Psilocybe cubensis magic mushrooms

Shrooms 101: A Comprehensive Guide to Magic Mushrooms

By Morgan Vargas
Last updated: May 29, 2023

1. Overview

What are Magic Mushrooms?

Magic mushrooms, also known as psychedelic mushrooms or shrooms, are fungi that contain a naturally occurring psychoactive compound known as psilocybin. This compound is known to induce altered states of consciousness[1], characterized by euphoria, visual and mental hallucinations, changes in perception, a distorted sense of time, and spiritual experiences.

Types of Magic Mushrooms

There are over 180 types of mushrooms that contain psilocybin or its derivative psilocin. Here are a few notable ones:

  • Psilocybe cubensis: Also known as the “golden cap,” this is one of the most popular magic mushroom species due to its widespread distribution and ease of cultivation.
  • Psilocybe semilanceata: Known as the “liberty cap,” this species is common in the wild across Europe and North America.
  • Psilocybe azurescens: Native to the West Coast of the USA, these mushrooms are renowned for their high psilocybin content.
  • Psilocybe cyanescens: Commonly referred to as “wavy caps,” these are also potent magic mushrooms found widely in North America and Europe.

Suggested: Top 10 Strongest Strains of Psilocybe Cubensis

The Science of Psilocybin

Psilocybin is a psychedelic compound that affects the brain by binding to serotonin receptors, particularly the 5-HT2A receptor[2]. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that impacts various functions in the body, including mood and perception. When psilocybin binds to these receptors, it disrupts normal functioning and leads to an altered state of consciousness.

The compound psilocybin itself isn’t psychoactive. However, when ingested, it is quickly converted into psilocin, which is responsible for the psychoactive effects commonly associated with magic mushrooms.

The Use of Magic Mushrooms Throughout History

Magic mushrooms have a long and rich history in many cultures around the world. For thousands of years, they have been used for spiritual, healing, and divinatory purposes.

In Mesoamerica, mushrooms with psychoactive properties were used in religious rituals by the Mayans and Aztecs. Archaeological evidence suggests their use in spiritual ceremonies dating back to at least 3,000 BC[3].

In more recent times, the psychedelic era of the 1960s saw a resurgence of interest in magic mushrooms, leading to their study and eventual classification as a Schedule I drug in the United States in 1970.

2. Effects

What do Shrooms Feel Like?

Magic mushrooms are a journey into the mind’s eye, where colours can become more vibrant, patterns more intricate, and thoughts more profound. This can be an exhilarating experience, but it’s important to remember that individual reactions can greatly vary based on dosage, individual physiology, mindset, and environmental factors. Let’s break down some of the common effects:

Visual & Sensory Effects:

  • Enhanced colours
  • Visual distortions
  • Altered sense of space and time
  • Intensified sensory experiences
  • Seeing geometric patterns

Emotional Effects:

  • Euphoria
  • Giggles and laughter
  • Empathy and connectedness
  • Spiritual awakening
  • Peacefulness and satisfaction

Cognitive Effects:

  • Deep introspection
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Altered perception of reality
  • Philosophical insights
  • Dream-like states

To get the most out of your magic mushroom experience, read our guide on How to Enhance a Shroom Trip.

Phases of a Shroom Trip

Understanding the different stages of a magic mushroom trip can help you better prepare for the journey. The experience is often divided into four distinct phases:

  1. Onset: This is the initial phase that starts roughly 20-40 minutes after ingestion. You may start to feel different, with initial effects often manifesting as a sense of euphoria, anticipation, or mild physiological changes like a feeling of fullness in the stomach.
  2. Peak: This phase occurs about 1-2 hours after ingestion and can last for several hours. The peak is when the most intense effects of the mushrooms are felt. This is where the visual, sensory, emotional, and cognitive effects are most profound. Perceptions can be dramatically altered, and time may seem to slow down or speed up.
  3. Come Down: Roughly 4-6 hours after ingestion, the intensity of the experience starts to decrease. This phase is often characterized by a gradual return to normal consciousness, although some effects, like deep introspection or a sense of wonder, may still be present.
  4. Afterglow: This is the residual phase following the trip. It can last a few hours to a few days, and it’s often marked by a sense of peace, satisfaction, or an enhanced appreciation of life.

