One of the most common things people want to know about psychedelic mushrooms is “so what does the trip feel like?”
The answer will largely depend on who you ask, but there are many effects and symptoms that are associated with psilocybin and other psychoactive chemicals found in psychedelic mushrooms. However, we do know quite a bit about how these effects are caused in the brain.
The Science Behind a Trip
The effects of psilocybin are about 100 times less potent than LSD, although there are some similarities between the two. When you consume psilocybin it’s metabolized into psilocin, which is the active form responsible for the effects. All of the effects of psychedelics are temporary, but many people have found that the positive mental state while “tripping” has a lasting effect on their overall outlook on life.
Psilocin, the active form of psilocybin, interacts with serotonin receptors in the brain, as well as the areas associated with sensory experiences. This causes visual and audio hallucinations. However, the “loss of self” or the experience of your Ego dissolving is caused by large-scale interactions within the Default Mode Network (DMN) of the brain.
The DMN is essentially your “I” filter. Sensory information of all types normally flows through this region first, in order for you to process what is important to “you” and what is just background noise. By limiting the interaction of this neural network with other areas of the brain, it creates a sensation that you are “dissolving into the world”.
This complex interaction is likely what leads to the almost religious feeling that many users describe – as if they have become “one” with all life. A complete discussion of the science behind a trip is well described in the book How to Change Your Mind, by Michael Pollan.
It should also be noted that because a psilocybin trip relies on a serotonin interaction, it is not advised to take psychedelics while you’re on SSRI medications, such as Prozac or Lexapro. These drugs are serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors and may cause you to be extremely sensitive to the effects of psilocybin.
Otherwise, the best advice is to start small and be aware of both Set and Setting if you are trying mushrooms for the first time.
Set and Setting
The idea of “set and setting” refers to your mindset and the physical environment you choose to be in. Your mindset is important because it will direct where your trip will take you. If you are struggling with a difficult internal struggle, you may be forced to confront it. If you try to run away or ignore it, you may experience a “bad trip.” It’s best to remain calm, remind yourself that your hallucinations are simply projections of your subconscious, and confront the obstacle presented.
Generally, users reflect positivity when they are in a calm, comfortable environment. Nature is a great place, or a comfortable room with relaxing music works just as well. If a room is too loud or there are too many distractions, it may detract from your positive mindset.
How to Consume Psychedelic Mushrooms
Mushrooms are typically ingested in their whole form, but ask anyone who’s ever tried mushrooms and they’ll probably tell you they taste horrible. You can mask the bitter taste by putting them on top of peanut butter toast, or adding them to just about any food. You can read more about how to consume psychedelic shrooms on our consumption page
What to Expect
The effects after taking psilocybin mushrooms will depend on how much you consume, your environment, your current mental and emotional state, your experience with psychedelics, your metabolism, and other factors.
For the most part, you can expect a pleasant experience that will leave you feeling more positive, alert, and “awakened” than before your trip. Most trips last up to 6 or 7 hours, so make sure you’re in a comfortable setting and have enough time blocked out to enjoy the experience.
With a moderate dose of mushrooms – which is usually around .25 mg/kg of body weight of the actual psychoactive compounds-, you’ll notice more intense emotions start to kick in after about 30 minutes, which includes a more introspective state that can sometimes feel like you’re dreaming.
An hour or so after ingesting shrooms you’ll start to experience more perceptual changes such as halos around lights, kaleidoscope patterns when you close your eyes, and time distortion. You might notice trails following different movements, and your limbs will feel heavy – almost like your body is sleeping but you’re too distracted to worry about it.
Losing the Ego
An hour or two into it, your emotions and thoughts will change direction, and you’ll start to feel more open to new thoughts and ideas as your inhibition lowers. This newfound wonder will often bring in an intense sense of peace and connection to the world around you and the people in your life. The most mundane, everyday things will suddenly humor you.
This is the “spiritual awakening” part of the trip that’s been used in religious ceremonies and ancient rituals for thousands of years – the unique experience and feeling of connection was considered a “right of passage” in many cultures. It was considered a necessary part of fully seeing the world and its wonders.
