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Psilocybin and magic mushrooms

Psilocybin and magic mushrooms

The psilocybin It is a psychedelic substance produced by a wide variety of fungal species. The more than 200 kinds of fungi that are responsible for the production of psilocybin are known as a whole magic mushrooms or mushrooms. These powerful hallucinogens produce effects that alter the mind when consumed.

Content

  • 1 Characteristics of psilocybin
  • 2 Effects of Psilocybin
  • 3 Dangers of Psilocybin
  • 4 Physical and psychological dependence on Psilocybin

Characteristics of psilocybin

Psilocybin is a drug that is chemically extracted from fungi. It is not an over-the-counter medication, so people buy it in the form of dried or fresh mushrooms and sometimes in the form of capsules in powder form. The drug contains active hallucinogens, and the strength of the drug depends on the type of fungus and whether the drug comes from fresh or dried mushrooms.

Fungi have been used for centuries in Europe to celebrate spiritual and divinatory ceremonies to increase sensitivity and awareness. In fact, the images found in prehistoric murals and cave paintings in Spain and Algeria suggest that human use of mushrooms is much earlier than recorded history. During the sixties, the use of psilocybin also became popular in Latin American countries and especially in the United States. Today, many teenagers and young people look for magic mushrooms in an effort to produce the hallucinogenic and psychedelic effects that result from their consumption.

Psilocybin can be found in hundreds of species of fungi. These species are characterized by being dark spore fungi that grow in tropical and subtropical environments. They are found in meadows and forests, since these mushrooms grow mainly in wet areas, plagued with plant debris or compost.

Most people take psilocybin to feel more relaxed both mentally and physically. However, due to its hallucinogenic characteristics, the drug causes alterations in the mind, which causes people to lose their sense of reality. When someone ingests one of these mushrooms, psilocybin produces effects that alter the mind, similar to drugs such as mescaline and LSD. Psilocybin is classified as a hallucinogenic or psychedelic drug.

Psilocybin is a prodrug that, once ingested, the body quickly converts it into psilocin, chemical substance that produces euphoria, visual and mental hallucinations, changes in perception, a distorted sense of time and experiences that users describe as "spiritual." Unfortunately they can include adverse reactions, such as nausea and panic attacks.

Effects of Psilocybin

Like other types of hallucinogenic drugs, psilocybin can produce numerous euphoric and psychedelic effects. The intensity and duration of its effects are variable, depending on the species or type of fungal culture, as well as the dose, individual physiology and context.

Once ingested, psilocybin is rapidly metabolized to psilocin, which in turn acts on serotonin receptors in the brain. Its effects usually last between two and six hours, although for consumers the effects may seem much longer, since this drug can distort the perception of time.

Psilocybin has a low toxicity and harmful potential. Even so, possession of mushrooms containing psilocybin has been banned in most countries, and has been classified as a drug by most national anti-drug laws.

Cognitive effects

The effects of taking psilocybin may vary and often depend on the person and the context in which the medication is used. The most common effects are:

  • Relaxation
  • Hallucinations (more often visual, but can occur in any sensory domain)
  • Spiritual experiences
  • Intense emotions
  • Sensory experiences.
  • Synesthesia, which is the experience of mixed perceptions, such as seeing the sound or hearing the colors.
  • Changes in time perception
  • Psychological regression to previous experiences / states

Physical effects

  • Pupillary dilation
  • Changes in heart rate (increase or decrease)
  • Changes in blood pressure (hypotension or hypertension) and general instability
  • Sickness
  • Tremors
  • Dysmetria (inability to correctly direct or limit movements).

Temporary increases in blood pressure caused by the medication may be a risk factor for users with a history of preexisting hypertension.

