Effects of psilocybin

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By Admin (Admin) on Thursday, August 23, 2001 - 12:07 pm:

Symptoms produced by eating fresh hallucinogenic mushrooms begin to occur within 15 to 30 minutes after ingestion (or from 5 to 10 minutes when prepared in the form of tea or soup). Symptoms persist for up to four to six hours after ingestion. In 1960, Clinical effects for psilocybin intoxication in humans was reported as being Hollister et al., 1962):

"0-30 minutes-Slight nausea, giddiness (light-headed), abdominal discomfort, weakness, muscle aches and twitches, shivering, anxiety, restlessness, and a numbness of lips.

30-60 minutes-Visual effects (blurring, brighter colors, sharper outlines, longer after-images, visual patterns with closed eyes). Increased hearing, yawning, sweating, facial flushing. Decreased concentration and attention, slow thinking, feelings of unreality, depersonalization, dreamy state. Inco-ordination, tremulous speech.

60-120 minutes-Increased visual effects (colored patterns and shapes, mostly with eyes closed). Wave-motion of viewed surfaces. Impaired distant perception. Euphoria, increased perception, and a slowed passage of time.

120-240 minutes-Waning and nearly complete resolution of above effects. Returning to normal within 4-12 hours. Other effects often include: Decreased salivation and appetite; uncontrollable laughter; transient sexual feelings and synesthesias (e.g., `seeing' sounds)."

For comparison with the clinical experience described above, the following is an excerpt from one of R. Gordon Wasson's experience with psilocybin mushrooms:

"The mushrooms take effect differently with different persons. For example, some seem to experience only a divine euphoria, which may translate itself into uncontrollable laughter. In my case I experienced hallucinations. What I was seeing was more clearly seen than anything I had seen before. At last I was seeing with the eye of the soul, not through the coarse lenses of my natural eyes. Moreover, what I was seeing was impregnated with weighty meaning: I was awe-struck."


In a portion of the FLORENTINE CODEX, the Franciscan Monk Bernardino de Sahagún, a converted jew and devote catholic, informs us that the mushrooms "aun provocan a lujuria" that they "even provoke lust." Wasson (1980) believed that Sahagún may have been responsible for adding these words and wondered why they were inserted. He inquired if they were meant to either "excite the sixteenth century readers seeking always the Fountain of Youth and new aphrodisiacs? or to incite his pious readers against the mushrooms?" Another historian, Francisco Flores, also made the suggestion that the sacred mushrooms were but "one of the many aphrodisiacs found in Nueva España."

During the past twenty years the author has communicated with numerous adults and young couples who have experimented with psilocybian fungi. Many couples have reported that their sexual appetites were definitely increased during their inebriations on the sacred mushroom. In fact, most of the male subjects who were interviewed mentioned that they were able to maintain an erection and to hold back orgasm for several hours. On the other hand, their female counterparts claimed to have experience nothing more than multiple orgasms during the entire sexual encounter while under the influence of the mushroom inebriation (Allen, personal files).

It should be noted that no shaman, curandera, brujo or sabio in modern Mesoamerica or those seeking advise from the mushrooms have sex for three days before, during and/or after a mushroom ceremony (Pike & Cowan 1959). According to the shamans and sabios this experience would cause permanent madness; suggesting that one would go crazy from the experience. However, many westerners who have experienced intercourse while under the influence of inebriating mushrooms have claimed that it is the finest madness they have ever experienced. What is interesting is that there are no documented studies done in regards to this aspect of one of the many effects attributed to this type of intoxication. Additionally, Albert Hofmann (1980) also observed what he believed to be were erotic sexual effects in two female participants (María Sabina's daughters Apolonia and Aurora, prospective curanderas) during a ceremony held in the home of María Sabina which occurred while Albert Hofmann was under the influence of Salvia divinorum: "Blissful, yearning, moans of Apolonia and Aurora, between singing and prayer, gave the impression of the young women in the drug inebriation [on mushrooms] was combined with sensual sexual feeling." Furthermore, Leary (1983), who with his lady companion Malaca, had also wrote on the sexually euphoric aphrodisiac effects reported as common in many psilocybian experiences; describing his observations of these effects by claiming that "We were two sea creatures. The mating process in this universe began with the fusion of moist lips producing a soft-electric rapture, which irradiated the entire body. We found no problem maneuvering the limbs, tenacles, and delightful protuberances with which we were miraculously equipped in the transparent honey-liquid zero-gravity atmosphere that surrounded, bathed, and sustained us...
"This was my first sexual experience while under the influence of psychedelics."

