Substances | 7 min read

What Is Psilocybin? [Infographic] What You Need To Know About Magic Mushrooms

Medically Reviewed

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

On June 5, 2023

Written By

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

On June 5, 2023

What Is Psilocybin? [Infographic] What You Need To Know About Magic Mushrooms

What you will learn

  • Psilocybin is a naturally occurring substance found in various mushroom species found throughout the world.
  • Similar to LSD and ecstasy, these mushrooms have hallucinogenic effects that activate an altered state of consciousness.
  • Psilocybin mushrooms are Schedule I controlled substances with a high potential for abuse and no approved medical application.
  • These mushrooms are eaten raw, dried, powdered, in a capsule, and brewed as tea.
  • A mushroom “trip” can onset within 30 minutes or less and last 3 to 6 hours.
  • The effects of psilocybin include hallucinations, difficulty distinguishing between reality and fantasy, panic, psychosis, euphoria, contentedness, and changes in perception.
  • Physical side effects include nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, lack of coordination, headaches, elevated blood pressure, and rapid heart rate.
  • Long-term use can lead to altered brain chemistry, impaired cognitive and creative performance, Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD), and flashbacks.
  • Medical detox and inpatient holistic treatment can help you or a loved one overcome dependence on hallucinogenic substances.
Reading Time: 7 minutes

what is psilocybin infographic


Psilocybin is the official scientific name for the primary substance in what is commonly known as magic mushrooms. These natural fungi have hallucinogenic properties that can lead to misuse and harmful psychological effects. For anyone suffering from substance use disorder, even microdosing could be problematic or even dangerous.

Drug Facts About Psilocybin

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring substance found in a myriad of different types of mushrooms found all over the world, often referred to as “magic mushrooms.” These mushrooms have hallucinogenic properties that impact the senses and distort the user’s perception of reality.

While there have been studies conducted to explore the benefits of psilocybin and specifically microdosing for physical and mental health conditions (cluster headaches, obsessive-compulsive disorder, treatment-resistant depression, etc.), this is not its most common use today.[1] The FDA is still actively evaluating these substances and recommended guidance for safe applications. Unfortunately, due to these limited studies and the growing public perception of benefits, there has been an increase in psilocybin use in recent years.[2]

At this time, psilocybin is classified as an illegal Schedule I controlled substance with a high potential for abuse.[3] The Controlled Substances Act lists magic mushrooms and other hallucinogenic substances, including LSD, to have no safety-approved medical application in the US. Associated street names include Magic Mushrooms, Purple Passion, Little Smoke, and Shrooms.

Where Do Magic Mushrooms Grow?

Psilocybin mushrooms or magic mushrooms occur naturally throughout the world. Most species grow in the southern hemisphere in subtropical humid forests. Traditional customs associated with psychedelic mushrooms are prevalent in the Bahamas, Brazil, the British Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Nepal, Netherlands, Samoa, and Mexico, which has the highest number of psychedelic mushroom species (39%).[4][5]


Street Names Forms Administration Scheduling
Psilocybin, mushrooms containing Psilocybin Magic Mushrooms, Purple Passion, Little Smoke, Shrooms Fresh or dried plant-based substance, powdered in capsules Ingested (eating, drinking, swallowing)

Schedule I controlled substance


Forms of Magic Mushrooms

There are thousands of species of mushrooms around the world, many of which have psychoactive properties but are illegal nearly everywhere. Magic mushrooms can be found in fresh and dried form or ground into a powder and encapsulated.

How Psychedelic Mushrooms Are Taken

Official data indicates that over 22 million people over the age of 12 have ingested psilocybin mushrooms in their lifetime.[6] When taken, psychedelic mushrooms are weighed for dosage. They’re eaten raw, dried, or as a capsule and brewed as tea. Fresh mushrooms are 90% water, and dried mushrooms are much stronger than fresh if ingested normally.

Microdosing is the practice of consuming nominal amounts of mushrooms, as low as ⅕ or 1/20 a typical recreational dose or mixing nonpsychedelic mushrooms with magic mushrooms. Though Harvard Medical School researchers report that there is still no definitive evidence that this is safe or beneficial.[7]

What Do Magic Mushrooms Look Like?

With thousands of mushroom species on Earth, it’s easy to confuse one potentially harmless mushroom with one that evokes a psychoactive response. Mushrooms that contain the natural compound of psilocybin have long, thin stems that are white or gray and dark brown caps with a lighter center and dark lamella or gills underneath.[8]


What Do Magic Mushrooms Do To The Brain?

Psilocybin has two primary hallucinogenic compounds that act as agonists or partial agonists in the brain. This activates the 5-HT2A serotonin receptors responsible for learning, perception, and mood, triggering the associated psychedelic effects.[9]

What is the difference between psilocybin and psilocin?

Psilocin is the metabolic extraction your body automatically creates from psilocybin in other substances, like mushrooms. This compound is what activates the mind-altering effects associated with psychedelic or hallucinogenic substances.

LSD Vs. Mushrooms: What’s The Difference?

