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liberty caps, magic mushrooms, mushies
psilocybe semilanceata, aminita muscaria



The use of magic mushrooms dates back to prehistory. Hallucinogenic plants and fungi were used by ancient tribes as a way of gaining access to the spirit world.



There are many types of hallucinogenic fungi of various appearance from all over the world.

They can be found dried or powdered or in capsules.


method of use

Eaten raw, brewed as a drink or mixed in food.

Of the dozen or so types in the UK, psilocybin or 'Liberty Caps' are the most plentiful, non-toxic, and commonly used. An effective dose is 10 to 30 mushrooms.



The effects are similar to a mild LSD trip, with a trip usually lasting about four hours. Mushrooms, although similar, work more along a sliding scale, with only a few having a slight effect and a lot being much harder to cope with — indeed terrifying for some people.

The effects of mushrooms start after about half an hour of taking them. Often emotions take a roller-coaster of a ride up and down. There is trembling of muscles and often phlegm to be swallowed for the duration of the trip which can cause nausea.

These effects are more pronounced with a larger dose.

Mushrooms can be a powerful hallucinogen and will often give an impression of being 'at one' with nature, animals, the body, or 'the Cosmos'. LSD is a more clinical 'hit'. As with any hallucinogen, the otherwise familiar can seem funny or frightening. Colours intensify and shapes, sizes and time appear more elastic.

These mushrooms are not physically addictive and are not associated with dependency problems. Indeed if they are taken for a few days in a row, they will cease to have any effect.

Dried psilocybin lose 20 to 40% of their strength, and 10 mushrooms taken on an empty stomach are the equivalent to 40 after a meal. They are also much stronger if mixed with alcohol.


health risks

Mushrooms may 'trigger' some mental disorder in a few people but any long-term psychological problems that have happened appear to have been existing problems that were aggravated.

Some people experience 'flashbacks'. These are sudden and intense memories of a trip which can be seen as rather frightening and can occur long afterwards, although not everyone will experience them.

Psilocybin can produce a high fever (106 F) and convulsions in children so keep them well out of reach.

The most serious problem with taking mushrooms is picking the wrong kind. Several of the mushrooms found in this country are extremely dangerous and can kill. So if in any doubt about identification it is best not to take them.

Although death from mushrooms is a rare event in the UK, being taken to hospital in agony from eating the wrong ones is very common, and a good full-colour guide such as Collins 'Guide to Mushrooms' would be a wise precaution.

Symptoms of mushroom poisoning can take up to 40 hours to develop. If in doubt, consult a doctor, preferably with samples of vomit and the mushrooms to show them.



As previously mentioned, addiction is impossible due to the exceptionally quick tolerance development.


the law

Mushrooms or any fungus containing psilocin or an ester of psilocin have been brought under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and are now class A.

Published in Alcohol & Drugs