Worldwide, there are 140 species of genus Psilocybe about 80 have hallucinogenic properties; the most familiar species being: P. baeocystis, caerulescens, cubensis, cyanescens, mexicana, pelliculosa, semilanceata and stuntzii.
The major psychoactive principle in Psilocybe mushrooms is Psilcybin , 4-phosphoryloxy-N,N dimethyltryptamine.
It has an effect on a large number of reactions, and influences the cells, tissues and organs of the entire body. Not one of these reactions have been accepted as the primary one, so it seems likely that psilcybin owes its unique activity to its interference in many places in the biochemistry of the body. Since psilocybin is a tryptamine derivate, it is structurally related to the neurohormone serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine). Serotonin is widely distributed in warm-blooded animals. It accumulates in the brain where it playes a role in the biochemistry of central nervous regulations. The structurally similarity between psilocybin and the neurohormone serotonin might explain the hallucinogenic activity by mutual influence on the active sites of the central nervous system. (see bottom of page for more detail)
Ascorbic acid ( vitamin c ) doesn't change the intensity of the experience, but it alters it's quality. One can concentrate better, develop less paranoia and is also less tired at the end of the experience. Cannabis usually produces a positive feeling. Sedatives and tranquilizers antagonize the psilocybin effect. The intensity and the duration of the experience are decreased very effectively. Nonstimulant tranquilizers, like chlorpromazine and sodium amytal have been used most frequently. Glucose ( sugar ) is less effective than any of the tranquilizers in modifying the experience. The main activators of the psilocybin reaction are sympathomimetic amines ( amphetamine and it's derivates ), substances that activate the sympathetic nervous system, and MAO-inhibitors ( antidepressiva and harmala alkaloids ). MAO-inhibitors reduce the productivity of Mono Amine Oxidase, the primary inactivation pathway for most tryptamines. High doses of cannabis can intensify the experience
Hallucinogenic mushrooms have been part of human culture as far back as the earliest recorded history. Ancient paintings of mushroom-ed humanoids have been found in caves in the Saharan desert. Central and Southern America cultures built temples to mushroom gods and carved "mushroom stones". These stone carvings in the shape of mushrooms, or in which figures are depicted under the cap of a mushroom, have been dated to as early as 1000-500 B.C. The purpose of the sculptures is not certain, but these stones may have been religious objects.
The Mixtec culture of central Mexico worshipped many gods, one known as Piltzintecuhtli, or 7 Flower (his name presented in the pictoral language as seven circles and a flower) who was the god for hallucinatory plants, especially the divine mushroom. The Vienna Codex (or Codex Vindobonensis) (ca 13th-15th century) depicts the ritual use of mushrooms by the Mixtec gods, showing Piltzintecuhtli and 7 other gods holding mushrooms in their hands.
The Aztec people had a closely related god of the entheogens. Xochipilli, Prince of Flowers, was the divine patron of "the flowery dream" as the Aztecs called the ritual hallucinatory trance. The Aztecs used a number of plant hallucinogens including psilocybian mushrooms (teonanácatl), morning glory seeds, Salvia divinorum, Datura (tlapatl or toloache) , Peyote (peyotl), and mixitl grain. Psilocybian mushrooms were used in ritual and ceremony, served with honey or chocolate at some of their holiest events.
With Cortez's defeat of the Aztecs in 1521, the Europeans began to forbid the use of non-alcohol intoxicants, including sacred mushrooms, and the use of teonanácatl ('wondrous mushroom', or 'flesh of the gods') was driven underground.
In the mid 16th century, Spanish priest Bernardino de Sahagún wrote of the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms by the Aztecs in his Florentine Codex :
"The first thing to be eaten at the feast were small black mushrooms that they called nanacatl and bring on drunkenness, hallucinations and even lechery; they ate these before the dawn...with honey; and when they began to feel the effects, they began to dance, some sang and others wept... When the drunkenness of the mushrooms had passed, they spoke with one another of the visions they had seen."
According to Sahagún, the psychoactive mushrooms which were ingested by the Aztec priests and their followers were always referred to as teonanácatl though the term does not appear to be used by modern indians or shamans in mesoamerica. The varieties most likely to have been used by the Aztecs are Psilocybe caerulescens and Psilocybe mexicana. Psilocybe cubensis, which is currently quite popular as it is easy to locate and cultivate, was not introduced to America until the arrival of the Europeans and their cattle.
During the early 20th century there was dispute amongst western academics as to whether psychoactive mushrooms existed. Though Sahagun had mentioned teonanácatl in his diaries, an American botanist William Safford argued he had mistaken dried peyote buttons for mushrooms. This theory was strongly disputed by Austrian amateur botanist Dr. Blas Pablo Reko, who had lived in Mexico. Reko was convinced that not only did teonanacatl refer to psychoactive mushrooms as Sahagun had written, but that people were still using these mushrooms in Mexico.
