Is the psilocybin hallucinogenic experience really and truly unique, or is it similar to or the same as the effects of other well-known hallucinogens like Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)? How does psilocybin compare to something like N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)? How about mescaline, or ayahuasca?
These are the questions researchers are asking – and increasingly finding the answer is a resounding yes, that psilocybin and the neurological benefits it can offer are indeed unique effects in psychedelic magic mushroom strains. This is largely thanks in part to how psilocybin and psilocin work on a neurological level. But psilocybin is also used in hallucinogens for medical use, hallucinogens for anxiety, and hallucinogens as a part of overall hallucinogenic mushroom therapy. Let’s take a look at that now, and then further compare psilocybin with some of the other aforementioned compounds and substances.
Why Psilocybin is Unique Compared to Other Psychedelics
Psilocybin has become the “talk of the town” in medical research circles thanks to its unique effects on human neurology, namely the fact that it can help form new neural pathways. As it turns out, this is showing to be a highly effective treatment for a variety of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, addiction, and more.
Neural pathways can be thought of as “grooves” in the brain that we form over time. A good analogy is how someone learns to play an instrument—let’s take playing piano, for instance.
When one first starts learning how to play the piano, they’re not very good at it. Placing their fingers on the right keys at the right time to create music is challenging. However, with practice, neural pathways are formed and one finds themselves getting better and better at the piano. Negative habits, behaviors, and thought patterns can be formed in the same way.
While this author is certain any qualified neurologist would describe that example as grossly oversimplified, it’s good enough to serve our purposes of explaining how psilocybin works and why it’s unique compared to many other psychedelics such as psilocybin both in and outside of the psilocybin industry.
Since new neural pathways are formed, the psilocybin-assisted therapy patient will, quite literally, start thinking about things in a new way.
Psilocybin vs. LSD – What’s the Difference?
LSD is perhaps the most well known psychedelic drug, but it’s very different from psilocybin both in composition and the experienced effects during a “trip”.
The biggest difference is that psilocybin occurs naturally in nature (by means of so-called magic mushrooms) and LSD is a lab-created chemical compound. While LSD came to prominence during the 1960s, it was actually created in the late 1930s by Swiss researcher Dr. Albert Hofmann.
LSD is typically regarded as a much stronger psychedelic experience compared to psilocybin, although any astute psychonaut would point out that this is all dependent on dosage. LSD experiences can last between eight and twelve hours and, while not true for everyone, is usually described as an “extrospective” experience, meaning that people often enjoy this substance in the presence of others (think music festivals).
Compared to LSD, psilocybin is a far more introspective experience; many patients have described its effects as spiritual, nature-connecting, earth-bonding, and so on. Many of the greatest proponents of psilocybin have echoed this sentiment, such as Terence McKenna or John Allen The Legendary Explorer, Ethnomycologist.
DMT Has Risen in Popularity in Recent Years, But It’s Very, Very Different Than Psilocybin
DMT, a substance which entered the mainstream consciousness no doubt thanks in large part to the proselytization of podcaster Joe Rogan, is another psychedelic which offers a much different experience than psilocybin. Even the comparatively foreign experience of LSD would be closer on the similarity scale than DMT, even though DMT works in a somewhat similar way to psilocybin (interacting with the serotonin receptors).
DMT, or N-Dimethyltryptamine, offers an extremely, extremely potent psychedelic experience which typically lasts only 15 or 30 minutes. While an individual on a reasonable dosage of magic mushrooms could still be expected to “function”, the same isn’t necessarily true for DMT.
As Terence McKenna reported of his experience with the compound, “The ordinary world is almost instantaneously replaced, not only with a hallucination, but a hallucination whose alien character is its utter alienness. Nothing in this world can prepare one for the impressions that fill your mind when you enter the DMT sensorium.”
What is Mescaline? How Does it Compare to Psilocybin?
Mescaline is similar to psilocybin in the sense that it’s also found in nature. Instead of being present in fungi, mescaline can be found in certain species of cacti, the majority of which are native to the United States and Mexico. Like psilocybin, mescaline has been used by humans for many thousands of years in traditional spiritual rituals and medicine.
The psychedelic effects of mescaline have been described as involving visual and tactile hallucinations. Visually, mescaline is known for producing geometric patterning, spirals, and creating a mosaic-style effect in the visual field. Sensory hallucinations affecting touch can be profound (e.g., a smooth surface may feel rippled, or a soft object may feel hard or “crunchy” instead).
Ayahuasca vs. Psilocybin – What are the Main Differences?
Ayahuasca has more in common with N-Dimethyltryptamine than psilocybin, since traditionally prepared ayahuasca contains DMT-rich ingredients (in terms of the “trip” they are, however, very different). Unlike some of the other substances we’ve discussed here today, ayahuasca is a mixture of several different plant species.
The herbal decoction technique used to brew ayahuasca is so effective because the ingredients contain both DMT and Monoamine Oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). DMT is very rapidly metabolized in the body by Monoamine Oxidase (MAO), but by inhibiting MAO, the effects can be extremely powerful and long lasting.
Ayahuasca isn’t generally thought of as a “party” substance like LSD or even psilocybin (although see above for why using psilocybin in such a way can be detrimental to the experience and benefits). Instead, ayahuasca is often part of a ceremony and is taken relatively seriously as a spiritual experience.
Interested in Learning More About Psilocybin? Start With the Spores!
In today’s post we learned about how psilocybin compares to other psychedelic substances. But how about learning more on where psilocybin comes from next?
While magic mushroom spores contain no psilocybin—it only manifests as the fungi matures, but the spores themselves contain none and are thus legal in most states—they’re important to study for anyone interested in this compound. To research viable, uncontaminated spores, please visit our exotic spore store for quality exotic mushroom spores.