Psychedelics are strange. Take them and they can make even the most mundane situations and transform them into something incredible, and make you take note of the smallest details - in your surroundings, and also within yourself.
It's pretty common knowledge that they can make you hallucinate, but there are other side effects of magic mushrooms you should know about before taking them - good and bad.
The good psilocybin side effects are great, and the bad.... well they can, simply put, be terrifying.
In this article we break down the side effects that you can expect, but note that you may not experience them all - and your trip may vary each time.
For new users, check out the post on what psilocybin mushrooms are for more in depth information on them.
The Physical Side Effects Of Magic Mushrooms
Before we get into the good and the bad psilocybin side effects, let's talk about what you're physically going to experience once you take them.
Some of the physical side effects, like gut rot, are not very pleasant. There are some things you can do to combat them, but some of them are out of your control.
This is a very common side effect to ingesting psilocybin mushrooms. Depending on the dose you take, expect your pupils to dilate very widely.
Ah, the dreaded gut rot. Seasoned mushroom enthusiasts will tell you that this is one of the worst side effects, and it can make you feel awful, sometimes for hours which can really put a damper on your trip.
Combine that with the hallucinogenic effects, it can also be pretty disturbing.
Gut rot has a wide range of severity. It can be very mild, with just a slight upset stomach, to extreme abdominal cramping and pain, gas, and other lovely bowel issues.
Some tips we've gathered from users to help prevent gut rot:
- Make tea or an alcohol extraction instead of eating them
- Drink ginger tea
- Keep activated charcoal handy - this should be taken as long after ingesting the mushrooms as possible, as it will prevent further absorption as well
- Fast before taking them
- Drink milk
- Take enzymes with them - the body has a hard time breaking down the fibre if you're eating the dried mushrooms
- Take psilocybin liquid or gummies - yes, they make these now!
This goes hand in hand with the gut rot. The toxins in the magic mushrooms can make you feel very queasy, and if you've ever thrown up while high on them, you'll know it;s not an experience you ever want to repeat.
Many people report that the "nauseous phase" of shrooms only last about an hour or so, so you might be in the clear if you can hold out that long.
Be prepared and have ginger ale or ginger tea on hand, don't eat a big meal before you take them, and as a last resort, take a low dose of Gravol if you feel like you can't manage it.
Increased heart rate/blood pressure
Magic mushrooms can temporarily increase your heart rate and blood pressure, but there isn't a lot of concern here, as the effects will wear off when the drug does.
People with pre-existing heart or blood pressure conditions, however, should take caution when deciding to take shrooms. Even the short lived effects can potentially be harmful.
Slowed sense of time
Time ticks by at the same rate no matter what, but our perception of time can change depending on the state of mind we're in.
Boring days with nothing to do seem to take forever to pass by, while a night out with friends can seem to go by in the blink of an eye.
Some psychedelics have the effect of speeding time up, but when you're in the grip of psilocybin, every minute can seem like an eternity.
This can be both good and bad. Good in the sense that if you're having a great time, it feels like it lasts forever. Having a bad trip - well, buckle up because it's going to be that way for awhile.
Loss of coordination
Magic mushrooms can have an inhibitory effect on your nervous system and your motor control.
Combine that with hallucinations and disorientation can have you stumbling around, misjudging distances, and being a bit more clumsy overall.
You may also experience weakness of your limbs and muscles and involuntary contractions or tremors.
Getting chilled or sweating profusely, though at opposite ends of the spectrum, are both common effects of psilocybin.
Ensure you're able to be comfortable in both situations by being prepared. If you're cold, have a sweater or blanket nearby you can use.
If you find yourself overheating, having ice packs handy can help immensely.
If you don't have ice packs, you can improvise and make your own from things you may have on hand in your freezer, like frozen vegetables or ice cubes placed in a plastic baggie.
Just make sure to double bag it in case it leaks.
Taking magic mushrooms can dehydrate you. As the body recognizes them as toxic, it needs water in order to be able to flush it out.
Mix that with the sweating a lot of users experience and you can dehydrate very quickly if you're not careful.
