What Are the Side Effects of Magic Mushrooms?

Research indicates that magic mushrooms have high therapeutic potential but as with every psychedelic substance, you should approach psilocybin with caution.

Although responsible consumption of shrooms doesn’t have any serious side effects, going overboard with psilocybin may result in some adverse reactions, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Bad trip (unpleasant psychedelic experience)
  • Psychotic reaction, from acute to persistent
  • Lasting perceptual changes in the visual system (they can last from weeks to years)
  • Impaired thinking leading to dangerous behavior

Everything You Need To Know About Magic Mushroom Substrates

If you’re cultivating magic mushrooms in bulk, or without a grow kit, you’ll need to prepare a mushroom substrate. In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about the right substrate for your magic mushrooms.

When cultivating magic mushrooms, nothing is more important than doing so in the right substrate. Unless you’re using a mushroom grow kit that already comes with everything, you will need to source your own substrate. The thing is, unlike growing plants, where ordinary soil from the store may do, growing magic mushrooms is entirely different. Technically, mushrooms aren’t even plants, but fungi; this also means that mushrooms have distinct requirements for their substrate.



Plants get energy to grow from sunlight, and draw water and nutrients up from the soil. Fungi, on the other hand, do not require light to grow, and feed on decaying material in nature. The mushroom substrate is what the mushroom mycelium (the subterranean part of a fungus) uses for energy and nutrition. Because of that, it’s the most important factor when growing magic mushrooms.

If you purchase a prepared mushroom grow kit from Zamnesia, it already comes with a suitable substrate (a mix of perlite and vermiculite) and colonised “spawn” e.g. a rye cake permeated with mycelium. After some easy prep work, the mycelium in your kit will start to grow, and your mushrooms will come next.

But if you want to grow mushrooms in bulk, you will need a suitable substrate that will be inoculated with mushroom spores or mixed with mushroom spawn. The mycelium then grows throughout the substrate, and at some point, your mushrooms (the above-ground fruiting bodies of the fungus) will appear.

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There are all kinds of mushroom substrates. Some common ones include straw or hardwood sawdust, or a mix of coco coir and vermiculite. Even coffee grounds or manure can serve as a mushroom substrate.

Unlike garden soil, you need to prepare mushroom substrates before you can use them. You will need to add water, and potentially even nutrients as well. Most importantly, you will need to pasteurise or sterilise the substrate.



Mushroom substrates like straw, wood, manure, etc. contain a wealth of organic substances that your mushies will devour as they grow. But along with these substances, substrates can also contain mould, bacteria, and other (undesired) fungi. The thing is, these contaminants often grow faster than your magic mushrooms, competing with them for space and resources. Obviously, you don’t want this. You need to eliminate these contaminants so your mushrooms can grow optimally.

This can be achieved by pasteurising or sterilising your substrate before you introduce your mushroom spores.


Pasteurisation is when you heat up your substrate to temperatures between 65–85°C for a couple of hours using a hot water bath or steam. This won’t kill all harmful microbes in it, but it will give your mushrooms a good head start. Indeed, sometimes it can be advantageous for certain microorganisms to remain in the substrate.


To sterilise the substrate, you need to heat it to a much higher temperature (120°C+) under pressure. This will eliminate all living microorganisms that would otherwise compete with (or even spoil) your mushrooms.



Whether you need to pasteurise or sterilise depends on the type of substrate you’re using. Those with lower levels of nutrients, such as non-supplemented straw, can be prepared using just pasteurisation.

On the other hand, substrates containing very high levels of nutrients, such as supplemented hardwood sawdust, need to be sterilised as they are often contaminated with mould and other kinds of harmful microorganisms.


A good substrate shouldn’t just contain all the organic nutrients your mushrooms need to grow; it should also be easy to work with, and shouldn’t set you back too far in the way of cost. Know that there is no “best” option suitable for all types of mushrooms. For this reason, some growers like to experiment with different substrates to see which one yields the best results for each type of shroom.


COCO COIR AND VERMICULITE Magic Mushroom Substrates

A mix of coco coir and vermiculite makes for an excellent mushroom substrate. Coco coir is made from the husks and shells of coconuts, while vermiculite is a heat-treated and expanded mineral that can retain a lot of water. A typical coco coir and vermiculite mix is 1:1.