Remember, these phases can vary in length and intensity depending on the dosage, individual physiology, and the specific type of mushroom consumed. And just like any journey, preparation is key. It’s best to ensure you’re in a safe, comfortable setting with a positive mindset before embarking on a magic mushroom trip.

Bad Trips

A “bad trip” or challenging trip refers to a frightening, distressing, or disorienting psychedelic experience. They’re often characterized by overwhelming feelings of anxiety, panic, and fear. These can be triggered by factors like high doses, unfamiliar environments, or pre-existing mental conditions.

Pop culture often portrays these trips as freakish nightmares with monstrous hallucinations. However, this depiction can be misleading. It’s worth noting that many people find these challenging experiences to be valuable opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery. Sam Harris, a prominent author and neuroscientist, argues that there are no good or bad trips—only safe and unsafe ones.

Suggested: How to Have The Best Shroom Trip (And Avoid The Bad Ones!)

If you find yourself caught in a challenging trip, here are some strategies:

  • Grounding techniques: Focusing on your breath, touching something, or sipping water can help you reconnect with reality.
  • Change your setting: If you’re feeling uncomfortable, a change in lighting, music, or location might help.
  • Reach out for support: Having a trusted friend or “trip sitter” present can be extremely comforting.
  • Surrender to the experience: Fighting the experience often exacerbates distress. Instead, try to accept what you’re feeling and remember that it will pass.

Despite their potential intensity, challenging trips can serve as catalysts for change, confronting us with our fears and anxieties, and pushing us to grow and learn. But remember, safety should always be your top priority. Your mindset, the environment, and your mental health history all play crucial roles in shaping your experience.

3. Usage

How to Take Shrooms

Magic mushrooms can be taken in various ways, often dependent on personal preference, the desired intensity of the trip, and the specific situation. Here are a few of the best ways to take shrooms:

  • Eating them raw: This is the simplest method. Just chew and swallow. However, some people find the taste unpleasant.
  • In food: You can incorporate magic mushrooms into your food. Try adding them to a light snack like fruit or a small sandwich. Remember, though, that a full stomach can slow down the onset of effects.
  • Brewed in tea: Brewing shrooms in a tea can make them easier to consume, and can also help avoid potential stomach discomfort. To learn more, check out our guide on how to make your own shroom tea!
  • Capsules: For those who dislike the taste entirely, grinding the mushrooms into a powder and putting them into capsules can be an effective solution. This method also allows for precise dosage control.

Shroom Dosage

Determining the right dosage is critical for a safe and enjoyable magic mushroom experience. Dosage depends on various factors including the species of the mushroom, individual tolerance, and desired intensity of the effects. Here’s a general guideline:

  • Microdose (0.1 – 0.5g)
  • Low dose (0.5 – 2g)
  • Moderate dose (2 – 3.5g)
  • High dose (3.5g+)

To delve deeper into the specifics of magic mushroom dosage and to make your experience as safe and enjoyable as possible, we recommend reading our comprehensive Magic Mushroom Dosage Guide. It’s filled with valuable information that will help you navigate your journey with confidence and care​.

How Much Should a Beginner Take?

If you’re new to magic mushrooms, it’s wise to start small and gradually increase your dose in subsequent sessions. This approach will allow you to get a feel for the effects and how your body reacts to them. For first-time magic mushroom users, a dose of 1 to 1.5 grams of dried magic mushrooms is often recommended.

Always remember, it’s safer to take less and then decide if you’re comfortable taking more the next time. Be sure to wait at least a week between sessions to allow your body to reset its tolerance.

Keep in mind that these are rough guidelines. Everyone’s body and mind respond differently to psilocybin, so what works for one person may not work for another. Always prioritize safety and do your research before beginning your journey with magic mushrooms.

If you’re new to the world of mushrooms and preparing for your first experience, be sure to read our in-depth guide about Tips for First-Time Magic Mushroom Users.

