What is Psilocybin and Risks of Using Magic Mushrooms?

Psilocybin is a hallucinogen obtained from certain types of mushrooms. It activates the body’s serotonin receptors, affecting mood, cognition and perception. Importantly, Psilocybin doesn’t actually cause the hallucinations, but distorts the perception of objects and stimuli. Hallucinogenic effects occur approximately 30 minutes after taking Psilocybin and last for 4 to 6 hours.

The mushrooms containing Psilocybin are found in the US, Mexico, South America and Europe

and are also known as ‘Magic Mushrooms’. It is a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which means it serves no medical purpose, but has a high abuse potential.

What are the Effects of Psilocybin?

Psilocybin has similar effects to LSD, which include an altered perception of time, space as well as intense changes in mood and feelings. Some possible effects of Psilocybin are:

  • Distorted thinking
  • Rapidly changing emotions
  • Dilated pupils
  • Euphoric feelings
  • Peaceful feelings
  • Feeling a spiritual awakening
  • Dreamlike state
  • Visual distortion
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Impaired concentration
  • Impaired coordination
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Not all users of Psilocybin experience the same effects. They vary with the individual, and are greatly influenced by the individual’s mental state and personality, and even the immediate environment. Users can also experience psychological distress like extreme anxiety or brief psychosis.

What are the Health Risks of Psilocybin?

Individuals who may have taken Psilocybin in uncontrolled settings could engage in reckless types of behavior, like driving under the influence of alcohol. Users may also experience alterations in visual perceptions which can be distressing and can persist for weeks. When this condition lasts for years after hallucinogen use, it is known as Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) or Flashback. A Flashback is a traumatic recalling of an extremely upsetting experience of hallucinogen use.

There are also psychological consequences of using Psilocybin. These include hallucinations as well as an inability to distinguish reality from fantasy. Some users can experience unpleasant effects. These could be feelings of fear, agitation, delirium, confusion, psychosis and even symptoms resembling schizophrenia, and could require a trip to the emergency room. In the majority of cases such unpleasant effects are easily treated with medication and resolve themselves within 6 to 8 hours.

There can also be a small risk of accidental poisoning, if a user mistakenly ingests a poisonous mushroom. Muscle spasms, delirium and confusion are some symptoms of mushroom poisoning. A result of mushroom poisoning can be minor gastrointestinal illness, but medical attention is only required for the most severe of those.

While it is not an addictive substance, and ingestion of Psilocybin rarely results in life threatening symptoms, it is still important to remember that experimentation with it is not risk free.

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