A coco coir and vermiculite mix isn’t particularly nutritious for plants, but it’s nutritious enough for growing many types of mushrooms. You should pasteurise it before introducing your spores.


Good gardeners know that spent coffee grounds have their uses. They are high in nitrogen, so they make for an excellent soil amendment. Coffee grounds are also decent as a mushroom substrate, although we wouldn’t recommend them as your first choice. The reason is that spent coffee grounds are very rich in organic compounds, so they can easily contaminate your operation. For that reason, it’s often better to add them to other substrates like coco or sawdust, rather than using them on their own. Best when sterilised, but pasteurisation can work too.


LOGS Magic Mushroom Substrates

Mushrooms love eating decayed organic matter, and one of them is dead wood. In theory, it may sound like a good idea to get a log and cultivate some magic mushrooms, but in practice this can be a little bit involved. First, not all mushrooms will grow on a log, as some eat only certain woods and not others. Secondly, it can take a long time for the first flush to emerge—from several months to a year. On the other hand, it may be worth it if not just for decorative purposes in your yard. Once inoculated, a log can produce flushes for many years and doesn’t need any maintenance or sterilisation!


Fungi often form a beneficial relationship with other organisms called mycorrhizal association. In our case, that would be trees. If you’re out in the wild, you may come across trees with mushrooms growing naturally along their trunk or branches. For our purposes, it wouldn’t be easy nor very practical to inoculate an actual tree with magic mushroom spores, although it may be possible. For mushroom growing at home, you’re better off using logs.


MANURE Magic Mushroom Substrates

A lot of mushroom species, particularly Psilocybe varieties, really love nothing more than manure. Manure is often used in commercial cultivation for culinary mushrooms, and it can be quite an involved pursuit.

To make a suitable substrate, manure needs to undergo composting. For this, a mix of manure and straw is heated to 72°C, which will destroy the “bad” microorganisms and benefit the good ones. Afterwards, the compost is pasteurised again to remove the remaining contaminants. Although widely used commercially, manure isn’t very practical for home use.


Soy hulls make another decent substrate for mushroom cultivation. You can achieve very good results by mixing them together with hardwood sawdust. Depending on the type of mushies you’re growing, it may require some experimentation to find out the optimal ratio. You can start out with a 1:1 ratio first, then work from there to see what gives you the best results.


SAWDUST OR WOOD CHIP MIXES Magic Mushroom Substrates

Along with coco and vermiculite mixes, hardwood sawdust is another commonly used substrate for mushroom cultivation. What makes it attractive, among other things, is that it’s a waste product from the wood industry, which means it’s widely available and cheap. Sawdust, however, is rarely used on its own; it’s typically mixed with wood chips to improve its structure and rate of colonisation. But not any type of sawdust works for mushrooms—it needs to be from hardwood like oak or maple. Softwoods are not suitable for growing magic mushrooms.

As an alternative to hardwood sawdust, you can use wood pellets. These are widely available as they’re used for wood stoves. Before inoculating, the pellets need to be soaked in water and broken up into sawdust.


Straw makes an excellent substrate for mushroom cultivation. As a waste product from agriculture, it is usually very cheap, so you can obtain lots of it for very little money. Although your mushrooms will love straw, know that it can be a little messy to work with as you need to chop, clean, and pasteurise it. Unless you’re a commercial mushroom grower sourcing huge amounts of straw from a farm, you’re likely better off getting a small bag from a grow store. This straw often comes pre-cut and cleaned. To pasteurise, toss the straw into a container and douse with hot water.

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Chances are you won’t have trouble sourcing any, or at least some, of the above substrates to grow your magic mushrooms. But if, for whatever reason, you can’t, or if you just feel like experimenting, there are other things you can use as well. Look into cellulose-based materials like paper and cardboard, as well as spent grain and even tea leaves. Then again, you likely won’t know which substrate works best for your type of mushroom until you try them. If you look on the internet, you can find lots of DIY mushroom substrate recipes.

For some cultivators, it’s not even so much the growing of shrooms that they enjoy most, but coming up with great new recipes for substrates. You won’t have trouble finding like-minded individuals online with whom you can talk to and share your experiences.



So, what is the best substrate for growing Psilocybe cubensis, aka our magic mushrooms and truffles? In our experience, mixes of coco coir and vermiculite, but also straw and manure, give great results. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t use others, but some of these substrates might be harder to come by or are only optimal when mixed. Coco and vermiculite in a 1:1 mix provides optimal nutrition and has just the perfect structure for cultivation, so it is one of our favourites.