LSD is also a hallucinogenic substance that is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. However, it differs from magic mushrooms in how it is taken (by contact and orally) and its effects. Taking LSD may result in a distorted perception, impaired judgment, acute anxiety, and depression. LSD is also associated with longer-lasting trips that could lead to greater psychological harm.[10]

Psychedelic Effects of Psilocybin Mushrooms

The psychedelic effects of psilocybin mushrooms are a driving force behind their misuse.[12] Effects include hallucinations, an inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy, panic, and psychosis. You may also feel a sense of euphoria, contentedness, and changes to perception with an altered consciousness, also known as a “trip.”[13] However, due to the varied physiological differences from person to person, the experience and toxicology could be completely unique.[14]

How Long Do The Effects of Shrooms Last?

The physical and psychological effects of shrooms begin 20 and 30 minutes after ingestion and can last anywhere from 3 to 6 hours.[15] There are a number of factors that can influence how long the effects last, including your weight, metabolism, how much was taken, if there are any other substances present, the type of mushroom, your mindset, and your environment. Because of these variances, the effects and how long they last are generally unpredictable.

Physical Side Effects of Psilocybin Mushrooms

As with any mind or central nervous system-altering substance, there are a number of associated physical side effects. In most cases, these range from mild to moderate, but during a “bad trip,” they can be severe. For psilocybin mushrooms, physical side effects include:[16]

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Headaches
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate[17]

Is psilocybin addictive?

Psilocybin is not naturally addictive. However, it has a high potential for abuse due to its euphoric, psychedelic effects. The experience of these seemingly pleasurable effects can trigger the addiction cycle.

In an effort to chase these effects, it is possible to take higher, more dangerous doses or to consume mushrooms more frequently. Those who suffer from substance use disorder would be especially susceptible to this cycle.

Dangers Behind The Use of Psilocybin

One of the primary dangers of psilocybin mushrooms, usually related to dosing, mindset, and environment, is the potential for a serious adverse reaction or a “bad trip.” This could include flashbacks, increased risk of physical harm, a longer trip than anticipated, aggression, violence, risky behavior, and even increased risk of suicide.[18]

Long-Term Health Risks of Psilocybin Use

Medical studies show that regular, long-term use of psilocybin substances can alter brain chemistry due to the interaction with serotonin receptors responsible for learning, perception, cognition, and mood.[19] Additional studies report that macro doses of psilocybin can impair cognitive and creative performance in the minutes and hours following ingestion.[20]

It is also possible to develop Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) associated with long-term hallucinogen use.[21] The effects of these substances will persist for weeks or even months after use and may include visual distortion or seeing things that aren’t there.

Flashbacks are another adverse effect associated with long-term psilocybin or LSD use. Similar to HPPD, these are recurring drug-like experiences even when not under the influence of psychoactive substances.[22]

Can You Overdose On Mushrooms?

Yes, as with any form of substance abuse, it is possible to take too much or overdose on psychedelic mushrooms. This looks like longer, more intense “trips,” adverse physical and emotional experiences, psychosis, and, in rare cases, even death.[23]

It’s also possible to ingest a different species of poisonous mushrooms, either by mistake or misinformation, which could have other physical effects. If you believe you or a loved one has overdosed on magic mushrooms or taken a poisonous substance, immediately contact emergency medical services and remain with them until help arrives if it is safe to do so.

Magic Mushroom Withdrawal

While it is possible to overdose on psilocybin or experience adverse effects, and it has a documented potential for abuse, the specifics of traditional withdrawal as a psychedelic drug are officially unknown.[24]

Treatment For Psilocybin and Hallucinogen Abuse

We understand the appeal of mind-altering substances like psilocybin. With the increasing volume of misleading information and unverified benefits, it’s more important than ever to stay vigilant and seek professional help to protect yourself and your future.

Hallucinogens like psilocybin, LSD, ecstasy, and ketamine can lead to serious side effects and health risks without professional intervention. For those struggling with psychoactive substances, there are practical and effective solutions available.

Medical Detox

Whether you’ve experienced a “bad trip” or desire a greater sense of personal wellness, medical detox may be the first stop on your recovery journey. In a medical, inpatient environment, any potential withdrawal symptoms or physical discomfort can be medically treated with medication-assisted treatment to alleviate pain, nausea, or other symptoms you may be experiencing.

Early recovery is the most vulnerable time of your journey. It will be far more successful under the watchful eye of medical professionals in a luxurious, suite-like environment.

Inpatient Treatment

Participating in residential inpatient treatment creates a healing-focused opportunity for you or a loved one to treat and overcome any form of substance use disorder. Set in a comfortably luxurious environment, you’re able to direct all of your focus toward treatment and healing measures without any outside influences or distractions of daily applications.

Here, you will participate in a number of holistic modalities and mental health interventions designed to support a lifetime of wellness and sobriety without relying on psychoactive or addictive substances.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

With a similar level of comprehensive care as inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient programs offer premium quality care with the flexibility of outpatient treatment. You’ll attend both individual and group treatment and restoration measures for several hours a day over several days a week.

