Psilocybin: Chemical | Organic composition

Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 2:58 pm

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring hallucinogen. It exerts neurotoxic effects similar to LSD and has a chemical structure similar to the neurotransmitter serotonin in the human brain. Psilocybin is found as an indole alkaloid (nitrogen-containing organic base) in the fungal (Protista) kingdom. Often it is accompanied by the related alkaloids, psilocin, baeocystin, and norbaeocystin.
Mushrooms that contain psilocybin are of the genus Psilocybe and belong to the Basidiomycetes class. Over 90 Psilocybe species are psychoactive, and they grow naturally around the world. Psilocybin (phosphorylated 4-hydroxydimethyltryptamine) usually accounts for 0.03 to 1.3% of the total weight of the mushroom, though potency can vary greatly.
Psilocybin can be isolated and crystallized or synthesized to nearly 100% purity. Research indicates that Psilocybe mushrooms produce a bitter alkaloid as an insecticide to protect itself from predators. In humans, psilocybin is a neurotoxin that can cause hallucinations.

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