What is Psilocybin and what are its effects?


What is psilocybin?

  • Name: Psilocybin, four-PO-DMT
  • F0rmula: C12H17N2O4P
  • IUPAC name: [3-(2-dimethylaminoethyl)-1H-indol-4-il] dihydrogen phosphate
  • Molecular weight: 284,25 g/mol
  • Melting point: 220-228ºC

Psilocybin and psilocin (an alkaloid derived from the former) are psychoactive compounds discovered in a lot of species of fungi (estimated at 200 species), which includes the preferred Psilocybe Cubensis. In some regions of the planet, the use of this variety of mushroom dates back millennia, either in a recreational or a spiritual type, specially in ritualistic and shamanic contexts. In addition, as we will see later, these entheogens – like a lot of other people – can also be utilised for medicinal purposes, and can be helpful to treat ailments such as anxiousness or depression.

At the finish of the decade of the 50s, employing Mexican Psilocybes, the reputed Swiss scientist Albert Hoffman not only managed to isolate psilocybin and psilocin whilst functioning at Sandoz laboratories, but also produced a way to generate it synthetically. Usually, psilocybin fungi are these that include this alkaloid compound.

Psilocybin molecule

Magic mushrooms &amp psilocybin

In truth, a huge quantity of mushrooms – normally referred to as magic or hallucinogenic – share as a prevalent function the presence of psilocybin in varying concentrations. There are about 200 basidiomycete fungi that include it, and can be discovered naturally in regions of America, Europe and Asia. Naturally, these mushrooms have been utilised for centuries as a way to “expand the spirit” in the field of shamanism, psychonautics or psychedelic therapy, and in current years they have turn into obtainable to develop at property simply thanks to the mushroom cultivation kits obtainable on the industry.

The psilocybin and psilocin content material of mushrooms will differ based on the species, despite the fact that on typical they ordinarily make up amongst .1 and 1% of the weight of dry mushrooms. Usually, psilocybin is consumed orally by ingesting mushrooms, either fresh or dried if improperly stored when dry, psilocybin degrades swiftly, and will barely stay following a couple of weeks. If, on the other hand, the dried mushrooms are stored appropriately, they can stay steady for months.

As we will see under, its effects have led to it becoming a substance with a wide tradition of use in spiritual and religious contexts, consumed as aspect of rituals in order to attain a state of consciousness that permits us to journey on the spiritual plane. The Aztec culture, for instance, boasts a excellent tradition in the use of these mushrooms for ritual purposes, which it calls teonanácatl.

Psilocybe Cubensis in its natural habitat

Psilocybe Cubensis in its all-natural habitat

Of course, these effects are also extensively enjoyed in a recreational context, specially preferred for the duration of the hippie movement of the 1960s. Having said that, there are a wide variety of attainable therapeutic or medicinal utilizes that can be offered to these compounds, which implies that presently they are firmly in the sights of the scientific neighborhood.

Effects of psilocybin

Psilocybin is a prodrug, which implies that once ingested it is transformed into psilocin inside the organism. It is absorbed by way of the mouth and stomach, and its effects are ordinarily felt amongst 10 and 40 minutes following ingestion, with a variable duration (two-five hours or far more) that depends on components such as dose, the species of mushroom or one’s personal tolerance. For this purpose it is constantly advisable to consume a quite tiny quantity the very first time to assess the impact accomplished and decide irrespective of whether a larger dose should really be utilised subsequent time. As soon as absorbed, it is metabolised primarily in the liver exactly where it is converted into psilocin, which in turn is degraded by an enzyme and converted into metabolites that are added to the blood plasma. Its hallucinogenic effects are connected to the agonist impact of psilocin on one neurotransmitter in unique: serotonin.

Usually, tolerance to psilocybin develops and diminishes swiftly only needing a couple of consecutive days of consuming mushrooms to create up this tolerance, whilst following a couple of days of abstinence it will dissipate, as soon as once again providing the identical impact as prior to building tolerance. It is crucial to mention that quite a few research have concluded that this substance does not provoke any variety of physical dependence, which is constantly superior news for each the recreational/spiritual customer as nicely the therapeutic user.

Psychedelic therapy is the use of hallucinogenic substances in psychotherapy

Psychedelic therapy is the use of hallucinogenic substances in psychotherapy

As with other so-referred to as hallucinogenic substances like mescaline or LSD, the impact can differ considerably based on components such as the atmosphere or context, the business about us, and our personal state of thoughts. This is one thing that the very first psychologists studying this variety of compounds (which includes the famously controversial Timothy Leary) focused significantly of their investigation on, since they quite rapidly realised the huge value of what they referred to as set and setting  when modulating the impact of these substances. Right after their research, Leary and his colleagues at Harvard concluded that psilocybin increases an individual’s suggestibility, escalating their receptivity to stimuli, one thing that Berge (1999) corroborated. In this way, components such as the dose or the variety of fungus will be as crucial as the set and setting, that is, each the atmosphere and context in which the mushrooms are taken, as nicely as the individual’s personal mood or state of thoughts.

Effects such as an “amplified” perception of colours or geometric shapes are frequent in low doses, providing far more of a distortion of reality rather than a hallucination itself. You can expertise a feeling of euphoria, but also depression or lethargy. Normally, specially in the recreational field, a spiritual connection is felt amongst the men and women with these sharing the journey, building a sort of synergy amongst the participants of the session. When you close your eyes, you can normally see a carousel of shapes and colours, and you can expertise the sensation of “seeing music and sounds”, which is recognized as synesthesia.

