What is psilocybin?

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychoactive molecule that is found in many species of fungi. Mushrooms that contain psilocybin are known colloquially as “magic mushrooms,” and can be ingested to produce a profound psychedelic trip lasting several hours. Psilocybin is the psychoactive molecule found in truffles; the psychedelic of choice at Synthesis retreats.


Where is psilocybin legal?

Psilocybin itself is a prohibited substance in most countries. However, in some countries it is legal to possess, grow, or even sell mushrooms containing psilocybin.

In Brazil, there are no specific laws against the possession or consumption of psychedelic mushrooms, and use could even be covered under laws protecting the sacramental use of substances.

The British Virgin Islands prohibit the sale of psychedelic mushrooms, but allow for possession and consumption. You will often find vendors selling mushroom shakes without apparent fear of prosecution.

In Jamaica, the authorities appear to turn a blind eye to psychedelic mushrooms, allowing its use in commercial retreats and for private personal use.

The Netherlands is a unique case: psilocybin mushrooms are illegal, but psilocybin truffles are legal. Truffles are just an earlier stage of mushroom development, and still contain psilocybin at high levels. The Synthesis retreat uses these magic truffles at our location in Amsterdam, setting up a safe and legal environment in which people can enjoy the transformative effects of psilocybin.

A number of other countries also provide leeway for the cultivation or use of psychedelic mushrooms, to various extents – although none are currently as safe and clear-cut in their policies as the Netherlands.

What are mushrooms containing psilocybin?

Mushrooms containing psilocybin, also known as "magic mushrooms", are any species of fungi that contain psilocybin. There are dozens of different types and they differ in appearance, taste, and even the amount of psilocybin they contain.

How do you identify mushrooms containing psilocybin?

You can find psychedelic mushrooms quite commonly in moist, sheltered conditions. They grow well in dung and dense forests near bodies of water.

Mushroom species are wildly varied, and the same goes for the psilocybin-containing ones. So far, there are 227 known species. There is no single feature based on which psychedelic mushrooms can be distinguished from regular ones.

These are some of the most common species of psychedelic mushrooms found in the wild, and their features:

Psilocybe cubensis are the most well-known species of magic mushrooms. They appear as classic stubby-stemmed parasol-shaped mushrooms with predominantly light-to-golden-brownish caps that are bulbous before fruiting, and flat and wide in diameter when fully mature. A certain kind of P. cubensis is known worldwide as the “Golden Teacher.”

Psilocybe semilanceata are commonly found in Europe, North and South America, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. They also go by the name “Liberty Caps”, because of their dark bell-shaped tops. Their stems are slim, and can be wavy.

Psilocybe cyanescens are quite easily recognized due to their undulating tops. For this reason, they are commonly referred to as “Wavy Caps.” They can be found on the West Coast of the USA, south of the Bay Area, in Central and Western Europe, New Zealand, and parts of Western Asia.

Panaeolus or Copelandia cyanescens, also known as the “Hawaiian” shrooms, are not the most distinct species, with long, slim stems and light brown to light grey caps. They grow all over the world: in North and South America, Western Europe, Central Africa, South and Southeast Asia and throughout Oceania.

Psilocybe azurescens are frequently found on the West Coast of the USA, specifically Oregon and Washington. They display a slim stem and a convex caramel-colored cap with a conical top.


What are truffles containing psilocybin?

Truffles containing psilocybin are an earlier stage of mushroom development found underground and will have psychedelic effects if ingested.

If psychedelic mushroom spores are planted in the correct environmental conditions, they will grow into sclerotia: a hardened mass of fungus that stores nutrients in preparation for the growth of mushrooms. These truffles will remain in this state until the environment is beneficial for mushroom growth.

Magic truffles can be grown industrially, and in the Netherlands are sold in headshops/smartshops and used in psychedelic retreats, due to their legal status.

Psilocybin levels will differ in magic truffles compared to magic mushrooms. Sometimes, the wet truffles will contain more psilocybin per weight than wet mushrooms, but dried truffles will contain less psilocybin per weight than dried mushrooms, due to the higher water content of magic truffles. When sold in shops, truffles containing psilocybin will usually have dosage information on their packaging. The truffles used at Synthesis are labeled in this way, so we can accurately tailor the dosage to each person’s preference.

How does psilocybin affect the brain?

Psilocybin itself is not technically psychoactive. Upon entering the body, the psilocybin molecule is quickly metabolized into psilocin, which is responsible for the well-known psychedelic effects.

Psilocin acts on serotonin receptors, increasing the amount of serotonin available in the brain, and producing profound changes in perception. It is psilocin’s actions at the 5-HT2A receptor that are thought to be most important for its psychoactive effects.