Once you have delved deep into the exciting realm of mushroom growing, you might be surprised with the amount of spent substrate you end up with. What to do with it?

If you just have a small operation, no need to toss anything—compost instead! Dedicate a space in your garden where you can keep a nice pile of waste that will eventually turn into the most excellent compost. This way, you won’t just end up with some awesome magic mushrooms, but also a great soil amendment for anything else you might want to grow!

Georg Written by: Geore
Based in Spain, Georg spends a lot of his time not only geeking out at his computer but in his garden as well. With a burning passion for growing cannabis and researching psychedelics, Georg is well versed in all things psychoactive.

How to and not to use Magic Mushrooms

How to and not to use Magic Mushrooms

We have written a responsible use guide so you can benefit from our knowledge. Following the advice will make your trip more pure, beautiful and safe. You can also Download the responsible use flyer here.

To have the best experience from a magic mushrooms trip, we recommend always planning your trip at least a couple of days ahead so you can mentally and physically prepare yourself for the mind broadening experience. There are certain precautions that you should take especially when you have never had an experience with the magic mushrooms.


Preparation before using magic mushrooms



  • The minimum age for a person to use magic mushrooms is 18 years. Of course not everyone matures at the same rate, that’s why we recommend the use to people of 21 years and older.
  • Only take mushrooms when you are in good mental health, for instance you should not be depressed. Also important is that you are in good physical health and that you have no bacterial and/or viral infections like the common cold or the flu.
  • Do not use mushrooms if you are alone. It is preferable to use them with a person that has taken mushrooms before.


Food and drinks

  • There has to be plenty of drinking water for everyone.
  • Direct access to sugar containing drinks (dextrose) is strongly recommended. In case you want to lessen the effects this is what you should take.
  • When taken on an empty stomach, magic mushrooms will have the best effect. Consume magic mushrooms at least 2.5 hours after your last meal. You can expect the effects to start within 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the rate of your metabolism.
  • A portion of the cubensis species 15 grams. In dry weight this is 1.5 grams. Never take more than this. Not even when your friends already feel the effects and you don’t. Just wait a little longer.
  • Whant to calculate your dose? Use the Shroomery dose calculator


Surroundings and people

  • The people you will take them with should be people you like and trust.
  • Take mushrooms because you want to take them and not because other people convince you to while you’re not completely confident in doing so.
  • When you are scared of the potential effects, DO NOT TAKE MAGIC MUSHROOMS!
  • Make sure that one or more people in your company will be the so called ‘sitters’. This means that they will stay clear from taking mushrooms. In case someone will need attention they can take care of that person. Read more about sitters.
  • Keep the next 24 hours free from appointments. Take your time for magic mushrooms. The idea that you will need to take a train soon or that you have a job interview will stress you and will take a lot of beauty out of your trip.
  • Switch off your phone. Most people will not be able to react rationally in the event they are confronted with bad or good news. Others also switch off the doorbell so they won’t be disturbed.
  • Take magic mushrooms in a quiet environment with no or very few strangers (people that do not belong to your group.) Being in nature or perhaps indoors is advisable. Magic mushrooms are no party drugs. Festivals and concert halls are not good places to do them.
  • Make sure you know how to be able to contact the local emergency services.


Other drugs

NEVER take magic mushrooms in combination with other drugs. Especially not with alcohol and also stay clear from cannabis use.

During the trip

Drink plenty of water. As nice as the effects of mushrooms can be, your body recognizes the active ingredients as toxins. Your body needs water to remove these chemicals from your system. Caution: Do not think that if you do not drink water that the effects will last longer or will be intensified. Your body will just take water from other places in your system because the removal of this toxin will be a priority. The consequence is that you will dehydrate and this can be very dangerous. The trip will be of the same strength and duration anyway.
Do not use alcohol or other drugs before, during or after your trip. This is so important that we repeat this statement. One of the effects of mushrooms is that your mind jumps from one thought to another in high speed. Alcohol slows down your reaction speed and will be responsible for your thoughts to start running in loops. This is extremely unpleasant and can easily cause a bad trip. Also, when using alcohol you are prone to dehydration.


