1. Are shrooms bad for you?
A research paper ranked psilocybin mushrooms as the third safest drug (Nutt et al). All drugs can still be harmful under certain circumstances. A separate study also found that magic mushrooms were the drug with the lowest rate of emergency room visits after use, lower than alcohol, and even marijuana.
2. Psilocybin, an active ingredient in magic mushrooms, has an excellent safety track record to date in lab studies
The biggest risk to organs of magic mushrooms is eating a poisonous mushroom that isn’t actually a psilocybin mushroom.3
There is a question around whether long term frequent use, for example in weekly microdosing, could have cardiac effects, and more information is needed.
Be extra careful if you’re picking your own mushrooms to avoid poisonous mushrooms. Do your research on how to identify mushrooms.
3. A list of side effects or risks
“Bad trip” (an unpleasant experience)
Psychotic reaction, from transient to persistent
Lasting perceptual changes, “persistent and distressing alterations in perception, chiefly in the visual system, that last from weeks to years after use.”
Impaired thinking leading to dangerous behavior (e.g. driving a car)
“The occurrence of transient or persistent psychosis can be prevented or further reduced by excluding people on the basis of the presence of past or current psychotic disorders or such disorders in first-degree relatives, such as biological parent or sibling.” It is not a good idea to take any psychedelics, including mushrooms, if you or any of your first or second-degree relatives have a current or past history of psychotic disorders including schizophrenia, Bipolar I or II disorder.5
The most common risk though still somewhat rare risk appears to be extreme anxiety, panic, and temporary (during the 6 hours) loss of ability to comprehend reality, lasting an average of 3.8 hours. Generally does not require hospitalization. Treatment with supportive care, and failing that, benzodiazepines like Valium.
4. First-time users can safely receive large doses, if prepared for the effects
“Drug-naïve participants can safely receive intense doses of psilocybin if prepared for the effects (Griffiths et al. 2006).”
5. Are there serious risks from shrooms?
Magic mushrooms temporarily increase heart rate and blood pressure. Magic mushrooms have been consumed by millions of Americans, but that doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to be safe. In research settings, mushrooms are given with medical staff present, who are able to give blood pressure medications if blood pressure rises.
Magic mushrooms are a drug with intense effects and should be treated as such.
6. A list of common effects
Altered perception of time and space
Feeling as if the world is fake
Feeling as if you’re in a dream (not that you think you’re sleeping, more that things seem unreal, like a dream)
Rapid mood changes, sometimes from very positive to very negative
Very sensitive mood
Fatigue (people on shrooms often find themselves wanting to lie on the floor, or not move much. This effect seems less prominent with LSD, as opposed to shrooms)
Hard to concentrate
“Sporadic, transient increases in blood pressure or heart rate”
Unusual or odd thoughts
“Most of these effects are acute and last no longer than the four to six-hour duration of drug effects.”
7. Mushrooms have been used for hundreds or thousands of years in Mexico
There’s a lack of case reports on physical illness or disease.
8. What is the risk of HPPD?
When people refer to HPPD, what they often are referring to is small visual distortions, for example, looking at a curtain and noticing that it slightly appears to be moving. The actual diagnosis criteria for HPPD are stricter.
How common is HPPD? “The higher estimate is 4.1%, as detailed above. The lower estimate would be 0.12% (two confirmed cases out of 16,192 people looking at the questionnaire).”
“In approximately 500 Native American Church members screened for our study, who had taken peyote on at least 100 occasions over years or decades, none has described symptoms suggestive of HPPD.”7
“Finally, although millions of doses of hallucinogens have been consumed by millions of individuals since the 1960s, (SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, 2000, 2001), few large reported series of HPPD cases have appeared.”7
9. You can reduce the risk of bad trips
Read up on the effects before taking it
Have a sitter who is trained to deal with panic or anxiety and psychedelic sessions3
Start with lower doses (~0.8g) before higher doses (e.g. more than 3 grams dried mushrooms)3
10. Magic mushrooms likely are free of addiction potential
“Examining use patterns in humans and studies in nonhuman primates suggest that psilocybin possesses little or no abuse liability.”
Undesirable Effects from Magic Mushrooms
There’s nausea, paralysis, and fatigue to name a few.
Psilocybin mushrooms (aka magic mushrooms) are known to have a wide range of subjective effects on the user. Some of the primary effects are part of the psychedelic and mystical experiences these mushroom cause such as a distorted sense of time, visual and auditory hallucinations, and a feeling of oneness or a connection to nature and the universe. The subjective effects of magic mushrooms can be highly variable and depend on which compounds are in the mushrooms, how much of each compound is present, the part of the mushroom that is ingested, the dosage, metabolism of the user, the entourage effect, and the set and setting of their psychedelic experience.
Some of the short-term side effects of ingesting magic mushrooms are described as undesirable, unpleasant, or uncomfortable. For some users, these effects are related to their psychedelic experience. For example, a person may visualize they are running away from something which causes an increase in their heart rate. However, this can be an undesirable and distracting effect for someone having a more peaceful experience.
There is a lot of mystery surrounding the exact cause(s) of these undesirable effects, their intensity, and why some people may not experience them at all. Research into the individual compounds in magic mushrooms would go a long way toward understanding how they work in the human body and the metabolic pathways they use (In addition to psilocybin and psilocin, magic mushrooms can also contain baeocystin, norbaeocystin, aeruginascin, and phenethylamine). It is reasonable to think that with more in-depth understanding, many of these undesirable effects could be reduced or even eliminated by creating formulations using specific magic mushroom compounds.
“Though this is something to be expected, I couldn’t help but be disgusted by the disgusting texture and even fouler taste.”