Several days after Leary had experienced the euphoric sexual properties of these powerful mushrooms, he asked Aldous Huxley "what he thought about the erotogenic nature of the psychedelic drugs which were slowly becoming popular among the undergraduates at Harvard. Huxley seemed agitated at Leary's query by saying that "of course this is true, Timothy, but we've stirred up enough trouble suggesting that drugs can stimulate aesthetic and religious experiences." Huxley further stated "I strongly urge you not to let the sexual cat out of the bag."
At this time, the author of this paper would like to propose a new term to be applied for describing these effects experienced by those, who under the influence of these mushrooms, have the most orgasmic and cosmic sexual experience of their life. This term is to be known as "psilophoria." "Psilo" for the chemical substance within the mushrooms and "phoria" extracted from the word euphoria. Gartz (1996), wrote about numerous occasions where several innocent collectors in Germany who were foraging for edible mushrooms had accidently consumed specimens of a newly discovered psilocybian mushroom known as Inocybe aeruginascens. All those involved reported nothing but euphoric reactions during their intoxication. These occurred on numerous occasions in and around Potsdam and outlaying regions of Germany.


The major dangers associated with psilocybin are primarily psychological in nature. Anxiety or panic states ("bad trips"), depressive or paranoid reactions, mood changes, disorientation and an inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy may occur.

Recommended treatment for this type of poisoning should always be primarily supportive. Mycologist Dr. Joseph Ammirati of the University of Washington and his colleagues claim that "no specific treatment can be recommended for psilocybin poisoning in humans". Other doctors have "stress[ed] the importance of measures to reduce absorption of the toxins involved". This involves either, e.g., gastric lavage or emesis Lincoff & Mitchell, 1977; Rumack & Saltzman, 1978; Smith, 1978).

1. Emesis. 15-30 cc of ipecac syrup followed by large amounts of oral liquids (500 cc).

2. Supportive treatment: i.e. the "talk-down" technique is the preferred method for handling "bad trips". It involves non-moralizing, comforting, personal support from an experienced individual. This is further aided by limiting external stimulation such as intense light or loud sounds and letting the person lie down and perhaps listen to soft music.

3. Tranquilizers need only be used in extreme situations and are generally not considered to be necessary. Diazepam, 0.1 mg/kg in children, up to 10 mg in adults, may be used to control seizures.

According to Dr. Rick Strassman of the University of New Mexico, anti-psychotics have gone out of favor for the treatment of `bad trips'. Specifically, medicines with anti-cholinergic side effects, such as chlorpromazine, should not be given as these mushrooms can have marked anti-cholinergic effects of their own.

In 1988, Dr. Karl L. R. Jansen of e University of Auckland, New Zealand noted that cases which present medically fall into several groups:

(a) Those who have taken the drug with little knowledge of hallucinogens and in the absence of sensible persons who can take care of them. These are more likely to be adolescents. They may self-present but are more often brought for medical attention by their parents.

(b) Those who fall as a result of impaired balance or muscle weakness and are knocked out or otherwise injured as a result.

c) Those who are having a `bad trip'. These may involve acute anxiety and panic, depression, paranoid reactions, disorientation and an inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy.

(d) Cases of idiosyncratic physical reactions such as cyanosis.

(e) Those with recurring phenomena after the mushroom effects should have passed, including prolonged psychosis.

When the history is clear and the signs are suggestive of psilocybian intoxication, it is best not to artificially empty the stomach either by emesis with ipecac or by lavage. Treatment shows that emptying the stomach had no effect on the duration or intensity of the experience once psychological manifestations had properly commenced. Dr. Jansen maintains that unless there is a reason to suspect that a more toxic fungus has been ingested, or if the patient is a young child, induced emesis is not necessary, not helpful and may make the situation much worse if the patient is already aggressive and agitated.

