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MAGIC MUSHROOMS - Chemistry
We won't dazzle you with all kinds of chemical combinations and formulas; if you want to know more about it, you'll find the necessary references in the bibliography at the end of the book. We did however select some pieces of information.
Magic mushrooms contain the active substances psilocine and psilocybine with hallucinogenic qualities. About 75 kinds of mushrooms are known which contain psilocybine and/or psilocine. Psilocybine and psilocine belong to the so-called tryptamine family and their effect resembles the natural neurotransmitter serotonine, also known as the `happiness hormone'. The names come from the Greek `psilos' (bald) and `kube' (head) and this is of course related to the outward appearance of the mushroom. Psilocybine and psilocine are so-called alkaloids (nitrogenous substances which appear in nature). Apart from these two, we deal with a whole series of other substances which are less active or almost inactive, bacocystine and norbaeocystine are the best known. The Amanita contains totally different active substances like isoxazal and ibotenic acid, but because of possible errors and the danger of poisoning it is better to keep away from the Fly-Agaric. The amounts of psilocybine and psilocine vary. The main difference is that psilocine is unstable and breaks down when the mushroom is dried or cooked, while psilocybine is much more resistant. Both substances are psychoactive, but because the molecular weight of psilocine is less, it is relatively stronger; about 1,4 times.
Dimethyltriptamine (DMT) is the active substance on a somewhat deeper chemical level. Both psilocine and psilocybine contain DMT, in psilocybine the 4-phosphpryloxy N, N-dimethyltriptamine. DMT appears in many hallucinogenic plants and compounds, like in Ayahuasca, but it comes also be in a pure form as a powder. On its own, ingested DMT doesn't do a thing for you (smoking does), because your body renders it ineffective via the MAO (mono-amine-oxydase) mechanism. If you take a MAO-inhibitor first then you do feel the effect. There is a lesson here. Do not to take any substances acting as MAO-inhibitor (some herbs like Passiflower, Peganum harmala, Johimbe and some medical drugs) in combination with magic mushrooms if you don't want to be in for a surprise.
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