Since the effects involve intense emotion, it’s also possible to have negative emotions that are forced out of suppression. If you do start to feel sad or overwhelmingly negative, stay grounded by reminding yourself that this is a temporary experience that will be done in a few hours, and lean into the detached element of the trip. This allows you to observe your emotions from a safer mental distance as they’re happening.
What is a “bad trip” and how can it be prevented?
You’ve probably heard of a “bad trip” from taking psychedelics, and it’s definitely possible to spend the whole trip feeling terrible. If you’ve recently experienced something emotionally intense, such as the death of a loved one or loss of a job, it’s possible that your fears, anxieties, and grief will consume your thoughts and make you feel worse.
On the flip side, psychedelics could also help you find clarity in your thoughts and emotions, or help paint a more positive picture of your future, which is why many people opt for psychedelics in these situations. It’s important to ensure you’re emotionally ready for a psychedelic experience before you do it, and that you have a comfortable, safe environment to explore and enjoy the effects.
Most bad trips happen because of your environment and surroundings as opposed to a “bad” or “negative” reaction to the mushrooms. Of course, it’s totally possible for you and shrooms to just do not get along, but most consumers will say that mindfully choosing their environment, activities, and the people they’re around is key to an experience that’s comfortable and feels good.
To ensure you don’t have a bad trip when you take mushrooms, make sure to do the following:
- Choose an environment you’re comfortable in, like your own house or that of a close friend
- Make sure you have somewhere comfortable to lie down if you feel nauseous
- Keep some calming or meditative activities available – a yoga mat, sketch pad, coloring books, Rubik’s cube, healthy snacks and water, and good music will always do you right.
- If you’re tripping with other people, make sure they’re people who make you feel safe and comfortable, especially if it’s your first time. You want to make sure you’re around people who will take care of you and talk you down if you get anxious or have a bad trip, not a random group who will leave or make fun of you.
Some Physical Effects of Mushrooms
Aside from the intense emotional effects of psychedelic shrooms, some physical effects might also arise. These can include, but are not limited to, the following:
Heart rate increase or decrease – This is especially likely if you’re having a bad trip or are nervous about it, which will elevate your heart rate and blood pressure.
Nausea – Especially in the first hour after ingesting your mushrooms. Nausea is fairly common, especially if you eat them with a large meal or it’s your first time. However, intense, persistent nausea is not a normal symptom. Bloody bowel movements and persistent vomiting are a common sign that you have not ingested a safe mushroom, and you should seek medical care.
Dilated pupils – As with other psychedelics like LSD, your pupils will be fully dilated while the psilocybin is in your system.
Lack of coordination – Your arms will feel heavy and you might need to lie down in order to stay comfortable, so cozy up with a blanket and enjoy the experience.
Restlessness – The problem with feeling heavy is that you might also feel restless, like you need to get up and do something but don’t know what to do. To keep any restlessness at bay, keep something around that’s low-stress yet stimulates your brain enough to distract you, like a sketchbook or Rubik’s cube.
The size of your dose will have a big impact on the effects and how intense of a trip you have. The following are some of the most common dose sizes and the accompanying effects.
A “microdose” of psychedelic mushrooms is typically between 0.05 and 0.25 dried grams of a moderately potent mushroom species. This won’t bring on the full effects, but microdosing is becoming more popular due to the milder, more controllable effects that still allow you to function and be productive. Here’s what you’ll feel with a microdose of psilocybin:
Improved mood (especially for symptoms related to depression and anxiety)
Lower stress levels
More feelings of connection to the world
Lower social anxiety/easier to have conversations
Higher levels of creativity
Increased enjoyment of everyday tasks
Heightened physical awareness
Higher athletic endurance
Increased energy levels
Mini doses are typically around 0.25 – 0.75 grams of a moderately potent variety. It’s not quite a full trip, but you’ll feel the effects more intensely and as a result, may feel less stable in your mood and emotions compared to a microdose.