These psychedelic journeys are often referred to as doors to another reality

These psychedelic journeys are normally referred to as portals to other realities

With larger doses the impact is longer lasting, and the distortions can give way to hallucinations, which can be visual, auditory, tactile… It is not uncommon for the expertise to go from a far more social level (as in the case of low doses) to a far more introspective phase, far more entheogenic and meditative, with even mystical overtones. There may possibly also be a modulating impact on the perception of time, in which the present may possibly be perceived as eternal, or give the impression of possessing entered a temporal loop. Of course, and based on components such as these we have currently observed, there is constantly the possibility be a “bad trip”, in which the individual suffers from anxiousness, depression, dysphoria or even panic. For this purpose, any superior psychonaut will know the most effective moment for this sort of expertise, and also know when it is most effective to leave it for one more time if they do not really feel ready, or can see that the atmosphere will not be conducive to possessing the preferred expertise.

Psilocybin to treat addictions, depression or anxiousness

The quantity of research on the use of psilocybin for the therapy of different ailments or problems is steadily escalating. Even though the very first actions into investigation have been taken in the 1960s, this was stopped due to the strict laws controlling this variety of substances, which grew significantly harsher for the duration of the following decade. It was not till the twentieth century was pretty much more than that this compound as soon as once again discovered itself the concentrate of interest from physicians and researchers.

Psilocybe Colombiana

Colombian Psilocybe

Even though psilocybin has been utilised medicinally in specific cultures for centuries, in most nations it has barely been studied at all, due to its legal status. Having said that, modern day health-related investigation is increasingly conscious of the rewards that its use can offer you in the therapy of some situation, specially when employing micro-doses. Let’s have a appear at some examples.

A study by Imperial College London published in the journal Scientific Reports in 2017 concluded that psilocybin had been beneficial for the therapy of depression in sufferers for whom traditional therapies had failed. Right after checking the brain photos prior to and following, they observed a series of adjustments in the activity of brain regions that precisely manage the blood flow in the amygdala, a area involved in the manage of anxiousness or pressure. According to Robin Carhart-Harris, co-author of this study, for the very first time there was an pretty much quick improvement in the symptoms connected to depressive states. Applying laptop models, psilocybin appears to “reset” the brain in circumstances of depression, one thing never before observed.

Psilocybin alters brain activity, and is very helpful for treating depression

Psilocybin alters brain activity, and is quite valuable for treating depression (Supply: MedicalXpress)

Comparable final results have been obtained by Roland Griffiths and his group in a clinical investigation carried out at Johns Hopkins University in New York, exactly where they found that a single dose of psilocybin had ostensibly decreased symptoms of depression and anxiousness in a group of cancer sufferers. Having said that, health-related investigation goes additional than depression and anxiousness, other research have shown promising final results when employing psilocybin to treat drug addictions, obsessive-compulsive problems, migraines and headaches (it seems to be specially beneficial for one particular of the most devastating varieties of headache, cluster headaches).

There’s no doubt in our minds that we will absolutely be hearing far more about psilocybin in a health-related context more than the subsequent couple of years, as the final results obtained so far have shocked even the most optimistic of researchers.

We’ll hold you informed!


  • Clinical prospective of psilocybin as a therapy for mental wellness situations, J. Daniel, M. Haberman
  • Response of cluster headache to psilocybin and LSD, Sewell RA, Halpern JH, Pope HG Jr.
  • Psilocybin und Psilocin, zwei psychotrope Wirkstoffe aus mexikanischen Rauschpilzen, A. Hofmann R. Heim A. Brack H. Kobel A. Frey H. Ott Th. Petrzilka F. Troxler
  • LSD and Psilocybin for Cluster Headaches: Stopping Discomfort, Saving Lives, R. Wold
  • Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiousness in sufferers with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial, Roland R Griffiths, Matthew W Johnson, Michael A Carducci, Annie Umbricht, William A Richards, Brian D Richards, Mary P Cosimano and Margaret A Klinedinst
  • Psilocybin for depression and anxiousness related with life-threatening illnesses, J. McCorvy, R. Olsen, B. Roth
  • Pilot Study of Psilocybin Remedy for Anxiousness in Sufferers With Sophisticated-Stage Cancer, C. Grob, A. L. Danforth, G. S. Chopra, G. R. Greer
  • Psilocybin for therapy-resistant depression: fMRI-measured brain mechanisms, Robin L Carhart-Harris, Leor Roseman, Mark Bolstridge, Lysia Demetriou, J Nienke Pannekoek, Matthew B Wall, Mark Tanner, Mendel Kaelen, John McGonigle, Kevin Murphy, Robert Leech, H Valerie Curran, David J Nutt
  • Lengthy-term adhere to-up of psilocybin-facilitated smoking cessation, M. W. Johnson, A. Garcia-Romeu, R. R. Griffiths
  • Effects of psilocybin in obsessive-compulsive disorder: An update, C. Wiegand
  • Psilocybin, L. Jerome
  • Security, Tolerability, and Efficacy of Psilocybin in 9 Sufferers With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, F. Moreno, C. B. Wiegand, E. K. Taitano, P. Delgado
  • Psilocybin-assisted therapy for alcohol dependence: A proof-of-notion study, Michael P Bogenschutz, Alyssa A Forcehimes, Jessica A Pommy, Claire E Wilcox, PCR Barbosa, Rick J Strassman
  • Classic hallucinogens in the therapy of addictions, Michael P. Bogenschutz, Matthew W. Johnson


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