The Chemistry of Psilocybin: Understanding Its Metabolism and Duration.

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( For millennia, non-European cultures have used psychedelic plants in spiritual rituals. Even today, they play a role in religious ceremonies for many cultures. An early instance of this is “Soma,” a ritual drink referred to multiple times in Sanskrit texts from the Hindu religion. Evidence indicates that the active component of Soma was the hallucinogenic Fly Agaric mushroom.

In ancient Greece, initiates to the rites of the Eleusinian Mysteries (held by the cult of Demeter and Persephone) were given a drink that from the texts was pretty clearly hallucinogenic. Scholars speculate that it was made of wheat that had been infected with Ergot, which contains a natural compound that is very similar to LSD.

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The Chemistry of Psilocybin: Understanding Its Metabolism and Duration.

Moving Forward to Modern Times

Psychedelic plants are still used by indigenous cultures today. Tribes in the Amazon use Ayahuasca (a psychoactive brew) and some Native America tribes consume the hallucinogenic Peyote cactus. Traditional religious ceremonies in which psychedelics play part are typically led by a Shaman or Medicine Man. A recurring theme in these rituals is interaction with the spirit world through an altered state of consciousness.

This leads us to the use of psychedelic mushrooms in countries all over the world today. Also known as “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms,” these designations encompass any fungus that contains psilocybin, the hallucinogen that delivers mind and perception-altering (hallucinogenic) effects.

Describing the Hallucinogenic Experience

The personal effects of hallucinogens are notoriously difficult to describe. The experience is profoundly subjective and highly variable, with each person’s trip being unique. Psychedelic sensations and perceptions are abstract and can involve not just distorted visuals but even synesthesia, where the user can “see” sounds and “hear” colors, etc.  Additionally, magic mushrooms can dissolve the boundaries between the self and the universe, creating a transcendent experience that is beyond the scope of everyday language.

Scientifically speaking, hallucinogens alter a person’s perception of reality in dramatic and unpredictable ways, without the physical effects of depressants or stimulants. In spite of the name “hallucinogen,” actual hallucinations (where the “trip” involves seeing nonexistent aliens or monsters or the like) are relatively rare. Research has shown that shrooms produce feelings of happiness, trust, empathy, and psychological intimacy. Psychedelics also enhance the users’ desire to be with other people and increase their altruism. It is these effects on emotional dispensation and affability that have shown to have the most promise for psychiatric therapy.

Time and Duration of the Psychedelic Mushroom Experience

When taken on an empty stomach, the magic mushrooms begin to take effect within 30 minutes. The full effects should arrive within an hour, and no later than two. The key to the duration of the trip is the metabolism of the individual in question. Activities and substances that speed up a person’s metabolism will cause the body to process the psilocybin more quickly. At any rate, the hallucinogenic experience should not last longer than 8 hours. The most likely situation that would lead to an excessively long trip is the overconsumption of magic mushrooms. There is a tendency, especially for new users, to decide within 30 minutes of ingesting that the mushrooms are unusually weak or that not enough were taken. Taking too many magic mushrooms will not ever be fatal, but it may take the individual a full day to be free of the effects.

Times have changed since the psychedelic heydays of the 60’s. More knowledge is available now to both recreational users of magic mushrooms and medical professionals who look to them as therapeutic tools. Those wishing to experiment with shrooms should educate themselves and make necessary plans for positive and safe trips.

Staff Writer; Jay Johnson