Once psilocybin enters the body, it is quickly converted into psilocin, and the psychological effects will become apparent after around twenty minutes. The activation of the 5-HT2A receptor is linked with changes in cognition such as visual and auditory hallucinations, tactile perceptions (such as tingling or warmth), and synaesthesia (the merging of senses).

Users of psilocybin report entering a profound state of mind where the usual limits of consciousness are expanded. Realizations about the self and the universe may come to the forefront, and people will often describe feelings of unity, interconnectedness, and unconditional love.

During a psychedelic experience, rushes of emotion are particularly common, including euphoria and a sense of total immersion in your surroundings. These are often accompanied by visual changes; the boundaries between shapes may blur, the air may take on a substantial, hazy quality. Surfaces may develop swirling patterns. Your thoughts may surprise you; drawing connections between seemingly disparate ideas, or spinning out into personal epiphanies. Your sense of self may even dissolve altogether as you become one with your surroundings: a process known as ego-dissolution.

The colours you see may be brighter, more intense, or change completely. Characters that are encountered in this altered state of consciousness may morph, take on new significances or identities; objects may feel different to touch. You may be drawn towards exploring the outdoors; the beauty of plants and flowers can become mesmeric.

Studies have shown that psilocybin induces a mystical experience, and that the intensity of this directly correlates with the benefits that users report following the trip. It is this mystical aspect that retreats like Synthesis hope to amplify in order to bring the benefits of psychedelics to their participants.

Additionally, psilocybin has been shown to reduce the control of a brain network known as the DMN (default mode network), and this has been linked to a boost in creative thinking and reductions in negative thought-patterns.

The “resetting” of this DMN by psilocybin has also been suggested to be a factor in the significant antidepressant effects of psilocybin, where a single dose of psilocybin can reduce symptoms of depression for months following the treatment.

How long does psilocybin stay in your system?

Although psilocybin is metabolized into psilocin, it stays in your system for longer than its psychoactive metabolite. It takes around a day for all the psilocybin in your body to be excreted. Psilocin, on the other hand, will be be almost totally gone from your body after six hours.

Can psilocybin be found in a drug test?

Both psilocybin and psilocin can be detected in a urine drug test, although they will have left your system a day after ingestion. A blood test would also pick up psilocybin in your body, although this would only work within the first six hours after ingestion.

Hair follicle testing would potentially show the presence of psilocybin, although it would have to be administered a few days after ingestion. Psilocybin could be potentially detected for several weeks after ingestion by this method. However, it is unlikely you’ll come across this kind of test, as it requires high-end lab equipment and is relatively invasive.

How do you take psilocybin?

The most common way of ingesting psilocybin is by eating psychedelic mushrooms. They can be eaten on their own, fresh or dried; although many people dislike the taste and often report nausea.

To get around the sometimes unpleasant taste, dried mushrooms can be ground up into a powder and then distributed into capsules. Alternatively, the powder can be dissolved in chocolate milk or other pleasant beverages.

Psychedelic truffles can be ingested in the same manner as mushrooms, although the taste is reported to be somewhat different.

How do you make psilocybin tea?

Some people prefer to brew their mushrooms into a tea to make the ingestion more pleasant. This can also be done with truffles, and is the approach that Synthesis takes during its retreats.

A tea can be made with either fresh or dried mushrooms or truffles. Too much heat will destroy the psilocybin in the fungus, so do not boil the mushrooms. Instead, brew your tea with whatever flavorings you desire, then take the water off the heat and add your dried or fresh mushrooms once the water has stopped boiling. Let the mushrooms steep in the tea for 10-15 minutes, then strain the liquid into a cup and drink!

Recommended additions to truffle tea are ginseng, lemon, ginger, and honey. They can help mask the taste and also aid digestion to prevent nausea. Synthesis uses ginger in its truffle tea.

What dosages should I use?

The dosage of psilocybin to ingest depends on many factors. Different people will respond differently to the same dose of psilocybin, and the same person might respond differently to the same dose on different days. This is why any suggested dosages are just guidelines, and you should always dose with caution until you learn your preferred range.

Keep in mind that different species of psychedelic mushrooms will contain different quantities of psilocybin. For example, fresh Psilocybe cyanescens can contain up to 16mg/g psilocybin, while fresh Panaeolus sphinctrinus can contain as little as 2mg/g.

Fresh truffles can contain more or less psilocybin than fresh psilocybin mushrooms, but again there will be variation between species. Remember that truffles contain more water than mushrooms, so when both are dried, magic truffles may contain a higher quantity of psilocybin per weight than dried psilocybin mushrooms.

This is a good general guide for dosing, although we strongly recommend researching your mushrooms beforehand:

  Wet mushrooms/truffles Dried mushrooms/truffles
Light experience 5g 0.5g
Moderate experience 15g 1.5g
Intense experience 25g 2.5g