10 potential risks of taking 'magic' mushrooms (2023)

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Sophia Mitrokostas


10 potential risks of taking 'magic' mushrooms (1)

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  • Magic mushrooms are hallucinogenic fungi containing a compound called psilocybin that can trigger hallucinations, a sense of euphoria, and changes in your perception of space and time.
  • Because magic mushrooms are illegal and not monitored, there's a risk you could ingest a fake mushroom or the wrong kind.
  • It's possible to have a "bad trip" or experience hallucinogen-induced persisting perception disorder, or HPPD.
  • Because studies done on magic mushrooms are done in controlled environments, it's hard to know all the risks of recreationally using the drug.

Magic mushrooms, also known as shrooms, are hallucinogenic fungi that have long been used by some cultures as a spiritual aid and have grown in popularity as a recreational drug.

Magic mushrooms contain a compound called psilocybin that, when ingested, becomes psilocin. This chemical activates serotonin receptors in your brain, triggering vivid hallucinations, a sense of euphoria, and changes in your perception of space and time.

(Video) Your Brain On Shrooms

Because they can be found growing in the wild, magic mushrooms are sometimes thought of as a safe alternative to harder drugs. There are, however, still potential risks associated with tripping on these psychedelic fungi.

Further, it's important to note that the limited studies done on magic mushrooms, or psychedelics in general, are done in a controlled environment with a controlled dosage and those using the drugs recreationally likely will have different outcomes.

INSIDER consulted with two drug and addiction experts to learn more about the risks of taking magic mushrooms recreationally.

You might have a "bad trip" or get physically sick.

10 potential risks of taking 'magic' mushrooms (2)

Flickr/Frerk Meyer

The most commonly reported negative side effect of taking magic mushrooms is having a bad trip. This might involve unpleasant physical symptoms such as nausea, chills, vomiting, or headaches. The user might also experience negative psychological effects such as paranoia, anxiety, or even extreme terror.

"Psychological distress is the most common adverse effect reported after use of psilocybin. This can range from a 'bad trip' to disturbing hallucinations that can last for days," Dr. Lawrence Weinstein, chief medical officer of American Addiction Centers, told INSIDER.

Under normal circumstances, the mind-altering effects of psilocybin-containing mushrooms usually last from six to eight hours depending on dosage, preparation method, and personal metabolism. The first three to four hours of this period are usually the most intense. However, the effects can seem to last much longer to the user because of psilocybin's ability to alter time perception, according to Dr. Weinstein.

The way you feel while under the effects of magic mushrooms can be affected by a number of things, including the dose, your environment, who you are with, and what your mood or mental state was like before taking mushrooms. Being in a fearful or gloomy state of mind before taking psilocybin mushrooms may intensify any negative feelings you already have, leading to a bad trip.

If you have anxiety or bipolar disorder, magic mushrooms might make you experience worsened anxiety at the time of tripping.

10 potential risks of taking 'magic' mushrooms (3)


Anyone dealing with psychological problems or mood disorders should think twice before taking magic mushrooms. Because of the way psilocybin works on the brain, taking mushrooms might have negative consequences for someone whose mental health is already compromised.

"The interaction of psilocin with serotonin receptors in the prefrontal cortex can alter brain chemistry and can make conditions such as panic disorder, bipolar disorder or anxiety worse," said Dr. Weinstein.

Even people without preexisting mental health problems might experience increased panic attacks after taking magic mushrooms.

"When the mushrooms interact with your system, you are subjecting your body to the possibility of severe anxiety or panic attacks, including dizziness and lightheadedness," Dr. Cali Estes, Ph.D., addiction specialist and founder of The Addictions Academy, told INSIDER.

Some research, however, claims magic mushrooms given under the supervision of a professional can help with anxiety, though more research is likely needed.

(Video) Psilocybin side effects - Intro to Psychology

Some drugs sold as magic mushrooms are actually fake.

10 potential risks of taking 'magic' mushrooms (4)

Yamaguchi Haruyoshi / Contributor/GettyImages

Because magic mushrooms are illegal in most countries and not regulated like other pharmaceuticals, there is no way to tell what you're getting when you buy a batch of mushrooms.

"Some drugs sold as 'magic mushrooms' have turned out to be store-bought mushrooms laced with another hallucinogen such as PCP or LSD, or a different drug entirely," warned Dr. Weinstein.

This means that purchasing magic mushrooms carries the risk of ingesting a range of other drugs, some of which may carry the very real risk of a fatal overdose or bad reaction. If you're worried about the authenticity of a psilocybin mushroom, it's better to not risk ingesting it.

Taking the wrong kind of mushroom is a serious risk.