The journey

Relax and follow where they will bring you. The effects of mushrooms are mind-blowing. This means that your senses work on a higher frequency when intoxicated. You will experience things that you would normally not see or realize. These visions are often enigmatic and are not always what they seem. The beauty lies in puzzles. This can be frightening at times, but just go with it and don’t try to fight it. Blocking it will work against you.



What makes people different depends greatly on their background. No person is alike and it is the same with their needs when they are tripping. Some love to chat, others prefer to be silent. One wants to make love, while another doesn’t even want to be touched at all. It is good to be able to communicate about this at forehand and you will understand the importance of surrounding yourself with people you like and trust.



The effects of mushrooms come and go in waves. This is also noticeable in how one undergoes the strength of the trip. It can happen at a certain point in your trip that it might feel that the effects are fading. Do not eat more magic mushrooms to increase the effects again! After only a few minutes you will find the effects will increase again without having to do anything.


In case of a bad trip

When you take our advice to heart, the chances of “a trip going bad” are greatly minimized. However, it might occur that a person in your group didn’t follow our rules so strictly. When a person has a bad trip you will notice it. This person will start reacting very anxiously, extremely paranoid or even hysterical or violent. Here is some advice on how to deal with this situation. It is best that the person that is sober (the sitter) will take care of this person.

  • Never lose the person out of sight, for he or she can suddenly try to take off. This person should never be and feel left alone.
  • Seek a quiet place where this person can sit or lie down. Have him or her focus on breathing calmly.
  • Give the person sweet things to drink and perhaps to eat as well. After a few minutes the effects of the magic mushrooms will slowly start to get milder.
  • A bad trip generally will last just as long as a regular trip. For the person in question it might feel that it will never pass. Comfort lies in convincing them it will all be soon over. Again, having them take sweet beverages will help to decrease the length of the trip.
  • When you think after a while that you have done the best you can do and this person is getting unmanageable you will need to get in contact with the emergency services. In Europe this number is 112. In the United States it is 911. Always be completely honest to the services in what is happening to the victim and what this person has taken as intoxicants.
  • Read more about bad trips on our blog

For more information you can call (anonymously) the drugs information desk. They are available 24/7 (in the Netherlands) on 0900-1995 (€ 0.10 p/min)

Is it safe to take magic mushrooms?

Psilocybin mushrooms have been found to have minimal harmful effects and could potentially benefit those with depression. But they remain illegal, and there is a big risk if you eat the wrong type.

The ‘magic’ ingredient in these mushrooms mimics serotonin activity in the brain.
The ‘magic’ ingredient in these mushrooms mimics serotonin activity in the brain. Photograph: Martin Bond/Alamy

Magic mushrooms are the safest “recreational” drug to take and those who take them are the most sensible and well prepared,according to the 2017 Global Drug Survey. Out of almost 10,000 people who took them, only 0.2% needed emergency medical treatment. But magic mushrooms, or psilocybin mushrooms, contain a compound that has been a class A drug under the UK Misuse of Drugs Actsince 1971 – like heroin and crack cocaine.

The solution

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial College, London, explains that psilocybin is similar to LSD, but weaker, and mimics serotonin activity in the brain. It reduces brain activity in information transfer centres such as the thalamus, which sits just above the brainstem. The thalamus tells the brain what movement and sensations it is detecting. Whatever the mechanism, shrooms can make you euphoric, at one with the world and searingly insightful. Colours and geometric patterns may be vivid. Carhart-Harris says magic mushrooms are not really recreational drugs: “It’s more a drug of self-exploration,” he says. The environment, though, is essential to having a positive experience – people need space, a “sober sitter” to take care of them – and they may need reassurance that they are not going mad. Carhart-Harris prefers the term “challenging experience” over “bad trip”: mushrooms can cause anxiety, panic and depersonalisation – but studies show people still value the experience as meaningful.

Studies do not show increased mental health problems from habitual use – unlike the effects of cocaine or cannabis. A BMJ article by psychiatrist James J H Rucker argues that psychedelic drugs may actually help depression and that there is no association with psychosis. A paper in science journal PLoS One found no evidence of flashbacks (such as hallucinations or panic attacks) from sole mushroom use. Mushrooms aren’t habit forming and are far less toxic to our internal organs than heroin or cocaine. However, you should not take them as they are against the law, and this article is not promoting their use in any way. I am also keen to point out that there is a big risk of accidentally taking the wrong kind of mushroom – psilocybin mushrooms are safe, but others, such as Amanita muscaria, are toxic and can destroy your kidneys or can even be fatal.

