Magic Mushrooms

Think you know about magic mushrooms and their effects? Know how to recognise them from poisonous lookalikes?

Your body develops a tolerance to mushrooms very quickly


Mushies, shroomies, shrooms, sillies, liberty caps. The scientific name is Psilocybe mushrooms.

What is it?

There are two types of magic mushroom in the UK - psilocybe cubensis and psilocybe semilanceata. The most common one is psilocybe semilanceata, aka the liberty cap. These contain compounds called psilocybin and psilocin which give you a mild trip.

Liberty caps are tan coloured. The cap is no more that 5-15mm across with a 'nipple' on top. They grow on grassy meadows where sheep and cows have grazed and appear between September and November. But be careful - there are some poisonous lookalikes which are harmful to consume.

Magic mushrooms can be eaten raw or dried, cooked in food or brewed up in tea.

How does it make you feel?

Liberty cap mushrooms make you feel giggly, a bit spaced out and mildly trippy. A trip lasts for about 4-5 hours and is generally much milder than LSD. Afterwards you may feel a bit flat and you might get an upset stomach.

As with any psychedelic drugs you can get a bad trip which can be quite scary. There's no way of knowing whether you'll get a good or a bad trip.

What are the health effects?

The main worry with mushrooms is that you mistake a poisonous species for a liberty cap. Picking your own is pretty risky; there have been cases of fatal poisoning.

Your body develops a tolerance to mushrooms very quickly. So if you take them two days in a row, you'll have to take more on the second day to get the same effect. Tolerance wears off in a few days.

Be very careful with Fly Agaric - the white mushroom with the red cap. Deaths are rare, but it is pretty nasty. You'll get twitching, sickness, drowsiness, low blood pressure and dizziness, salivation and a powerful trip all at the same time. Worse, you could go into coma.

The law

Magic Mushrooms are an illegal Class A drug. The maximum penalty for possession is seven years in prison and life for supply. You can get an unlimited fine for both. Fly Agaric are not controlled.

BBC Advice factfiles are here to help young people with a broad range of issues. They're based on advice from medical professionals, government bodies, charities and other relevant groups. Follow the links for more advice from these organisations.


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