Our world contains numerous substances that can trigger mental and visual stimulation.
Some are freeing, allowing you to feel comfortable in your own skin. Others pull back the veil of your reality, revealing a psychedelic kaleidoscope while altering your perception of time.
Research on the benefits of psilocybin and other hallucinogens is equally limited. However, scientists have identified that these substances all act on the same brain receptors.
So, why do people feel different when they take LCD, mescaline, or MDMA as opposed to magic mushrooms?
Here we aim to shed light on this question by looking at psilocybin compared to other hallucinogens.
Let’s dive in.
What Makes Psilocybin Unique?
For starters, there are over 200 fungi species known to science that contain varying levels of psilocybin.
Each of these psychedelic magic mushroom strains triggers slightly different experiences depending on their potency.
But did you know psilocybin isn’t what actually causes hallucinations?
The human body must first remove a phosphate molecule, creating a compound known as psilocin, to experience a trip with psychedelic mushrooms.
Once created, psilocin makes its way through the body and behaves like serotonin, binding to the 5-HT2A receptors in your brain.
It’s at this point that the effects of psilocybin begin to take shape.
When it comes to the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin, science has only begun to unravel this incredible molecule.
The majority of these medical studies have a therapist with a patient for their entire session. It’s important to acknowledge as there’s limited research on self-medication and best practices.
Tests suggest that consuming psychedelic magic mushroom strains encourage the formation of new neural pathways in the brain. It’s this ability that makes psilocybin an effective treatment for various conditions, such as depression, PTSD, and Alzheimer’s disease.
What’s even more amazing is that some patients claim only need a single dose, eliminating the need for daily medication.
There are even more reported therapeutic benefits of psilocybin, such as assisting with stopping alcohol and nicotine addiction.
While not impossible, it’s incredibly difficult to overdose on psilocybin. It’s also not an addictive substance and is said to inflict no physical harm once ingested.
At the same time, some people experience intense psychedelic trips that may lead to paranoia and an increase in anxiety.
Synthetic psilocybin aims to eliminate these adverse effects and the ability to trigger hallucinations while still offering medical benefits.
There’s a lot of debate around this artificial compound and its benefits compared to the natural substance. Many experts argue that psychedelic sessions are an important component of medical treatment.
Humanity has only started to scratch the surface and unearth the benefits of psilocybin compared to other hallucinogens. The main reason we know so little about this compound is due to its legal status, a popular problem with psychedelic substances.
In order to understand these molecules better, we’ve put together a comparison between magic mushrooms and other substances that trigger hallucinations.
Psilocybin vs. LSD
The effects of psilocybin compared to LSD are not the same, but they’re said to be more alike than other hallucinogens.
The biggest difference between the two is that mushrooms occur naturally, while LSD was made in a lab. This famous psychedelic substance was first synthesized by Dr. Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist, in the 30s.
It just so happens he was also the first person to name, isolate, and create synthetic psilocybin.
The effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) are best described as an extrospective experience. It’s reported to fill one with energy, euphoria, and empathy for life and the people around them. In contrast, psilocybin triggers a far more introspective escapade.
Many people claim to see sounds and taste colors after ingesting LSD, viewing life through a unique psychedelic lens. Some individuals have even described their experience as spiritual, claiming to come into contact with a higher power.
The time it takes to start feeling the effects of psilocybin compared to LSD is pretty similar. Most people that ingest this synthetic substance start experiencing its mind-altering powers after 20–120 minutes.
LSD and its psychedelic properties usually last for 8–12 hours, depending on dose, making it slightly more intense than mushrooms.
When it comes to the therapeutic potential of psilocybin compared to LSD, they offer similar benefits. Early-stage clinical trials suggest this synthetic substance could assist patients with addictions, anxiety, and Tourette’s syndrome.
Interestingly, people that have built-up a psilocybin tolerance will experience reduced effectiveness from LSD, even if they’ve never tried it before. The theory is that the regular use of one of these substances down regulates the receptors in the brain.
Psilocybin vs. Mescaline
There are a few similarities when you look at psilocybin compared to mescaline. For starters, both of these psychoactive molecules occur in nature.
Mescaline is found in a species of cacti, known as peyote, that’s native to Mexico and the United States. It’s specifically located in the fruit/seeds that grow on these desert-dwelling plants, colloquially known as buttons.
Another strong similarity when investigating psilocybin compared to mescaline is that both are considered traditional medicine. Local shamans and healers spend their lives learning about its effects and how this knowledge may benefit humanity.
People who consume peyote report a mirage of effects, such as empathy, euphoria, and incredibly vivid hallucinations. These visions can include seeing the world in geometric patterns, referred to as fractals, offering a considerably new perspective on reality.
Mescaline may also affect your tactile senses, altering how things usually taste and smell. The experience is similar to ingesting psychedelic magic mushroom strains; for example, a rough surface becomes smooth to the touch.
Much like most other psychedelic substances, it takes about 20–90 minutes before you feel the full force of mescaline. Ingesting this hallucinogen on a full stomach may delay these vivid visions further.
Once under the spell of peyote, the effects can last for 10–12 hours, depending on your dose. Traditionally, people drink tea brewed from these buttons and have a shaman or guide present to help them navigate the hallucinations.
It’s possible to create mescaline in a similar way to synthetic psilocybin, offering more contained qualities. However, the medical community still has a limited understanding of its potential benefits. Early trials suggest it could help with addiction, anxiety, and PTSD.
Psilocybin vs. DMT
One of the more peculiar hallucinogens to draw a considerable amount of limelight over the years is N-Dimethyltryptamine or DMT.
Ingesting psilocybin compared to this psychedelic substance is in no way the same thing. The only similarity between these two molecules is how they behave in the body, binding to the same receptors in the brain.
It’s possible to synthesize DMT in a lab by extracting the resin from the bark of a tree native to Peru. Unlike synthetic psilocybin, these molecules trigger incredibly potent visual distortion and hallucinogenic effects.
Interestingly, many researchers believe the brain is also capable of producing DMT. The pineal gland is thought to release this hallucinogenic substance while you sleep and may be linked to your dreams.
Some researchers have gone so far as to suggest your brain releases DMT in the face of death. It’s potentially why some people say they see their lives flash before their eyes when experiencing considerable danger.
It takes much longer to feel the effects of psilocybin compared to DMT. Most people who ingest this psychedelic substance begin experiencing its hallucinogenic qualities within seconds.
DMT has a tendency to transport your consciousness to an unknown dimension, with many people claiming to hear voices. Others feel as if they’re able to communicate with higher intelligence, which is why some call it the spirit molecule.
While vivid and strong, these hallucinations don’t last as long as the visions brought on by psychedelic magic mushroom strains. DMT’s effects usually stop after 15–30 minutes because the body metabolizes the molecule so quickly.
Most people are able to function normally after ingesting magic mushrooms, allowing them to engage in many different activities. On the other hand, DMT takes your consciousness into a realm far beyond your knowledge or understanding.
It’s fair to say that the medical community knows much more about psilocybin compared to DMT. Early research suggests this spirit molecule might help treat patients diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and addiction.
Psilocybin vs. MDMA
Another famous psychoactive substance created for the medical market is methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA. It was first synthesized in 1912 and was originally intended to control uterine bleeding.
The recreational capabilities of this hallucinogen gained significant traction in the 90s when it became synonymous with the clubbing scene. It’s now known by many different nicknames, including ecstasy and molly.
The typical hallucinations triggered by psychedelic magic mushroom strains are far stronger than the effects of MDMA.
Ingesting this synthetic substance may trigger mild visual distortion, as well as a sense of detachment from their body. It also increases the activity of neurotransmitters in your brain, spiking your levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.
Ecstasy is also a mental and physical stimulant, increasing your energy levels and triggering euphoria. You’re more likely to feel calm and mellow after ingesting psilocybin compared to MDMA, making it less of a party option.
