typically has its own strains of magic mushrooms. Thanks to cultivation, we now have access to some of the world’s native strains, like those listed in this article. So this article gives you a small peek into the colourful world of fun-guys.

What are your favourite strains and species of magic mushrooms? Let us know in the comments.