In the early 30's, Robert Weitlaner, an Australian amateur anthropologist witnessed a Mazatec mushroom ceremony (velada) just northeast of Oaxaca, Mexico. After hearing about the dispute between Safford and Reko, he contacted Reko, told him that the Otomi Indians of Puebla used mushrooms as inebriants, and sent him samples of the mushrooms. Reko forwarded the samples to Stockholm for chemical analysis, and to Harvard for botanical examination, but by the time the samples arrived they were too decayed to be properly identified.
The samples had been received at Harvard by ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes. Schultes quickly became a supporter of the idea that Teonanácatl did indeed refer to mushrooms and in the Harvard Botanical Museum Leaflets of April and November 1937 he argued against Safford's conclusions and urged that further work be done to identify the mushrooms. In 1938, Schultes and Reko went to Mexico and after hearing reports of Mazatec veladas near Huautla de Jimenéz northeast Oaxaca and collected specimens of Panaeolus sphinctrinus, which was reported to be the primary psychoactive mushroom used by the Mazatecs. They also collected Psilocybe cubensis, Psilocybe caerulescens, and possibly a few specimens of Psilocybe mexicana, all of which were deposited in the Harvard herbarium. While P. sphincrinus was identified as psychoactive, only two analysis have since detected indole alkaloids in the species, while hundreds of other analyses have not detected any activity whatsoever. The mushrooms which were examined were probably a mixed collection labeled as one species.
The investigations of Schultes and Reko came to an end during World War II, and little more was learned until the early 1950's when amateur mycologist R. Gordon Wasson, and his wife Valentina Povlovna, became interested in the traditional use of mushrooms in Mexico. In 1953 Wasson and a small group travelled to Huautla de Jimenéz where they observed an all night ceremony under the guidance of a shaman named Don Aurelio. Two subsequent trips to Mexico led to meeting the Mazatec curandera Maria Sabina who on June 29th 1955 provided Wasson and his companion photographer Allan Richardson with Psilocybe caerulescens during a Velada.
In 1956, Heim requested help from Sandoz in extracting the active ingredients of the mushrooms. Albert Hofmann, a research chemist at Sandoz, soon isolated psilocybin and psilocin and developed a synthesis technique. Wasson continued to travel to Oaxaca over the next few years, and with Roger Heim published a description of the Mazatec velada and seven varieties of psilocybian mushrooms in the May 13, 1957 issue of Life magazine. Popular information about the mushrooms soon spread. Experimentation with the mushrooms and the synthesized substances began and "magic mushrooms" were soon part of the 60's 'psychedelic' movement.
The name of the genus "Psilocybe" comes from the Greek words "psilos" (bare) and "kube" (head), warped into New Latin to form "psilocybe". Literally translated, this means "bare head", most likely referring to their appearance.
The most psychoactive compounds found in Psilocybe mushrooms are psilocybin and psilocin, which are discussed at length in the next part. The original Greek spellings for these are "psilocybin" and "psilocin" while the Latin spellings are "psilocybine" and "psilocine". Both sets of spellings are used. The Latin spellings are predominant in Europe, while most scholars in the field prefer the Greek spellings.
The primary active ingredients of Psilocybe mushrooms are psilocybin and psilocin, and to a lesser extent baeocystin and norbaeocystin. The ratio of psilocybin to psilocin varies from species to species. The primary difference between the two compounds is that psilocin is unstable and breaks down when the mushroom is dried, while psilocybin lasts much longer (a 115-year old mushroom sample was found to contain some). The two are equally psychoactive, since one molecule of psilocybin breaks down into one molecule of psilocin. But in terms of weight, we find that:
molecular weight of psilocybin 284.3
------------------------------ = ----- = 1.391
molecular weight of psilocin 204.3
So by weight psilocin is around 1.4 times more potent. The formula for calculating total potency, ignoring [nor]baeocystin, is thus:
(psilocybin) + (1.4 * psilocin) = total potency in 'psilocybin units'
Psilocybin and psilocin are part of the tryptamine family (indole C8H7N & ethylamine side chain). Psilocybin is soluable in 20 parts water, while psilocin is only slightly soluable in water.8 They bear close resemblance to the neurotransmitter serotonin. How these substances work is still quite obscure. Primary effect seems to be the inhibition of neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine aka 5-HT), i.e. a 5-HT2A post-synaptic agonist that mimics the effects to 5-HT to put it in jargon. This is the working hypothesis for LSD-25 at the moment and it's probably true for psilocybin as well. These substances also present some cross-tolerance.