Carhart-Harris researches into the benefits of psychedelic drugs on depression, and says that most experiences on mushrooms are positive – people generally know they have taken something and that they are not going out of their minds. The effect is different, he says, to when people unknowingly take these drugs. And while mushrooms are illegal for everyone, young people in particular should stay away. “They are not for teenagers,” he warns. “They make you psychologically vulnerable and you need the capacity to make sense of the experience.”

The picture on this article was changed on 29 May 2017 to one that shows magic mushrooms.

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About Magic Mushroom Use

Magic mushrooms are wild or cultivated mushrooms that containpsilocybin, a naturally-occurring psychoactive and hallucinogeniccompound. Psilocybin is considered one of the most well-known psychedelics, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations.1

Psilocybin is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning that has a high potential for misuse and has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

Although certain cultures have known to use the hallucinogenic propertiesof some mushrooms for centuries, psilocybin was first isolated in 1958 by Dr. Albert Hofmann, who also discovered lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

Magic mushrooms are often prepared by drying and are eaten by being mixed into food or drinks, although some people eat freshly picked magic mushrooms.

Also Known As: Magic mushrooms are also known as shrooms, mushies, blue meanies, golden tops, liberty caps, philosopher’s stones, liberties, amani, and agaric.

Drug Class: Psilocybin is classified as a hallucinogen.

Common Side Effects: Magic mushrooms are known to cause nausea, yawning, feeling relaxed or drowsy, introspective experience, nervousness, paranoia, panic, hallucinations, and psychosis.

How to Recognize Shrooms

Mushrooms containing psilocybin look liked dried ordinary mushrooms with long, slender stems that are whitish-gray and dark brown caps with light brown or white in the center. Dried mushrooms are rusty brown with isolated areas of off-white.

Magic mushrooms can be eaten, mixed with food, or brewed like tea for drinking. They can also be mixed with cannabis or tobacco and smoked. Liquid psilocybin is also available, which is the naturally occurring psychedelic drug found in liberty caps. The liquid is clear brown and comes in a small vial.

What Do Magic Mushrooms Do?

Magic mushrooms are hallucinogenic drugs, meaning they can cause you to see, hear, and feel sensations that seem real but are not. The effects of magic mushrooms, however, are highly variable and believed to be influenced by environmental factors.2

Shrooms have a long history of being associated with spiritual experiences and self-discovery. Many believe that naturally occurring drugs like magic mushrooms, weed, and mescaline are sacred herbs that enable people to attain superior spiritual states. Others take magic mushrooms to experience a sense of euphoria, connection, and a distorted sense of time.

The psilocybin found in shrooms is converted to psilocin in the body and is believed to influence serotonin levels in the brain, leading to altered and unusual perceptions. The effects take 20 to 40 minutes to begin and can last up to 6 hours—the same amount of time it takes for psilocin to be metabolized and excreted.3

A number of factors influence the effects of magic mushrooms, including dosage, age, weight, personality, emotional state, environment, and history of mental illness.

What the Experts Say

While magic mushrooms are often sought out for a peaceful high, shrooms have been reported to induce anxiety, frightening hallucinations, paranoia, and confusion in some.4 In fact, most hospital admissions related to the use of magic mushrooms are connected to what is known colloquially as a “bad trip.”

Off-Label or Recently Approved Uses

Magic mushrooms have been used for thousands of years for both spiritual and medicinal uses among indigenous people of America and Europe.

In 2018, researchers from John Hopkins University recommended reclassification of the drug from Schedule I to Schedule IV in order to allow for medical use. Studies suggest that psilocybin can be used to treat cancer-related psychiatric distress, depression, anxiety, nicotine addiction, and substance use disorders.3

In 2019, Denver became the first city to decriminalize mushrooms. Oakland became the second city less than a month later. This does not mean that shrooms are legal but that the city is not permitted to “spend resources to impose criminal penalties” on people in possession of the drug.

Common Side Effects

All hallucinogens carry the risk of triggering mental and emotional problems and causing accidents while under the influence. Among adolescents, magic mushrooms are frequently taken in combination with alcohol and other drugs, increasing the psychological and physical risks.

The amount of psilocybin and psilocin contained in any given magic mushroom is unknown, and mushrooms vary greatly in the amounts of psychoactive contents. This means it’s very hard to tell the length, intensity, and type of “trip” someone will experience.