Have plenty of water on hand, and try to avoid alcoholic drinks, as they will only dehydrate you faster.
Many users experience drowsiness, but sleeping on shrooms tends to be very difficult, if not impossible, due to the hallucinations you experience even with your eyes closed.
Compulsive yawning is also common.
It shouldn't need to be said, but we will anyways.
Never operate any machinery, drive, or use sharp objects under the influence of magic mushrooms.
The Good Side Effects Of Magic Mushrooms
Be it the giggles, colors you hadn't even known existed, the curtains that suddenly have the ability to smile, ingesting magic mushrooms can be a blast - especially when you're in the company of some great friends.
Here's some of the good side effects of psilocybin mushrooms.
Even the smallest things that happen on magic mushrooms can seem like the funniest thing you've ever experienced.
In moderate doses you can expect to find things more amusing than normal - be it a joke, the look of an every day object transformed into something else entirely, or even nothing at all.
This tends to happen more when you're in a group setting than when you decide to trip alone, which can lean towards a more introspective journey.
This is what most recreational users of magic mushrooms are after, though not necessarily all of them are.
Affecting the part of the brain responsible for mood, perception, and cognition, psilocybin works by activating the serotonin receptors within.
Hallucinations can be in both visual or auditory form, though it's hard to explain just what they might be in your personal experience with them.
You might see something one way while your friend next to you sees it in a completely different manner.
From magic mushroom users:
- Brighter, more vivid colors
- Moving, flexing environment
- Objects pulsate or throb, and may grow smaller or larger
- Changes in depth perception, objects may seem closer or farther away
- Seeing things within things; for example, one user reports being able to see the skeleton behind the skin
- Animated objects, or objects that transform into something completely different
- Objects made of patterns and shapes - this can affect individual objects or the entire environment
- Hearing sounds that are not there - music, voices, humming, etc.
- Sense that you are floating or out of body experience
- Feeling like parts of your body are not yours, or made of rubber or plastic
One of the more rare side effects of psilocybin mushrooms is Synesthesia. This is a sensory side effect that has the ability to make you hear colors, or see sounds, among other things.
Synesthesia is generally only experienced with high doses of shrooms.
Euphoria, happiness, and a greater appreciation for the people and things around you
Magic mushrooms can make you feel good - really good. Euphoria is very common, and you may find yourself thinking about things in ways that you never have before.
Experiencing greater empathy and a deeper connection with those around you can leave you feeling happy and at peace with yourself and your situation.
A surprising number of people report that these effects persist even after the trip is just a distant memory.
Research is now showing lasting changes in brain activity in people who suffer from anxiety and depression, effectively giving these individuals the kick start they need to break out of these sometimes debilitating conditions.
Ease of conversation
Shrooms can lower your inhibitions, and you might notice yourself making connections and expressing yourself in new ways.
Perhaps it's that you're less aware of yourself or less self conscious, but conversation comes easier, ideas flow, and meaningful talks can last a long time, and bring a level of great depth into your trip.
On the other hand, some people find they struggle to form even the simplest sentences after coming up, so don't feel bad if this happens to you.
Depending on your mood and state of mind, this can be a good side effect, or a bad one.
As you start to feel the effects and the trip gets stronger, you may find yourself focusing inward - to your thoughts, actions, and personal life situations.
Things that seem impossible to fix while sober may seem simple to change while on them, and many users take magic mushrooms for this specific reason.
Introspection is very important for personal growth, and having the opportunity to reflect on your life can open up a lot of doors and a deeper understanding of your goals and direction you're headed.
If you're in not such a good place, however, this sort of introspective thinking can turn on you quickly. Taking shrooms if you're in a bad mind space is never recommended.
Always start out in a good state, with people you trust, and stick to a familiar setting that you're comfortable in.
The Bad Side Effects Of Magic Mushrooms
Having a bad trip on shrooms can be described as one of the worst possible times you've ever had. When things start to go south, it is next to impossible to turn it around.
Feelings of fear and anxiety, coupled with possibly frightening hallucinations and time seeming to stand still can have you panicked and distress.