Psilocybin, psilocin and psilocybian mushrooms have very low toxicity - in tests with mice, doses up to 200 mg of pure psilocybin/kg of body weight have been injected intravenously without lethal effects (that would be 13 grams of pure psilocybin per average human (65 kg / 140 lbs). The ED50:LD50 ratio is 641 according to the NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects; compare this with 9637 for vitamin A, 4816 for LSD, 199 for aspirin and 21 for nicotine. According to Leo Hollister, Jonathon Ott, and John W. Allen, one would have to consume their body weight in fresh mushrooms or eat approximately 19 grams of the pure chemical substance to bring on death. As long as Psilocybin mushrooms are properly identified, poisoning is not a problem.
*Info derived from various sources*
Amanita Muscaria aka. the 'Fly agaric' is probably the most iconised and well- known fungus in the world owing to it's widespread distribuition, unmistakable red spotted cap and 'magikal' properties. It contains a number of hallucinogenic constituents: ibotenic acid,(alpha-amino3-hydroxy-5-isoxazole acetic acid), muscimol, muscazone and muscarine, of which muscimol (3hydroxy-5-aminomethy-1 isoxazole, an unsaturated cyclic hydroxamic acid) is the most significant. Muscarine, discovered in 1869, was long thought to be the active hallucinogenic agent in A. muscaria until late 1960s, when scientists recognized it as ibotenic acid and muscimol.
This mushroom, like its psychoactive relatives the Psilocybe species, has been used as an entheogen in rituals to communicate to the spirit world, largely in Siberia, with some reported incidents elsewhere in the northern hemisphere. Mesoamericans never consumed fly agaric for religion, but instead use Psilocybe. Psilocybe and Amanita are not chemically related with regard to their psychoactive properties and therefore produce markedly different psychoactive effects.
The active ingredient is excreted in the urine of those consuming the mushrooms, and it has sometimes been the practice for a shaman to consume the mushrooms, and the rest of the tribe to drink his urine: the shaman, in effect, partially detoxifying the drug (the sweat- and twitch-causing muscarine is absent in the urine). This was also not an uncommon practice in Siberia, where the poor would consume the urine of the wealthy, who could afford to buy the mushrooms. If a fly agaric is eaten, it is usually not fresh, but in its sun-dried form, where the hallucinogenic chemicals are more concentrated (ibotenic acid converted to the more stable and far less poisonous muscimol).
Koryak Siberians have a story about the fly agaric (wapaq) which enabled Big Raven to carry a whale to its home. In the story, the deity Vahiyinin ("Existence") spat onto earth, and his spittle became the wapaq, and his saliva becomes the warts. After experiencing the power of the wapaq, Raven was so exhilarated that he told it to grow forever on earth so his children, the people, can learn from it.
Amanita muscaria is widely thought to be the Soma talked about in the Hindu scriptures, and is less often also thought to be the amrita talked about in Buddhist texts.
The notion that Nordic Vikings used Amanita muscaria to produce their berserker rages was first suggested by the Swedish professor Samual Ödman in 1784. Ödman based his theory on reports about the use of fly agaric among Siberian shamans. The notion has become widespread since the 19th century, but no contemporary sources mention this use or anything similar in their description of berserkers. Today, it is generally considered an urban legend or at best speculation that cannot be proven.
A. Muscaria grows widely almost everywhere in the northern hemisphere and grows in symbiosis with arboreal trees such as Birch, Pine or Fir. It is listed as poisonous in most mycology sources and it's use is not common because it's effects can be somewhat unpleasant, though it has been used traditionally by a number of cultures. There are conflicting reports on whether there has ever been an A. muscaria caused fatality. It may be poisonous at high doses or to sensitive individuals.
Many people recommend starting quite low when first working with Amanita muscaria, especially with an untested variety. Usually 1 small to medium cap is recommended as a starting dose. Once the strength of a given sample is known, many people recommend 1-5 caps totaling 5-20 grams of dried material.
The potency of individual A. muscaria mushrooms is highy variable, seemingly dependent upon the season in which they are picked and significant regional variations Mushrooms from the same area in different seasons may have different effects (ratio of nausea/body effects to mental / entheogenic effects).
"The most powerful mushrooms were picked in the middle of August when the season was beginning. In the mushroom picked in September the narcotic and physical effects were predominant whereas in August the "visionary" and psychedelic effects were more highlighted. " from Disembodied Eyes
The skin and they layer of material directly underneath is considered the most potent.
