LSD vs Shrooms

LSD and psilocybin (the active compound in magic mushrooms and truffles) pretty much corner the market when it comes to psychedelics. Both LSD and shrooms can trigger a hallucinations and take you on a wild ride. They have also more recently been found to be effective treatment of a host of ailments, from social anxiety to PTSD. But there are still a ton of differences between the two. One of them, for instance, occurs solely in nature. The other is made in a lab. One of them has a wilder, longer trip that lasts for a day. While the other has a earthy, creative appeal — slightly shorter, but still as sweet! So which popular drug is which?

Read on to find out..!

Lab-Made Wonder

For starters, LSD is a synthetic drug (or in other words, lab-made). Lysergic acid diethylamide was first synthesised by Albert Hofmann. He was a Swiss chemist who blended the drug from lysergic acid, which gives LSD its distinct lack of odour, taste, and colour. On April 19, 1943, Hofmann enjoyed the world’s first deliberate acid trip — taking 250 mcg of LSD and hopping on his bicycle in Basel. Nowadays, psychonauts toast to “Bicycle Day” on April 19th each year… indulging in an acid soaked paper tab or a few drops of the elixir on the tongue.

“In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colours.”—Albert Hofmann on LSD

Special acid blotter to celebrate Bicycle Day. The paper, which is soaked in LSD, is typically sliced in squares or ‘tabs’. (Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

LSD is purely lab-made, but plain lysergic acid is blended with ergot. Ergot (or ergot fungus) is a mold that grows naturally on grains, such as rye bread. And though it’s synthetic, LSD’s molecular “skeleton” looks a whole lot like psilocybin — the psychedelic substance found in magic mushrooms and truffles. Hmm, surely they must be related??

Nature’s Magick

Unlike LSD, magic mushrooms and truffles grow naturally in suitable regions, such as the US, Mexico, and South America. There are over 245 different species of shrooms. But psychonauts are most familiar with the genus Psilocybe…and for good reason! Psilocybe cubensis and Liberty Caps are the most grown, bought and sold varieties, both in physical stores and online.

From L-R: Magic truffles (sclerotia) grow underground; while Magic Mushrooms grow aboveground, with stalks and caps. Both contain psilocybin—so they have the exact same psychedelic effect.

Magic mushrooms and truffles are enjoyed just like any other natural food— by munching down on ‘em, either raw or dried. You can also slice, chop and brew magic truffles into tea, or a zesty lemon-TEK or stir into a delicious warm milk for a truly cozy psychedelic trip. 

Super-Long vs. Short and Sweet

Both LSD and shrooms can trip you out, no doubt.  LSD can give visual hallucinations for an entire day. Shrooms are an equally trippy but natural experience for a slightly lesser time — 4 to 8 hours — more than enough to open the doors of perception. Question is, how long do you want your journey to last?

LSD tricks the body into thinking it’s serotonin (or the ‘happy hormone’). Which allows it to enter the nervous system. And as LSD gets in the brain, the region that ‘only sees what is there’, called the visual cortex, crashes down. Hard. The visual acid trip begins, which on a normal dose of LSD can last for up to 20 hours. Both euphoria and terror — extreme joy and fear —can occur in a single LSD trip. A crazy carnival of hallucination. 

Here’s a fun fact! Did you know that despite the 20 hr time frame, most users tend to describe LSD trips as moving “so much faster” than shroom trips? Magic mushrooms and truffles also wake up the serotonin receptors, but their journey is slightly different. For psilocybin to enter the brain, your liver has to break it down first into psilocin—which can take 15 mins to an hour. Psilocin gets in the blood, to the brain, and then “short-circuits” the amygdala, which processes fear. Ever wondered why psilocybin can treat severe anxiety so effectively? Now you know! 

Psilocybin also breaks up the “sync” between the anterior and the fronto-insular cortices, causing ego death (or the strange feeling of losing yourself). For 4 to 6 hours on a normal dose, you lose track of time. Maybe even have some mild hallucinations, some colour-sound switcheroos. But the real prize here is the sense of pure wisdom and clarity. After all, there are legends that say magic truffles were the REAL Philosopher’s Stones in medieval alchemy. Maybe Merlin was the first psychonaut after all…?

Expensive vs. Affordable

In Silicon Valley, there has been an uptick in microdosing psychedelic drugs — LSD and shrooms especially. Tech geniuses take very small amounts at intervals to help sharpen their minds, boost creativity, or treat symptoms of depression or anxiety. 

Unfortunately, tech geniuses probably have different avenues of obtaining their psychedelics. Forget about legal online shops — the only way to quickly secure acid for a ‘normal’ person is from street dealers. As of 2019, a single 50-150 mcg LSD ‘tab’ or square can cost up to $20 on average. It’s not cheap, and the price has likely risen since the pandemic hit. 

As Andrew Yockey, doctoral candidate in health education at the University of Cincinnati, told Scientific American:

“LSD is used primarily to escape. And given that the world’s on fire, people might be using it as a therapeutic mechanism. Now that COVID’s hit, I’d guess that use has probably tripled.”

Microdosing magic truffles is far cheaper. If you order from a trusted online shop, a 6 gram strip of psilocybin truffles only costs €6.50 euros. Sure, a single microdose won’t trigger an acid rave. But when taken every 3rd day, magic truffles can boost your creativity and mood like no other. And if you’re looking to grow your own shrooms, a single, easy-to-use cubensis grow kit with pre-grown spores can yield a harvest of up to 160 grams. That’s a lot of savings in the long run, considering this grow kit is priced at only €28.

Choose What’s Best for You

Acid raves, or field of dreams? The choice is up to you. One thing’s for sure, though. Both LSD and shrooms deserve their spot as the two most popular hallucinogens on the market. Both LSD and psilocybin can induce a higher state of consciousness — often described as ‘ego death’. And what do you know? Both LSD and magic truffles are now the hottest substances of the moment for medical researchers. Clinical studies are sprouting all over —from anxiety to resistant depression, to PTSD and even end-of-life care. Is there anything psychedelic drugs cannot do? Beats me! 

Have you tried both LSD and shrooms? How do you rate them? You might love ’em both equally! Let us know in the comments below…

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