Side Effects of Shrooms (Psilocybin) or Magic Mushrooms
Last Updated Dec 2, 2021
Whether you call them shrooms, magic mushrooms, or psilocybin, you’re discussing small mushrooms with big hallucinogenic properties.
Your mushroom dose could take you on a trip you’ll never forget. More than 10 percent of people who took mushrooms said their worst experience had the potential to harm them or someone else. And the majority of these people said their most distressing episode ranked among the top 10 challenges they’ve ever faced.
Most magic mushroom side effects are transient and involve your mental health. But some problems are significant and can stick with you forever.
The Mental Health Impact of Mushrooms
Psilocybin activates serotonin receptors in your brain, impacting how you feel, think, and understand the world around you. Both short-term and long-term side effects are common.
Short-Term Mental Health Impact
Psilocybin activation times vary by ingestion method. But typically, you feel the change very quickly. Common short-term side effects include the following:
- Distorted thinking
Some people describe entering a fuzzy confused state in which they’re disengaged from reality and aren’t sure who they really are. You could interpret this change as a spiritual awakening. Or you could interpret it as a terrifying hallucinogenic episode.
People who feel intensely afraid while under the influence call this a “bad trip.” These episodes are most common in women, and if you use multiple doses of mushrooms in one session, your risk of a bad trip rises.
Long-Term Mental Health Impact
Most people feel sober a few hours after taking magic mushrooms. But researchers say your emotions and brain functions can be altered for up to a month after your dose.
Some people have flashback episodes weeks, months, or even years after their trip. Each episode lasts for just a few moments, but during that time, you’re plunged back into the scariest parts of your trip.
Some people develop an intense fear of flashbacks, and their concerns keep them from enjoying a full and active life.
Since flashbacks are sometimes triggered by stress, you might avoid situations like job interviews or first dates, as you think you’ll feel terrible in front of strangers. And some people frighten their children or harm others while they’re in the middle of a flashback they can’t control.
Mushroom’s Physical Side Effects
The serotonin system targeted by mushrooms also regulates your cardiovascular function, bowel health, and bladder control, among other core functions. You may have taken mushrooms to change your mind, but you could end up changing your body.
Short-Term Physical Health Impact
When your dose starts to work, you may experience side effects, such as these:
- Lack of coordination
- Weak muscles
These physical changes can be frightening, and your mental state is already changed due to mushroom use. You can begin a cycle where your body feels ill, your mind overreacts, you feel sicker, and you overreact even more.
It’s incredibly rare to overdose on mushrooms, but you can grow so concerned about your health that you land in the hospital.
Long-Term Physical Health Impact
Your cardiovascular system gets a workout during a mushroom episode. Your heart races, and your blood pressure rises to dangerous levels.
The more you use mushrooms, the more heart damage you cause. You could develop heart disease in time.
Mushroom’s Drug Interactions
Some people experience side effects because they mix their mushrooms with other substances. Any drug that works on your serotonin system could interact negatively with mushrooms.
Researchers say these substances can interact with psilocybin:
- Adrenergic agents
- Mood stabilizers
- NMDA antagonists
Researchers haven’t determined how much mushrooms or other substances you must take to have a reaction. But in general, if you’re taking a prescription medication, it’s probably not safe for you to use mushrooms too.
Side Effects of Magic Mushrooms in Teens
Brain cells are creating new connections during adolescence. It’s a critical time for growth, and the work done could influence how the brain works for the rest of a child’s life. Adding mushrooms to the mix could be dangerous.
Researchers say teens taking drugs that work on the serotonin system can enter the emergency room with symptoms such as these:
- Dilated pupils
- Excessive sweating
- High blood pressure
- High heart rate
If left untreated, symptoms like this can progress to seizures. With each seizure, body temperatures rise, which can lead to kidney failure.
Researchers have conducted few studies on mushroom side effects in teenagers. But based on available research, these substances seem too dangerous for teens.
A Last Critical Side Effect
While mushrooms containing psilocybin are dangerous, other mushroom varieties can do even more damage. People who forage for magic mushrooms may come home with a different species altogether. And the materials they eat or brew into tea could push them into organ failure and a painful death.
While it’s not safe for almost anyone to use magic mushrooms frequently, no one should ever hunt down their own varieties and take them. Doing so could be deadly.
Every year, about 39 people eat mushrooms that harm them, and about three people per year die from eating mushrooms they thought were safe. Never hunt for your own mushrooms.
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