The use of certain types of mushrooms for their psychedelic properties, has been a practice in many cultures for centuries. Some of these practices are for rituals that are culturally traditional, and some are simply for recreational purposes. In the United States, regardless of intent, the use of these fungi is illegal, and considered dangerous.
Possibly one of the foremost reasons for the concern with mushrooms, is the likely chance for misidentification. Ingesting the wrong kind of mushroom will not only not give the perceived result, but may very well poison its user. Only mushrooms that contain psilocybin will produce the visions and hallucinations that individuals who partake in “magic” mushrooms are looking for. Psilocybin has the ability to yield muscle relaxation and produce hallucinations and visions, which is often the desire of those ingesting these mushrooms. However, caution is flagged because these same mushrooms can also cause severe nausea, extreme pupil dilation, and breathing problems. It is also dangerous because its effects or “trip” cannot be controlled or redirected if it takes a bad turn.
Mushrooms containing psilocybin are indigenous to tropical and subtropical regions in the United States as well as in Central and South America. These mushrooms may contain 0.5 percent or less of psilocybin. Another hallucinogenic substance called psilocin may also be present in trace amounts in the mushrooms. Preparations of tea or cooked in foods as well as eaten without anything else are the preferred methods of ingestion. The psychedelic properties of the mushroom is not altered by cooking or freezing and they are often dried.
The full effect of the psilocybin can be felt as early as 20 minutes after ingestion and will typically be experienced for 6-8 hours. Reported effects range in intensity and variation from person to person. Some report hallucinations and altered sense of reality, while others claim that everything seems clearer and claim that their senses are heightened. Some experiences are described as being scary or traumatizing.
There is no evidence that the illicit use of mushrooms is addictive.
There are long-lasting effects from mushroom use:
- Flashbacks that may be pleasant or a living nightmare; may be caused by using other drugs or by engaging in physical exercise; have appeared weeks, months, and even years after the use of mushrooms
- Sustained depression
- Lack of motivation
- Panic attacks
- Compromised memory
- Inability to concentate
- Severe mental disturbances
When considering the list above, it is easy to see why mushrooms that cause these effects are illegal and controlled substances. It would seem clear that any benefits or fun hoped for, would not outweigh the possibility for a negative turn of events or lasting effects that may haunt you for the rest of your life.
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