Magic mushrooms are wild or cultivated mushrooms that contain psilocybin, a naturally-occurring psychoactive and hallucinogenic compound.
Psilocybin is considered one of the most well-known psychedelics, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations (SAMHSA).
Psilocybin is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it has a high potential for misuse and has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
Although certain cultures have been known to use the hallucinogenic properties of 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 like dried ordinary mushrooms with long, slender stems that are whitish-gray and dark brown caps that are light brown or white in the center. Dried mushrooms are a rusty brown color 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.
A number of factors influence the effects of magic mushrooms, including dosage, age, weight, personality, emotional state, environment, and history of mental illness.
Off-Label or Recently Approved Uses
In 2018, researchers from Johns Hopkins University recommended reclassification of psilocybin from Schedule I to Schedule IV in order to allow for medical use.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins found that psilocybin was an effective treatment for depression and nicotine and alcohol addictions, as well as other substance use disorders.6 Studies have shown that magic mushrooms were effective and relieving the emotional distress of people with life-threatening cancer diagnoses.7
One study found that people who self-medicated with small dosages of psilocybin were able to relieve cluster headaches while avoiding any psychoactive effects of the drug.8
The Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins is also researching how psychedelics affect a variety of conditions such as:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Anorexia nervosa
- Opioid addiction
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome
In 2019, Denver became the first city to decriminalize mushrooms. Oakland became the second city less than a month later. Other U.S. cities have followed suit, including Santa Cruz in California and Ann Arbor in Michigan.
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. However, in 2020, Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy.