The Psilocybe cubensis mushroom is currently one of the most popular and commonly available natural psychedelics.
This species is known under several other names such as Stropharia cubensis, Stropharia cyanescens or Stropharia caerulescens, often referred to as the ‘Mexican mushroom’, and popularly known as magic mushrooms or shrooms.
This mushroom is relatively easy to grow, and therefore it is one of the most widely used hallucinogenic mushrooms all over the world. In smartshops, they are often called ‘magic mushrooms’.
The mushroom encountered and described by the Spanish chroniclers was in all likelihood the Psilocybe cubensis, the most common of the 40 or so species of Psilocybe mushroom.
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what is psilocybe cubensis?
Psilocybe cubensis is a species of psychedelic mushroom whose principal active compounds are psilocybin and psilocin. Commonly called shrooms, magic mushrooms, golden tops, cubes, or gold caps, it belongs to the fungus family Hymenogastraceae and was previously known as Stropharia cubensis. It is the most well known psilocybin mushroom due to its wide distribution and ease of cultivation.
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Personal-scale cultivation of Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms ranges from the relatively simple and small-scale PF Tek and other “cake” methods, that produce a limited amount of mushrooms, to advanced techniques utilizing methods of professional mushroom cultivators. These advanced methods require a greater investment of time, money, and knowledge, but reward the diligent cultivator with far larger and much more consistent harvests.
Terence and Dennis McKenna made Psilocybe cubensis particularly famous when they published Psilocybin: The Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide in the 1970s upon their return from the Amazon rainforest, having deduced new methods (based on pre-existing techniques originally described by J.P. San Antonio) for growing psilocybin mushrooms and assuring their audience that Psilocybe cubensis were amongst the easiest psilocybin-containing mushrooms to cultivate.
Potency of cultivated specimens can vary widely in accordance with each flush (harvest). In a classic paper published by Jeremy Bigwood and M.W. Beug, it was shown that with each flush, psilocybin levels varied somewhat unpredictably but were much the same on the first flush as they were on the last flush; however, psilocin was typically absent in the first two flushes but peaked by the fourth flush, making it the most potent. Two strains were also analyzed to determine potency in caps and stems: In one strain the caps contained generally twice as much psilocybin as the stems, but the small amount of psilocin present was entirely in the stems. In the other strain, a trace of psilocin was present in the cap but not in the stem; the cap and stem contained equal amounts of psilocybin. The study concluded that the levels of psilocybin and psilocin vary by over a factor of four in cultures of Psilocybe cubensis grown under controlled conditions.
Psychedelic and entheogenic use
Psilocybe cubensis is probably the most widely known of the psilocybin-containing mushrooms used for triggering psychedelic experiences after ingestion. Its major psychoactive compounds are:
- Psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine)
- Psilocin (4-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine)
- Baeocystin (4-phosphoryloxy-N-methyltryptamine)
- Norbaeocystin (4-phosphoryloxytryptamine)
The concentrations of psilocin and psilocybin, as determined by high-performance liquid chromatography, are in the range of 0.14–0.42% and 0.37–1.30% (dry weight) in the whole mushroom, 0.17–0.78% and 0.44–1.35% in the cap, and 0.09 and 0.30%/0.05–1.27% in the stem, respectively.
Individual brain chemistry and psychological predisposition play a significant role in determining appropriate doses. For a modest psychedelic effect, a minimum of one gram of dried Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms is ingested orally, 0.25–1 gram is usually sufficient to produce a mild effect, 1–2.5 grams usually provides a moderate effect, and 2.5 grams and higher usually produces strong effects. For most people, 3.5 dried grams (1/8 oz) would be considered a high dose and may produce an intense experience; this is, however, typically considered a standard dose among recreational users. For many individuals, doses above three grams may be overwhelming. For a few rare people, doses as small as 0.25 gram can produce full-blown effects normally associated with very high doses. For most people, however, that dose level would result in virtually no effects. Due to factors such as age and storage method, the psilocybin content of a given sample of mushrooms will vary. Effects usually start after approximately 20–60 minutes (depending on method of ingestion and stomach contents) and may last from four to ten hours, depending on dosage. Visual distortions often occur, including walls that seem to breathe, a vivid enhancement of colors and the animation of organic shapes.
The effects of very high doses can be overwhelming depending on the particular phenotype of cubensis, grow method, and the individual. It is recommended not to eat wild mushrooms as they may be poisonous