However, there are some similarities between these two psychedelic molecules. Ecstasy mimics magic mushrooms in their ability to boost the awareness of oneself and makes one empathetic toward others.
Another likeness when looking at psilocybin compared to MDMA is the time it takes these molecules to affect the brain. Ecstasy usually takes around 30–45 minutes to kick in, with sessions lasting 3–6 hours.
While many people still consider MDMA as a party drug, limited clinical trials suggest it may also be a powerful therapeutic tool. These qualities have led medical experts to believe it could help patients with PTSD, narcolepsy, and obesity.
Like synthetic psilocybin, MDMA allows patients to relive traumatic events in a calm and safe environment. Therapists have a chance to find the root cause of a patient’s condition rather than prescribing chronic medication.
Psilocybin vs. Ayahuasca
Ayahuasca is a traditional tea made out of several plant species that takes one on a powerful cerebral journey. This mind-bending brew traces its history back to ancient Amazonian tribes and is still considered sacred by communities in South America.
Both psychedelic magic mushroom strains and ayahuasca aren’t considered party drugs, but rather a form of ancient treatment.
Traditionally, someone is given the tea by a shaman with an intimate understanding of the substance and its abilities. They then guide that person through visions and provide insight into their meaning.
The hallucinating effects of psilocybin compared to ayahuasca are nothing alike. The experience is said to be more like DMT due to the ingredients of the tea containing high levels of N-Dimethyltryptamine.
Ayahuasca also has a high percentage of Monoamine Oxidase inhibitors which slow down your metabolism for a longer, more potent trip. Most people who partake in the ceremony report feeling the psychedelic effects of this brew after 20–60 minutes.
Once consumed, visual and auditory hallucinations continue for 2–6 hours, similar to most psychedelic magic mushroom strains.
Ingesting this psychedelic brew may lead to adverse effects like vomiting and diarrhea. However, it’s considered normal and part of the cleansing process.
It’s also common for people to detox before the ceremony to purify their bodies and limit any uncomfortable sensations.
While many describe ayahuasca as intense, those who drink this psychedelic tea have claimed to experience various therapeutic advantages.
Some patients report having improved psychological well-being after ingesting the substance, similar to the benefits of psilocybin.
There are also studies suggesting this hallucinogenic substance could benefit brain health and assist with depression and addiction.
Psilocybin vs. Ketamine
Ketamine is a type of dissociative drug first synthesized in 1962 by an American chemist called Calvin Stevens. It was originally developed as a form of anesthetic for humans and animals.
Unlike psychedelic magic mushroom strains, ketamine is a legal hallucinogenic prescribed to patients in over 60 countries. In fact, It was the first of these psychoactive substances approved to treat mental health conditions.
In small doses, it can trigger mild hallucinations and sensory distortion. Patients also feel uplifted due to these molecules blocking NMDA receptors in the brain, making it an effective antidepressant.
Similar to the effects of synthetic psilocybin, ketamine takes 5–30 minutes to kick in, depending on the dose and delivery method. The psychedelic visuals and hallucinations may last for up to 2 hours while impairing your coordination for up to 24 hours.
Ketamine has a wide range of therapeutic benefits, including the potential treatment of depression, bipolar disorder, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and opioid addiction.
High doses of ketamine can pose a potential health risk. It’s important to have a trained medical expert with patients during treatments at all times.
Every Experience Is Unique
The effects of psilocybin compared to other hallucinogens are worlds apart.
Even though all psychedelic molecules interact with the same receptors in the brain, they all affect the mind differently.
Some substances offer mild hallucinations, filling a user with a sense of euphoria, empathy, and energy. Other magic molecules relax the mind and transport the consciousness to a distant dimension.
There’s also no guarantee the effects of a particular psychedelic substance are the same the next time it’s consumed.
If you’re interested in studying the building blocks that make up these magical compounds, head on over to our online store to expand your understanding of magic mushrooms.