“We talked about how nasty the shrooms tasted. The day before the trip we each tried a little piece and that didn’t really taste bad, it was much like the usual mushrooms you have on your pizza. But when you have to 30 grams of it, though, they DO taste nasty. Only one word could describe their taste: horrid.”
[smoking dried cubies] “I packed a bubbler full of mushrooms, which I packed in there tight. My girlfriend and I smoked up the whole bowl, it tasted disgusting, but… not all drugs taste good. It tasted sort of like burning hair and cheese, almost enough to make me nauseous.”
“The taste isn’t exactly gourmet, but it really isn’t so bad. I like the taste of store bought mushrooms however. Dry, smell like old shoes, taste like nothing until rehydrated; then they’re nasty, texture isn’t bad, like bark or little pieces of wood. Fresh smell good, taste ok, but the texture is horrible, especially the cap.”
“I found that in the beginning I didn’t mind mushrooms at all, but now I can’t stand the taste of them. disgusts me.”
“My trips are almost ruined from the overwhelming nausea, I can’t even walk for periods of time without running back to my bed, even as I’m talking I start to gage (sic). As far as watching t.v. or using my computer or phone, I can never look at it for more than one second without getting overwhelmed with the urge to puke.”
“Every racing thought appears as a powerful visualisation in my minds eye. I am laying on my bed, the nausea is bearable, as long as I don’t move or sit up.”
“I was fully immersed in the experience at this point, but still fighting ever-increasing waves of nausea. I was trying to keep everything in my stomach for as long as I could manage, but I had the intuition that eventually I would just have to jettison everything.”
“I’ve been taking shrooms recently, but can never get a good high in fear of puking!”
“When I first started using mushrooms my typical dose was 3-4g and the nausea was present but relatively bearable. Basically the more mushroom matter I have to ingest the worse the nausea gets and it can last the entire trip.”
Paralysis/Wood Lover Paralysis
“The ‘paralysis’ manifested as waves of losing most of the motor control of my limbs. If I was standing one minute, I was crumpled on the floor flailing about the next.”
“First noticeable symptoms are blurred vision, hand cramping/numbness, then loss of facial/mouth movement followed by having a hard time walking then full loss of the ability to walk properly or even stand period.”
“I have had severe paralysis on ps cyanescens to the point I had to hit the floor because my muscles just gave out.”
“I was fine that night. The next morning I woke up and was having a hard time focusing my eyes and felt very uncoordinated….All of a sudden I completely lost control of both legs, and my hands got seized up weird and stuff. I was in the middle of the road in the campground paralyzed. My mind was clear but I couldn’t get up no matter how many times I tried….My hands were seized up and my face was numb and the muscles unresponsive for up to a couple of hours and it went away.”
“Not full on paralysis, but I did realize how wobbly and weak my muscles were feeling under me.”
“I got half way to the kitchen and suddenly my legs felt like they were going to collapse. I sat down for 5 minutes, got up again, walked for a bit- and then my legs DID collapse. It was a little scary because I felt clear headed, there was no pain or numbness… just non-functional legs.”
“I collapsed in the middle of a field. I couldn’t walk 5 blocks. My co-tripper couldn’t smile the next day. I have experienced many muscular problems on these two species [Psilocybe cyanescens and Psilocybe azurescens]. They effect these muscle parts/groups: eye, facial, esophageal, hand and leg…. I have never had similar effects on [cubensis].”
“My friend … would try to stand up and his legs would collapse like jelly….he was also getting weird facial contractions where his mouth would distort similar to a mentally disabled person.”
“One time walking to the bathroom was a massive struggle, I probably looked like I had cerebral palsy… and once I did make it to the bathroom, I couldn’t even raise my arms more than a few inches, and my legs were trembling, barely holding my weight. My vision was blurred, and when I looked in the mirror, I was literally slightly cross-eyed with one pupil still heavily dilated and the other in a normal state (lol).”
“Some trips I yawn so much I get the jaw equivalent of a charlie-horse.”
“Yawns are to shrooms what farts are to beer.”
“When the trip is coming up I seem to yawn for no reason, it doesn’t feel as “satisfying” as a normal yawn … it’s like I’m opening my mouth really wide for no reason.”
“I yawn every time I trip on mushrooms, I can be running through the woods playing with shit, be wide awake and I am yawning. I remember one time me and a friend yawned together the whole night, every time I yawned he yawned and we would laugh. Fun times. Sometimes it bugs me, but I have no idea how to stop it.”
“Even microdosing I’ll get them, and I’m tired of yawning so much on days I dose!”
“I once had a batch that made me so fatigued that I couldn’t stand. I spent an entire trip in the same position(not exaggerating at all). I wasn’t spacing out, I couldn’t stand.”
“They [magic mushrooms] often make me feel exhausted. I’ve read and heard that muscle aches and ‘noodling’ are common experiences, but it’s getting to the point that it affects my trip. I’ve tripped many times without feeling fatigued at all, so I imagine there is some way to combat this side effect.”
“The last few times I’ve done magic mushrooms I’ve had bad fatigue on the comedown.“
“During the first 2 hours after taking cubes tired, weak and very sleepy, also I get very cold. so tired that I have to lay down in my bed and wait until the onset is over. Then, after the first 2 hours, I usually start to feel better and lightweight.”
“I get tired, but I found the tea made my shrooms weak and got nothing out of them. I get lathargic (sic) with endless yawns and I want to melt into everything.”
“I get pretty lethargic on shrooms, and wanna chill, or walk around very . It happens every time, even when I plan on going for a long-ish walk, I end up sitting on a bench for most of the time.”
“I find that for me at least, the dosage plays a part. I know that when I eat an eighth or less, I have much more energy. While if a large dose is consumed, my body gets very tired and heavy and I usually like to lay there.”