The Psilocybin Mushroom

When clusterheads talk of mushrooms, magic mushrooms, shrooms or fungus, they mean mushrooms containing psilocybin and psilocin. These two closely-related chemicals have an indole-ring structure in their molecules, as do the other tryptamines used to treat clusters. It is psilocin which has the psychedelic and medicinal effects, but the body quickly converts psilocybin into psilocin.

One theory is indole ring molecules have a shape that will fit certain kinds of receptors in the brain. Because of this, they influence the amount of serotonin at work in the brain, and serotonin levels may have something to do with clusters. Since some specific shapes of tryptamine molecules fit receptors better than others, so it is thought, some tryptamines seem to work better than others. Psilocin is a vasoconstrictor, and may stop or prevent attacks by keeping the carotid artery from expanding and pressing on the trigeminal nerve.

There are many species of mushrooms that contain psilocybin and psilocin. They grow on all continents (except Antarctica) and in a wide variety of climes. Many have the term “psilocybe” in their scientific names. Many recreational “shroom” users know cow pastures, forests, swamps or other spots to find wild psilocybin mushrooms. In some areas, however, there are wild toxic mushrooms which can be easily mistaken for psilocybin mushrooms, with potentially lethal results. Good advice: do not pick wild mushrooms unless you are an experienced mycologist (fungus scientist). Poison mushrooms are no joke.
Sometimes other species of mushrooms, containing no psilocybin, are called “magic mushrooms.” The chemicals in fly agaric (Amanitas muscaria), can be psychoactive, but are also toxic. They do no good for clusters, as far as we know, and can be life threatening. Avoid such things.

Myths and misinformation

There are many myths and much misinformation about magic mushrooms – some of it spread by governments. The truth is, there have been no reliable reports of anyone dying from ingesting psilocybin mushrooms. They are nontoxic to the point that it’s nearly impossible to poison yourself. It has been said you would have to eat your weight in mushrooms to receive anything like a lethal dose – that may be an exaggeration, but a toxic dose of psilocybin mushrooms would be measured in pounds or kilograms rather than grams. Tales, legends and news reports about people dying from eating mushrooms usually turn out to be cases where people have eaten toxic mushrooms, believing them to be psilocybin; other reports involve other drugs or chemicals, or are simply false.

Legality

Psilocybin mushrooms are illegal just about everywhere. Under U.S. law, and in other countries as well, it is not the mushrooms themselves that are illegal, but the psilocybin and psilocin they contain. This means, however, that psilocybin mushroom spores are legal in most U.S. states, since the spores contain no psilocybin or psilocin. The spores are legally available for sale, but only for educational and scientific research purposes. The spores are illegal in California and Georgia. It is illegal everywhere to deliberately grow psilocybin mushrooms. Some countries have decriminalized the use of psilocybin mushrooms, but there is much debate and laws and policies may be changing. It’s good policy to assume they are illegal everywhere. Legal information here: Legal

Magic species

Most mushroom available on the street or grown by recreational users are of the species Psilocybe cubensis, mainly because they are potent enough and grow fast, but there are other species and they can vary quite a bit in potency. Psilocybe cyanescens and Psilocybe semilanceata are about twice as strong as cubensis. Other species of Psilocybe may contain very little active ingredient. Because of the variability in potency, Clusterbusters recommends caution.

Much valuable, detailed and nonjudgmental information on psilocybin mushrooms and other psychoactive substances is available from the fine folks at Erowid. Their website is at www.erowid.org. Please support their work with a donation.

Getting to mushrooms

Buying mushrooms on the street is a bad idea for several reasons. Since shrooms are illegal, only outlaws sell shrooms. Dealing with a criminal element can he hazardous to your health and your wallet, and when dealing with organized crime, your money goes to support other, not-so-innocuous activities. There is no consumer protection agency for the black market, and there are many reports of other kinds of mushrooms being treated with other chemicals – some quite nasty – and passed off as psilocybin mushrooms. Please don’t buy shrooms on the street.

