Magic mushrooms are a fascinating beast. A naturally occurring life form that gifts transcendence to humankind. A lowly fungi that grants us an audience with the face of ‘god’. To put it another way — how cool that something that grows from rotten leaves can make us feel so awesome!
You probably know by now about the key psychoactive compounds that make the ‘magic’ — they being psilocybin, psilocin and baeocystin — and how they can be used, not only for a good time, but to cure a whole host of mental health and medical conditions. You’ll also probably know, in light of this research, that laws are changing fast with decriminalisation happening left, right and centre across the US. You might also know what it’s like to trip on some magic truffles, or home-grown shrooms, on a bright spring day and watch the world go by… Ok my friend, seems like you know quite a lot. But how about some fast facts to make you the biggest shroom expert of all? You might learn some things you didn’t expect… Check out our 10 surprising facts about magic mushrooms!
Fact 1: Bald Is Beautiful
There are two basic types of mushrooms that produce hallucinations. One of them being the iconically dotty Amanita muscaria, the other being the little brown Psilocybe. Although the Amanita muscaria (or Fly Agaric) may look more groovy, it’s the Psilocybes such as Psilocybe cubensis that have become the shroom of choice across the world. Funny for a little shroom whose name literally translates to ‘bald head’!
Fact 2: Shrooms Make You Brave
Or rather, they stop you getting scared. A study conducted in 2013, found that when mice were dosed with psilocybin they became less likely to freak out when they heard a sound they had come to associate with an electric shock. This points to what many other studies are finding — that magic mushrooms can be an effective treatment for trauma of many types.
Fact 3: It’s A Big Family
There are at least 144 species of magic mushroom that contain the compound psilocybin, according to a 2005 review. This review was published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, and listed Mexico as having the most native to it (53), 22 in North America, 19 in Australia and the Pacific Islands, 16 in Europe, 15 in Asia, and just 4 in Africa. However, this is just what has been formally identified… the family could be even larger!
Fact 4: More Animal Than Vegetable
As members of the fungi kingdom, magic mushrooms actually have more in common than animals (including humans!) than plants. This may seem hard to believe on the surface as we see them growing from the earth like a plant. But, unlike plants, fungi cannot make their own food through photosynthesis, using the sun’s energy. What they can produce from the sun however, is Vitamin D — just like us! It has also been determined that in terms of a common ancestor, plants branched away 1.1 billion years ago, whereas animals and fungi separated later. Practically cousins!
Fact 5: They’re A Must For A ‘Bucket List’
Many studies have found that people who have had psychedelic experiences count them as some of the most meaningful occurrences in their lives. Sometimes the most. That’s up there with the birth of children and getting married folks! It appears that the positive effects and enhanced mood that follow a transcendent psychedelic trip can last for a substantial amount of time, changing the person’s outlook across all areas of their lives. Seems like something you just gotta try!
Fact 6: Animal Madness!
Turns out humans aren’t the only animals that enjoy psychedelics! Many animals including bears and reindeer have been known to eat magic mushrooms, and can be seen to be enjoying the effects. In fact, it is believed that watching these reindeer gambol about in the snow inspired the Siberian peoples to try shrooms themselves! Additionally, sheep and other livestock have been known to munch on some magic — and seeing as it oftens grows from their dung — I guess they have first dibs! Check out more animals that vibe with hallucinogens here.
Fact 7: Buried Treasure
Did you know that the precious and knobbly gems known as ‘magic truffles’ are actually the food source for the fruiting fungus (the mushroom you can see above ground) and the wirey cables of mycelium below? The fungus uses these buried nuggets full of nutrients to survive in times of scarcity or inhospitable climate — and lucky for us the scelorotia of a psychoactive fungus have psychedelic properties. So, there we go, magic truffles — the fungi’s packed lunch — but our trip. Get your buried treasure here!
Fact 8: Mushrooms Create Their Own Wind
Now then, now then — we’re not saying that these mushrooms are breaking wind, they’re creating wind. You see, shrooms need to spread their spores (think seeds) to reproduce, but as they often dwell in sheltered areas of forests there’s no wind to scatter their spores far and wide. To combat this, some ingenious fungi increase the evaporation rate of water off their surfaces, surrounding themselves with water vapour. This vapour, combined with the cooler air caused by evaporation, raises up the spores. This double act can lift the spores up to 10cm above the mushroom — is it a bird? is it a plane? No! It’s a spore!
Fact 9: Our Ancestors Were Mad For Them
Wherever you are in the world there was usually once an ancient culture that indulged in psychedelics in that very spot. Whether it was Mesoamerican shamans or the Celtic Druids , our ancestors were getting high as kites (for ceremonial reasons of course!). Some civilizations said to get high on natural psychedelics include: the Incas, the Aztecs, the Ancient Egyptians, the Ancient Greeks, the Druids (from Britain and Ireland), Mesopotamians, ancient Sumarians and Native Americans and Indigenous Amazonians — to name but a few!
Fact 10: Psilocybin Will Soon Become Part of Our Everyday Lives!
Not only is psilocybin being touted as the cure for many chronic conditions such as depression, PTSD and addictio. It is also soon to become part of everyday life. From microdosing the pure stuff to help with mood and creativity, to start-up companies making coffee, tea and sweet, sweet, gummies — all infused with psilocybin. So, get ready! The Shroom Age beckons!
Do you have any cool facts about magic mushrooms? Share them in the comments below!