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Psilocybin and psilocin are the substances in magic mushrooms and truffles that provide the mind-altering effect they have on you. When you use a magic mushroom, these substances will interact with receptors in the brain. The effect is different for everyone, but hallucinations are common and affect your mood and thoughts. The effect is often positive, but that is not always the case. Then there is talk of a “bad trip”. The effect of psilocybin and psilocin lasts for about 6 to 8 hours.

The ingredients of magic mushrooms and truffles

Tripping is a special mental journey with using mushrooms. However, that is not possible with just any random mushroom. You need a mushroom of the genus Psilocybe for that. They grow all over the world, preferably in warm and humid places. Humanity uses magic mushrooms for thousands of years. At that time we didn't know what caused that effect. Now we know that: through psilocybin and psilocin. They ensure that we can travel to other dimensions and discover unknown sides of ourselves.

Psilocybe mushrooms therefore contain these two psychoactive substances. Each mushroom, and also different species among themselves, contain different amounts of the substances. Psilocybin and psilocin are both psychoactive, but psilocybin is the precursor to psilocin. Psilocin is unstable and breaks down when you dry the mushroom, but also under the influence of oxygen, heat and touch.

What psilocin does

In the brain, psilocin will connect with the serotonin receptors. The effect is noticeable in several ways, both physically and mentally. The trip is about to begin. The effects you will feel can be linked to where the different receptors are located in the brain. When the receptors in the cerebral cortex are stimulated, that is the reason that you feel an emotional response. For example, you may feel euphoric or calm and connected to everyone around you.

But your senses are also affected. People indicate that they hear, see, taste, smell and feel sharper. You can experience vivid hallucinations, experience time and space differently, and perceive the world in a whole new way. The experience can give you insights about yourself and the life you lead.

At a certain point, the effect of psilocin wears off. The substance is reabsorbed by the body. Psilocin is then excreted and your body then has to adapt to the new situation. Someone who has tripped feels this as "descending". You actually come back to Earth after your cosmonautical trip.

What happens when you ingest psilocybin

It turns out that the chemical composition of the mind-altering substances in magic mushrooms is very similar to the structure of our own body serotonin. This neurotransmitter is also called the happiness hormone. When you take a mushroom, the psilocybin has an effect on the serotonin receptors, giving you the special mind-altering effect.

First of all, you will eat the mushroom, and it will end up in your stomach. A mushroom or truffle contains more psilocybin than psilocin (because it usually breaks down faster). Your body will absorb and break down the psilocybin. This is done by the enzyme phosphatase. It changes the chemical structure of psilocybin by removing phosphorus, oxygen and hydrogen. This converts psilocybin into psilocin. It will be transported to the brain through the bloodstream. The effect of eating a magic mushroom can usually be felt within an hour.

Fascinating facts about psilocybin

  • You can find psychoactive mushrooms all over the world. The best known and most widely used is Psilocybe Cubensis.
  • In the Netherlands, we also know psychoactive mushrooms: the baldhead (Psilocybe semilanceata).
  • Sometimes mushrooms make in their mycelium (the white filamentous structure that forms underground) to paved areas. These are the magic truffles, which also contain (a lot of) psilocybin.
  • The use of magic mushrooms and truffles is not addictive. You can, however, build up tolerance to the substances, which is because your body adapts. You can prevent this by taking sufficient breaks in your use.
  • Did you know that you can not only take fascinating trips?
  • By using microdosing, you can reap the benefits, but you won't notice any mind-altering effects. 
  • There are almost 200 species of magic mushrooms and truffles known. 
  • Small amounts of psilocybin can stimulate your body to make new brain cells and repair damage, research shows.
Do you want to know more about the health benefits of psilocin? Click here!