10 potential risks of taking 'magic' mushrooms (5)

Sean Gallup/ Getty Images

When it comes to taking magic mushrooms, one of the worst-case scenarios is accidentally ingesting a poisonous mushroom instead of one containing psilocybin.

Dr. Weinstein warned that users who try to harvest their own mushrooms in the wild are especially at risk of accidental poisoning from toxic species since it can be easy to mistake a harmful fungus for a hallucinogenic mushroom.

The symptoms of mushroom poisoning — including muscle weakness, confusion, gastrointestinal issues, and delirium – can sometimes be mistaken for those of a bad trip, so it's important to seek medical attention immediately if ingestion of a toxic mushroom is suspected.

Yes, it is possible to overdose on magic mushrooms.

10 potential risks of taking 'magic' mushrooms (6)


There's a common misconception that taking magic mushrooms carries no risk of overdose. However, that's actually not the case.

"Overdosing on mushrooms is entirely possible, but it is rare. Some signs of mushroom overdose include panic attacks, paranoia, psychosis, vomiting, agitation, and seizures," said Dr. Weinstein.

"Effects of taking 'too many mushrooms' lasts between six and eight hours, but some of the effects can take days to subside," added Dr. Weinstein.

If you do accidentally ingest more psilocybin than intended and start to exhibit negative side effects, seeking medical attention is always the best call.

Taking magic mushrooms might permanently change your brain.

10 potential risks of taking 'magic' mushrooms (7)

Daniel Berehulak / Staff/GettyImages

It might be possible that taking psychedelic substances such as magic mushrooms can induce psychosis, though recent studies done in controlled environments say the drugs and the development of psychosis aren't associated.

"The use of psychedelic drugs can trigger psychosis brought on by psilocybin, which is very similar to schizophrenia. Individuals with a family history of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders are at risk of experiencing a psychotic episode," said Dr. Weinstein.

A person is more at risk of experiencing this serious side effect if they have taken a large amount of psilocybin or mushrooms.

"Depending on the amount and frequency of mushroom intake, you can cause permanent brain damage as a result of magic mushrooms," cautioned Dr. Estes.

Studies have confirmed that taking magic mushrooms can permanently alter your brain, though this isn't necessarily said to always be negative.

(Video) What does a Magic Mushroom Look Like? 🍄🍄🍄

You might experience hallucinations or flashbacks years after taking mushrooms.

10 potential risks of taking 'magic' mushrooms (8)

Natalia Lebedinskaia / Shutterstock

Another rare but serious potential side effect of tanking psychedelic mushrooms is the possibility of developing something called hallucinogen-induced persisting perception disorder, or HPPD.

"This disorder causes an individual to have flashbacks of their experiences under the influence of a hallucinogen days, months or years after their last use, even if they no longer take the drug. This disorder can lead the individual to suffer severe distress and experience frightening hallucinations," warned Dr. Weinstein.

Risk factors for developing this disorder include having other mental health issues or regularly using a hallucinogen over a long period of time. Unfortunately, there is no formal treatment for this disorder.

Psychedelic mushrooms can impair your judgment potentially putting you in danger.

10 potential risks of taking 'magic' mushrooms (9)

AP Photo/Chiaki Tsukumo

Users of magic mushrooms typically welcome the hallucinations and sense of altered reality that the fungi can bring. However, this altered perception of the world can potentially lead individuals to take unusual risks or unknowingly placing themselves in dangerous situations.

Mushrooms can increase your risk of injury by impairing your judgment, as well as causing confusion, drowsiness, and loss of motor coordination.

No research, however, has been done on the correlation of recreational mushroom use and risky behaviors.

Though psilocybin isn't chemically addictive, taking mushrooms frequently can have negative consequences.

10 potential risks of taking 'magic' mushrooms (10)

AP Photo/Peter Dejong

There isn't anything in magic mushrooms that can lead to a chemical addition, as can happen with drugs like nicotine or heroin. Despite this fact, mushrooms do have the potential to disrupt your life if using them frequently causes you to neglect or ignore other hobbies and responsibilities.

"The signs of addiction are someone who is spending more time obsessing or thinking about them, missing work to get high, or overusing or misusing mushrooms on a daily basis," said Dr. Estes.

However, Dr. Weinstein pointed out that there has been no research-based evidence that mushrooms, or other psychedelic drugs, are considered to be addictive physically or psychologically.

(Video) Micro-dosing magic mushrooms | A growing trend among San Diego moms

Using magic mushrooms might make you less sensitive to other drugs.

10 potential risks of taking 'magic' mushrooms (11)

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If you take magic mushrooms regularly, you might become less sensitive to other mind-alternating recreational substances.

"Individuals may develop a cross-tolerance from continued use of mushrooms, meaning they will have a high tolerance to similar substances such as LSD or marijuana," said Dr. Weinstein.

