Magic mushrooms are treasured for their strong psychoactive properties, producing strong hallucinations, euphoria, altered thinking processes, and a distinct clarity unlike any other substance.
Below we take an in-depth look at magic mushrooms, their history and origins, their various uses, how to cultivate them, and much more.
Magic mushrooms are a variety of mushroom known for producing strong psychedelic effects when ingested.
Mushrooms are a fungus, meaning they grow from spores that establish mycelium networks in the ground or decaying plant material, such as old logs.
When the conditions are just right, a fungus will bloom similar to a flower. These blooms are the mushrooms that we harvest.
The most common varieties of psychoactive mushrooms fall under the Psilocybin genus. This genus encompasses over 200 varieties of mushrooms, all of which contain psilocybin, the main active compound responsible for producing psychoactive effects.
There are other varieties of mushrooms which also produce psychedelic effects, such as the fly amanita, for example. However, Psilocybin mushrooms are by far the most common.
On average, a single mushroom will contain between 0.2 to 0.4% Psilocybin.
The exact origins of magic mushrooms is highly debated. However, one thing is for sure; the exact of psychoactive mushrooms dates back a lot further than we once thought.
Many people believe the use of hallucinogenic substances took off in the 1960s. However, archaeological evidence shows that some of these substances have been used by human civilizations for thousands of years.
In 1992, Italian ethnobotanist Giorgio Samorini found a painted rock mural depicting mushrooms in Tassili n'Ajjer, a mountain range in the Algerian section of the Sahara Desert. The mural dates back to between 7000 to 9000 BCE. The mushrooms depicted in the mural are speculated to be psilocybe mairei, a psychoactive mushroom species native to Algeria and Morocco.
There is also a large body of evidence suggesting the use of entheogens by ancient cultures in mesoamerica, especially among the Aztecs. Some of the most detailed references to the use of psychoactive plants by the Aztecs come from The Florentine Codex, a comprehensive ethnographic study in Mesoamerica from the 16th century by Spanish Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún.
De Sahagún was a missionary and was set on evangelizing the indigenous people of Mesoamerica. In a 2002 book on Sahagún’s work, he is quoted as describing The Florentine Codex as an explanation of the “divine, or rather idolatrous, human, and natural things of New Spain”.
Sahagún’s work comprises of 2,400 pages organized into twelve books and provides detailed insight into how the Aztecs used psychoactive plants as part of their spiritual rituals. Some of the plants they used include ololiuqui (a species of morning glory), peyote, and a species of psilocybin mushroom.
The Aztecs referred to mushrooms as teonanácatl, which literally translates to “god mushroom.” The act of taking mushrooms was known as monanacahuia, meaning to "mushroom oneself".
Sahagún, as well as other prominent missionaries of the time (such as Toribio de Benavente Motolinia, one of the famous Twelve Apostles of Mexico) described how the Aztecs would drink chocolate and eat the mushrooms with honey.
In the Florentine Codex, Sahagún writes:
“At the very first, mushrooms had been served...They ate no more food; they only drank chocolate during the night. And they ate the mushrooms with honey. When the mushrooms took effect on them, then they danced, then they wept. But some, while still in command of their senses, entered and sat there by the house on their seats; they did no more, but only sat there nodding.”
It is also possible that the Maya, an indigenous people of Central America with civilisations dating back to 2000 BCE, used psychoactive substances such as mushrooms prior to the Aztecs (whose civilisations date back to the 14th century). However, there is significantly less evidence to support this hypothesis.
The Maya were an indigenous people of Central America who inhabited modern-day Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Tabasco, and Chiapas in Mexico, as well as areas through Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras.
The first settled villages and earliest developments in agriculture in these areas took place between 8000 and 2000 BCE. The first Mayan civilisations were built between 2000 BCE and 250 AD.
Most of the evidence suggesting that the Maya used psychoactive substances come from rock art and rare examples of residues of substances recovered from ceramic containers.
Some of the substances traced back to the Mayas include tobacco, water lilies, morning glories, and Psilocybe mexicana.
The most cited archaeological evidence used to support the argument that Mayas used psychoactive mushrooms is a collection of carved “mushroom stones.”
These stone sculptures, interpreted as interpretations of mushrooms (some incorporating anthropomorphic figures along the bases/stems), have been found at many archeological sites and traced back to the Maya culture.
However, there is a lack of consensus on whether these interpretations are accurate and, if so, whether they prove as evidence that the Mayans did, in fact, use psychoactive mushrooms.
The use of psychoactive mushrooms isn’t unique to Africa and the Americas; it has also been linked back to Europe.
In 2011, scientists discovered the Selva Pascuala cave mural near the town of Villar del Humo in Spain.
The mural, dated back to roughly 6000 BCE, depicts a large bull as well as 13 small mushroom-like objects. Scientists took great interest in these mushrooms, claiming they could be depictions of Psilocybe hispanica, a local species of psychoactive mushroom.
Psilocybe hispanica has a bell-shaped cap topped with a dome and lacks a annulus (a ring around the stalk). The objects in the Selva Pascuala mural are very similar to these mushrooms and even feature a combination of both straight and curved stems, as is common in this species of mushroom.
