How Do You Take Mushrooms? Psilocybin Consumption 101
Psilocybin is a largely illegal substance and we do not encourage or condone its use where it is against the law. However, we accept that illegal drug use occurs and believe that offering responsible harm reduction information is imperative to keeping people safe. For that reason, this guide is designed to enhance the safety of those who decide to use psilocybin.
You’d think it’d be easy.
Pick up mushroom. Eat mushroom. One-two. Like a bagel.
But would we be writing a 2,000 word article on how to consume a bagel? Maybe if the bagel had the ability to facilitate a feeling of oneness with the whole universe, or excavate and heal the trauma buried in your unconscious. That would be a pretty sweet bagel.
For now, that ability is reserved for psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms. Because they’re so powerful, it matters how you consume them. Here, we’ll go through four common magic mushroom consumption methods that all share one common denominator: relationship.
Whether you’re microdosing for increased creativity, journeying at a retreat to improve mental health, or out in the woods dancing with Spirit, the moment of consumption is intimate. It’s a moment of direct communion, and just like with sex, therapy, or gardening, your relationship with the Mushroom defines the experience.
How clear is your intention? How respectful are you of the Mushroom’s mind-altering ability? As the psilocybin enters your blood, is your heart open and trusting? Do you care about the Mushroom the way it cares about you?
As we review the details of magic mushroom consumption, remember this theme of relationship. Psilocybin is entering the mainstream quickly as a revolutionary medicine, which represents a massive stride for psychedelic therapy. However, Big Pharma and the capitalist system are powerful sorcerers. Without a widely-held commitment to relationship, which invites a slower, more intentional use of psilocybin, their profit-driven motives can strip the magic out of the mushroom.
Varieties of magic mushrooms
When the intention to use psilocybin mushrooms arises in your consciousness, the Universe can bring them to you in one of three forms: truffles, pre-grown, or spores.
Magic truffles are magic mushrooms cultivated at a different stage of development.
The mushrooms that most people are familiar with are the stem-and-cap fruiting bodies that spurt above the ground. Under certain conditions, the psilocybin fungus can create fruiting bodies below the ground called sclerotia, which store food reserves.
It is the sclerotia that comprise magic truffles, because they contain enough psilocybin to cause psychoactive effects. This psilocybin content makes them illegal in most parts of the world, but in the Netherlands, they’re legally available because they aren’t considered a full-grown mushroom..
Theoretically, anyone could cultivate sclerotia, and if you look hard enough, you will find them anywhere. However, it’s safe to assume that you will most likely only come across truffles that are perfectly packaged and on display in the Netherlands.
If you’re interested in a truffle retreat, check out Third Wave’s Directory partners who work with psilocybin mushrooms.
Whether obtained through the Dark Web, a dealer, or a friend who lives in a place where hallucinogenic mushrooms are decriminalized (like Oakland or Denver), most people obtain pre-grown dried mushrooms.
If you acquire mushrooms from someone else, there’s a good chance they will be psilocybe cubensis mushrooms. Psilocybe is the name of the most popular psilocybin mushroom genus, and cubensis is the most popular species. Cubensis mushrooms are easier than others to grow and cultivate, and are often considered those that provide the standard psilocybin experience.
Two other prominent psilocybe species include psilocybe semilanceata and psilocybe azurescens. Colloquially referred to as “Liberty Caps”, psilocybe semilanceata are the most prevalent species found in the wild, while psilocybe azurescens, known as “Flying Saucers”, are one of the most potent species, capable of producing a powerful experience with as little as one gram (compared to three grams with psilocybe cubensis).
There are over 200 psilocybe cubensis strains. Popular strains include Penis Envy, which is also one of the most potent, B+, Golden Teacher, and Blue Meanies. The best way to tell which strain you have, as well as rule out poisonous mushrooms, is to use a mushroom identification guide. We recommend the Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World: An Identification Guide, by the mushroom king himself, Paul Stamets.
Whatever the strain, store your mushrooms in an airtight mason jar with a food-grade silica packet, and place them in a dark, cool cupboard away from the sun.
Although fully grown mushrooms are illegal in most countries, the spores that are used to grow them are not.
At-home mushroom cultivation has exploded in the last couple years, and it’s easier than ever to grow your own. The basic process involves acquiring spores from a trusted source like Sporeworks.com, inculcating the spores into a substrate (usually rice and vermiculite), and after mycelium forms, allowing the mushrooms to fruit in a grow chamber such as a plastic storage container.
The biggest risk of failure for most people is contamination. Psilocybin mushrooms are notoriously easy to contaminate with bacteria and other fungi like mold. This is why first-time growers usually start with psilocybe cubensis strains of Penis Envy or B+, which resist contamination better than others.
If you’ve ever gardened before, you know firsthand how well plants respond to a caring touch. Growing your own mushrooms can introduce that respectful and loving relationship that the field of psychedelic medicine needs. We recommend the How To Grow Mushrooms course by our friends at DoubleBlind, which includes a community of first-time growers and on-hand professional mycologists to assist with your process.
How to consume psilocybin mushrooms
Whether you’re eating them raw or swallowing capsules, the first step in consuming psilocybin mushrooms is always setting a strong intention.