You’ll experience many of the same effects as a microdose, but it will come on more intense and you might find it more difficult to manage your mood or talk to people. Here’s what to expect with your mini dose of shrooms:
Elevated mood and slight euphoria
Self-forgiveness and openness
A sense of peace and presence
A higher sense of connection to your thoughts
Increased motivation to improve your life
Desire to do physical activities
Increased light sensitivity
More desire for introspection, less socialization
Thought loops, difficulty focusing or carrying a conversation
Slight cognitive impairment
The “museum dose” is the point where you’re feeling pretty high, but people still might not suspect it if you ventured out in public. This dose is usually around 0.5 – 1.5 grams of moderately potent shrooms. At this dose, you’ll feel a more intense version of the effects of a mild dose, such as:
Increased empathy and compassion
Higher appreciation for art and music
Mild visuals, like the room expanding and contracting
Laughing at everyday things
Altered sound perception
Altered time perception
Increased light sensitivity
Difficulty focusing on thoughts or tasks
Possible social anxiety, increased desire for introspection
Stronger mood swings, both good and bad
A “full dose” of shrooms is the typical recreational dose used for a psychedelic trip. This dose is usually between 2 and 3.5 grams of moderately potent psilocybin mushrooms – if you’re inexperienced, make sure to start at-or-under the low end.
Here’s what to expect when you take a large dose of shrooms:
Intense euphoria and excitement
Finding everyday things funny, uncontrollable “giggles”
Intense philosophical and introspective thoughts
Heightened senses and sensitivity
Strong body high
Intense emotions, good or bad
Open and closed-eye visuals
Altered sound and time perception
Synesthesia (smell time, taste color, other sensory confusions)
Intense light sensitivity
Fear and anxiety from intense emotions
Disorientation and confusion
Doses over 5 grams can lead to intense psychological effects such as “ego death”, the feeling that time is meaningless, and life-changing philosophical thoughts.
Common Myths about Psilocybin Trips
Psilocybin is an illegal substance in the United States, so it’s no surprise that its reputation has taken a hit. The lack of proper research and education on psilocybin makes it easy for people to make false, fear-mongering claims that have no scientific evidence to support them. Here are some of the most common myths about psychedelic shrooms:
#1 Psychedelic Mushrooms are Poisonous
Calling psilocybin mushrooms poisonous is similar to calling alcohol, caffeine, or tobacco poisonous – its intoxicating effects will alter your consciousness and psychological/physiological state, but a couple of grams of shrooms are not going to cause harm to your body.
Psilocybin is well-tolerated when consumed by healthy adults. The most poisonous mushrooms that actually do kill people include Amanita mushrooms, Galerina mushrooms, and Pholiotina mushrooms. Some of these mushrooms look very similar to the safe mushrooms in the genera Psilocybe and Panaeolus. Misidentification and a poor understanding of mushrooms can be blamed for most poisoning cases.
To avoid any adverse drug interactions, it is recommended to avoid alcohol and other drugs while consuming any psychedelics and to avoid them if you’re taking SSRI medications.
#2 Psilocybin Mushrooms Cause Psychosis/Insanity
The altered mental state from psilocybin has been compared to the symptoms of several mental disorders, including schizophrenia. However, the effects are always temporary and there is no evidence to suggest that shrooms have a lasting negative effect on your mental state. One study from 2013 studied the mental health of more than 100,000 people and found that psychedelics were not likely to cause or exacerbate mental health problems.
Plus, psychedelic mushrooms are being explored as potential candidates for several mental health issues. See our page on the Benefits of Psychedelic Mushrooms for the full breakdown!
#3 Psychedelics Cause Internal Bleeding
There is no evidence that psychedelic mushrooms cause brain, kidney, or stomach bleeding. However, that doesn’t mean that the poisonous mushrooms on your lawn won’t cause this, which is why it’s so important to always know what you’re ingesting and know how to identify different types of mushrooms.
One of the best practices is to always reserve a few mushrooms from your source. If the mushrooms you take give you a bad reaction, you will have access to the mushrooms you took and your doctor can better understand how to treat the poisoning. However, using information and mushrooms from an experienced mycologist can help ensure that you do not eat something poisonous. One of the best resources available is the book Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World, by leading-psilocybin expert Paul Stamets.