Magic mushrooms are used for a wide variety of practical, culinary and recreational purposes. However, it is the psychoactive component, psilocybin, which is responsible for its hallucinogenic effects. Scientists study the effects of the drug through psilocybin extraction before administering doses to human subjects.
Psilocybin is present in over 200 species of mushrooms where it can be easily extracted. In general, mushrooms that contain psilocybin have several similar features such as:
- Dark spores
- Growing in humus-rich soil in meadows and woods of tropical and sub-tropical regions
- Bruising blue when handled or damaged due to oxidization
Once inside the body, psilocybin is converted into psilocin to produce a mind-altering effect similar to LSD. In general, the effects include euphoria, visual and mental hallucinations, changes in perception, distortion of sense of time, and spiritual experiences.
Researchers also point to psilocybin’s effects on increasing a person’s suggestibility, making an individual more receptive to interpersonal interactions and environmental stimuli. These findings were confirmed in a later review which concluded that dosage, set, and setting were important in shaping the desired results.
However, it can also lead to adverse reactions such as nausea and panic attacks.
The mind-altering effects of psilocybin last from 2 to 6 hours but it seems longer for people under its effects due to its distortion of one’s sense of time. Some psilocybin users use the drug as a tool to supplement practices such as rituals and meditation to achieve spiritual transcendence.
Since the 1990s, interest in psilocybin has been renewed and the scientific community is now looking into the drug’s potential to treat obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety, cluster headaches, and anxiety in patients undergoing cancer treatment.
For scientific purposes, psilocybin can be extracted from magic mushrooms through different methods.
Before you start psilocybin extraction, you need to remember that both caps and stems contain the psychoactive compounds but the caps consistently contain more. The spores of these mushrooms do not contain psilocybin.
Potency varies greatly between species and even between specimens of the same species ranging from almost nothing to 1.5% of the dry weight. It also depends on species strain, drying condition, and mushroom size. Cultivated mushrooms though have more consistency in psilocybin content than wild mushrooms.
The drug is also more stable in dried than fresh magic mushrooms. Dried magic mushrooms can retain their potency for months or even years while fresh magic mushrooms can only store psilocybin for a limited time and within four weeks, only traces of the drug will remain.
When choosing magic mushrooms, younger, small mushrooms tend to have a higher concentration of psilocybin because the synthesis of the drug takes place in the early formation of fruit bodies or sclerotia. The more mushrooms used in the beginning, the more potent the concentration when finished. It’s best to use several grams of dried magic mushrooms to make the process worthwhile and effective.
Once you have gathered your magic mushrooms, it’s time to gather the other supplies:
- 200 proof ethyl alcohol
- Drinking glass
- Bottles with tight caps
- Dust pollen masks
- Small desk fan
- 10cc syringe
- Get your hands on Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms. Remember to harvest them before the veils open. Cool dry the magic mushrooms in a desiccant. The mushrooms need to be dry enough to be pulverized.
- Pulverize the mushrooms by putting them in a small zip lock plastic bag and pound them with a pestle.
- After pulverization, pour the shroom material into a bottle and seal it tightly with a leak-proof cap.
- Add enough alcohol to cover the powdered magic mushroom material to make a loose slurry.
- Shake the bottle and let it sit for 24 hours. Shake it every now and then to activate the extraction.
- After 24 hours, filter the alcohol. Pollen masks make for excellent, inexpensive filters. Shape the filter over the mouth of a drinking glass. Shake the bottle of slurry and pour some slurry into the filter. Squeeze the filter slurry to extract the alcohol.
- Store the extracted alcohol in a separate, fresh bottle.
- Retrieve the shroom materials from the filters and re-soak the extracted shroom material with fresh alcohol and repeat steps 1 to 6 for the secondary filtration.
- Combine the alcohol extracts into one clean glass.
- Let the air flow directly into the glass by placing it in front of a small electric fan until the alcohol’s surface ripples. This will speed the evaporation and concentration but will still take several hours. The more alcohol extract, the longer the evaporation time. As the alcohol evaporates, the level in the glass should recede.
- Evaporate the extract until the desired concentration is attained. 1 to 3 grams of dried magic mushrooms should produce 1cc of the solution.
- The concentrated magic mushroom extract should have a pungent aroma. Store it in a small screw cap bottle or vial and keep in the freezer. Because of the small amount of alcohol remaining, it will still remain liquid even in freezing temperature.
When taking a dose from this preparation, it’s best to dispense the solution with a syringe for accuracy.
Crystallizing pure psilocybin is a good preservation technique and can also help purify the stored psilocybin. This procedure picks up from the last step of the previous method.
- Add a few drops of hydrochloric acid to achieve pH 3.0.
- Evaporate down to 1/10 of the original volume.
- Add a nonpolar solvent such as cigarette lighter or paint thinner and mix slowly.
- Let it stand for a couple of hours.
- The solvent will float on top of the extract and can be removed by syringe or by freezing the water and pouring off the solvent.
- Remove the rest by slowly adding acetone to the extract. Let it stand.
- Two layers will eventually form. On the bottom is a dark layer while a yellowish to greenish layer will appear on top. Remove the top layer by syringe.
- Add new acetone. Mix slowly and remove the acetone once more.
- Collect all the dark, sticky residue and let it dry. Large transparent crystals will start to form. The slower the evaporation, the bigger the crystals.
- Weigh the crystals to determine their potency.
And that’s it. These psilocybin crystals can last longer than their liquid form.
Although psilocybin may be extracted, consuming psilocybin by eating magic mushrooms is just as effective and is more convenient than going through the entire extraction process.