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Looking Beyond Psilocybin: Which Compounds Are In Magic Mushrooms?

magic mushrooms

There are dozens of mysteries surrounding magic mushrooms, but psilocybin, one of their main constituents, isn’t one of them. Aside from this famous compound, a handful of other substances are found in hallucinogenic fungi.

Do you know which compounds make up the chemical profile of psilocybin mushrooms? We’ve done the digging and uncovered several different elements. Join us to learn about the history of magic mushrooms, and their unique chemical composition.

Let’s dive in!

What Are Magic Mushrooms?

Magic mushrooms are a type of fungi that contain psilocybin, a substance known for having psychedelic effects on humans, according to scientists.

To date, scientists have identified more than 200 species of psilocybin mushrooms. They go by multiple monikers, including magic mushrooms, mushies, shrooms, philosopher’s stones, golden tops, and psychedelic mushrooms.

Some research throughout history shows some nations and tribes have incorporated them into religious ceremonies, sacred rituals, and holistic healing.

Keep in mind that the spores offered on our site are intended for microscopy research only. We do not promote the cultivation or consumption of magic mushrooms. None of our spore syringes contain any active ingredient that would produce psychedelic effects.

Magic Mushrooms

The Origins of Magic Mushrooms

Hallucinogenic fungi have existed for centuries. Their earliest known origins date back to 9,000 BC. Historians discovered North African rock paintings from this period that purportedly contained visuals alluding to their encounters with psilocybin mushrooms in nature.

It’s believed that Aztec rituals regularly included magic mushrooms, which they referred to as teonanácatl, or ‘the flesh of the gods.’ Statues and other objects appearing to resemble mushrooms have also been found in Aztec and Mayan ruins in Central America.

Researchers have confirmed that various indigenous people used magic mushrooms in Central America, including the Mixtec, Mazatec, Zapatec, and Nauhua tribes in the past.

Magic Mushrooms in the Western World

Psilocybin mushrooms made their way to the US during the late 1950s. It started with R. Gordon Wasson, who was studying mushrooms on his travels in Mexico in 1955.

He experienced a life-changing ceremony conducted by a shaman of the Mazatec tribe using magic mushrooms. After this ritual, Wasson wrote an article about his discoveries in Life magazine in 1957. It was published under the title ‘Seeking the Magic Mushroom.’

This iconic phrase gave psilocybin mushrooms their famous name.

Around the same time, American scientists started taking an interest in these fungi. Roger Heim, one of Wasson’s colleagues, reached out to Swiss scientist Albert Hofman for his expert opinion on the chemicals in shrooms.

After conducting some tests, Hofmann became the first person to extract psilocybin from mushrooms in 1958. He used the samples Wasson brought back from Mexico, concluding that psilocybin was the chemical responsible for the potential hallucinogenic effects.

Timothy Leary, a well-known American psychologist that strongly advocated for psychedelic substances, read Wasson’s article in 1960. After that, he decided to travel to Mexico to see magic mushrooms and returned a changed man.

Leary claimed that he learned an enormous amount about how his brain worked during a five-hour-long psychedelic trip. He even said that he uncovered more in that time than he did during 15 years of school.

Leary started the Harvard Psilocybin Project to show how magic mushrooms could lead to a higher state of consciousness. He was eventually fired from Harvard University during the mid-1960s but continued advocating for psychedelic substances in science.

The US banned the use of psilocybin mushrooms in 1970 but allowed medical research. This area of study hasn’t seen any progress for decades, but new scientific developments in recent years have changed that.

Magic Mushrooms

Chemical Makeup of Magic Mushrooms

Magic mushrooms contain numerous compounds. Each psychedelic fungus has varying amounts of these chemicals—particularly those grown in the wild.

Magic Mushrooms

Here are the known substances found in shrooms:


Psilocybin is thought to be one of the most well-known psychedelic compounds. Psilocybin has been found in more than 200 mushroom species, with one study suggesting it may also appear in a rare lichen.

Psilocybin is classified as a Schedule 1 drug in the US, with no currently accepted use in medical treatments. Dr. Albert Hofmann first isolated psilocybin and psilocin in 1958. He’s also credited with discovering LSD, another type of psychedelic substance.

Most people believe psilocybin to be the main mushroom chemical compound, but that’s not the case. Although it’s the most abundant substance, psilocybin is also a prodrug of psilocin.

As a result, it must first metabolize into psilocin before binding to serotonin receptors. This chemical process is known as dephosphorylation. When the phosphates are removed, psilocin is more lipid-soluble.


This mushroom chemical compound is found in various species of magic shrooms.

Generally, psilocin is an unstable and short-lived substance with a half-life of 1–3 hours. Most uses include its precursor, psilocybin.

