Shrooms, psychedelic mushrooms, and magic mushrooms are street names for fungi that contain the psychoactive compound psilocybin. There are over hundreds of known species containing this particular substance and its metabolite psilocin.
The effects of magic mushrooms can be felt within 20 minutes to half an hour after they have been ingested. And a full psychedelic journey can last for up to six to eight hours. These mushrooms can be eaten alone, or mixed with other food, or brewed like tea before drinking in order to mask the mushroom’s unpleasant flavor.
These hallucinogenic mushrooms have been used in many rituals and ceremonies dating from thousands of years back, but it is only recently that scientists have started to learn and understand the impact of these substances on the human body.
Physical Effects from Magic Mushrooms
Hallucinations. Intense sounds. Saturated visuals. Greater self-awareness. All these are hallmark effects associated with the consumption of magic mushrooms.
Changes in brain activity
These psychedelics are powerful. Brain imaging studies show that these fungi have profound effects on our brain function. For one, brain activity patterns change while under the influence. While some areas of the brain became more pronounced, others were muted. In addition, it also showed that the brain reorganized connections and linked previously unconnected regions of the brain. There were now stronger activities across regions that rarely or never engage with each other.
Because of these changes in brain activities, magic mushrooms are thought to alleviate symptoms of depression. For people who get into depressive thinking, the areas of the brain that are responsible for sense-of-self are over connecting. But by loosening these circuits, these psychedelic mushrooms can provide relief from the strong depressive emotions.
On the other hand, the way that these mushrooms affect communication across brain networks is the reason why people often hallucinate or why synesthesia happens. Associating colors with emotions or shapes with a certain smell are some forms of synesthesia.
Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature
Various studies have shown that taking magic mushrooms have been shown to alter physiological parameters by binding strongly to our 5-HT2B receptors. This can lead to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Heart rate, while under the influence, easily rose to the 150 to 160 range even at a normal dose (2.0 to 3.0 grams of dried magic mushrooms). And any drug that increases the heart rate is likely to cause an increase in the blood pressure too.
Interestingly, the same studies showed that body temperatures could fluctuate intensely while high on the drug. A user can feel cold and have chills at one point, and instantly feel flushed and sweating.
Relaxation or tightening up of muscles
Researches show that magic mushroom or psilocybin use affects the nerve cells that control our muscles, similar to marijuana usage. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this action can induce feelings of relaxation. However, it is important to note that different individuals are subject to different experiences with magic mushrooms. Muscles relaxing and muscles tensing up can both easily happen when you’re high with psychedelics.
Psilocybin is known to mimic the effects of the brain chemical serotonin. This not only helps with the treatment for depression, but increased levels of serotonin can also cause pupils to dilate. Depending on the dosage, pupils can stay dilated for more than 24 hours, which can become quite uncomfortable and inconvenient.
Diarrhea and Dry Mouth
Our bodies are naturally engineered to remove pathogens or toxins that enter the system through vomiting or diarrhea. In the same way, about an hour after ingesting the magic mushrooms, you may start to feel queasy as the body starts to react to the novel substance and attempts to rid itself of the powerful chemicals. Diarrhea draws water into the intestine, and this leads to dehydration and dry mouth.
Drowsiness and excessive yawning
While there are still no studies directly examining why magic mushrooms or the compounds in them cause excessive yawning, many revealing hints show the involvement of psilocybin (mimicking serotonin) binding to the 5-HT2C receptors in causing the yawns. For some psychonauts, excessive yawning is an unwanted distraction from their magical journey. For others, however, the yawns are highly anticipated because it lets them know that the compounds are successfully coursing through their veins.
Wood Lover Paralysis (WLP) or numbness
A temporary state of muscle weakness or paralysis is one reported common side effect when consuming magic mushrooms, especially when ingesting species that grow on wood. Hence, the name wood lover paralysis. Up to date, there are no scientific studies that have been conducted around this phenomenon despite the number of anecdotal reports. Paralysis here includes the loss of motor function and facial control, including loss of feeling in the tongue and lips.
Magic mushrooms are not as famous for their physical effects as they are for their nonphysical effects. However, a number of these bodily reactions actually stem from their mental effects. These side effects, however, can pose issues when using whole magic mushrooms or even extracts for therapeutic use. Thus, the importance of studying and understanding all the compounds found in these psychedelic fungi and how they work together to cause these physical effects.