Sunday, October 26, 2014

"Magic" Mushrooms?

The magic in the mind and the magic in the mushroom.

"Psilocin" is not a commonly heard word. I suspect that an even smaller fraction of people reading this will have any idea what "4-Hydroxy-Dimethyltryptamine" is either. The latter and the former quoted words are, in fact, the same chemical molecule just expressed in different ways. They are both identical and are the psychoactive ingredient of "magic" mushrooms or 'shrooms. I bet most people have the word 'magic mushrooms' stored in their vocabulary, this is not the same as psilocin or 4-HO-DMT, as it entails an edible mushroom on top of a non-toxic, powerfully transforming, psychedelic molecule.

So what's all the magic about? after all magic isn't real - real, that is, in the sense of magic violating physical law. It would appear and I would argue that the psilocin in magic mushrooms causes one of the most "miraculous" experiences one can have - if given the correct dose in the right setting etc. Words are lousy for describing such deeply significant experiences, perhaps this is why we call them "magic" - as calling them "magic" explains nothing about the drug, or how it works, but leaves us with a mystery to never solve. So using the word "magic", as an imprecise adjective to describe psilocim, is similar to using God and other sloppily vague words to describe what we think, We often use the word "magic" to describe profound experiences or concepts that we perceive as too good to be "real". All too eagerly we invoke the mystical, when in fact an understanding of serotonin explains a great deal of the magic...

Why psilocin has subjectively so profound an effect on consciousness, is almost certainly due to its pharmacology. There is nothing magical about "magic mushrooms" in terms of how they produce their medicinal and psychoative effects, it appears to be an accident of organic chemistry - both in mushrooms and in our brains. The serendipity between our peronality modulating neurotransmitter serotonin and the active chemical in mushrooms is no less marvelous when understood, as I hope to illustrate - in fact it is perhaps more intriguing.

A quick look at a single molecule of 4-Hydroxy DMT (Psilocin) contrasted next to a neurotransmitter molecule of 5-Hydroxy Tryptamine (Serotonin), shows much of what I intend to say about it's pharmacology and why it is so unique a psychoactive drug. Nothing gets this close to resembling Serotonin! Natures closest analogue to serotonin is Psilocin. The "magic" found in psychedelic mushroom's is due to our shared chemical makeup, psilcin and serotonin are astonishingly similiar.