Research shows that psilocin is structurally similar to serotonin but doesn’t significantly affect dopamine receptors.


This naturally occurring tryptamine alkaloid was discovered in 2017. Norpsilocin is a derivative of psilocybin. It’s believed to be a dephosphorylated metabolite of baeocystin, with studies showing that it’s even more potent than psilocybin.

Norpsilocin was first isolated from a commonly cultivated Psilocybe cubensis species. Scientists published a synthetic method for norpsilocin production and other mushroom chemical compounds in 2020.

That same year, researchers conducted the first biological testing of norpsilocin. Although they solved the compound’s crystal structure for formulating precise measurements, more studies are necessary to understand norpsilocin.


This substance is a derivative or analog of the psilocybin chemical compound. Baeocystin was first isolated in 1968 from Psilocybe baeocystis and synthetically prepared in a lab in 1959.

Evidence suggests that baeocystin may be relevant to the effects of psychedelic mushrooms. A 1994 study showed levels that reached one-third of the amount of psilocybin. Other reports state that 10 mg of baeocystin may be as psychoactive as 10 mg of psilocybin.

It’s extremely rare to obtain pure baeocystin, so research into its properties is challenging and slow.


This minor compound was found at the same time as baeocystin, hence the similar-sounding name. Norbaeocystin is a magic mushroom alkaloid and an analog of psilocybin.

It’s an N-demethylated derivative of baeocystin and phosphorylated derivative of 4-hydroxytryptamine. Recent studies show that norbaeocystin may be an intermediate in psilocybin biosynthesis.

Very little is known about norbaeocystin and its psychoactive effects, so further research is necessary.


This mushroom chemical compound was discovered in 1989 and was originally believed to occur in one species: Inocybe aeruginascens. However, a 2020 study found aeruginascin in Psilocybe cubensis, suggesting it may be more common.

Aeruginascin’s chemical structure is similar to psilocybin, and it typically appears in equal concentrations to baeocystin and psilocybin.

This compound remains shrouded in mystery, with almost no studies on its effects and characteristics.


In 2019, researchers discovered ß-carbolines in four species of Psilocybe. These compounds are a general chemical substance group that includes monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI). ß-carbolines are also found in the plant ingredients of traditional ayahuasca brews.

MAOIs are structurally similar to DMT and psilocybin.

What are the components of magic mushrooms?

  • Cap: The cap is the top part of the mushroom, and it can go from white to various shades of brown, blue or green. The cap’s shape is convex or flattened, and the size can vary depending on the strain. For example, the cap of the Blue Meanie strain can range from light to dark brown, while the cap of the Penis Envy strain is typically lighter.
  • Gills: Underneath the cap, we can see gills, which are thin, blade-like structures. The color of the gills can be white, gray, or purple, and they are responsible for producing and dispersing the mushroom’s spores in nature.
  • Stem: The stem, or stipe, is the elongated part of the mushroom that connects the cap to the roots. Like the cap, the stem can vary in color and size. Some magic mushrooms have a distinct bluing or bruising reaction when damaged due to the oxidation of psilocin. An example is the Blue Meanie strain, that got its name based on this reaction.
  • Spores: The spores are microscopic reproductive cells produced by the gills.  Spore prints, which are made by placing the cap on a piece of paper, can be used to identify the color of the spores. Spores are valuable for taxonomy and research purposes, and scientists can find high-quality spores for research purposes at FungusHead.

How to Observe the Chemicals in Magic Mushroom Spores

Some chemicals can react with specific compounds in the spores, producing visible color changes. For instance, Melzer’s reagent is commonly used to test for amyloid content in spores. The reaction can help in identifying certain genera or species of magic mushroom spores.

For a more detailed chemical analysis,  you can try mass spectrometry. This technique can identify and quantify specific compounds within the spores. It is especially useful for studying the presence and concentration of chemicals.

To get high-quality mushroom spores for research – visit our shop.

The Power of Psilocybin – Conclusion

Although psilocybin is the most well-known compound in psychedelic mushrooms; it’s certainly not the only compound worth talking about.

Psilocin, baeocystin, norpsilocin, aeruginascin, ß-carbolines, and norbaeocystin are notable ingredients in magic mushrooms. But there’s still a lot to learn about these interesting substances and the potential entourage effect between them.

Want to know more about the wonderful world of psychedelic mushrooms? Check out our blog for more fascinating information on these magical fungi.

All of the content and images on our site are for informational reference only. The cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms is federally illegal in the United States. We do not promote the cultivation of psilocybin “magic” mushrooms under any circumstances. Do not contact us asking for advice related to this subject. Any products found on this site are for microscopy and taxonomy purposes only. None of the psilocybin mushroom spores we offer are for consumption or cultivation. We do not sell any products containing psilocybin.


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