As we mentioned earlier, there is no exact answer as to where magic mushrooms originated from. However, there is significant historical and archaeological evidence proving that psychoactive mushrooms have long been used by humans for a variety of spiritual and religious purposes.
Today, magic mushrooms are still treasured for their powerful psychoactive effects, producing euphoria, altered thinking processes, hallucinations, synesthesia, an altered perception of time, and more.
The main active compounds in magic mushrooms are psilocybin and psilocin. Some species of mushrooms also contain other, weaker psychoactive compounds, such as baeocystin and norbaeocystin.
When psilocybin is ingested, it is broken down into in psilocin, which is responsible for producing the main psychedelic effects associated with a mushroom trip.
Psilocin has multiple effects on the human brain. Below we’ll provide a brief summary of some of these effects. For a more detailed explanation, check out this video by ASAP Science.
First of all, it increases the activity of a neurotransmitter in the brain called serotonin. Having a similar structure to serotonin, psilocin can actually bind to and stimulate receptors in the brain. This amplified stimulation ultimately leads the body to perceive and experience things without any real stimulus. These perceptions and experiences can be visual, auditory, or even emotional.
Scientists have also suggested that psilocin may alter regular brain function by creating new stable neural connections. This can amplify thought intensity and make it difficult to distinguish reality from fantasy.
According to a study at Germany's Goethe University, ingesting magic mushrooms also activates several parts of the brain, such as hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex, at the same time. This pattern is similar to when people are dreaming.
Finally, psilocin also helps to activate specific emotional regions of the brain, which can cause a sense of expanded consciousness. This, combined with the drug’s ability to create new neural connections in your brain, is what causes you to have altered through processes and “think outside the box.”
The complete effects of psychoactive mushrooms on the human brain are not completely understood just yet. Plus, it’s also important to remember that the effects of mushrooms are extremely subjective and can depend on your state of mind as well as the environment in which you ingest them.
For more information about how setting can affect your experience on magic mushrooms, we suggest looking into the work of American psychologist Timothy Leary.
Magic mushrooms are a very common recreational drug. According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 8.5% of people in the US have used hallucinogenic mushrooms at least once in their life.
The reason why mushrooms are so popular may be because they are easy to obtain. They grow naturally in many parts of the world, and can easily be self-cultivated at home thanks to the invention of ready-to-go grow kits.
Zamnesia stocks a wide variety of magic mushroom grow kits from various reputable producers, as well as our own!
With a little help from a spray bottle, a thermometer, and some patience, these kits allows you to grow high-quality mushrooms in your home in just a few weeks.
Our grow kits can be used to grow a vast variety of Psilocybe Cubensis strains. Cubensis is an extremely strong and stable variety of mushroom, making them perfect for home growing.
Our magic mushroom kits include various of Cubensis varieties, including Golden Teacher, Amazonian, Hawaiian, Orissa India, Cambodian, B+, Mexican, McKennaii, and many more. For a complete list of all our grow kits, click here.
Unfortunately, the Psilocybe Cubensis is the only strain available in commercial, ready-to-go grow kits. Other mushroom strains are very sensitive and require extreme care to be able to grow, making them unsuitable for commercial growing.
The only alternative to the above grow kits is Zamnesia’s outdoor grow kit. This kit comes complete with everything you need to grow your very own patch of powerful Psilocybe Azurescens.
However, this kit is designed for experienced growers. The kit only produces yearly harvests and requires a lot of extra care, whereas the Supa Grow kits above can produce your up to 800g of mushrooms, with individual flushed taking only a few weeks.
Magic mushrooms are most commonly used for recreational purposes. However, new scientific research has also begun exploring the possibility of using magic mushrooms in medical treatments.
American scientists first began studying the possible medical uses of magic mushroom in the 1960s. However, the US government was quick to determine that they had no legitimate medical properties and shut off all research in the 70s.
Research started again very recently and is producing mixed results.
A study published in The Lancet psychiatry journal suggests that Psilocybin may help in the treatment severe refractory depression.
The study focused on 12 patients with treatment-resistant depression (6 males, 6 females). The participants received two oral doses of Psicobylin in a supportive setting.
They were observed for an adverse effects and depressive symptoms were assessed within 1 week and 3 months after the treatment.
The clinical trial found that depressive symptoms were notably reduced within 1 week and patients didn’t experience any serious adverse effects.
“Psilocybin was well tolerated by all of the patients, and no serious or unexpected adverse events occurred. The adverse reactions we noted were transient anxiety during drug onset (all patients), transient confusion or thought disorder (nine patients), mild and transient nausea (four patients), and transient headache (four patients),” the study reads.
It is important to realize that this study isn’t conclusive and, like many scientific studies, it isn’t without it’s limitations. However, it does provide preliminary support for the safety and efficacy of psilocybin for treating refractory depression and may motivate further trials in the area. This research is now one of many finding positive initial results across a number of conditions. There is growing hope that there could be a future in psychedelic medicine – but it is still early days.
Looking to grow your very own batch of magic mushrooms? Make sure you browse the Zamnesia Shroom Shop for a comprehensive list of grow kits, accessories, and much more.