Psychedelic Mushrooms- Genus Psilocybe: Past and Present Scenario

Ms. Geetanjli


Shrooms or magic mushrooms have been used since the ancient times by various cultural groups like Aztecs, Mixes, Mixtecs, Nahua and Zapotecs etc. for the psychoactive purposes. Various carvings, murals statues and sculptures found in caves in Algeria and other parts of the world depict the mushrooms as an integral part of the human race. Teonana’catl (Flesh of God) as these were better known in ancient times were consumed during various religious rituals. Various species of genus Psilocybe have been reported to possess psychedelic properties. Psilocybe, a saprophytic mushroom is found worldwide especially in Neotropics. Ingestion of Psilocybe leads to trance with hallucinogenic effects. Psychedelic properties of Psilocybe have been attributed to two active principles Psilocybin and Psilocin. Use of psychedelic mushrooms was prohibited by the Catholic preachers. However, classic ethnomycological studies began in west and other parts of the world  by  R. Gordon Wasson, who is regarded as pioneer in  partaking rituals involving sacred mushrooms in 1955 in Mexico. He rediscovered their medico religious uses and called them ‘Entheogens’ to popularize shrooms around the world. Psilocybe was banned in 1970s in United Nations and was classified as class A drug in UN Convention on Psychotropics. Status of genus Psilocybe as shrooms is still a  controversial issue, however, after a gap of almost  thirty years, genus Psilocybe has made a comeback and the research on its psychoactive properties is catching the interest of the scientists worldwide.

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