Origins of Use:
circa 5000-3000 BCE : The earliest evidence of Amanita muscaria use as an intoxicant is based on linguistic analysis of languages from northern Asia. Around 4000 BCE, the Uralic language split into two branches, both of which contain similar root words for inebriation. In some of these languages the root "pang" signifies both 'intoxicated' and the A. muscaria mushroom. These linguistic similarities suggest (but do not prove) that A. muscaria was known to be intoxicating before the languages split around 4000 BCE.
circa 1000-2000 BCE: Petroglyphs along the Pegtymel River which drains into the Arctic Ocean in north eastern Siberia "depict anthropomorphic figures with mushrooms appended to their heads." The Pegtymel river area is currently inhabited by the modern Chukchi culture who are known to have used A. muscaria as a traditional inebriant.
scriptures.high miniature statue of an Amanita muscaria dated to 100 AD found in Nayarit, Mexico, suggests A. muscaria may have been in use in coastal Mexico. Many other sculptures from Central and South America depict the ritual use of other psychoactive plants and mushrooms.
A. Muscaria in Afghanistan:
Several articles in AFGHANISTAN JOURNAL have previously dealt with the mycology of Afghanistan. These articles were at the cutting-edge of a broad, yet poorly understood area Đ one that has fallen into obscurity, but may hold a great deal of valuable information for mycologists, above all for ethnomycologists. While Geerken's first article represents one of the first listings of fungi endemic to the region, the second article, an exchange between Bleibinhaus and Geerken, covered questions about specific details of Geerken's article. These marginal contributions to the vast field of mycology ignored a significant aspect of the mycology of Afghanistan: that of the traditional use of hallucinogenic fungi, of which we obtained knowledge some years ago (1963) in the Shutul Valley. In the course of a number of several-day excursions (1963, 1964, 1965, 1969, and 1974) in the Shutul Valley (where, at the upper reaches, Shutuli survives as the lingua franca), we were able to question several older male inhabitants of this secluded mountain valley in detail about this hallucinogenic mushroom complex.
Amanita muscaria without question plays a cultic role in the folk medicine of the Shutul Valley. Inquiring about its occurrence and use, we have received information that the so-called "Raven's Bread", i.e., Amanita muscaria, is gathered in the late spring of wet years from moist eroded rock crevices and undergoes spontaneous drying in the blazing sun. In this way, the mushroom is almost permanently preserved, provided that strict drying of this hygroscopic material is ensured. Reduced to granulated form (we are even told of mushroom-grinding mills that were used for this in the past), A. muscaria is used by the inhabitants of the Shutul Valley as a stimulant. They boil the Amanita granules with fresh mountain snapweed (Impatiens noli-tangere subsp. montana) and soured goat-cheese brine, in this way producing the well-known specialty, Extract of Shutul (bokar). By mixing the mushroom with other substances, twice the amount of fluid is obtained from half the amount of mushrooms. In the hamlet of Qaf-e-Changar, at the upper reaches of the Shutul, the calyx-tips of seed-bearing flowers of the malign henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) are added to the Extract; it is used for purposes of therapeutic massage, coming into effect by means of transcutaneous stimulation.
Possible Physical Effects:
*Slightly blurred vision, watery eyes, increased salivation, runny nose.
*Some people experience moderate to extreme physical distress, usually focused on the stomach
*Nausea, overwhelming for some, mild for others, increases with dosage.
*Physical relaxation / dreamy-state
*Marked analgesia (pain relief)
*Muscle twitching and trembling (not convulsions)
*Loss of Equilibrium
*Pupil dilation, glassy eyed stare + Possible Mental Effects
*Euphoria: Feelings of peace and well being
*Sedative: Effects are somewhat sleepy or sedative. Others report excitation and extreme energy bursts (this may be a timing issue, see Stages, next).
*Stages: Some people describe three stages of effects: first the nausea / body effects stage, the second sedated / dreamy state, and the third stage during which the active psychedelic effects predominate.
*Dream State: (during the sedative effects) can be highly detailed, colorful, and have a great sense of clarity and lucidity. Some people describe these as being similar to Lucid Dreaming. Some describe them as Out of Body Experiences (OOBEs). As with normal dreams, the Amanita Dream State can consist of a wide variety of experiences.
*Body Perception: Effects often include dramatic shifts in body perception and motor skills: including perceived changes in size of body parts, increased strength, dizziness, clumsiness, change in proprioception.
*Internal Dialogue: Some people report a strong sense of an internal discussion, a feeling of being able to think through personal issues. Others report a significant reduction of internal dialogue, sense of peacefulness, and internal quiet.
*Synesthesia: is somewhat common, smelling words, tasting colors, etc.
*Clarity: Often no interference with memory or logic: many report strong "clarity of thought" and "stillness of mind". Others report mild to strong confusion.
* Internal Focus: Difficulty in focusing concentration on external tasks. Increased focus on internal imagination, imagery, day dreams.
*Sociability: Group interaction can become incoherent: "conversational weirdness", frequent changes in topic, "non-linear conversations"
*Sexual Feelings: Some people report increased sexual feelings, others report very unsexual emotional and sensual distance / coldness
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