How to Use Psilocybin Mushrooms (920)
Psychedelic mushrooms containing psilocybin are one of the oldest and safest traditional medicines and have been used for centuries in many countries around the world. The therapeutic and spiritual uses of mushrooms are what make it such an important tool for growth and healing.
Over 200 species of mushrooms containing psilocybin and psilocin are known, growing naturally in many parts of the world. Mushrooms are non-addictive and become less active with repeated short-term use. They do not have any overdose risk. Many experts consider them among the safest psychoactive compounds available (safer than tobacco, alcohol, and anti-depressants).
See the bottom of this page for recent academic studies on the therapeutic uses of mushrooms. From a recent article in the New York Times:
Two weeks after Sakuda’s psilocybin session, Grob readministered the depression and anxiety assessments. Over all among his subjects, he found that their scores on the anxiety scale at one and three months after treatment “demonstrated a sustained reduction in anxiety,” the researchers wrote in The Archives of General Psychiatry. They also found that their subjects’ scores on the Beck Depression Inventory dropped significantly at the six-month follow-up.
Before you begin, be sure to read our safety section and see the special safety considerations for mushrooms at the bottom of this page.
The strength of mushrooms can vary somewhat, because you are consuming the mushrooms themselves, not just the active agents. Different strains have different strengths and potency can somewhat decline over time.The most common variety of mushroom available is psilocybe cubensis, which is a fairly strong strain. A typical dose of recently dried psilocybe cubensis mushrooms is about 3.5 grams (1/8th of an ounce).
It is not possible to overdose on mushrooms. However, taking a dose that’s different than anticipated can cause temporary anxiety. Interestingly, this can happen if the dose is smaller than expected, as well as if it is larger. In fact, some therapists recommend starting with a fairly strong dose of mushrooms that will quickly move people past their own psychological frameworks and into a more spiritual state, thereby bypassing anxiousness. Other research has suggested that starting with a small initial dose and increasing in successive sessions reduces potential anxiety.
Mushrooms are non-addictive and become much less effective if taken repeatedly in a short period of time, as your body adjusts. This makes overuse less likely.
How to Take Mushrooms
Be sure that you have set aside enough time in a comfortable setting. Mushrooms typically last for about 4-5 hours, with the peak happening for about two hours, beginning 30-60 minutes after ingestion. You’ll have a gentle decline 2-3 hours after taking the mushrooms. You may want to eat before you take the mushrooms as you may not feel hungry during the experience.
Make sure you have the right dose ready. Many people find that mushrooms can cause stomach upset for the first 60-90 minutes of their experience, which can be distracting. Taking the mushrooms in tea reduces this effect-- chop the mushrooms up, boil them for 20 minutes, and drink the liquid (the mushrooms that remain will also still be active, but weakened). With tea, you will feel the effects more quickly and you also might come down more quickly.
Eat or drink the dose. If you eat the mushrooms and don’t like the taste, you can chew them with peanut butter or some other flavorful food.
Once you take the mushrooms, you’ll have about 30-60 minutes before the effects are strong. This is another chance to make sure you get setup with anything you will want to have handy. Lots of folks like to write during the experience, about their ideas and feelings, so you may want to have paper or a computer handy. If you are interested in addressing particular emotional or psychological challenges in your life, you may want to make a list of issues that you want to think about during the experience.
As the effects begin to occur, you will start to notice a change in your perception of the world. You may see some slight changes in your visual perception -- subtle rainbow halos around lights, trails behind moving objects, geometric patterns when your eyes are closed. These effects can be fun to look at, but don’t let them become too much of a distraction from thinking about your self, your life, and your perception of the world.
