Different Effects from Different Mushrooms?
Anecdotal evidence suggests that different batches of magic mushrooms lead to different effects for the users consuming them. For example, some discussions refer to various “descriptions of different mushrooms saying that some are more visual, some more funny, some more spiritual, etc.” Based on several of these anecdotal reports, the variation in effect between different samples of mushrooms appears to be dramatic. The variation in effects also seems reasonable based on the high variability in chemical compositions between different collections of magic mushrooms.
Different Mushrooms = Different Chemicals
From a chemical standpoint, different batches of magic mushrooms have different chemotypes. In other words, different magic mushrooms have different chemical compositions. See Chemical Variability of Magic Mushrooms.
In “magic mushrooms,” psilocybin derivatives make up the principle psychoactive molecules. Accordingly, variation in user experience (aka clinical effect) is most likely due to variation in the concentration of those psilocybin derivatives between different samples of “magic mushrooms.” Examples of related (but structurally distinct) psilocybin derivatives include the following molecules:
- Psilocin (sometimes spelled psilocyn)
- [3-(2-trimethylaminoethyl)-1H-indol-4-yl] dihydrogen phosphate (aka Aeruginascin)
- Baeocystin (aka [3-(2-methylaminoethyl)-1H-indol-4-yl] dihydrogen phosphate)
- Norpsilocin (4-hydroxy-N-methyltryptamine
- Norbaeocystin (aka [3-(aminoethyl)-1H-indol-4-yl] dihydrogen phosphate)
Other actives such as phenethylamine are also potentially present in some collections of psychoactive mushrooms.
Different Chemicals = Different Drugs
Mushrooms having different compositions of active ingredients are technically different drugs.
Differences in the chemical composition of magic mushrooms would likely lead to different pharmacology. As discussed in previous articles, “minor” chemical differences can make a big difference in the body. For example, amphetamine and methamphetamine “only” differ by the presence or absence of one methyl group on the amine. That difference (a single methyl group) is solely responsible for the different effects between amphetamine (e.g., Adderall) and methamphetamine (aka crystal meth). To be clear, small structural changes can produce profound changes to a drug’s pharmacology.
Like cannabis pharmacology, the multiple active ingredients in magic mushrooms work together synergistically to produce the user’s experience. See Analogy between Cannabis and Mushrooms; See also Entourage Effect I and Entourage Effect II.
Scientists have isolated many of the above listed psilocybin derivatives and observed that they modify the pharmacological action of psilocybin. See, e.g., Gartz, J. Int. Journ. Crude Drug Res. (1989), 27:30, 141-144. Aeruginascin “seems to modify the pharmacological action of psilocybin to give an always euphoric mood during ingestion of the mushrooms.”
Request for Observations about Different Mushroom Trips
Psilocybin technology can be improved by shifting our focus from magic mushrooms to
magic molecules. Towards this goal, we would appreciate any observations that could be used to correlate particular mushroom strains with specific observations of the effects attained by consuming those mushrooms. Then, we can attempt to correlate the strain with information about its chemical composition. For example, reports from the psilocybin community have allowed for correlating “Wood Lover Paralysis” with particular strains that grow on wood substrates. The next step is identifying a chemical difference that accounts for the symptoms of Wood Lover Paralysis.
** If you have observations/correlations, we would appreciate your leaving a comment below. Specifically, can you offer information connecting a particular strain/specie of magic mushrooms with a specific effect on the user?
Ultimately, psilocybin technology will benefit from studying the effects of known amounts of known collections of molecules. This effort will inevitably require isolating each individual psilocybin derivative and studying how it affects cellular receptors (e.g., serotonin) alone and in combination with other molecules. This information will make it possible to make psilocybin formulations that target specific effects (and avoid others). See The Future of Magic Mushrooms is Formulations of Tryptamines.