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Psilocybin also known as psilocybine or 4-PO-DMT) is a prodrug for the classical hallucinogen compound psilocin, or 4-HO-DMT (4-hydroxyl-dimethyltryptamine), the active metabolite of psilocybin, responsible for the psychoactive effects of the drug. Both drugs are members of the indole and tryptamine classes.
Psilocybin-containing mushrooms are used both recreationally and traditionally, for spiritual purposes, as entheogens, with a history of use spanning millennia. In a 1957 Life article, the American banker R. Gordon Wasson described his experiences ingesting psilocybin-containing mushrooms during a traditional ceremony in Mexico, introducing the drug to popular culture. Shortly after, the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann was able to purify the active principle psilocybin from the mushroom Psilocybe mexicana, and developed a synthetic method to produce the drug. Psilocybin is produced by over 200 species of fungi, including those of the genus Psilocybe, such as P. cubensis, P. semilanceata and P. cyanescens, and has also been reportedly isolated from about a dozen other genera. Collectively known as psilocybin mushrooms, these are commonly called "boomers", "sacred mushrooms", "magic mushrooms", or more simply "'shrooms". Possession, and in some cases usage, of psilocybin or psilocin has been outlawed in most countries across the globe.
Proponents of its usage consider it to be an entheogen and a tool to supplement various types of practices for transcendence, including in meditation, psychonautics, and psychedelic psychotherapy. The intensity and duration of entheogenic effects of psilocybin mushrooms are highly variable, depending on species or cultivar of mushrooms, dosage, individual physiology, and set and setting. Once ingested, psilocybin is rapidly metabolized to psilocin, which then acts as a partial agonist at the 5-HT2A and 5-HT1A serotonin receptors in the brain. The mind-altering effects of psilocybin typically last anywhere from three to eight hours; however, to individuals under the influence of psilocybin, the effects may seem to last much longer, since the drug can distort the perception of time. Psilocybin has a low toxicity, and a lethal dose from ingestion of the drug has not been documented.
"Hallucinogen" redirects here. For the Goa trance musician Simon Posford, see Hallucinogen (musician).
The general group of pharmacological agents can be divided into three broad categories: psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants. These classes of psychoactive drugs have in common that they can cause subjective changes in perception, thought, emotion and consciousness. Unlike other psychoactive drugs, such as stimulants and opioids, these drugs do not merely amplify familiar states of mind, but rather induce experiences that are qualitatively different from those of ordinary consciousness. These experiences are often compared to non-ordinary forms of consciousness such as trance, meditation, and dreams.
Hollister's criteria for establishing that a drug is hallucinogenic is:
1. in proportion to other effects, changes in thought, perception, and mood should predominate;
2. intellectual or memory impairment should be minimal;
3. stupor, narcosis, or excessive stimulation should not be an integral effect;
4. autonomic nervous system side effects should be minimal; and
5. addictive craving should be absent.
Not all drugs produce the same effect and even the same drug can produce different effects in the same individual on different occasions.