Other doctors have also speculated that a lavage is not merited if psilocybian mushrooms have been positively identified as the source of discomfort. It has also been suggested that "gastric intubation can be difficult in these young patients who are often already distressed and not infrequently aggressive. Furthermore the mushrooms may block the standard lavage tubes [used] for drug overdoses."

The inherent danger from the ingestion of wild mushrooms lies not so much in the consumption of an hallucinogenic variety, but rather in the picking and eating of a toxic species which might resemble an hallucinogenic variety.

Dr. Gastón Guzmán of the Instituto de Ecologia in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico (and his colleagues wrote that "field and laboratory studies strongly indicate that psychoactive mushroom use as it normally occurs does not constitute a drug abuse problem or a public health hazard" (Guzmán et al., 1976). In addition, a recent survey conducted among college students in California, suggests that "the low frequency and few negative effects of [hallucinogenic mushroom] use indicate that abuse does not present a social problem, nor is there evidence for predicting the development of a problem" Thompson et al., 1985).


Dr. Malcolm Hall (1973) was, the Principal Research Officer of the Narcotics Section of the Commonwealth Police Force in Canberra when he reported that several drug users had been experiencing recurring `flashbacks' from mushrooms that were similar to `flashbacks' which were associated with LSD consumption.

The author is aware of little firm evidence that mushroom `flashbacks' can occur. Researchers in 1983, have reported that out of 318 specific cases of Psilocybe intoxications occurring in England between l978-l981, 21 patients experienced `flashback phenomena of some form' for up to four months after ingestion", and also mentioned that some of these were the result of drug synergy and polydrug abuse.

"...However, with such a controversial phenomena as `flashbacks', it is necessary to specify precisely what form these do take, so that they may be distinguished from psychological stress reactions wrongly attributed to past drug use." Dr. Hall also pointed out that "if solutions of mushroom extracts were injected intravenously, the results could be very serious." There are no known cases of such injections, and it seems extremely unlikely that anyone would attempt this.


Gartz, J. 1996. 1996. Magic Mushrooms Around the World: A Scientific Journey Across Cultures and Time. The Case for Challenging Research and Value Systems. Lis Publications. Los Angeles, California. Translated by Claudia Taake. 120p.

Guzmán, G., Ott, J., Boydson, J. and S. H. Pollock. 1976. Psychotropic mycoflora of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California and British Columbia, Canada. Mycologia vol. 68(6):1267-1272. November-December.

Hall, M. 1973. Problems in legislating against abuse of hallucinogenic fungi in Australia. Bulletin on Narcotics vol. 25(3):27-36. U. N. Publication.

Hollister, L. E., Prusmack, J. J., Paulsen, J. and N. Rosenquist. 1960. Comparison of three psychotropic drugs (psilocybin, JB 329, and IT-290) in volunteer subjects. Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases vol. 131:428-434.

Hofmann, A. 1980. LSD My Problem Child. McGraw-Hill. New York.

Leary, T. F. 1983. Flashbacks: A Personal and Cultural History of an Era. Los angeles. J. P. Tarcher Inc.

Lincoff, G. and D. H. Mitchell, M.D. 1977. Group 6: Psilocybin-psilocin (hallucinogenic poisoning). Toxic and Hallucinogenic Mushroom Poisoning:9-26, 100-135. 267pp. Van Nostrand Reinhold. New York.

Pike, E. V. and F. Cowan. 1959. Mushroom ritual versus christianity. Practical Anthropology vol. 6(4):145-150. July-August.

Rumack, B. and E. Saltzman (Eds.). 1978. Mushroom Poisoning: Diagnosis and Treatment. 263pp. CRC Press. West Palm Beach..

Smith, A. H. 1978. Poisonous mushrooms: Their habitat, geographical distribution, and physiological variation within species. In: Rumack, B. H. and E. Salzman (Eds.) Mushroom Poisoning: Diagnosis and Treatment. CRC Press. Cleveland.

Thompson, J. P., Anglin, M. D., Emboden, W. and D. G. Fisher. 1985. Mushroom use by college students. Journal of Drug Education vol. 15(2):111-124.

Wasson, R. G. 1980. The Wondrous Mushroom: Mycolatry in Mesoamerica. Ethnomycological Studies No. 7. McGraw-Hill Book Co. New York, St. Louis and San Francisco

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