As it can be difficult to know the strength of unregulated substances like marijuana or LSD, developing a cross-tolerance can put you at risk of accidentally taking too much of another psychoactive drug in an effort to its full effect.

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(Video) The Shroom Boom: How magic mushrooms are being used to treat mental health


Can mushrooms be harmful to humans? ›

Buying mushrooms is also risky because some mushrooms are drugs, but others are extremely poisonous: A number of mushroom species can make people violently ill or even kill them. Hallucinogenic mushrooms can give people stomach cramps or make them throw up. They also give some users diarrhea.

How long do mushrooms last? ›

1. Whole mushrooms: Most whole mushrooms bought from the grocery store can last in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. It is advisable to consume them within seven to ten days of purchase. 2.

Can white mushrooms cause headaches? ›

Psilocybin is an active ingredient in magic mushrooms. It has therapeutic potential for a variety of conditions. However, some people may experience headaches after taking psilocybin. This compound may increase nitric oxide levels, which can cause headaches.

What are mushrooms used for medically? ›

Mushrooms act as antibacterial, immune system enhancer and cholesterol lowering agents; additionally, they are important sources of bioactive compounds. As a result of these properties, some mushroom extracts are used to promote human health and are found as dietary supplements.

Why are mushrooms toxic? ›

Some mushrooms are poisonous for the same reason some plants are poisonous – to protect themselves from being eaten so they can reproduce. Other mushrooms use the opposite strategy. They need animals to eat them in order to spread spores through poop.

What toxins are in mushrooms? ›

GI poisons are the most frequently encountered mushroom toxins. Amatoxins, gyromitrins, and orellanine are the toxins most commonly implicated in fatal mushroom poisonings worldwide. The amatoxins, and to a lesser extent the gyromitrins, are hepatotoxic.

Does the military test for mushrooms? ›

The Army does not test for psilocybin on a regular basis.

How do I know if mushrooms are bad? ›

Fresh mushrooms are dry, firm and smooth and have a pleasant earthy smell. Bad mushrooms are softer (possibly mushy), sticky, slimy, shriveled, maybe moldy and discolored and may smell unpleasant.

Can mushrooms cause gas? ›

Mushrooms also contain sugars that are difficult to digest. 2 Therefore, eating mushrooms can cause gas because the small intestine does not fully digest these sugars. Instead, it undergoes fermentation in the large intestine. The gas produced by fermentation then exits as intestinal gas.

Are mushrooms good for your brain? ›

The studies done by many researchers as well as on-going studies show that selected mushrooms do have neurotrophic properties that can be beneficial to humans. Regular consumption may promote nerve and brain health. This is particularly useful during injury (as in an accidents) or as we age.

Can mushrooms treat PTSD? ›

In the study, mice that were given psilocybin overcame fear conditioning far better than mice that were given a placebo. The study supported the hypothesis that psilocybin can help break the traumatic cycle that occurs in patients with PTSD.

How long does mushroom poisoning last? ›

Symptoms are usually mild, begin within 30 minutes, and resolve within 12 hours.

What are the positive effects of psychedelic mushrooms? ›

To date, studies have shown that psilocybin therapy is beneficial in relieving symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and other mental health disorders. Psilocybin has also shown effectiveness at easing fear and anxiety in people with terminal cancer.

Are mushrooms actually good for you? ›

Mushrooms are a rich, low calorie source of fiber, protein, and antioxidants. They may also mitigate the risk of developing serious health conditions, such as Alzheimer's, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. They're also great sources of: Selenium.

Do mushrooms help anxiety? ›

Psilocybin, a hallucinogenic compound in some mushrooms, has therapeutic potential. Research shows it could help people who have anxiety or treatment-resistant depression. Taking it with the supervision and guidance of a therapist is the best approach. People with psychosis or a heart condition shouldn't take it.

Can mushrooms cause kidney failure? ›

Four toxidromes due to mushroom poisoning include kidney failure: early-onset renal failure, amatoxin syndrome, orellanine syndrome, and rhabdomyolysis syndrome.

Can mushroom cause seizures? ›

Regular and, for some people, even one-off, drug use can trigger seizures. Even drugs which are considered to be 'natural' such as cannabis or magic mushrooms can often trigger seizures.

Can you get mushroom poisoning? ›

Mushroom poisonings may range from benign symptoms of generalized gastrointestinal upset to potentially devastating manifestations which include liver failure, kidney failure, and neurologic sequelae. There are up to 14 described syndromes, which manifest depending on the species, toxins, and amount ingested.

How do you reverse mushroom poisoning? ›

If you find that the nearest emergency room is many hours away, research suggests that the administration of activated charcoal can delay or limit the absorption of most toxins, and it's often used for victims of mushroom poisoning, regardless of when the mushrooms were eaten.