Consuming shrooms can result in a mild trip causing the user to feel relaxed or drowsy to a frightening experience, marked by hallucinations,delusions, and panic. In the worst-case scenario, magic mushrooms have even been known to cause convulsions.5

Side effects of magic mushrooms can include both physical and mental effects.

Physical effects:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature
  • Lack of coordination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Yawning

Mental effects:

  • Distorted sense of time, place, and reality
  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations (visual or auditory)
  • Having introspective (spiritual) experiences
  • Panic reactions
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Nervousness

More research is needed on the long-term, lasting side effects of magic mushrooms but it has been reported that users can experience long-term changes in personality, as well as flashbacks long after taking mushrooms.

Since magic mushrooms look similar to poisonous mushrooms, poisoning is yet another potential risk of taking these drugs. Mushroom poisoning can cause severe illness, organ damage, and even death.

It’s also common for magic mushroom products to be contaminated. A study of 886 samples alleged to be psilocybin mushrooms analyzed by Pharm Chem Street Drug Laboratory showed that only 252 (28%) were actually hallucinogenic, while 275 (31%) were regular store-bought mushrooms laced with LSD or phencyclidine (PCP), and 328 (37%) contained no drug at all.6

Help for Mushroom Poisoning

If you suspect that you or someone you care about ate a poisonous mushroom, call poison control right away at 800-222-122. Don’t wait for symptoms to occur. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Signs of Use

If your loved one is using shrooms, they may be nauseous or appear nervous or paranoid. In the case of drug use, it’s always important to pay attention to any changes in sleeping and eating patterns as well as shifts in mood and personality and social activities.

Myths & Common Questions

There are many myths about magic mushrooms. Some people believe, for example, that magic mushrooms are “safer” and produce a “milder” trip than other hallucinogenics.

In fact, in addition to their potential to poison anyone who takes them, magic mushrooms are just as unpredictable in their effects as other drugs. Some people have reported much more intense and frightening hallucinations on magic mushrooms than on LSD.

Many people also confuse fly agaric mushrooms with psilocybin-containing mushrooms—but they are not the same. Fly agaric mushrooms contain the psychoactive chemicals ibotenic acid and muscimol, which are known to cause twitching, drooling, sweating, dizziness, vomiting, and delirium.7

Tolerance, Dependence, and Withdrawal

Like most drugs, the more you use magic mushrooms, the more tolerance you develop. Tolerance also develops quickly with regular use. This means that you need more of the drug to achieve the same effect.

Developing a tolerance can be especially risky with shrooms because consuming a large amount can result in overdose symptoms, which while not fatal, can include agitation, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle weakness, panic or paranoia, psychosis, and seizures.

How Long Does Psilocybin Stay in Your System?

The short-term effects of magic mushrooms typically wear off in 6 to 12 hours.3 But users can experience long-term changes in personality and flashbacks long after taking the drugs.

The average half-life of psilocybin ranges from an hour to two, and it generally takes five to six half-lives for a substance to be eliminated from your system.

The typical urine drug screening for employment does not test for psilocybin, but there are specific tests that can be ordered to test for the powerful hallucinogen. Like many other drugs, magic mushrooms can be found in hair follicles for up to 90 days.8


Psilocybin is not addictive and does not lead to compulsive use. This is partly because the drug can cause an intense “trip.” Plus, people can build a tolerance to psilocybin fairly quickly, making it hard to have any effect after several days of repeated use.5


While users rarely report physical symptoms of withdrawal when they stop using the drug, some experience psychological effects, which may include depression.

How to Get Help

If you suspect your teen is experimenting or regularly using magic mushrooms, consider having a firm yet loving conversation with them about the risks of psychedelics, especially when combined with alcohol or other drugs. At this time, it’s also important to emphasize that you are there to help and support them.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

What are magic mushrooms?

Psilocybin or magic mushrooms are naturally occurring and are consumed for their hallucinogenic effects. They belong to a group of drugs known as psychedelics, because of the changes experienced to perception, mood and thought. The key ingredient found in magic mushrooms is psilocybin. When psilocybin is taken, it is converted in the body to psilocin, which is the chemical with the psychoactive properties.1

What do they look like?

Magic mushrooms look much like ordinary mushrooms. There are many different types of magic mushrooms. The most common ones in Australia are called golden tops, blue meanies and liberty caps.2 Magic mushrooms look similar to poisonous mushrooms that can cause a person to become very sick and can result in death.

