Psilocybin: Mental effects

Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 3:01 pm

Small doses of psilocybin mushrooms cause the user to feel relaxed. Moderate doses, which are generally 1-5 g of dried mushrooms or 10-15 g of fresh mushrooms, first cause of a feeling of tingling throughout the body, followed by a feeling of anxiety, anticipation, or alarm. It takes 30-60 minutes for the psilocybin to begin to take effect. As the effect of the drug heightens, users will experience mood swings from depression to joy and from euphoria (a feeling of well being) to fear. Perception of time, space, and the user’s own body is altered. Time usually seems to slow down. However, sometimes users believe time is standing still, winding backwards, or freezing in place. As hallucinations take on a visual form, users can feel as though the walls are breathing. Small and previously insignificant details can take on a new and profound meaning. Colors can take on brilliant and dazzling shapes such as tunnels/funnels, spirals, lattices/honeycombs, and cobwebs. Synesthesia or “cross-wiring” of the brain’s chemical circuitry can cause sound to be felt or seen and colors to be heard or tasted. Boundaries are often distorted and suddenly one’s hand may seem like it is several yards away, or shriveled, or shrunken to the size of an infant’s hand.
It can be a short step from intrigue to panic. Psilocybin users can have “bad trips” where they may believe they are sinking into the floor or they are being suffocated or harmed by others. The primary effects of psilocybin last four to six hours. For an additional two to four hours many users find it difficult to sleep and continue to experience an altered reality. It is common within the next few days to experience mood swings. Also, due to the intense nature of the experience, it is common to have recurring thoughts or feelings for several days or weeks.
Though psilocybin is known as a “natural” hallucinogen and has a reputation of being gentler than LSD, it is still known to cause panic attacks, “bad trips,” and to precipitate mental illness in some people. In 1998, a study at the Psychiatric University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, demonstrated that psilocybin produces a psychosis-like syndrome in healthy humans that is similar to early schizophrenia. The study showed that psilocybin-induced psychosis was due to serotonin-2A receptor activation and was not dependent on dopamine stimulation.

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