How do you prevent mushroom poisoning? ›

Mushroom poisoning treatment

If you suspect that you or someone you are with has mushroom poisoning, call your doctor. Or call the Poison Control Center. Call 911 if the person is unconscious, not breathing, or having convulsions. The phone number for the Poison Control Center is 1-800-222-1222.

What's the most poisonous mushroom? ›

Amanita phalloides

What happens if you eat mushrooms everyday? ›

May reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases

Previous studies have shown that people who are deficient in vitamin C are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. As mushrooms contain high levels of vitamin C, that means that getting your daily intake of mushrooms may help to reduce this risk.

Is eating raw mushrooms good for you? ›

No, absolutely not! Raw mushrooms are largely indigestible because of their tough cell walls, mainly composed of chitin. Dr. Andrew Weil advises, in agreement with other experts, that mushrooms must be cooked!

Can mushrooms cause bacterial infection? ›

Without the proper temperature or pH for the processing of mushrooms, they may harbor harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria, or Staphylococcus spp.

What are 5 health benefits of mushrooms? ›

7 health benefits of mushrooms
  • Decrease the risk of cancer. ...
  • Lower sodium intake. ...
  • Promote lower cholesterol. ...
  • Protect brain health. ...
  • Provide a source of vitamin D. ...
  • Stimulate a healthier gut. ...
  • Support a healthy immune system.
24 Jan 2022

What 2 foods can you survive on? ›

4 Foods You Could (Almost) Exclusively Live Off Of
  • Potatoes. Advertisement. ...
  • Human Breast Milk. Advertisement. ...
  • Kale. Advertisement. ...
  • Trail Mix.
7 Jul 2016

When should you avoid mushrooms? ›

Consumption of wild mushrooms may result in severe illnesses in humans and can even cause death. As beta-glucans present in mushroom stimulate immune function, people with autoimmune diseases like arthritis, lupus, asthma and multiple sclerosis should avoid consuming it.

Is mushroom good for sperm? ›

Mushrooms are packed with zinc that helps in boosting your sexual life by acting on the genital organs, especially in males. The regular consumption of zinc-rich mushrooms is found to improve the sperm count and fertility in men.

Are mushrooms good for your brain? ›

The studies done by many researchers as well as on-going studies show that selected mushrooms do have neurotrophic properties that can be beneficial to humans. Regular consumption may promote nerve and brain health. This is particularly useful during injury (as in an accidents) or as we age.

Why do I crave mushrooms? ›

They taste great, they're good for you, and they're unique in the food world. But if you find yourself constantly getting food cravings for mushrooms, it might be a sign that you're vitamin deficient. Make sure to get your recommended protein intake as well to enjoy the texture of this crave-worthy food!

What mushrooms are safe? ›

Hen-of-the-woods, oyster, and sulphur shelf mushrooms are safe, delicious, and nutritious wild varieties prized by mushroom hunters. While these and many other mushrooms are safe to consume, eating varieties like the death cap, false morels, and Conocybe filaris can cause serious adverse health effects and even death.

How do you get rid of fungus in your lungs? ›

Antifungal medications.

These drugs are the standard treatment for invasive pulmonary aspergillosis. The most effective treatment is a newer antifungal drug, voriconazole (Vfend). Amphotericin B is another option.

How long does mushroom poisoning last? ›

Symptoms are usually mild, begin within 30 minutes, and resolve within 12 hours.

Do mushrooms have vitamin D? ›

Vitamin D-enhanced mushrooms are the only non-animal food product with substantial amounts of bioavailable vitamin D and, as such, have the potential to be a primary source of dietary vitamin D for vegans and vegetarians.

Do mushrooms raise blood pressure? ›

People have been using psilocybin for its mind-altering effects for a long time. It comes with some serious and potentially dangerous side effects, especially if someone takes a larger dose. It can cause harmful hallucinations or agitation and lead to a dangerously high heart rate and blood pressure.

Is mushroom good for skin? ›

Mushroom benefits for the skin

Hydrates skin: Mimicking the action of hyaluronic acid, the polysaccharides present in mushrooms hydrates your skin, making it soft and supple. Treats acne: Mushrooms are high in vitamin D and when applied topically, they help shrink breakouts and treat acne.


1. One man's experience with magic mushrooms
2. Your Brain on Psilocybin
(SciShow Psych)
3. This Is Your Brain On Shrooms
(Neuro Transmissions)
4. Could magic mushrooms be the future of mental health treatment?
(CBC News: The National)
5. How Magic Mushrooms Affect Your Brain
(Science Insider)
6. Psilocybin Mushrooms & The Path to Higher Consciousness
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