Psychedelic mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms, have been used for centuries for their hallucinogenic properties. These trippy little fungi are sometimes considered medicinal, and guided mushroom trips are often used as alternative therapies in places where hallucinogenic mushrooms are legal.
Many magic mushrooms contain psilocybin, a highly psychoactive chemical that produces profound changes in perception, mood, and consciousness. Others contain lesser known hallucinogens, like muscimol and ibotenic acid, which may have different effects.
Whether you’re gearing up for a guided mushroom trip or just want to know more about the different types of psychedelic mushrooms and their potential benefits, you’re in for a treat. Here’s what you need to know:
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Psychedelic mushrooms contain psilocybin and psilocin, psychedelic compounds that induce intense hallucinations and euphoria.
Some psychedelic mushrooms contain other minor hallucinogenic compounds and produce milder effects.
Most psychedelic mushrooms are illegal to cultivate and consume, but some states are working towards more progressive legislation surrounding psilocybin therapies.
Top 5 Types of Magic Mushrooms
There are five main types of psychedelic mushrooms, each with its own unique composition and effects. Let's take a look:
Psilocybe cubensis, commonly referred to as "cubes," is one of the most well-known species of psychedelic mushrooms. Most psilocybe cubensis species have a yellowish cap and may be referred to as “golden caps.” This species is native to nearly every region in the world and is the most widely used hallucinogenic mushroom for both therapeutic and recreational purposes.
Each psilocybe cubensis species may have varying effects, but each is known to induce intense visual hallucinations, euphoria, and altered states of consciousness.
Cubensis is the most common species of psychedelic mushroom that is home-cultivated (which is still illegal in the United States), which means that cubensis strains have been genetically varied to a greater degree than other mushroom species. Some of the most common psilocybe cubensis varieties include:
- Golden Teachers
- Jack Frost
Psilocybe azurescens, more commonly known as "azure caps," is one of the most potent species of psychedelic mushrooms in the world. Azure caps grow mostly in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. These mushrooms have a caramel-colored cap that darkens with age and a slender, fibrous stem.
Psilocybe azurescens is highly regarded for its high psilocybin content, which gives it profound psychedelic effects. This mushroom is associated with intense visual and auditory hallucinations, mystical experiences, and a deep sense of introspection.
Psilocybe semilanceata, also known as “liberty caps,” is the next most common species of psychedelic mushrooms, both for medicinal and recreational use. These mushrooms have a distinctive conical cap with a nipple-like protrusion at the top. They are a bit more difficult to source than cubensis varieties as they are predominantly found only in Europe and North America.
The liberty cap is highly regarded for its potent psychedelic effects, which may include various visual and sensual enhancements. Many people also claim that liberty cap mushrooms induce a strong sense of interconnectedness with the environment, often referring to the experience as a “spiritual enlightenment” of sorts.
Psilocybe cyanescens is a slightly less common variety that’s a secret-favorite of mushroom connoisseurs. Also known as "wavy caps," the psilocybe cyanescens species is an incredibly potent variety of psychedelic mushrooms that contain both psilocybin and psilocin. These mushrooms have a convex caramel-colored cap and flesh that turns blue when bruised.
These mushrooms are native to the temperate regions of Europe and North America, although more elusive than other varieties. Wavy caps grown mainly in wood chips or mulch or at the base of rotting trees.
Again, these mushrooms are characterized by intense visual and auditory hallucinations. Many people describe the wavy cap as “awe-inspiring.” Many people also report experiencing synesthesia, a phenomenon where sense perceptions become mixed (meaning you may “hear colors and see sounds.”)
Amanita muscaria, commonly referred to as the "fly agaric," is a distinctive and iconic species of psychedelic mushroom. This picture perfect magic mushroom is the one you may see depicted in cartoons. Its right red cap is adorned with white spots, and it definitely looks like something that will take you on a wild ride.
However, the fly agaric mushroom is much more rare than other varieties of psychedelic mushrooms, and it’s only found in the northernmost regions of Europe, Asia, and North America.
Amanita muscaria contains different psychoactive compounds, including muscimol and ibotenic acid. These compounds work similarly to LSD, keeping serotonin levels high to induce an intense feeling of euphoria, sedation, and altered perception. This particular mushroom induces a trance-like effect and is often associated with a “deep sleep” instead of an active trip, which is why it’s often used in spiritual practices and meditation.
Which type of psychedelic mushroom is the most potent?
The potency of a psychedelic mushroom depends mostly on its psilocybin content, though other minor psychedelic alkaloids come into play with some rare mushroom varieties. Still, psilocybin is the key psychoactive component available in the most potent mushrooms, so let’s take a look at the psilocybin concentration of some mushroom species to get an idea of which one has the most potent effects.
- Blue Angel (Psilocybe azurenscens): 1.78 percent psilocybin and 0.38 percent psilocin
- Wavy Cap (Psilocybe cyanescens): 0.85 percent psilocybin and 0.36 percent psilocin
- Golden Teacher (Psilocybe cubensis): 0.63 percent psilocybin and 0.60 percent
- Magic Truffles (Psilocybe tampanensis): 0.68 percent psilocybin and 0.32 percent psilocin
- Liberty Cap (Psilocybe semilanceata): 0.98 percent psilocybin and 0.2 percent psilocin
As you can see, Blue Angel (Psilocybe azurescens) mushrooms have more psilocybin and psilocin than other types of mushrooms. This would be a good choice for microdosing since a very small amount of mushroom material is needed to achieve the desired effects.
While all of these mushrooms on this list will produce potent psychoactive effects, it is important to note that every mushroom’s effects differ from the next.
Where to Find Therapeutic Mushrooms
Psychedelic mushrooms have captivated the human imagination for centuries, offering profound experiences and potential insights into the nature of consciousness. However, magic mushrooms are powerful therapeutics, and they should be approached with caution. Taking too much or taking mushrooms from a poor source can result in a bad trip.
Also keep in mind that psychedelic mushrooms are still illegal in many parts of the world, including most of the U.S,. In some states, like Oregon, psilocybin therapy is becoming a more common choice for patients dealing with depression and some other mental disorders, but you’ll need to approach this path with a doctor’s guidance.
Although there are many types of psychedelic mushrooms, you should also keep in mind that wild mushrooms are notoriously difficult to accurately identify, and misidentification can lead to serious consequences, including poisoning or even death. Seeking guidance from experienced individuals or participating in structured psychedelic therapy with professionals is a safer approach.
There are safe, legal options for mushroom therapy, however, including medicinal mushrooms that do not have psychoactive effects. Therapeutically significant mushrooms, like lion’s mane and cordyceps, have a multitude of benefits for the body and mind and can be legally purchased in supplement form. Many mushrooms have nootropic and adaptogenic benefits, meaning they can improve cognition, increase energy, and support the body’s stress response.
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If you want to take full advantage of the "functional" side of functional mushrooms, consider a mushroom super-blend like our Lucid Coffee, Chai, or Matcha powders. It takes full advantage of the benefits of these superfood mushrooms by pairing Cordyceps, Maitake, Tremella, and Lion's Mane, plus powerful nootropics, like BCAA's, L-Theanine, Alpha-GPC, and more.