They can also come as dried material in capsules. Synthetic psilocybin appears as a white crystalline powder that can be processed into tablets or capsules, or dissolved in water.3

How are they used?

Magic mushrooms are eaten fresh, cooked or brewed into a tea. The dried version is sometimes smoked, mixed with cannabis or tobacco.

Other names

Shrooms, mushies, blue meanies, golden tops, liberty caps.

Other types of psychedelics

Effects of magic mushrooms

There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.

Magic mushrooms can affect everyone differently, based on:

  • size, weight and health
  • whether the person is used to taking it
  • whether other drugs are taken around the same time
  • the amount taken
  • the strength of the mushroom (varies depending on the type of mushroom).

The effects of magic mushrooms usually begin in 30 minutes when eaten, or within 5–10 minutes when taken as a soup or tea, and can last for approximately 4–6 hours.2

During this time, the person may experience:

  • euphoria and wellbeing
  • change in consciousness, mood, thought and perception (commonly called a trip)
  • dilation of pupils
  • perceptual changes, such as visual and auditory hallucinations
  • stomach discomfort and nausea
  • headaches
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • increased body temperature
  • breathing quickly
  • vomiting
  • facial flushes, sweating and chills.1,2


The use of magic mushrooms rarely results in any life-threatening symptoms. If a large amount or a strong batch of mushrooms is consumed, the person may experience:

  • agitation
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • muscle weakness
  • panic or paranoia
  • psychosis
  • seizures
  • coma.3,4

Bad trips

Sometimes a person may experience the negative effects of magic mushrooms and have what is called a bad trip and may experience the following:

  • unpleasant or intense hallucinations
  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • panic or fear.1,4

Coming down

After ingesting magic mushrooms, delayed headaches may occur, which do not usually last for longer than a day afterwards.5
After taking mushrooms a person may experience feelings of:

  • exhaustion
  • depression
  • anxiety.2,4

Long-term effects

Some people who regularly use magic mushrooms may experience flashbacks. A flashback is when a magic mushroom experience reoccurs, they are usually visual distortions that involve perceptual or emotional changes. Flashbacks can occur weeks, months or even years after the drug was last taken. This can be disturbing, especially if a frightening experience or hallucination is  recalled. Flashbacks can be brought on by using other drugs, stress, tiredness or exercise and usually last for a minute or two.2,3

Using mushrooms with other drugs

Magic mushrooms + ice, speed or ecstasy: Can increase the chances of a bad trip and can also lead to panic.4

Magic mushrooms + some psychiatric medications: Mushrooms should not be taken by people on psychiatric medications as a relapse or worsening of the condition could occur.1

Tolerance and dependence

Tolerance develops rapidly with continued use, resulting in the drug having little to no effect over time. Discontinuing use for a week or so will return people to their normal tolerance level.2

Health and safety

The main risk involved with taking magic mushrooms is that some of them look very like certain types of poisonous mushrooms. So it is important to know what you are taking – if in doubt, do not take them.2

If you believe you or someone else may have eaten a poisonous mushroom do not wait for symptoms to occur, contact the Victorian Poisons Information Centre (Tel 13 11 26).

If the person has collapsed, stopped breathing, is having a fit or is suffering an anaphylactic reaction, immediately ring triple zero (000) for an ambulance.

For more information on poisonous fungi, including their identification and symptoms please visit The Better Health Channel.


Taking mushrooms regularly does not appear to result in physical dependence, those who use them regularly are unlikely to experience difficulty in stopping use.3  There are not many withdrawal effects known, however a person withdrawing from magic mushrooms may experience some psychological effects or fatigue.2

Quality Magic Mushrooms

What It Is:

Some kinds of mushrooms contain psilocybin and psilocyn, substances that can cause hallucinations. Used in large enough doses, these mushrooms have effects similar to the drug LSD.

Sometimes Called:

shrooms, magic mushrooms

How It’s Used:

Hallucinogenic mushrooms might be either fresh or dried. People take them as drugs by eating them, mixing them with food to mask the bitter taste, or brewing them in a tea for drinking.

What It Does:

The effects of mushrooms generally begin after about 30 to 45 minutes. They can last as long as 6 hours. Early effects typically include nausea and excessive yawning. After these initial effects, the “trip” begins.