Once the mushrooms have fully taken effect (60-90 minutes after you take it), you’ll notice that your thoughts and emotions feel different. While the effects can vary widely from person to person and moment to moment, you are likely to feel some of the following: a sense of wonder and delight, openness to thoughts and feelings that you usually avoid, a sense of peace, a sense of connection to the world, clarity about relationships and people in your life, unity with the universe, excitement and joy, strong emotions. Mushrooms generally dissolves mental boundaries, making it easier to feel thoughts and emotions and letting you fully immerse yourself in an idea or feeling. This can be powerful at times, you may become very happy or very sad, very thoughtful or frustrated or engaged with an idea. Mushrooms have been shown to enhance problem solving for science and engineering professionals, given its ability to allow deep immersion in a thought with heightened creativity and openness to new ways of tackling a problem. It is important to remember two things as you being your mushroom experience: 1. stay open to your feelings and let them flow through you 2. if you feel too stuck in an idea or a sad emotion, start thinking about something positive and you will notice that your mood changes. Putting on positive music or a comforting movie can also help if you have any anxiety. But it’s always best if you can stay open to your feelings, good or bad, and let them flow.
As you experience this process, try to stay as open to your feelings and ideas as you can. If you have been depressed or stressed or anxious, you’ll find that you can still feel those feelings intensely and they can be very immersive. However you’ll also notice that there’s a certain softness present in even the most difficult feelings-- you may still feel troubled by a problem in your life, but you’ll also be able to look at the issue with more openness and the fear that you associate with that problem will be much reduced. The more you can stay open to even the most challenging feelings, the more meaningful and effective the experience will be. As you think about difficulties in your life or things that have led to anxiety and depression, try to find new ways of approaching those feelings and opportunities to come at those challenges in a new way. You’ll find that just spending time thinking about challenges in your life will help you re-store those memories and ideas without as much associated stress and fear.
Don’t forget to spend some time relaxing into the experience. It’s worth taking some time just to relax and be present with the experience without specific goals. Not only does it give you relief and relaxation, but you may find that important realizations arise about issues that you weren’t even expecting to think about.
As the effects of mushrooms start to fade, you will have a couple hours of gradual reduction in the intensity of the feelings. This can be a good time to write about your experience or talk with a friend or loved one about what you’ve been experiencing. Gradually, you will start to feel back to your normal self, and this can sometimes lead to a bit of disappointment as your typical mental habits start to pop up. Getting to such a free space and then coming back to yourself can leave you longing to always be so free. But as you think about your experience and the ideas and feelings you had, you’ll realize that so much of that freedom and openness is still with you. Take some time to think about what’s happened and to remind yourself to bring some of that openness into your day to day life.
Typically, people feel very free and open in the days following a mushroom experience. You should try to get a good night’s sleep afterwards, and you may feel a little tired the next day.
Most people find that they have an afterglow from their mushroom experience that can last days or weeks, improving their mood and outlook and keeping them very open to others. Ideas and issues that you explored during the experience will have a new clarity to them. Emotionally difficult topics, memories, and experiences are likely to feel much safer and will bring up less fear when you remember them. You are likely to feel better able to tackle challenging emotional experiences in your life.
The positive effects of mushrooms can last for years, even from just a single experience. In a recent study at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, an incredible 94% of participants who had a single dose of mushrooms said it was “one of the top five most meaningful experiences of their lives.” Another study found long lasting changes in openness more than a year after a single mushroom dose.
As you can read in the studies above and below, mushrooms have been shown in many research settings to dramatically reduce anxiety, depression, and other psychological challenges with just a single dose. However, you may wish to repeat the experience a few times to further explore and address any emotional and psychological issues that you are working with.
Special Safety Considerations
In addition to our standard safety suggestions, do not use mushrooms if you are currently taking psychoactive pharmaceuticals, such as anti-depressents, anti-anxiety drugs, etc. Always research any supplements or other medicines that you may be taking to avoid interactions.
Articles and Research on Mushrooms
New York Times
How Psychedelic Drugs Can Help Patients Face Death
LSD and Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy for Anxiety
New York Times
Hallucinogens Have Doctors Tuning In Again
New York Times
The Guardian: Magic mushrooms may help with depression, say leading scientists
Pubmed search for “psilocybin”: a good way to find latest research
9/20 Coalition for Psychedlic Mushroom Education
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