Picking mushrooms in the wild is dangerous. Eating the wrong mushroom can be fatal, and that is neither a joke nor an exaggeration. Many toxic species attack the liver in an insidious way – they will make a person sick, but the symptoms will seem to subside in a day or two. Three or four days later, however, the liver starts to fail and the only option for survival is a transplant. Poison mushrooms really are quite poisonous, and unless one is an expert in identification, avoid mushrooms found in the wild. In some areas, there are species of highly toxic mushrooms that look a lot like psilocybin mushrooms. Trust no one to properly tell the difference between toxic and the nontoxic wild mushrooms, unless they are recognized, certified experts.

The third way to procure shrooms is simply to grow them yourself. This avoids any questions of toxicity, adulteration, rip-offs or organized crime. It provides a more reliable, consistent dosage of psilocybin, and it’s relatively inexpensive. Growing magic mushrooms has a reputation for being difficult, but there are methods designed to make it easy. The biggest challenge is getting one kind of fungus to grow while preventing other kinds of fungus from contaminating and destroying your crop. Never eat a mushroom if it has another kind of fungus growing on it. Never eat an unknown fungus.

It takes a couple months to grow a crop of psilocybin mushrooms, and it can be done in a closet or other secure place out of the sight of casual visitors or curious kids. The equipment required is not extensive. Once a crop is grown and harvested, second and third crops of mushrooms will grow from the same mycelium (the “roots” of the mushroom organism).

Storage

Even a small crop of mushrooms is more than you need for the immediate treatment of a cluster cycle. Fresh mushrooms simply don’t last very long, and they should be dried as completely as possible – cracker dry – for long-term storage. Properly dried and stored away from oxygen, light, heat and moisture they will keep their potency for a couple years. Dried and then kept in a freezer, they may last even longer. You must warm up chilled or frozen mushroom to room temperature before opening the container – otherwise the dried mushrooms will get damp from condensation.

How much?

Most people who eat shrooms do it to get high – for fun or for or self exploration or spiritual reasons. Clusterheads eat mushrooms to treat cluster headaches, and the amount needed can be much less than needed for recreational or spiritual purposes. See THE DOSING METHOD: Dosing

Fresh mushrooms are mostly water, and dried mushrooms weigh only about a tenth as much as fresh. This is important when determining the size of a dose. For the common cubensis species of mushroom, recreational users will take two or three grams of dried mushroom, or 20 to 30 grams of fresh mushrooms. Cluster treatment requires half that amount, or even less. About one gram of dried cubensis is often used for a dose. Everyone is different so the range for a cubensis dose will be from about 0.5 grams to 1.5 grams. With more powerful species such as Psilocybe azurescens or Psilocybe cyanescens, a quarter or half a gram will be enough.

Without lab equipment, it can be hard to accurately measure amounts as small as a gram, but a simple gram scale can be improvised from common household items and units may be purchased reasonably.

The idea is to take enough to be effective against clusters without going on a significant trip. One way to gauge the proper dose is by the psychoactive effects it produces. It’s often said you need as much as to make it fell like you drank two beers. Of course the effects of psilocybin have a much different quality that that of beer, but the general level of intoxication should about the same.

To help describe the intensity of a psychedelic experience, the folks at Erowid have a rough scale of zero to 5 called the Trip Level. A medicinal dose of psilocybin ranks between a trip level 0.5 and 1. EROWID

If colors seem a little brighter, more vivid, and if things seem to have a slight glow, if jokes seem a little funnier, that’s a sign the psilocybin is having about the right amount of effect. If trees are suddenly blooming with multicolored flowers that rotate and shoot laser beams at the heavens to illuminate God, the dose was probably a good bit larger than needed for cluster headaches. Taking large, mind-bending doses of psilocybin doesn’t seem to be more effective than using a moderate dose, and there is some anecdotal evidence suggesting it might be less effective.

Warning!

Not all people should use magic mushrooms to treat their cluster headaches. There might be physiological problems with this treatment for some people, and mushrooms may interact with other drugs. People diagnosed in the past or present with a psychotic disorder, or people with biological parents or siblings diagnosed with a psychotic disorder should seriously consider not taking psilocybin mushrooms. See WARNINGS! Warnings