Magic mushrooms are naturally occurring, non-poisonous fungi which contain varying amounts of the conscious-altering substances psilocybin and psilocin.

When eaten or drunk in a tea, they combine readily and hungrily with the brain to evoke a powerful psychedelic trip experience, shorter-lived but similar in tone and effect to LSD.

There are over 90 species of magic mushrooms world-wide. Common varieties include UK and Northern Europe's 'Liberty Caps' (Psilocybe semilanceata) and North America's Psilocybe cubensis.

The world's most famous magic mushroom is the European Fly Agaric (amanita muscaria), the red-and-white spotted toadstool which often pops up in children's literature. However, it contains ibotenic acid and muscimol not psilocybin and has very different effects.


Mushrooms are light to dark brown in colour and come in fresh, dried or powdered forms. All of them taste disgusting.

They smell distinctively 'mushroomy' and are impossible to confuse with any other powdered drug.


The mushroom effect is described as a 'trip' because it is a long (4-6 hours) and powerful experience which takes you beyond normal perception and then back again.

At low doses, mushrooms induce a tingling body feeling and sense of euphoria and lightness. You may feel happy and giggly. Colours seem more vibrant, music sounds richer.

Simply put, it alters and expands consciousness by loosening or - at higher doses- completely erasing the normal filters and screens between your conscious mind and the outside world.

With these filters down, more information rushes in and you became aware of things normally filtered out out by your mind. You sense more, think more, feel more. Visual, auditory, sensory, emotional. The intricate details on surfaces, the richness of sound, the brightness of colours, and the complexity of your own mental processes.

Psychedelic effects

Four levels or intensity of effect have been observed in the psychedelic experience. The strongest factor in determining level is dosage but relaxation, experience and environment also play a part.

Some experienced people report a "rabbit hole effect," the ability to traverse to different levels irrelevant of dosage.


how you feel before taking a drug

Off baseline

Very mild effect. Relaxation. Giggling. Like being stoned but with enhanced visual perception: colours may seem brighter, patterns on the surface of things more eye-grabbing.

Also: a feeling of lightness and euphoria, and a slight tingling in the body. Music sounds better.

Plus one (+1)
Stronger visual hallucinations. Bright colours stand out, objects appear to ripple or breathe. Coloured patterns behind the eyes are vivid, more active. Moments of reflection and distractive thought patterns. Thoughts and thinking become enhanced. Creative urges. Euphoria. Connection with others, empathy. Sense of time distorted or lost.

Plus two (+2)
Very obvious visual effects. Curved or warped patterns. Familiar objects appear strange as surface details distract the eye. Imagination and 'mind's eye' images vivid, three dimensional. Some confusions of the senses.

Some awareness of background mental processes: such as balance systems or auditory visual perception. Deep store memory becomes accessible. Images or experiences may rise to the fore. Music is powerful and can affect mood. Sense of time lost.

Plus three (+3)
Very strong hallucinations such as objects morphing into other objects. Intense depersonalisation - the barriers between you and the universe begin to break down. You feel you have connection with everything around you. You can experience contradictory feelings simultaneously. Some loss of reality. Time meaningless. Senses blend into one. Feeling of being born. Multiple splitting of the ego. Powerful awareness of your own mental processes and senses. Highly symbolic visions when eyes are closed.

Plus four (+4)
A very rare experience. Total loss of visual connection with reality. The senses cease to function in the normal way. Total loss of self. Merging with space, other objects, or the universe. The loss of reality becomes so severe that it defies explanation. Pure white light. Difficult to put into words.

Come up

The effects begin to be felt between 20 minutes to an hour after ingestion. The first signs are a sense of euphoria and expectation, along with a tingling body feeling.

Once started, the effects usually take between 30-45 minutes to 'come up' and reach their peak.

It is common to feel some nausea during this stage. It can be reduced by having an empty stomach.


The peak effect lasts for for one to two hours. A clear symptom is rich visual hallucinations. Colours seem more vibrant. Surfaces may ripple and shimmer. You may notice tiny details on objects. Music sounds richer and louder.

At the same time, you may feel blissful, have flashes of insight into yourself or the world, experience severe time-distortion, or feel yourself dissolving or see objects merging into one another.


The trip wears off gradually after 4 to 6 hours, although you may continue to feel tender and altered until you get a full night's sleep.

After effects

Psychologically, any insights or feelings you have had whilst bemushroomed will stay with you. A positive experience can give you a glow lasting hours, days or even weeks afterwards.

At the same time, bad trips, like any traumatic experience, are likely to stay with you for a while afterwards. Fear and anxiety for a few days is not uncommon but these will fade.


Psilocybin content varies widely from species to species and from mushroom to mushroom. As a rough guide, however, a reasonable dose is equivalent to two grams dried or 20 grams fresh.

First time, aim low. You can always increase the amount another time, but you can't undo a far-too-large dose. Be wary of over-confidence. Each psychedelic trip is different and each level of the experience has its own intensity and pitfalls. Even if you know the lay of the land, tread carefully.

Mixing with other drugs

Mushrooms are powerful psychedelics and should not, as a rule, be mixed with other mind-altering drugs, especially not by the inexperienced or the far from home.

Please note: there have been very few scientific studies into the effects of combining psychoactive drugs. The information presented here is anecdotal. It is based on the subjective reports of experienced users. Different people will respond differently to different drugs and drug combination. Know your body.

alcohol takes the edge off the effect and can help you to relax; drunkenness disappears during the trip; large amounts increase the nausea; do not drink on the comedown (alcohol is a depressant)

amphetamines increased weirdness; energising; paranoia usually increased; comedown can be rocky

cannabis dulls the experience in the come-up; heightens the peak; brings back the effect during comedown

ecstasy (MDMA) known as 'candy-flipping'; the E good feeling can reduce chance of a bad trip but pay attention to E's safety requirements

heroin no information available

LSD cross tolerance usually present; not much point in taking other psychedelics at the same time

tobacco up to you, no dangers, but you may be more aware of the damage it's doing to your lungs

valium the police are fond of administering this sedative to bad trippers


Magic Mushrooms occupy a strange grey area in UK law. They are legal as long as they are fresh and unprocessed.

You cannot be arrested or prosecuted for possessing freshly picked or cultivated mushrooms.

Drying, powdering or preparing them in any way for consumption turns them into a Class A drug.

In the US, mushrooms and psilocybin are categorised under schedule 1 along with LSD, cannabis, and heroin.


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