In November 2020, Oregon voters made history by passing Measure 109 and Measure 110.
Measure 109 allows for adult use of psychedelic mushrooms within therapeutic settings. Measure 110 decriminalizes possession of small amounts of all illegal substances.
With these results, some people are wondering whether psychedelics might be headed in the same direction as cannabis, which is now legalized for medical or adult use in most U.S. states.
Taken as a whole, psychedelics encompass a range of substances, but few are as well known as “magic” mushrooms and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), aka acid.
While there are certainly similarities between the two, mushrooms and LSD can produce very different experiences.
Healthline does not endorse the illegal use of any substances. However, we believe in providing accessible and accurate information to reduce the harm that can occur when using.
There are a variety of mushrooms with psychoactive properties. However, most are variations of the species Psilocybe cubensis. The most abundant psychedelic component is psilocybin.
LSD has less natural origins in the laboratory of Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman. In 1938, Hoffman synthesized the substance from ergot, a mold that naturally occurs on rye bread and other grains.
Both psilocybin mushrooms and LSD can lead to:
- distorted perception of time
- visual and auditory hallucinations
- sensation that solid objects are melting
- sensation that stationary objects are moving
- altered sense of taste, touch, and smell
- openness to new ideas
- increased sense of connection
- spiritual awakenings
- philosophical breakthroughs
- paranoid delusions
- fear of death
- rapid heart rate
- elevated blood pressure
- dilated pupils
- occasional sweat, numbness, and tremors
Despite having the same list of potential effects, mushrooms and LSD produce separate experiences due to differences in things like onset time and the duration of the effects.
Mushrooms are usually dried (if they aren’t already) and eaten or brewed into a tea.
LSD is sometimes taken from a dropper, but it’s more common for it to be applied to small tabs of paper that dissolve in your mouth.
While you can develop a tolerance to either substance over time, it typically takes far less LSD than psilocybin to produce psychedelic effects.
As a result, it’s easier to ingest more LSD than you can handle. Combined with the longer duration of the effects, that might explain why there are generally more reports of “bad” LSD trips.
After ingestion, both substances take about 1 hour to kick in on an empty stomach. Taking either after a meal can make this time frame longer.
Despite having the same list of potential effects, mushrooms and LSD produce a different sort of psychedelic trip. They’re best suited for use by different types of people.
Mushrooms produce more of a whole-body experience, whereas an LSD trip is largely cerebral.
As a result of that cerebral quality, the ever-important concepts of “set” and “setting” are even more essential to an LSD experience (more on this in a moment).
Simply put, whether an LSD trip yields breakthroughs or breakdowns often depends on the mindset of the user immediately before use and the environment within which the use occurs.
Same goes for mushroom trips. But people tend to report more extreme experiences on either end of the spectrum when taking LSD.
A mushroom trip usually comes to a close within 6 hours. An LSD trip, on the other hand, can continue for a full 10 hours.
Despite the longer time frame, people tend to perceive LSD trips as proceeding at a more rapid pace than mushroom trips.
Keep in mind that this time frame can vary a lot from person to person.
Both mushrooms and LSD present few major risks, but there are some potential physical and psychological complications to be aware of.
Physically, each can cause:
- accelerated heart rate
- increased blood pressure
While these effects are usually temporary and cause no harm, they could be a concern if you have a cardiac or vascular disorder.
Psychologically, there’s always a risk of having an unpleasant trip involving paranoia or fear. While these effects typically wear off within 24 hours, some people experience lingering distress. This is rare, and some experts
Finally, several psychedelics, including LSD and mushrooms, have been associated with a rare condition called hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder (HPPD).
People with HPPD have recurring hallucinations or “flashbacks” weeks, months, or even years after a psychedelic experience. Very little is known about the condition or why some people develop it and others don’t.
Serotonin syndrome warning
If you take St. John’s wort, SSRIs, MAOIs, or other antidepressants, ingesting LSD or mushrooms can result in high levels of serotonin in your body. This can potentially result in a condition called serotonin syndrome.
While some people stop taking antidepressants in the days leading up to a trip, that’s not recommended. Your safest bet is to avoid both LSD and mushrooms if you take any of the above medications.
If you do decide to take mushrooms or LSD, stick with small doses of either substance. Seek immediate medical help if you experience:
- muscle spasms
- muscle rigidity
- overactive reflexes
- dilated pupils
Across the internet, there are plenty of first-person accounts from people who combined mushrooms and LSD and lived to submit their trip reports.
The consensus is that taking them together increases the intensity of each, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Doing so can also increase your risk for serotonin syndrome.
If you decide to experiment with this combo, start with low doses of each and monitor their effects.
Alternately, some people suggest starting with a small amount of LSD and following up with mushrooms after an hour or two, so that the effects of each will peak around the same time.
Regardless of your approach, make sure to plan and set aside your doses while sober to make sure you don’t inadvertently take too much.
When it comes to responsible use of mushrooms or LSD, “set and setting” are key.
Check your mindset
Set refers to your mindset. Make sure you feel peaceful, safe, and sure of what you’re doing. Stating an intention for what you hope to gain from your experience before consuming mushrooms or LSD is also helpful.
Even enjoyable trips may have aspects that feel challenging or bring up fear. Sometimes, going into a trip with the understanding that you’re going to take time afterward to contextualize all of your experience within the wider whole of your life can be grounding and helpful.
Plan your setting
During a trip, having trusted friends act as sober guides helps ensure a safe setting.
If you’re acting as a guide, be mindful that subtle environmental changes can help your friends get through difficult parts of their trips. Be prepared to dim the lights, change the music, or light fresh incense.
Keep food and water on hand. Make sure you’re in a space that feels comfortable and familiar.
Used in moderation, psilocybin mushrooms and LSD can offer unique experiences. Still, using either does come with some risks, and they’re not for everyone.
Finally, even though LSD and mushrooms have low potential for physical dependence or misuse, psychological dependence is possible.
If you’re concerned about your substance use, you can access free and confidential treatment information by calling the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 800-622-4357 (HELP).
Kelli Lynn Grey is a professional copywriter and curriculum designer who also writes essays and poems about health equity, education, relationships, and the dynamically changing landscape of drug culture. Her work appears in Inside the Jar, Mashable, and throughout Medium.com. A mother of two and defender of civil and human rights, she shares monthly updates on all projects via her free newsletter, The Grey Way.