4. Safety

Magic mushrooms can offer a transformative experience, but like any psychoactive substance, they should be used responsibly. Safety is a crucial part of ensuring a positive psychedelic journey. Here are a few tips to maximize safety and enjoyment:

Tips for a Safe & Enjoyable Experience

  • Choose a Comfortable & Familiar Environment: The setting can heavily influence your trip. Choose a place where you feel safe, comfortable, and at ease. For your first time, a familiar environment is best.
  • Start Low and Go Slow: Especially for beginners, starting with a lower dose is recommended. You can always increase the dosage in future experiences, but you can’t decrease it once the mushrooms are ingested.
  • Have a Trip Sitter: A sober, trustworthy friend can provide reassurance and help ground you during your trip. They can help manage any challenging moments and ensure your safety.
  • Consider Your Mindset: Your mental state can significantly affect your trip. If you’re feeling particularly stressed, anxious, or down, it might be best to delay your trip until you’re in a better frame of mind.
  • Practice Grounding Techniques: Familiarize yourself with grounding techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness exercises. These can help you remain calm and centered during your trip.

See also: 15 Things to Do While on Shrooms

Potential Risks

Despite their potential benefits, magic mushrooms carry some risks. Physically, they’re generally considered safe and non-addictive, but they can lead to nausea or headaches.

Psychologically, challenging experiences can occur, which can be intense and distressing. Individuals with a personal or family history of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders are generally advised to avoid psychedelics, including magic mushrooms, due to the risk of long-lasting adverse psychiatric reactions.

Also, while rare, a condition called hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) can occur, where flashbacks or ongoing changes in visual perception happen long after the trip.[4]

Finally, keep in mind that magic mushrooms are still illegal in many places. Unregulated substances can also contain impurities or be misidentified, posing additional risks. Always source your mushrooms from a trustworthy source if you choose to use them. One way to ensure you’re getting pure, safe magic mushrooms is by growing them yourself. Check out our guide on growing magic mushrooms for more information

5. Therapeutic Use

Magic mushrooms are no longer just the interest of psychedelic enthusiasts. In recent years, they’ve garnered attention from the medical and scientific community due to their potential therapeutic benefits, particularly for mental health disorders.[5]

Potential Benefits of Psilocybin for Mental Health Disorders

Psilocybin, the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms, has shown promise in treating a range of mental health conditions. Numerous studies have indicated its potential effectiveness in alleviating symptoms of:

  • Depression: Research suggests that psilocybin may help alleviate symptoms of depression by disrupting overactive neural circuits, allowing for new connections and perspectives to form.[6]
  • Anxiety: Studies, particularly those involving patients with life-threatening cancer, have found psilocybin to be effective in reducing anxiety and depression, and improving quality of life.[7]
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Early studies show psilocybin may help reduce OCD symptoms, possibly by affecting the serotonin system.[8]
  • Addiction: Psilocybin has been studied as a potential treatment for substance abuse disorders, including alcohol and nicotine addiction, with promising results.[9]

Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy

Psilocybin-assisted therapy is a growing field that combines psychotherapy with psilocybin consumption. This isn’t about experiencing a “trip” for its own sake; it’s about using the altered state of consciousness facilitated by psilocybin to drive deep therapeutic work.

During these sessions, individuals ingest psilocybin under the guidance of trained therapists, who provide support before, during, and after the experience. This supportive setting enables patients to confront and resolve their deep-rooted issues or traumas.

Future of Magic Mushrooms as an Alternative Treatment Method

The promising results of early research have propelled a renaissance in psychedelic science. Organizations like the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and the Usona Institute are leading efforts to explore the therapeutic potential of psilocybin and other psychedelic substances.

While there’s still much we don’t know, the future of magic mushrooms as a potential alternative treatment method is looking bright. The FDA has even granted “breakthrough therapy” status to psilocybin[10], acknowledging its potential and expediting its research.

Remember, though, that despite these promising developments, self-treatment with magic mushrooms is not advisable due to the risks involved. It’s essential to have trained professionals guide the therapeutic use of these powerful substances.

6. Legality

Legal Status of Magic Mushrooms Around the World

The legal status of magic mushrooms varies greatly around the world. In some countries, they are strictly prohibited, while in others, they are decriminalized or even legal for personal use. This patchwork of regulations reflects the ongoing debates and shifting attitudes toward psychedelics and their potential benefits.

