Tripping truffles

Fungi have been known for their psychedelic properties for thousands of years. From mind-altering 'Flesh of the gods' to medicine for depression. A whole new world opens up to you.

Flesh of the gods

They were already being eaten thousands of years ago: psychedelic fungi. Better known as magic mushrooms or truffles. In Mexico and Guatemala, the mushroom was called Teonanácatl by the Indians. This means 'flesh of the gods'. The Indians used these mushrooms to have spiritual experiences and perform rituals. Even now, years later, the magic mushroom is still used by some people to have a psychedelic and mind-expanding experience. How exactly does such a trip work? 


All psychedelic mushrooms contain the same active ingredient: psilocybin. In your body, psilocybin is converted into psilocin. This substance enters your brain via your bloodstream. Once here, psilocin binds to the receptors for serotonin. As a result, you start experiencing reality differently. Colours can be much more intense, walls can become wavy and your emotions intensify. The trip lasts about 3 to 4 hours, but time perception can also be very different for someone under the influence of magic mushrooms.


The mushroom

There are about two hundred different species of fungus that produce psilocybin. The substance is mainly in the mushroom, and not in the underground fungal network. However, sometimes a fungus makes underground storages of nutrients, a kind of nodules. These nodules, in turn, are called truffles (not to be confused with the truffles you get on your plate in a restaurant) and are also sold as psychedelics.


Pluteus chrysophaeus

Magic medicine?

In recent years, psilocybin has also been used as a medicine for depression. Whereas therapy and antidepressants have no effect on some people, psychedelics do seem to bring about change. Probably because it breaks fixed patterns of thinking. Treatment has a positive effect in some patients for up to six months. It will still be a few years before magic mushrooms and truffles are in pharmacies as medicine, but researchers are hopeful.