Revised May 1, 2002; August 31, 2007; August 27, 2008; April 21, 2013; and September 10, 2016.
Copyright 1998-2016 by John W. Allen.



The Chemisty of Psilocybian Fungi


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Figure: Life Cycle of a Mushroom. Drawn by Grant Trowbridge, Seattle and Olympia, Washington.


MUSHROOM CHEMISTRY
 

In 1957, only 7 species of wild mushrooms were identified as entheogens. Today there are over 200 known species of psilocybian fungi alone. The tryptamine alkaloids in entheogenic mushroom species are known as psilocybine and/or psilocine. Other tryptamine alkaloids known to occur in psilocybian mushrooms include baeocystine, norbaeocystine, aeruginascine and the newly discovered Psilosamuiensin A. The latter alkaloids also produce symptoms and effects similar to those of psilocybine and/or psilocine. Psilocybian mushrooms also contain other tryptamine compounds such as 5-OH-tryptamine, tryptamine, tryptophan and urea. These later alkaloids are not psychoactive. However, many of these tryptamine alkaloids are related to the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxy-tryptamine). Psilocybine and psilocine possess a chemical structure very similar to serotonine, a brain neurotransmitter that exerts powerful psychic effects through central sympathetic excitation. Most notable is an alteration of the normal functioning of the brain known as cerebral mycetism which produces visual effects, auditory hallucinations (synesthesia), and euphoria. Total intoxication from psilocybian fungi is from 4-6 hours. The effects from consuming psilocybian fungi vary within each individual and the subjective experience depends entirely on the mood, mental set, and expectations of the taker.




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