Psilocybe cubensis is a species of mushroom that contains the psychedelic compounds psilocybin and psilocin. Here’s everything you need to know about Psilocybe cubensis, magic mushrooms and psychedelics.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding these mushrooms, as they can induce powerful altered states of consciousness. The appearance of Psilocybe cubensis can be a bit misleading as one might mistake it for any of a number of common lawn mushrooms. However, Psilocybe cubensis has unique features that set it apart from other mushrooms.

What Is Psilocibe Cubensis?

Psilocybe cubensis is a hallucinogenic mushroom with psilocybin and psilocin as its primary active chemicals.It is a fungus in the Hymenogastraceae family that was previously known as Stropharia cubensis and is widely distributed and easy to cultivate. It is the most popular psilocybin mushroom due to its wide range and ease of production. They are commonly called magic mushrooms, mushies, blues, shrooms, or gold tops.

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A Little Bit of History

The name Cubensis comes from Cuba where it was originally discovered. This mushroom widely grows across the United States and was once considered the primary source of Psilocybin in America. Albert Hofmann first synthesized psilocybin. Hofmann was studying enzymes in hopes of discovering a new antibiotic when he accidentally synthesized what would later become known as psilocybin and LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide). The two substances are structurally similar to other naturally-occurring compounds found in bacteria and fungi.

Religious Ceremonies and Medicinal Practices

However, psilocybin mushrooms have had numerous medicinal and religious uses in dozens of cultures throughout history and some cities and states allow using psilocybin in therapies. The fungus was used in religious ceremonies by the indigenous peoples of Siberia and by the Mazatec shamans of Mexico for healing and divination. It has also been used in ceremonial contexts in Africa, Bali, Cambodia, the Amazonian Basin, Europe, Japan, New Zealand, North America and Norway.

Psilocybin Effect

Psilocybin is a psychoactive compound found in over 200 species of mushrooms, commonly known as “magic mushrooms”. The most potent are members of the genus Psilocybe, such as P. azurescens, P. semilanceata, and P. cyanescens, but psilocybin has also been isolated from about a dozen other genera.

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How Does Psilocybin Affect The Brain?

As a prodrug, psilocybin is quickly converted by the body to psilocin, which has mind-altering effects similar (in some aspects) to those of LSD, mescaline, and DMT. In general, the effects include euphoria, visual and mental hallucinations, changes in perception, a distorted sense of time, and spiritual experiences. These symptoms typically begin twenty to ninety minutes after ingestion and last three to six hours depending on dosage and tolerance.

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Psychoactive Compounds

Psilocybe Cubensis is probably the most popular and well-known mushrooms that contains psilocybin that is used to induce psychedelic experiences. The main psychoactive compounds in this mushroom are:

  • psilocybin;
  • psilocin;
  • beocystin;
  • norbaecystin.

What Are Hallucinogenic Substances?

Hallucinogenics are the main class of drugs that fall under the umbrella of psychedelics. This includes LSD, Psilocybe mushrooms, DMT and other substances. While these drugs are illegal in most states and countries, they continue to be used illegally because of their psychedelic effects (i.e., altered states of consciousness).

Why Are Hallucinogens Used?

Hallucinogens can be used for a variety of purposes, including spiritual enlightenment. The term psychedelic comes from the idea that these drugs create hallucinations, which is why they have historically been classified as hallucinogens.

While there are many types of hallucinogens, there are only a few species of mushrooms that contain hallucinogenic compounds. For example, the mushroom known as Psilocybe cubensis contains psilocybin and psilocin, two compounds that produce hallucinogenic effects when ingested.

Habitat and Distribution of Psilocybe Cubensis

Psilocybe cubensis is a worldwide species, found across the world’s tropical regions, including Mexico, Central America’s Belize, Costa Rica, and Guatemala, the Caribbean islands of Cuba and the Dominican Republic, Guadelupe Island in Martinique, and Trinidad. They grow in Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. In the northern hemisphere, Psilocybe cubensis grows on cow (and occasionally horse) dung, sugar cane mulch, or rich pasture soil, and mushrooms appear from February to December in the north and November to April in the south. In Asia, the species tend to grow on buffalo dung.

