Advice and Warnings

 


Magic mushrooms are legal or tolerated in lots of places abroad , but many people had best not use – especially anyone with mental or emotional problems or a family history thereof. Many have fine experiences. Some, though, end up temporarily ill or incoherent, or with a panic attack, or worse. Almost every year there are a few deaths worldwide (see Library), due to the bizarre behaviors that can result from overdose. All who purchase magic mushrooms overseas should know the dangers, and how best to avoid such – especially overdose. Except in the Netherlands, though, few if any warnings are offered in overseas mushroom (or “truffle”) shops anywhere. And here in the U.S., many mycological societies seem to pride themselves on not informing either their members or the public as to most anything concerning responsible use of the magics.  Even if you yourself never intend to use, advising others could help prevent accidents, illness, or worse. Several Bali mushroom-shop managers and users have contributed to this, hence the emphasis below on Bali-use and Copelandia cyanescens – the most common species of magic mushrooms in Bali, Lombok and throughout much of south-east Asia.


               Advice and Warnings – somewhat Bali-based –

              Pertaining to Psilocybin (Magic) Mushrooms:


1) Never pick wild mushrooms without knowing what you are doing. Some look-a-likes are deadly. If purchasing from a shop, examine them to be sure they are fresh and firm with no wilting or decay – as wilted or decayed ones can cause food poisoning.  With Copelandia cyanescens, smaller ones are stronger (more psilocybin per gram), but rainy season ones tend to be weaker.


2) Some people who shouldn’t use under any circumstances: a) organ transplant recipients (using was lethal in 2007 for one New Zealand heart recipient); b) most anyone with mental problems, or a family history thereof, including anyone prone to fear, suicidal feelings, bipolar disorder, or panic attacks. People, who are strongly controlling, may be more fear prone in using – so taking less, and more cautiously, could be better for them.


3) Magics magnify moods and emotions. Don’t take them unless you are in a good mood, in good health, and have no responsibilities, nor need to drive, for at least the next six to eight hours. Enjoy them with a supportive friend or friends – ones willing to stick with you and be helpful if needed. Don’t trip alone or with a large group. Of course, don’t drive, dive or swim. Trips usually last four to six hours. How long a trip takes to start depends on how the mushroom is consumed. If eaten raw, you’ll feel the effects in perhaps 10 to 15 minutes; if drunk in tea or juice, perhaps 15 to 20; via an omelet, up to one hour.


4) For maximum effect, some fast from breakfast to afternoon or evening, then take them. If you are not fasting, eat at most lightly during the three to four hours beforehand, as more food delays onset of the magic. Possibly avoid chocolate, as that contains an MAO inhibitor which can lengthen and intensify the trip.


5) Many advise avoiding all alcohol on the day of mushroom use. It can smother the magic and make for drunkenness. Others claim that one beer along with a weak or medium-strength magic mushroom dose is quite OK. The owners and staff of mushroom bars that serve beer seem to favor the latter viewpoint. And many locals and tourists do it.


6) Do not use mushrooms in combination with certain medications (e.g. Larium – a problematic anti-malarial), and most mood altering drugs such as stimulants, anti-anxiety agents, antidepressants, and sedatives. If you do need to be taking a medication, skipping that and substituting mushrooms could also be far less than clever.


7) THE FOLLOWING APPLIES ONLY IF PURCHASING AT A MUSHROOM BAR OR SHOP WHERE THE PROPRIETOR IS KNOWLEDGABLE, OR INSTRUCTIONS ARE CLEAR, AS TO ABOUT HOW MANY MUSHROOMS PROVIDE A MEDIUM-STRENGTH DOSE FOR A PERSON OF THE AGE AND WEIGHT WHO INTENDS USING:                                                                                                                                                      With shop-bought Magics that look fresh and firm, nothing is more important than avoiding overdose. Mushrooms vary in potency and people differ in sensitivity, so avoiding overdose demands consuming a first decent portion, waiting sufficiently long (about 20 minutes if you are drinking mushrooms in tea or juice; about one hour if you’re eating them in an omelet)*, then self-evaluating as to whether or not you’ve had enough. If you are a first-timer, request a medium-strength drink or omelet, and split that into two or three equal portions. Do that first portion and wait that first interval, if you are by then feeling high and still going higher, you’ve had enough – at least until the effects level off in an hour or two. If you are becoming at all nervous – ENOUGH! DON’T TAKE MORE! If you are neither getting high nor nervous, perhaps take that second portion. If at any point thereafter you become nervous, have trouble acting normal, can’t walk straight or touch your nose with your eyes closed, or can’t easily operate a camera or cell phone, you’ve had a bit too much. But no worries – just lie down and rest until the problem passes. With a really proper dose, one should have no trouble “acting” normal throughout the trip. Enjoying the magic while fully in control is lots nicer than overdosing, becoming klutzy, and missing out on it. *NOTE: Anyone who has eaten a meal in the two or three hours previous to doing mushrooms had best wait one additional hour (i.e. one hour 20 minutes or two hours) before evaluating their condition.


