Psilocybin is a hallucinogen that works by activating serotonin receptors, most often in the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain affects mood, cognition, and perception.
Hallucinogens work in other regions of the brain that regulate arousal and panic responses. Psilocybin does not always cause active visual or auditory hallucinations. Instead, it distorts how some people that use the drug perceive objects and people already in their environment.
The quantity of the drug, past experiences, and expectations of how the experience will take shape can all impact the effects of psilocybin.
After the gut ingests and absorbs psilocybin, the body converts it to psilocyn. The hallucinogenic effects of psilocybin usually occur within 30 minutes of ingestion and last between 4 and 6 hours.
In some individuals, the changes in sensory perception and thought patterns can last for several days.
Mushrooms containing psilocybin are small and usually brown or tan. In the wild, people often mistake mushrooms containing psilocybin for any number of other mushrooms that are poisonous.
People usually consume psilocybin as a brewed tea or prepare it with a food item to mask its bitter taste. Manufacturers also crush dried mushrooms into a powder and prepare them in capsule form. Some people who consume these mushrooms cover them with chocolate.
The potency of a mushroom depends on:
whether a person eats them fresh or dried
The amount of active ingredients in dried mushrooms is about 10 times higher than the amount found in their fresh counterparts.
Extent of use
In the U.S., the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) suggested that, between 2009 and 2015, around 8.5 percent of people reported using psilocybin at some point in their life.
When people use psilocybin, it is usually at dance clubs or in select groups of people seeking a transcendent spiritual experience.
In medical settings, doctors have tested psilocybin for use in treating cluster headaches, end-stage cancer anxiety, depression, and other anxiety disorders.
However, scientists have questioned its effectiveness and safety as a therapeutic measure.
Street names for psilocybin
Drug dealers rarely sell psilocybin under its real name. Instead, the drug may be sold as: