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There has been a lot of interests in “magic mushrooms” (also known as psilocybin mushrooms) and ayahuasca. A common misconception is that these two function in very similar ways, and therefore there is no real difference between the two. This, however, is very untrue. Psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca differ in many ways, and it is important to know these. Whether you choose one or the other, making an informed decision helps ensure that you are seeking the right experience for you and what you want to accomplish and that you are fully aware of how these different entities function. 

Let’s start with the basics

Magic mushrooms contain an ingredient called psilocybin. This is then broken down in the human body to produce the compound that induces psychedelic effects, psilocin. A general high can last anywhere between 6-8 hours, and its effects vary. For some, it can be a very potent experience and for others, it can be milder. Dosage is roughly between 10-40 mg(1-4 grams) and these can be consumed directly. Some also prefer to brew it into teas, but the most common method is direct consumption.

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On the other hand, ayahuasca contains an active ingredient called N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT). The most common way of consumption is as a beverage. It is brewed from boiled vines of a combination of plants such as yage and chacruna. It is also consumed by smoking it from a pipe or a bong. Its effects are more intense (some have described it as transcendental). However, the effects only last for about 5 hours  but may feel much longer. Traditionally used as spiritual medicine among indigenous populations across Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, it has seen increasing popularity across the world.

What will I experience?

It is important to note that for each of these substances, the experience is highly varied. It will largely depend on your own mental state, the dosage, the environment and a variety of external factors. Because of that, the experiences may not be rooted in evidence, but in anecdotes.

For mushrooms, the dosage tends to dictate, to some extent, the Shamanic Healing experience. A light dosage might enable someone to see intense visual and auditory experiences some would call these hallucinations, Shamans and Spiritual don’t.  They are experience that cross the veil of time and space. It can also create a sensation of euphoria, connectedness to the world and a joy, that surpasses all understanding, positive, safe and controlled environment. Entheogens were never meant for party users.  

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A medium dosage creates similar experiences but more vivid. For example, someone might see visual distortions, and may even experience closed-eye hallucinations that include kaleidoscopic effects and patterns. And a heavy dosage, people report being able to experience divine beings and conversing with them as well as landscapes and visuals.  This experience is the life-altering one. This is the one that crosses time and space. This is the one where you experience “direct revelations” and make direct contact with beings that have waited your whole life to connect with you.  

Mushrooms do can can have the same ability to connect and heal as Ayahuasca.  I know right now that the world is excited about Ayahuasca, but the right mushrooms in the right dose in the right environment, a shamanic healing environment in full ceremony with a Shaman allows the same healing.  

Here is the big difference, ayahuasca cause more physiological changes such as a heightened heart and blood rate and rapid eye movements, because of the MAOI  inhibitor in the vine and DMT that is in the bark of the tree. Combining any SSRI and Ayahuasca can kill you! The only drug that is completely contraindicated with Mushrooms is Lithium.  And no one has ever died taking psychedelic mushrooms.  

Are magic mushrooms addictive?

One of the major fears (and pre-conceptions) that many hold about mushrooms and ayahuasca are that they are very addictive. While yes, these are potent experiences that can alter perceptions, they are not addictive. There are a lot of myths surrounding these substances, but this is an important one to clear up. Thus far, no evidence has shown that these substances are addictive. 

However, the increased mushroom dosage can lead to a temporary tolerance, which means its effects will lessen over time and increased usage. However you can micro-dose without this complication.  

DMT does not have this form of tolerance, but there are reports of psychological determinet if done too much. This basically means that these substances cannot be really be abused, because it defeats the very purpose of doing it. Both have sustained long-term effects if used too much and will lose their potency and effects. It is important to do these substances with an ample gap in between, and for it to be done in moderation to experience the full effects of these substances.

What are the long-term effects?

For many, mushrooms and ayahuasca are lumped together with other drugs such as cocaine. While cocaine is known for its addictive properties, they have fundamentally different ways of activation and effect. Cocaine floods the brain’s reward and motivation centers temporarily, which leads to consumers being in a cycle of reinforcement. They crave the feeling, cocaine rewards them, and they feel low after – and this repeats. Ultimately, higher dosages of the drugs are needed to sustain that feeling, but that loses potency over time. 

There is evidence that psilocybin has long-term effects, such as altering the way information exchange occurs in areas of the brain such as the prefrontal cortex, and that is actually forms new connection pathways in the brain.

The initial 15 minutes (ride up) can make participants feel  anxious and panicky. This is a very short experience. There is little if any nausea or vomiting ulike Ayahuasca that can last for hours.  Mushrooms have all the benefits without the hours of physical discomfort.  

However, the effects of the mushrooms are not just at that moment. Long-term, consumers have reported a positive behavioral change that lasts in key relationships and in themselves. For example, a   study on psilocybin on cancer patients showed a reduction in depression, anxiety and an increase in optimism and renewed faith in life. The connectedness that people feel, gives them an unwavering sense of faith in the Divine and faith that their spirit will live on with the God of their understanding.  

For ayahuasca, the research is still being conducted. It is a relatively new substance ( here is the US), though it has been used for thousands of years in the Amazon, and though it has increased in popularity, the research is not as robust. There are a lot of promising paths that show DMT can be effective in treating a variety of psychological conditions, but no long-term consistent studies have been done. However, Johns Hopkins University studies have shown that mushrooms can lead to profound divine experiences and improve long-term mental well-being. A majority of the participants attributed similar positive behavior change after consuming psychedelic mushrooms in life aspects such as satisfaction and purpose, even decades after the initial experience.

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