Magic Mushrooms Explained

Notably, Psilocybin is not the only member of the magic mushroom family. There has been a steady growth in research propagating Psilocybin to treat mental health-related issues. Interestingly, many scientific reporters have copied the laboratory-made capsules of Psilocybin from several scientific pieces of research as-synthesized magic mushrooms. However, such growing knowledge on psilocybins does not negate several other members in the magic mushroom team. It is so that we should not cloud our imaginations by the media’s zeroing on Psilocybin majorly—in this case; folks may be super simplifying the effect of the magic mushrooms.

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The cannabis industry coined an idea initially known as the “entourage effect.” We think this describes the reality that the potency of the chemical constituents of a substance is greater wholly than in parts. For example, in the cannabis illustration, other cannabinoids are present other than THC or CBD. There are other substances such as CBN or CBG, and also the aromatic compound, Terpenes work together in synergy to produce the maximum effect. In Magic shrooms, several psychoactive chemical substances may differ from one species to another. Some of these substances are alkaloids whose analysis in the laboratory is quite different from the other, and they significantly contribute to the shroom experience. Let us take a peep into the constituting compounds.

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Psilocybin and Psilocin

Psilocybin is the most famous among the known psychedelic movement when scientific studies revealed it potent for treating anxiety, clinical depression, addictions, eating disorders, and several psychological problems. Psilocybin interestingly has been discovered in more than 200 species of mushrooms. These mushrooms are mainly from the eponymous genus Psilocybe, conversant in around 116 species. Found in fungi and very rare lichen (a blend of fungi and algae) known as Dictyonema Huaorani, which studies have revealed in Amazonian Ecuador.

Though it was Maria Sabina, known as Mazatec Curandera, who in 1955 initially introduced the newbie mycologist Robert Wasson to psilocybin mushrooms, the chemical substance itself was first isolated from a laboratory sample of Psilocybe Mexicana by the famous Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman in 1959.

Interestingly, Psilocybin does not directly affect the brain; it is like a pro-substance that is first broken down chemically in the body into effective psilocin compounds. It then moves from the bloodstream into the brain to act on the receptors (5-HT2A), a process component functioning in the neurological effects noticed in studies with Psilocybin.

Psilocin is unstable when placed side by side to Psilocybin, especially in oxygen and acidity. It breaks down and gives a characteristic blue color, as scientists have noticed in old mushrooms or spoilt ones. It was not until 2020 that Claudius Lenz and other researchers at the German Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology discovered the cause of the bluish coloration many years after discovery.

Baeocystin

Discovered by Albert Leung and Ara Paul in 1968, the chemical structure of Baeocystin being an alkaloid is very similar to psilocybins, and discoveries show that it is present in many of the same mushroom species. Its naming was after the order of Psilocybin as it was first isolated from Psilocybe baeocystis. It is also present in Psilocybe cubensis, Psilocybe cyanescens, and Psilocybe tampanensis.

The effect of isolated baeocystin is unknown due to limited research. Jochen Gartz, a german chemist and mycologist attempted to link its effect to Psilocybin in his classical book, “Magic mushrooms around the world” in 1997. However, Paul Stamets went on the contrary on the Joe Rogan podcast in 2019. He attested that most of the effects are alike except the psilocybin-like hallucinations during the high state of anxiety.

These linkages can be helpful as a guide for research even though only one research work has focused on baeocystin’s hallucination effect in mice. The study by Alexander Sherwood and his colleagues at the Usoma institute in 2020 proved that the baeocystin at several concentrations has no hallucinatory effect on mice—this supports Stamets’ position on the absence of hallucination.

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Norbaeocystin

Norbaeocystin’s discovery came while studying baeocystin by the same researchers. It is also prevalent in the same mushroom species that houses baeocystin. Interestingly, they have a similar effect as baeocystin, even though there is little work on proving that fact. Furthermore, this compound is open to extensive research as few studies are associated with its psychosocial effect.

Norpsilocin

Claudius Lenz and his colleagues in 2017 discovered the alkaloid, Norpsilocin. It is one of the most recent discoveries in the family. They found this by isolating the alkaloid from Psilocybe cubensis, mainly found with many psychedelic home growers. Scientists acknowledge it as the broken-down version of baeocystin. At the same time, they compared the chemical connection between Psilocybin and psilocin, with Psilocybin and baeocystin being the synthetic form of psilocin and norpsilocin, respectively.

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One of the 2020 studies by researchers from the Usona institute discovered that Norpsilocin does not behave like psilocin. It cannot travel from the blood to the brain centers to hallucinate. However, when tested on the 5-HT2A receptors directly, it proved more decisive in effect than psilocin. In connecting the dots of these research works, there is an indication that even though norpsilocin is stronger than psilocin, it is incapable of crossing from the bloodstream into the brain. Studies aim to see what other receptors Norpsilocin acts on as an alternative.

Aeruginascin

Aeruginascin sits comfortably in the middle of the mushroom alkaloid discoveries timeline. Jochen Gartz, in 1989 had the first discovery in Inocybe aeruginascens (standard nomenclature technique). The latest research work by Klara Gotvaldova and his colleagues in 2020 proved that it was always present in Psilocybe cubensis and may be more familiar and not scarce as previously assumed by researchers.

It shares a similar structure with Bufotenidine, a chemical compound found in the venom of many toads. Jochen Gartz analyzed cases of about 23 accidental swallowing of the substance and found the euphoric effect, but little about the severe impacts of Aeruginascin formulations.

ß-carbolines

In 2019, Felix Blei and other members of his research team gave the results of discovering this alkaloid in four different Psilocybe species; P. cubensis, P. semilanceata, P. Mexicana, and P. cyanescens, at the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology. It has structural consonance with Psilocybin and DMT, which plays a role in sparking up the effect of the psilocybin magic mushroom experience. This phenomenon has raised questions on perceptual dissonance between the pure psilocybin experience and the whole shroom experience. It is a fantastic magic mushroom compound.

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Conclusion

While it is undoubted that Psilocybin is most famous in the family, there is still much more to learn in the conversations around the potential effect of these compounds naturally occurring in magic mushrooms. Clues from both classical and recent research by scientists have proven that there is more to magic mushrooms than just Psilocybin from a chemical lens.

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