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?
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:
- Loss of motor control, ranging from lack of coordination to complete paralysis
- Loss of motor function in the eyes and face
- Takes about 4-6 hours into the trip to start happening
- 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.
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.
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.