8) THE FOLLOWING APPLIES ONLY IF YOU ARE IN BALI OR GILI TRAWANGAN, IN INDONESIA, AND ARE PURCHASING AT A MUSHROOM BAR OR SHOP THERE. UNLESS YOU ARE A KNOWLEDGABLE IN MYCOLOGY, DO NOT TRY TO IDENTIFY AND PICK MAGIC MUSHROOMS YOURSELF – AS SIMILAR LOOKING SPECIES THERE AND ELSEWHERE CAN BE DEADLY – AND JUST TEN SMALL MUSHROOMS, OF OTHER MAGIC MUSHROOM SPECIES, CAN BE A SERIOUS OVERDOSE:                                                                                                                                                     How many mushrooms for a strong trip where you want to remain in control? For Copelandia cyanescens and ONLY C. cyanescens (the usual magics in Bali and Gili T), shop owners recommend a maximum of about 20 (dry season) or 30 (wet season) for an average-weight adult – but that will be too much for some. Very few, if any, have problems with 10 or less, so perhaps start with 10 and wait that first waiting period. If not by then already high and getting higher,  perhaps try a second 10.  If already high and getting higher, continue waiting until the intensity of effects levels off, as it will within an hour or two, then decide on that second ten or not. If you take that second 10, wait again until effects definitely level off – at least another hour or two. If that second plateau is high enough, stop there. If not, perhaps (?) a third 10 (or less), but only if you are sure that the effects from that second 10 have indeed plateaued out and that you are still not showing any hint of overdose.


9) What if the mushrooms have been compressed into a mush (common in Gili T) such that you can’t estimate either freshness or how many? If the place is busy with repeat customers, that’s likely not a problem. Not busy? You are the only customer? Maybe give it a miss. Life is a crapshoot and you don’t want the odds too much against you.


10) About how many mushrooms for just a mushroom bar sit around in Bali or Gili Trawangan? Ten, of that species sold there, should be more than enough. After you start to plateau out, perhaps another four or five, or not.


11) Be in a nice place with people you like and away from crowds, streets, and traffic. Be in a home or a mushroom bar with good music, or walk a quiet park or beach. Being out in nature under the stars with friends is perhaps best for strongish-dose, awe-inspiring, spiritual trips (Stamets, 1996a).  Stay away from your hotel and off the streets until the effects have begun to diminish. Strongish-dose takers who stay in their rooms sometimes have loud conversations with God, or a wall, which attracts the manager or police. If you are with a lover or spouse, that may be rather less of a problem.


12) A small overdose, that which just slows one down, is usually no problem. Substantial overdose, though, is dangerous. Where such is possible, or unwisely intended, location becomes important. For that, one best be in a flat area away from crowds, bridges, overpasses, wells, rivers, or lakes. No driving or swimming, and avoid upper floors or balconies. Substantial overdose is best avoided, but being in a safe flat area can protect people who mistakenly, or unwisely, do. 


13) Many who know magic mushrooms in Indonesia recommend drinking the juice of two young coconuts as an effective way to cut short a mushroom trip and return to normal. Perhaps it’s the fructose and/or the glucose in the juice.


14) Flashbacks (HPPD or Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder) are possible with any psychedelic, but seem to be rare with mushrooms users (Johnson, 2008; Jerome, 2007). Risk is said to increase with frequent use, high doses, or use in combination with alcohol, pot, and other psychedelics. Sensible doses, where you are quite in control, provide mild, closed-eyes-only visuals that don’t seem to linger.


  1. 15) For approximate dosages used with Psilocybe cubensis and other species of magic mushrooms, see

       www.erowid.org/plants/mushrooms/mushrooms_dose.shtml




References


Stamets, P. 1996. Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, California, pp. 34-45.


Jerome, L. 2007. Psilocybin: Investigator’s Brochure, pp.17. 


Johnson, M.W., W.D. Richards, and R.R. Griffiths, 2008, Human hallucinogen research: guidelines for safety. Journal of Psychopharmacology 22(6), pp. 608. View on net as http://csp.org/psilocybin/HopkinsHallucinogenSafety2008.pdf, pp. 6.