You will have the freedom to sleep at home and adapt to your daily responsibilities as you slowly reintegrate back into your typical schedule. Intensive outpatient programs are where you begin to develop skills for greater personal autonomy and build a runway into a brighter, healthier future.

Holistic Healing Measures

Holistic healing interventions address the whole person from the inside out. This is in stark contrast to traditional substance use treatment that focuses on baseline substance use disorder and does not put enough emphasis on the mind-body connection.

Holistic modalities offer a sustainable, self-care-style approach to recovery that makes it easier to build practical coping skills and navigate long-term sobriety.

  • Yoga promotes internal focus blended with low-impact workouts to improve holistic balance.
  • Mindfulness helps you maintain self-awareness in any situation by learning targeted mindfulness techniques.
  • Acupressure is a massage-style intervention that releases negative energy that may be stored in the body.
  • Reiki is an energy healing modality that releases negative energy blocks in your body.
  • Meditation allows you to separate yourself from any immediate concerns and maintain a focus on higher goals.
  • Fitness Training promotes both physical and decisional balance, in addition to personal discipline.
  • Barre Workouts consist of stretching and controlled movements to improve balance, inside and out.

If you or a loved one are struggling with psychadelic substances, we can help. Contact Ascendant NY today and let’s restore balance and healing in your life today.

Frequently Asked Questions About Psilocybin and Magic Mushrooms

Are There Benefits Of Psychedelics?

Officially, there is no medical application for psilocybin or magic mushrooms. There have been a number of studies conducted to explore the potential benefits of treating some mental and behavioral health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and OCD.[25] Some are also researching its effectiveness as an intervention for alcohol use disorder and tobacco use disorder.

However, these limited studies will require more in-depth exploration and FDA approval before they can begin influencing normal medical or mental health practices. Consult your primary physician or a substance abuse recovery center to discuss the potential consequences of use and alternative interventions.

Are Mushrooms Illegal?

Yes, in the United States and most of the world, psilocybin mushrooms are an illegal controlled substance. There are some parts of the world that consider these mushrooms sacred, and they play a significant historical and cultural role in some rituals.

Should You Drink Magic Mushroom Tea?

Magic mushroom tea is one form of psilocybin mushrooms that results in psychedelic effects, including hallucinations, dissociation, euphoria, and an altered state of consciousness. While initially pleasurable, these effects could have lasting effects on brain chemistry and cognitive function. Drinking magic mushroom tea has no verified medical or health applications.

Can You Mix Alcohol and Mushrooms?

Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that slows critical body functions. This includes breathing, heart rate, balance, and judgment. As a rule, the effects of magic mushrooms and their severity are generally unpredictable.

When under the influence of both alcohol and psilocybin, the effects of each could become exacerbated, leading to more dangerous effects or health concerns.

What Is Psilocybin For Depression?

This primarily refers to microdosing on magic mushrooms or mushroom tea for the purpose of alleviating depression symptoms. As psilocybin mushrooms are controlled substances with a high potential for abuse, it would be dangerous to attempt self-dosing with psychoactive substances to treat mental health conditions.

Help For Healing From Psychedelic Drugs

Psychedelic trips are a fleeting experience with a hefty cost to cognitive function and emotional wellbeing. Effective, evidence-based treatment for lasting healing is available. Seek professional treatment for psychoactive drug abuse and design a healthier future.

Help For Healing From Psychedelic Drugs

Psychedelic trips are a fleeting experience with a hefty cost to cognitive function and emotional wellbeing. Effective, evidence-based treatment for lasting healing is available. Seek professional treatment for psychoactive drug abuse and design a healthier future.

Ascendant New York Editorial Guidelines

Here at Ascendant New York, we understand the importance of having access to accurate medical information you can trust, especially when you or a loved one is suffering from addiction. Find out more on our policy.

Amanda Stevens


Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. Read more

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[18]Carbonaro TM;Bradstreet MP;Barrett FS;MacLean KA;Jesse R;Johnson MW;Griffiths RR; (n.d.). Survey study of challenging experiences after ingesting psilocybin mushrooms: Acute and enduring positive and negative consequences. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England). Retrieved from on August 8, 2023

[19]Singleton, S. P., Luppi, A. I., Carhart-Harris, R. L., Cruzat, J., Roseman, L., Nutt, D. J., Deco, G., Kringelbach, M. L., Stamatakis, E. A., & Kuceyeski, A. (2022, October 3). Receptor-informed network control theory links LSD and psilocybin to a flattening of the brain’s control Energy Landscape. Nature News. Retrieved from on August 8, 2023

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[22]Müller, F., Kraus, E., Holze, F., Becker, A., Ley, L., Schmid, Y., Vizeli, P., Liechti, M. E., & Borgwardt, S. (2022, June). Flashback phenomena after administration of LSD and psilocybin in controlled studies with healthy participants. Psychopharmacology. Retrieved from on August 8, 2023