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Gill edges are white. The hollow white stem is 2–6 in tall and 0.2–0 on thick, becoming pale yellow with age. The well-developed veil leaves a persistent white membranous ring whose surface usually becomes the same color as the gills because of falling spores. There is no distinctive odor to the mushroom, and its taste is farniaceous. The cap is 0.6-3.1 inches with a smooth, sticky surface. The color fades to yellowish or golden brown with age.

What Do Magic Mushrooms Do?

In general, small doses produce euphoria and visual hallucinations; moderate doses cause closed-eye visuals; high doses produce intense open-eye visuals and possible loss of basic motor skills and body control. High doses also may cause rapid mood swings, anxiety attacks, paranoia, panic attacks, delusions, depersonalization and psychosis. Other experiences include euphoria and the ability to see colors and geometric shapes when you close your eyes. Larger doses may cause you to lose control of your body and mind. You may experience anxiety, panic attacks, rapid mood swings, psychotic behavior, or psychosis (which is having a break from reality).

What Factors Determine the Experience?

Mushrooms can produce many different effects on your mental state. The effects of mushrooms are unpredictable and depend on factors such as where they were grown (different strains have different potencies), previous experiences with hallucinogens, dosage used, setting where used.

Psilocybin Doses

A single gram of dried Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms is consumed orally for a mild psychedelic experience, 0.25-1 gram is usually enough to create a modest effect, 1-2.5 grams is generally required to get a moderate impact, and 2.5 grams or more frequently produces strong effects. A high dose for most people is 3.5 dried grams (1/8 oz), which may produce a strong sensation; however, this is generally considered a normal dose among recreational users.

High Doses of Psilocybin

Doses above three grams are often overwhelming for many people. Doses as low as 0.25 grams have been reported to rarely create full-blown effects. Depending on the cubensis’ genotype, grow process, and individual, very high dosages may be overpowering. It is suggested that you avoid consuming wild mushrooms unless you are certain of their identity since they may be poisonous.

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Microdosing Magic Mushrooms

A very small dose (5 grams or less) of dried mushrooms typically produces mild hallucinogenic effects and may be known as a “mini-trip” or a “micro-dose. In contrast, high doses of these mushrooms could be quite intense, even terrifying; moderate doses (about 2 grams of dried mushrooms or about 25 milligrams of psilocybin) may produce strong visual hallucinations, disorientation and feelings of unreality.

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Why Microdosing?

Microdosing is the act of consuming sub-perceptual (unnoticeable) amounts of a psychedelic substance. Many individuals who have integrated microdosing psilocybin mushrooms into their weekly routine report higher levels of creativity, more energy, increased focus, and improved relational skills.

Where Do Shrooms Grow?

The preferred substrate for growing Psilocybe cubensis is a mixture of compost, manure and straw (you can also buy premade mushroom substrates). Psilocybe cubensis is most commonly found on pasture and parkland that has not been enriched with artificial fertiliser. Their distribution also coincides with the distribution of cattle.

The species do not grow on fresh dung, but instead grow on dung that has been aged and pasteurised by the sun and weather. The majority of Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms grow in pastures after the start of the rainy season when the temperature is between 15–35°C. They normally appear at night after a heavy rain.

How Did Psilocibe Cubensis Gain Popularity?

Magic mushrooms have gained popularity in recent years thanks to the decriminalization laws that have passed in some countries and states. Psilocybe cubensis, or psilocybin mushrooms, have been used in sacred ceremonies throughout history. In the 1960s, they were used by American psychiatrists as a tool to help patients with depression and anxiety. Now people are experimenting with psilocybe mushrooms recreationally because there are wide-ranging benefits.

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Medicinal Benefits

In recent years, recreational use of psilocybe mushrooms has become popular across the United States. But these fungi aren’t just for hippies and bored college students anymore. Research is showing that psilocybin can improve mood and function especially when used in conjunction with other healing practices. In recent years, though, they’ve been gaining popularity for their potential medical uses as well: They can help treat cancer-related anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even reduce symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Types of Mushrooms Containing Hallucinogens

There are many types of mushroom that contain psilocybin: Psilocybe mexicana, psychedelic mushrooms also known as “magic mushrooms,” which grow naturally in Mexico; hallucinogenic mushroom varieties found in Europe and North America; and Psilocybe cyanescens, a species that grows wild in many parts of the United States. 

