Magic mushrooms offer an experience to those who choose to delve into the effects of these mind-melding fungi that is hard put into words. Magic mushrooms are mushrooms containing the psychoactive and hallucinogenic chemical known as psilocybin. There is also a class of mushrooms that contain muscimol, which is similarly magical. Users have nicknamed magic mushrooms to shrooms, and they boast that their experiences with this psychedelic treat are magical, odd, and sometimes harrowing. Whether you are eating chocolate shrooms or prefer the raw material, the purported effects of magic mushrooms are wide-ranging. If you are interested in taking a trip into the world of naturally induced psychedelic experiences, then read on to find out some odd facts about magic mushrooms.
1. Magic Mushroom Melt Your Brain
OK, magic mushrooms do not literally melt your brain. However, researchers at King’s College in London asked subjects to take magic mushrooms and then took fMRI images of their brain activity. When compared with subjects that took a placebo, the brains of the shrooms ingesters were hyperactive. It appeared to researchers that parts of the brain that do not normally communicate were working in sync. In other words, brain activity had melted together to sync up, which is much less scary than your brain tissue melting. The researchers believe that this increased brain activity can explain some of the effects of magic mushrooms, like visual hallucinations and spiritual epiphanies.
2. Shrooms Let You Smell Colours
Psilocybin has many effects on your senses, and one of the cooler effects is synaesthesia. Synaesthesia is the name for the process whereby senses become associated with other senses that are characteristically different. Someone might believe that they are smelling the colour blue or touching a song’s bass groove. While this may just seem like a thought that’s occurring because you are high, the King’s College study shows that different parts of the brain work in tandem. They believe that this could mean things like smell and sight or feel and taste are happening in response to the same stimuli. After all, the experience of reality is always based on your brain’s interpretations. If your brain is acting differently, who is to say that it is not because reality has changed.
3. People Have Been Tripping on Shrooms Forever
Forever is a pretty long time, but humans have likely been taking mushrooms for thousands of years. Some rock paintings found in the Sahara Desert that date to approximately 7,000 to 9,000 years ago depict people holding and under the effects of shrooms. While there is no way to ask them how the magic mushrooms made them feel or whether they want to try them in sour gummy form, it is OK to infer that they probably liked them. Why else would they draw them so vividly?
Other pre-modern humans that have used mushrooms are people indigenous to the Americas. Mesoamericans from before Columbus sailed the ocean blue have made art and temples to gods of the magic mushroom as far back as 3000 B.C.E. Even back then, they were into taking them with honey and chocolate. There are still ancient cultures that carry on this long tradition today, showing that the importance of these fungi for spirituality has and continues to be a part of human culture.
4. Magic Mushrooms Make You More Open to New Experiences
Another study into the effects of shrooms on the brain was conducted at Johns Hopkins University. What researchers found was that the majority of subjects showed an increase in openness during their session, defining openness as a willingness to experience new things. This openness also means expanded imagination and an expanded love for art. While these effects may seem obvious to anyone who has experience with these psychedelic treats, it is still very cool that some scientists decided to put these feelings to the test. Another interesting observation found in this study is that the increase in openness is not limited to while you are tripping. Most patients also showed a noticeable personality change when the researchers followed up with them one year later.
5. Magic Mushrooms Can Create Wind
In 2013, the American Physical Society surprised the world when it released reports that magic mushrooms can create wind. These researchers were not just seeing things, either, though who could blame them if they were partaking in shrooms themselves.
Most people think of fungi as an immobile life force on the floor of the forest. Fungi do spend their infancy travelling. As spore, fungi move to find a new home. Unfortunately, many mushrooms live low and are surrounded by trees. This means they have little natural wind to spread their young. This is where things get interesting. Mushrooms like the muscimol-containing Amanita muscaria can increase their output of water to create more water vapour in the surrounding air. The evaporation causes air pressure and makes the air rise, creating a wind-like force that can move the spores for them.
6. Magic Mushrooms Might Be the Earliest Christmas Presents
John Rush, an anthropologist at Sierra College, has explained that Siberian shamans are a likely origin for the myth of Santa Claus. The connections, he says, are too many to ignore. For starters, Siberian shamans would collect Amanita muscaria and give them out like presents. This kind of magic mushroom is coloured red and white and is found under evergreen trees typically. Shamans also hung them in the trees to dry them. This serves as a dual explanation for presents under the pine tree and ornaments hanging on the pine tree. The colour of the mushrooms might also explain why red and white are the characteristic colours of Christmastime. Reindeer also played a role in shamanism as spirit animals and have an affinity for eating Amanita muscaria. Perhaps after being visited by the shamans and munching on the holy fungus, people hallucinated that they watched the shamans fly away with flying reindeers.
Maybe you are taking magic mushrooms because you love their effects. Maybe you heard they are great and want to try something new. Whatever the reason, bear these odd facts about mushrooms in mind, and enjoy your trip.