It’s important to note that the legal landscape surrounding magic mushrooms is constantly changing, as new research and policy initiatives emerge. Here are a few examples of recent developments in the legalization and decriminalization of magic mushrooms:

  • In the United States, cities like Denver, Colorado, and Oakland, California, have decriminalized the possession of magic mushrooms, while Oregon has become the first state to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy.[11][12][13]
  • In 2019, the Netherlands implemented new regulations that effectively decriminalized the personal use and possession of small amounts of magic mushrooms.
  • In Australia, recent policy changes have allowed for the prescription of psilocybin and MDMA for specific medical purposes.[14]

Are Shrooms Legal in Canada?

Magic mushrooms are currently classified as a Schedule III controlled substance under the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, making their sale, possession, and distribution illegal. However, the legal status of magic mushrooms in Canada is somewhat ambiguous, as the enforcement of these laws is inconsistent and varies by region.

Despite their official classification, online mushroom dispensaries continue to operate in a legal gray area due to a lack of enforcement. This has made it relatively easy for Canadians to buy shrooms online if they so choose.

Progress Toward Legalization in Canada

There have been several recent developments in Canada that indicate progress toward the legalization or decriminalization of magic mushrooms:

  • In 2020, the Canadian government granted a number of terminally ill patients the right to use psilocybin for end-of-life care.[15]
  • Health Canada has approved several clinical trials investigating the therapeutic potential of psilocybin, signaling growing interest in psychedelic medicine.[16]
  • In Alberta, the province has begun to develop standards for psychedelic-assisted therapy, laying the groundwork for potential future regulation and legalization of these treatments.[17]

These developments, along with the growing body of research on the potential benefits of psilocybin, suggest that the legal status of magic mushrooms may continue to evolve in the coming years. However, it’s essential to stay informed about the current laws and regulations in your region before considering the use of magic mushrooms.

7. FAQs

Are shrooms safe?

According to the 2017 Global Drug Survey, magic mushrooms are considered the safest recreational drug. Out of over 12,000 people who reported taking psilocybin hallucinogenic mushrooms in 2016, only 0.2% needed emergency medical treatment.[18] This rate is at least five times lower than that for MDMA, LSD, and cocaine. Adam Winstock, a consultant addiction psychiatrist and founder of the Global Drug Survey, stated that “Magic mushrooms are one of the safest drugs in the world.” However, he also emphasized the importance of using them responsibly, as the biggest risk is people picking and consuming the wrong mushrooms.

2017 Global Drug Survey

Who should avoid taking shrooms?

Individuals with a personal or family history of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders are generally advised to avoid magic mushrooms due to the risk of long-lasting adverse psychiatric reactions. Additionally, pregnant or breastfeeding individuals, those with cardiovascular issues, or anyone currently taking medications that may interact with psilocybin should also avoid shrooms.

Can shrooms be combined with other substances?

It’s not recommended to mix magic mushrooms with other substances, especially alcohol, as it can lead to unpredictable and potentially dangerous effects. Mixing shrooms with other psychoactive substances, like cannabis or MDMA, can also amplify or alter the effects, increasing the risk of a challenging trip.

How long does a shroom trip last?

A shroom trip typically begins within 20-40 minutes after ingestion, with the peak phase occurring around 1-2 hours later and lasting for several hours. The comedown phase starts about 4-6 hours after ingestion, followed by an afterglow period lasting a few hours to a few days. Trip duration can vary based on factors like dosage, individual physiology, and mushroom type.

How to store shrooms properly?

To preserve their potency and prevent spoilage, magic mushrooms should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place. They can be kept in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag, preferably with a desiccant packet to absorb any moisture. Stored properly, dried shrooms can last for several months or even years.

Do shrooms go bad?

Yes, shrooms can go bad if not stored properly. Fresh mushrooms are particularly susceptible to spoilage, while dried mushrooms are more stable but can still lose potency over time. Signs of spoilage include a musty or rotten smell, mold, or sliminess. If you suspect your shrooms have gone bad, it’s best not to consume them.

Can you smoke shrooms?