Common Side Effects of Using Mushrooms

Hallucinogens are a class of drug whose primary action is to trigger psychedelic experiences via serotonin receptor agonism, causing thought and visual/auditory changes, and altered state of consciousness. Major psychedelic drugs include mescaline, LSD, psilocybin and DMT. Many psychedelic drugs are illegal worldwide under the UN conventions unless used in a medical or religious context. Despite these controls, recreational use of psychedelics is common. Common side effects of magic mushrooms and psilocybin include:

  • nausea;
  • panic attacks;
  • trouble concentrating;
  • sense of disconnectedness from the world or environment;
  • loss of appetite;
  • poor coordination;
  • dilated pupils;
  • increased heart rate;
  • muscle weakness;
  • dizziness.

Psychological Dependence

If you experience any of these side effects, it is important to seek medical help immediately. Magic mushrooms and psilocybin are not considered addictive, but some people may develop a psychological dependence on them. If you find that you are using them frequently or in large doses, it is important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional. There is a risk of developing psychosis or schizophrenia with long-term use of magic mushrooms or psilocybin. If you have a family history of mental illness, it is important to be aware of this before using magic mushrooms or psilocybin.

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How Magic Mushroom Are Used

There are several ways in which to consume magic mushrooms. The whole mushroom can be eaten raw, though many people find the taste unpleasant. They may be ingested with food or steeped in tea to make them more palatable. Many people choose to dry the mushrooms and then grind them into a powder that can be easily added to foods or drinks. Some users prefer to extract the psilocybin from the mushrooms by making a tea. The most popular way to consume magic mushrooms is by eating them fresh or dried, either on their own or mixed in with other food to mask its taste.

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Psilocybe Cubensis as a Therapeutical Substance

There is a growing interest in the therapeutic value of psilocybin for the treatment of mental health conditions. The psychedelic compound is currently the subject of several clinical trials, including one into whether it can help with depression and another examining whether it can improve cancer-related PTSD and anxiety.

A Remedy for Many Conditions?

The latest study looking into psilocybin’s potential to ease mental health issues is a small-scale trial investigating whether the drug might help with cluster headaches.

In addition, psilocybin therapy is an effective treatment for addiction – specifically tobacco addiction. Participants in this study were given three doses over the course of several months, and 80% of them were able to quit smoking for up to six months.

Lasting Changes in the Brain

The psychedelic drug can also make long-term changes in brain function. It appears that psilocybin can rewire the brain and reset it to a more plastic state. This allows someone suffering from mental health issues like OCD or depression to get relief from their symptoms for longer periods of time than with conventional psychiatric drugs. 

Psilocybe Cubensis Therapy

A psilocybin therapy session takes place in a comfortable, safe environment — usually a therapist’s office or clinic. In most cases, patients will be given the psychedelic drug in pill or capsule form.

The therapy session is typically accompanied by music that the therapist and patient have chosen together. The patient lies down on a couch, places eyeshades over their eyes, and listens to the music through headphones.

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What Does Psilocybe Therapy Look Like?

A typical psilocybin therapy session lasts about six hours. The first three hours consist of the peak experience, during which time the patient experiences hallucinations and “ego dissolution”, a merging of one’s self with others and the universe. During this time, it is essential for the therapist to remain calm and reassuring for the patient to feel safe enough to let go of their ego defenses.

Calming Down

After the peak experience, there is a gradual “coming down” from psilocybin’s effects. For many patients, this is a time of reflection on their experience. The therapist can guide this process, as well as help integrate what was learned from the psychedelic journey into everyday life. A single psilocybin therapy session can have long-lasting effects. However, it’s important to note that psilocybin is not a “cure-all” — it should be used in conjunction with traditional therapies, such as talk therapy or 12-step programs.

Is Psilocybe Cubensis Legal?

The legality of psilocybin mushrooms varies worldwide. Psilocybin and psilocin are listed as Schedule I drugs. Schedule I drugs are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse or drugs that have no recognized medical uses. In the United States, Psilocybe cubensis is not legal under federal law.

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