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The Mushroom Experience Project: A Comparative Study of Psilocybin Species

In recent years, psilocybin mushrooms have garnered increased attention for their potential therapeutic benefits in mental health treatments. While the prevailing scientific consensus suggests that the effects of these mushrooms are primarily influenced by dosage and external factors, emerging research challenges the notion that all psilocybin-containing fungi are homogenous in their psychoactive properties. A growing body of evidence points to the presence of various tryptamines and a complex chemical makeup in these mushrooms, hinting at potential differences in their medicinal effects.


Led by Sam Gandy, The Mushroom Experience Project embarks on a comparative study of psilocybin species, acknowledging the intricate nature of these fungi beyond pure psilocybin. By exploring the perceived effects associated with different species, the project seeks to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of fungal psychopharmacology, with the ultimate goal of identifying patterns and distinctions in subjective experiences across commonly used psilocybin-containing mushrooms.


Fruiting Natalensis - Matthew Monroe


Your participation in this study is crucial in unravelling the mysteries of these fungi and advancing our scientific comprehension of their diverse effects and use cases.


 


The current prevailing scientific view is that there are no differences in effects elicited by

different species of psilocybin mushroom. Any perceived differences in effect are considered

to arise entirely from the dosage ingested and external set and setting factors, and nothing

intrinsic to the mushroom itself. However, while the jury is still out on the possible modulating

influence of other secondary compounds in these fungi, it is worth considering that we’ve

barely scratched the surface of chemically profiling them. There is also a growing body of

research suggesting that there may be more than psilocybin alone underlying the effect of

these fungi.


One recently published study concluded that the “varied cocktail of tryptamines in wild

mushrooms could influence the medicinal effect”, with another stating “that our

understanding of the chemical diversity of these mushrooms is largely incomplete.”

We should be mindful that these fungi are not merely packets of pure psilocybin, but

chemically complex organisms.



Psilocybe cyanscens - Alan Rockefeller


In light of this, it may be a little hasty to dismiss differences in perceived effects attributed to

the various species of psilocybin mushroom, while leaning completely on the clearly

incomplete analytical chemistry evidence. Exploring the perceived effects attributed to

different species of these fungi makes for an interesting topic of research given the wide gulf

between the prevailing mainstream scientific view and the views expressed by many who

have sampled various mushroom species.


Our goal with this research study is to enhance the scientific understanding of these

experiences and their potential variations across species, with a focus on commonly used,

psilocybin-containing mushrooms. This is a boom or bust, go big or go home type scenario

when it comes to netting sufficient data. If we don't make up a sufficient sample size, it will all be for nothing, so all and any feedback and any sharing of the survey is very much

appreciated.


Psilocybe cubensis - Alan Rockefeller


Research Objectives

This study seeks to identify patterns and distinctions in the subjective

experiences elicited by various psilocybin mushroom species, addressing questions such as:

Do different species cause different subjective effects? Do certain effects always co-occur?

Are there a set of clusters into which we can group species depending on their effects? And

many more! Your input as an experienced user is critical in enabling us to discern these

patterns, contributing to a more nuanced understanding in the field of fungal

psychopharmacology. This is especially the case for those of you experienced with species

that are less frequently used.


Your Participation

You will be presented with a list of psychoactive mushroom species/varieties and ask you to select those species that you have used at least once in the past 12 months. For each of those species, we will then ask specific questions to capture the qualitative aspects of your typical experience with this species. This includes sensory perceptions, cognitive changes, and emotional responses you associate with each species.



 

Contributing Author


Sam Gandy is a PhD ecologist, independent researcher and science communicator. A lifelong nature lover, he has varied experience of working within the psychedelic and ecological field, and has a research interest in the capacity of psychedelics to influence human relationships with nature, and is a collaborator with Onaya Science and the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London. He also delivers workshops on fungi cultivation in association with the Psychedelic Society.

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