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Magic mushrooms

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The magic of magic mushrooms comes from the psilocybin that lies within them. “Psilocybin is a molecule… produced by over 100 mushroom species, likely to fend off various insects and/or microorganisms,” explained Marshall Tyler, Director of Research at Field Trip Health. “When these mushrooms are consumed by humans, the liver converts psilocybin into the psychoactive molecule psilocin.”

There are different varieties of psychedelic mushrooms scattered across the globe. Psilocybe cubensis, also affectionately referred to as the “Golden Teacher,” is the most common. Other popular magic mushrooms include “Liberty caps” (Psilocybe semilanceata), “Wavy caps” (Psilocybe cyanescens), and “Flying Saucers” (Psilocybe azurescens). Most psilocybin mushrooms tend to have light-brown to gold-colored caps with slender stems.

Shroom hunters can pick out magic mushrooms by their trademark feature of blue bruising: Stems turn a blue shade when picked, a giveaway that psychoactive molecules lie within. 

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Magic mushrooms, and the psychoactive compound in them, psilocybin, activate specific serotonin receptors in the brain, causing changes in mood, thoughts, feeling, or behavior. Incredibly, there are more than 100 varieties of psychedelic mushrooms growing wild on every continent except Antarctica.

Shrooms have left a lasting imprint on human history and culture. They’re thought to have been an evolutionary catalyst that may have expedited human development. Psychedelic mushroom expert Terence McKenna once asserted, “Homo sapiens ate [their] way to higher consciousness.”

These fungi have opened the door for many to step into the world of psychedelics, and magic mushroom imagery permeates popular culture—some argue that the story of Alice in Wonderland can be read as a metaphor for a perception-altering mushroom trip.

What’s so unique about the psilocybin molecule found in magic mushrooms? What does our lengthy relationship with shrooms reveal about our origins? And what trips might mushrooms take us on in the future?

Magic mushrooms, and the psychoactive compound in them, psilocybin, activate specific serotonin receptors in the brain, causing changes in mood, thoughts, feeling, or behavior. Incredibly, there are more than 100 varieties of psychedelic mushrooms growing wild on every continent except Antarctica.

Shrooms have left a lasting imprint on human history and culture. They’re thought to have been an evolutionary catalyst that may have expedited human development. Psychedelic mushroom expert Terence McKenna once asserted, “Homo sapiens ate [their] way to higher consciousness.”

These fungi have opened the door for many to step into the world of psychedelics, and magic mushroom imagery permeates popular culture—some argue that the story of Alice in Wonderland can be read as a metaphor for a perception-altering mushroom trip.

What’s so unique about the psilocybin molecule found in magic mushrooms? What does our lengthy relationship with shrooms reveal about our origins? And what trips might mushrooms take us on in the future?

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