With a strong intention, you articulate clearly what you want to get out of your experience, whether you are microdosing or going on a full-dose shroom trip. Rituals help—journaling, lighting some palo santo, holding crystals, or establishing your intention in the form of a prayer all work to more deeply connect you to the mushroom experience.
One of the most important skills that psilocybin mushrooms help us cultivate is surrender. At the moment of consumption, you can intend to surrender to the experience, a higher power, or the mushrooms themselves. Either way, once you’ve ingested them, a door closes and your capacity to control the experience goes out the window. All that’s left to do is trust that whatever comes your way is in your highest good.
Directly interacting with their dry, earthy taste is not always the most enjoyable, but consuming your mushrooms raw invites the most intimate relationship with them. And because set and setting influence the psychedelic experience so heavily, the taste can color the mushroom experience, giving it a grounded, raw, or nature-themed quality.
If the taste is too much, but you still want to consume the mushrooms raw, you can eat pretty much anything with them to mask the taste. Dark chocolate, nuts, or rice crackers work very well, but you can also put them in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a pizza, or pasta.
You can also drink pretty much anything to mask the taste. However, citrus fruits and fruit juice can enhance the psilocybin experience, making the come up faster and the journey itself more intense. This is because they contain acetic acid, which breaks down psilocybin into psilocin, the compound primarily responsible for the psychedelic experience. So unless it’s your intention to have a more intense journey, be wary of lemons and lemon juice, freshly squeezed orange juice, or limes and lime juice.
- Measure out mushrooms on a reliable scale
- State intention
Other than their taste, raw mushrooms can be nauseating for many people. Certain materials of the fungus, such as the chitin that makes up the cell walls, are hard to digest. This is why tea is an excellent alternative: the indigestible materials break down in the hot water, leaving you with psilocybin that won’t leave you clutching your stomach.
Mushroom tea can be more intense. Grinding the mushrooms into a powder and soaking that powder in water both expand the possible surface area of your digestive tract the mushrooms can access. This means that psilocin can be absorbed into your blood at an increased, more even rate than when consuming raw mushrooms. Imagine sprinkling a fine layer of apple seeds over a patch of dirt vs. haphazardly throwing apple cores into the ground—you get the idea.
If you’re ok with the faster come-up and increased intensity, then mushroom tea can be a beautiful way to ritualize the consumption process. There’s something deeply ancient and intimate about consuming a psychedelic substance through tea. You also have the option of adding other ingredients and flavors. Combining the mushrooms with chamomile, ginger, lavender, honey, or any of the random teas you have in your pantry can add different qualities to the journey.
- Measure out mushrooms on a reliable scale
- Grind mushrooms in a spice grinder, weed grinder, or mortar and pestle
- Soak ground mushrooms in hot water (add a tea bag here)
- Optional: you can buy empty tea bags and place the ground mushrooms in them to further extract the psilocybin. This may, however, weaken the overall effect
- State intention
- Drink, sipping intentionally
Mushroom edibles,such as chocolates or truffles, are more for macrodose journeys than microdosing, since it’s harder to accurately measure the amount of psilocybin. But edibles can make for a very enjoyable process of consumption.
Consumption steps will vary on the dose. With edible mushrooms, similarly to cannabis, you’ll want to wait at least an hour, preferably two before ingesting another dose.
Mushroom capsules are typically used for microdosing regimens. You can grind the mushrooms to a powder and, with a capsule machine, accurately measure out several precise, small dosages.
Another advantage of capsules is that you can combine other adaptogens into the same capsule along with the psilocybin mushroom. This includes Lion’s Mane and niacin, for example, which is a popular combination known as the Stamet’s Stack, named after Paul Stamets.
Can you inhale or smoke mushrooms?
Theoretically, yes. But unlike with cannabis, for example, evidence for this method reliably producing the effects of mushrooms is spotty. At any rate, mushrooms are not really meant to be consumed this way. We advise against it.
To Your Next Mushroom Journey
No matter the method of consumption, remember that what matters is the relationship you have to the mushroom and the experience that it’s providing you. If planning a higher-dose journey, practice smart psychedelic substance use and block out an entire day, be with a guide or “trip-sitter”, cultivate an open state of mind, and be mindful of any mental health conditions.
The side effects, like increased blood pressure and heart rate, are normal regardless of the consumption method. Like the hallucinogens LSD and DMT, you are working with a serotonin agonist, or activator. Proper harm reduction involves following current medical advice and weaning off serotonin-based antidepressants with the help of a doctor.
Do not worry too much about trying to optimize your psilocybin mushroom “trip” or experience. “Good trips” vs “bad trips” is a false dichotomy. With a strong intention, safe setting, and a commitment to surrender, you will always have the journey you need. Whether you choose to consume the mushrooms raw, in a tea, in a chocolate bar, or in capsules, the sacred fungus always has your back.
Want to learn how psychedelics can help you level up your life and improve well-being, while starting with small doses instead of a full-scale macrodose journey? Check out Third Wave’s Microdosing Course. Using the latest research from cutting-edge scientists and doctors, we’ll help you develop a customized, step-by-step process to change habits, enhance creativity, and optimize performance.
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