Smoking magic mushrooms is not recommended, as the heat can destroy the psychoactive compounds, rendering them ineffective. Additionally, inhaling mushroom spores can pose respiratory risks. Ingesting magic mushrooms orally is the safest and most effective method of consumption.

Are shrooms addictive?

Magic mushrooms are not considered addictive, as they do not produce the same compulsive drug-seeking behaviors associated with substances like opioids or stimulants. However, users can still develop a psychological dependence on the experiences they provide. It’s important to use shrooms responsibly and maintain a healthy relationship with their use.

Do shrooms show up in a drug test?

Psilocybin and its metabolite psilocin are not typically included in standard drug tests, such as the 5-panel or 10-panel tests used for employment screening. However, specialized tests can detect the presence of psilocybin or psilocin, although these tests are rare and usually only used in specific situations, like forensic or research settings.

8. Footnotes

[1] Yaden, D. B., Johnson, M. W., Griffiths, R. R., Doss, M. K., Garcia-Romeu, A., Nayak, S., Gukasyan, N., Mathur, B. N., & Barrett, F. S. (2021). Psychedelics and Consciousness: Distinctions, Demarcations, and Opportunities. The international journal of neuropsychopharmacology24(8), 615–623.

[2] López-Giménez, J. F., & González-Maeso, J. (2018). Hallucinogens and Serotonin 5-HT2A Receptor-Mediated Signaling Pathways. Current topics in behavioral neurosciences36, 45–73.

[3] Carod-Artal F. J. (2015). Hallucinogenic drugs in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures. Neurologia (Barcelona, Spain)30(1), 42–49.

[4] Hermle, L., Simon, M., Ruchsow, M., & Geppert, M. (2012). Hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder. Therapeutic advances in psychopharmacology2(5), 199–205.

[5] Daniel, J., & Haberman, M. (2018). Clinical potential of psilocybin as a treatment for mental health conditions. The mental health clinician7(1), 24–28.

[6] Daws, R.E., Timmermann, C., Giribaldi, B. et al. Increased global integration in the brain after psilocybin therapy for depression. Nat Med 28, 844–851 (2022).

[7] Griffiths, R. R., Johnson, M. W., Carducci, M. A., Umbricht, A., Richards, W. A., Richards, B. D., Cosimano, M. P., & Klinedinst, M. A. (2016). Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England)30(12), 1181–1197.

[8] Kelmendi, B., Kichuk, S. A., DePalmer, G., Maloney, G., Ching, T. H. W., Belser, A., & Pittenger, C. (2022). Single-dose psilocybin for treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder: A case report. Heliyon8(12), e12135.

[9] Johnson, M. W., Garcia-Romeu, A., & Griffiths, R. R. (2017). Long-term follow-up of psilocybin-facilitated smoking cessation. The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse43(1), 55–60.

[10] PR Newswire. (2018). COMPASS Pathways Receives FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation for Psilocybin Therapy for Treatment-resistant Depression. PR Newswire. Retrieved from

[11] Ducharme, J. (2019, May 8). Denver Approves Decriminalizing Psilocybin Mushrooms in Unofficial Results, as Public Support for Psychedelic Drug Research Grows. Time. Retrieved from

[12] McCarthy, K. (2020, Jan 29). Santa Cruz decriminalizes psychedelic mushrooms. ABC News. Retrieved from

[13] Weise, E., & della Cava, M. (2019, June 5). Oakland in California decriminalizes magic mushrooms and peyote. USA Today. Retrieved from

[14] Jaeger, K. (2023, February 6). Australia Legalizes Psilocybin And MDMA Prescriptions As U.S. Patients Seek Similar Authorization. Marijuana Moment. Retrieved from

[15] Jones, A. M. (n.d.). Four terminally ill Canadians get special exemption to use psychedelic therapy. CTVNews. Retrieved from

[16] Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. (2022, July 27). CAMH receives first Canadian federal (CIHR) grant to study psilocybin. CAMH. Retrieved from

[17] Mertz, E. (n.d.). Alberta sets standards for psychedelic drug-assisted therapy. Global News. Retrieved from

[18] Winstock, A., Barratt, M., Ferris, J., & Maier, L. (2017). Global Drug Survey 2017: Key Findings Report. Global Drug Survey. Retrieved from

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