A trip might be mild, leaving a person feeling drowsy or relaxed. But higher doses or stronger mushrooms can bring on hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia, and nervousness. The person may have a distorted sense of time, place, and reality. Too large a dose can lead to a long-term mental health condition known as psychosis.

The length and intensity of each mushroom trip can vary. It depends on how strong the mushrooms are and how much someone took. How a trip turns out also depends on the user’s mood, personality, and expectations.

Some trips may be enjoyable, but others lead to terrifying thoughts of losing control, intense paranoia, panic attacks, and fears of death. With mushrooms, it’s very hard to predict what sort of trip each user will have. There’s also no way to end a bad trip until it has run its course, which could be hours later.

The physical effects of mushrooms can include:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • increased heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature
  • muscle weakness
  • drowsiness
  • lack of coordination
  • dilated pupils

In very rare cases, if someone takes a huge amount of mushrooms, the side effects can be severe enough to cause death.

Some mushroom users have flashbacks where they relive some part of a drug trip when they’re no longer high. Flashbacks can come on without warning. They might happen a few days after taking mushrooms or months later.

It’s hard to know how strong mushrooms are. Buying mushrooms is also risky because some mushrooms are drugs, but others are extremely poisonous: A number of mushroom species can make people violently ill or even kill them.

Hallucinogenic mushrooms can give people stomach cramps or make them throw up. They also give some users diarrhea.

Because mushrooms alter a person’s sense of reality and affect judgment, trying to drive while under the influence of mushrooms is likely to cause accidents.

Mushrooms are an illegal drug listed as a Schedule I substance in the United States. This means they have a high potential for abuse and serve no legitimate medical purpose. Possession or use of hallucinogenic mushrooms is punishable by fines and jail time.

Can Smelling This Magic Mushroom Really Make You Orgasm?

Mushrooms are a superfood. With high levels of vitamin D, selenium, and micronutrients, the fungus among us is said to have powerful health properties, including boosting the immune system and warding off depression and anxiety. But they’ve been recently hyped for a whole different kind of superpower: Mind-blowing orgasms. According to a studypublished in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms (where else?), a rare Hawaiian mushroom can instantly give women an orgasm-just from a single whiff.

After hearing rumors from locals, researchers asked a handful of male and female volunteers to inhale the musky scent of the unnamed bright orange mushroom found growing on recent lava flows. The men said it was vile. But the women? “Nearly half experienced spontaneous orgasm” and were immediately transported to the heights of ecstasy. (The other half said it made their hearts race.) The scientists chalked it up to “hormone-like compounds” in the fungi spores that may stimulate the same part of the brain turned on by sex. But is this magic mushroom legit? Or was everyone just trippin’?

“We would’ve figured it out a long time ago if women’s desire was as simple as smelling a fungus,” laughs Holly Richmond, Ph.D., a somatic psychologist and certified sex therapist. “We can’t even create a women’s version of Viagra-as shown by the recent Addyi debacle-so I doubt this mushroom will do it.”

The thing many people don’t understand, Richmond says, is that women’s and men’s orgasms are totally different biological processes. “For men it’s relatively simple-you’re increasing blood flow to get an erection,” she explains. “For women, it’s a combination of arousal and desire. Arousal is what’s happening physiologically. But a crucial component of an orgasm from women is desire, the wanting and yearning. This begs the question: If you’re carrying around this fungus, what does it make you desire? Is it sex with partner? Anonymous sex? Sex with yourself?”

That’s not to say, however, that the mushroom-sniffing ladies were necessarily faking it. Rather, Richmond thinks it may be an example of a thought-induced orgasm. “As any woman who’s had a ‘wet dream’ can tell you, women can have an orgasm without any direct physical stimulation,” she says. “The biggest sex organ is the brain; if a woman can open it up to fantasy then absolutely, orgasm is possible just from thinking about it.”

If mushrooms are what gets you off, we’re not judging your kink. But know there are ways to make sure you have a great orgasm that don’t require hiking lava flows and harvesting flora. “The key to orgasming is to know yourself,” Richmond says. “Spend time being sexually experimental with yourself. Know what you like. Know what it takes to bring yourself to orgasm. Spend time with self-pleasure.” She also recommends learning how to stay present and focused on pleasure during sex and how to speak to your partner about what you like and want.

Bottom line? The real magic here is the amazing female brain.