A bad trip can happen to anyone, no one is exempt from them, even people who have been doing them for a long time. There are things you can do to minimize your chances though:
- Only take psilocybin mushrooms when you're in a good frame of mind
- Do not take them if you are upset or sad
- Only take them in the company of people you trust and feel safe with
- The setting is important, make sure you are comfortable in the place you are in
If you experience a bad trip, try to remember that you took the mushrooms willingly, and that it won't last forever.
In addition, always work yourself up to higher doses. If you're a newbie to magic mushrooms, taking a 5 gram dose is almost going to guarantee you will have a bad time, as the experience can be very overwhelming.
You'll notice that this category is in both the good and bad sections of the side effects.
Hallucinations are not always a good thing. Depending on what you're thinking about at the time, and what sorts of things are popping up, hallucinations can be very scary.
You aren't always rational when you are under the influence of psilocybin mushrooms. Hallucinations can seem very real, and make you do things that you would not normally.
Accidents can happen, and this is one of the reasons a trip sitter is recommended.
A trip sitter, someone who stays with you and is sober for the duration, can also be a big help. They can guide the conversation if it gets too dark, and keep you safe in the event that something bad does happen.
While there is quite a bit of new research emerging showing that magic mushrooms can help in the long term with anxiety and depression disorders, while you're on them you may experience increased anxiety.
This is very normal, as some of the things going on around you might seem strange, or frightening. Preparing yourself beforehand can help negate the anxiety and paranoia that may come along with it.
Tips to manage anxiety during a mushroom trip:
- If it's a life situation you're thinking about that is causing it, tell yourself you'll deal with it later
- Get up and move around
- Drink water
- Distract yourself
- Be silly
Expect to do a lot of thinking when you do shrooms. Sometimes, some of those thoughts may get stuck in your head, and start to repeat themselves.
Thought loops occur when you think about something, and then that same thought keeps repeating itself over and over.
It can be very difficult to break out of once you're locked in these loops. In some cases, it may be difficult to even remember that you've taken shrooms and that they are the cause of it.
Thought loops aren't always necessarily bad though, and some can be your brain's way of telling you that the subject needs closer attention.
This is another instance where a trip sitter can come in handy, someone who you can fully explore your thoughts with.
Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) is an uncommon, persistent, and recurring disorder in which the user will experience visual hallucinations or distortions, long after the trip is over.
HPPD can last for months or even years after using psychedelics, and is most common with LSD use.
Symptoms of HPPD include:
- Trails on objects
- Halos around objects
- Color flashes
- Overlapping patterns
- Shrinking or growing of objects
Medication treatment can be somewhat successful in treating HPPD, and behavioral therapy is also recommended.
Psychedelic induced psychosis is a real thing, and reading one man's account of his break with reality is enough to give pause and consider if they are really worth the risk.
While this is not common, it can wreak havoc on your mind, and your grip on reality. Psychedelic psychosis occurs when you are not able to distinguish your hallucinations or irrational thoughts from reality.
Paranoia, confusion, fear, and a loss of self can be terrifying, and when it occurs, sometimes will need professional help in order to correct.
It is not recommended for people with mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, bi-polar, or other personality disorders to ingest hallucinogenic substances.
Said to feel like part or all of one's self is dying, ego death can be one of the hardest things to cope with on a mushroom trip.
Trying to explain ego death is difficult, as it differs from person to person.
It is said to be an all encompassing feeling and state of being where you may feel yourself die, your body may cease to exist, and there is nothing left of you, only the universe remains.
Some users describe the experience as enlightening, and necessary for perspective; others are not so sure, instead describing it as the single most horrifying thing that ever happened to them.
Ego death generally occurs when very high doses (5 grams+) of psychedelics are ingested.
Final thoughts on the side effects of magic mushrooms
Taking magic mushrooms, in the right setting, can be an eye opening experience and one where you learn new things about yourself and the world around you.
Though some side effects are good, there are some negative aspects that need to be taken seriously before you decide to do them.
Failing to be responsible with use can lead to serious damage to your psyche, and may affect you for a long time to come.
Use them responsibly, and you'll open up a whole new world.