Side effects

The reported side effects of psilocybin use include:

  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Severe anxiety that can manifest as panic attacks
  • Risk of having a "bad trip"
  • Excessive sweating
  • Irregular breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Blurry vision
  • Tremors
  • Coordination problems
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleep disorders
  • Impaired judgment and possibility of harming or even dying by accident

The effects of magic mushrooms cannot be anticipated until the substance has already been taken. Unfortunately, as with most hallucinogenic drugs, the effects of psilocybin are unreliable and unpredictable. Some users experience a pleasant sensation of spiritual or other euphoria, while others experience a "bad trip" that can cause them to suffer severe paranoid symptoms, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and chaos.

The effects of psilocybin are mostly short-lived. The compound tends to disappear in a few hours and no serious side effects are known. But there is a high risk of toxicity and the consumption of these fungi are potentially harmful despite not causing excessively serious side effects.

Long-term effects

The long-term effects associated with the use of psilocybin have not yet been well defined. Some sources suggest that there are few harmful long-term effects. However, cases have been reported in which a hallucinogen-induced persistent perception disorder. This is a clinical disorder that occurs in a small number of consumers of hallucinogens (about 4.2%), consists of suffering "flashbacks", which means that the person returns to experience the consumption of psilocybin despite not being taking it for quite some time. This can be distressing. and it can be misdiagnosed as schizophrenia, stroke (AVC), brain tumors or head trauma.

Little is known about the causes of this disorder, but it seems that it is more likely to occur in individuals who:

  • They have consumed hallucinogens repeatedly in the past.
  • They have used other drugs along with psilocybin, such as alcohol, marijuana or other hallucinogens.
  • Having a previous history of experiencing "bad trips."
  • Having a previous mental disorder, such as a panic disorder or a major depressive disorder.

Dangers of Psilocybin

The toxicity of the substance is the main potential danger when magic mushrooms are consumed. Although the lethal dose is relatively high, approximately 1.5 times higher than that of the caffeine, psilocybin can be deadly if enough mushrooms containing the drug are consumed.

If users consume mushrooms along with other drugs or when they suffer adverse reactions to this substance, they may require urgent medical care. But most of the time hospitalization occurs as a result of a "bad trip" or suffering from intense panic attack while under the influence of the drug. All these symptoms can lead to self-inflicted injuries, suicide or episodes of acute psychosis that represent a serious risk for the consumer or for others.

Physical and psychological dependence on Psilocybin

Physical dependence is not the same as addiction, and is a normal response to habitual drug use, even when taking a medication prescribed by a physician. The body adapts to the presence of the substance and withdrawal symptoms may occur when consumption ceases. A person addicted to a drug may be physically dependent, but the presence of physical dependence alone does not constitute an addiction..

Psychological dependence on drugs appears when people feel they should take the drug to deal with everyday stressors. Nevertheless, a purely psychological dependence does not produce the appearance of withdrawal symptoms in the same way as physical dependence. Unfortunately, this phenomenon serves as the basis for the compulsion to take the substance, as well as any mood swings that arise in the absence of the drug.

Apparently, the risk of developing a physical or psychological dependence on psilocybin is relatively low, although problematic use can be generated.

People who consume this substance on a recurring basis usually have the following characteristics:

  • They consume psilocybin as a kind of "help" to deal with everyday stressful events.
  • They think they work best when they are under the influence of the hallucinogen.
  • They take psilocybin when they experience stress.
  • They often get anxious, distressed or even depressed when they can't take psilocybin.
  • They often exhibit drug-seeking behaviors that may include risk and / or illegal activities to acquire the substances.

It may interest you: Ayahuasca or yagé

References

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016).Pharmacological data: hallucinogens .
  2. van Amsterdam, J., Opperhuizen, A., and van den Brink, W. (2011).Potential for damage from the use of magic mushrooms: a review. Regulatory toxicology and pharmacology , 59 (3), 423-429.
  3. Hasler, F., Grimberg, U., Benz, MA, Huber, T. and Vollenweider, FX (2004).Acute psychological and physiological effects of psilocybin in healthy humans: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-effect study . Psychopharmacology , 172(2), 145-156.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014).The science of drug abuse and addiction: the basics.