Shrooms vs. Acid: Understanding The Differences Between Psilocybin And LSD

Shrooms vs. Acid: Understanding The Differences Between Psilocybin And LSD

The two most popular kinds of psychedelics that people use are psychedelic mushrooms (also known as magic mushrooms or shrooms) and LSD (acid). There are many different reasons as to why these are the most popular psychedelics.

Psychedelic mushrooms are a popular choice because they grow in the wild all over the world, in many different climates. It is also relatively easy to grow them at home.

LSD, meanwhile, is a common psychedelic because it is inexpensive to produce and the doses are very small, so it is easy for chemists to produce large quantities of the substance.

But if we compare shrooms vs. acid, we find many important differences between the two psychedelics. These substances differ in terms of their history, as well as their physical, perceptual, and psychological effects.

You want to get acquainted with these differences so you can decide which psychedelic is right for you. Some people find that the mushroom experience meets their needs and preferences, whereas others tend to prefer the LSD experience.

An Overview Of Shrooms

A Brief Description Of Psilocybin Mushrooms

Magic mushrooms are psychedelic because they contain the psychedelic compounds psilocybin and psilocin. They are also a completely natural psychedelic.

Psilocybin is a prodrug, meaning it is only psychoactive when consumed and processed in the body. When you take mushrooms containing psilocybin, the body will convert the psilocybin into psilocin, which is psychoactive.

Both psilocybin and psilocin belong to a group of chemicals known as tryptamines. This grouping also includes compounds like DMT and 5-MeO-DMT.

The History Of Psilocybin Mushrooms

In discussing shrooms vs. acid, one important difference to note between the two substances is that psilocybin mushrooms have a longer and richer cultural history compared to LSD.

Magic mushroom use is thousands of years old. The earliest evidence of mushroom use comes from a cave in the Tassili-N-Ajjer region of the Sahara Desert in Algeria.

This cave exhibits a mural (around 7,000 to 9,000 years old) of a bee-headed shaman whose body is covered in mushrooms. Researchers have identified these mushrooms as Psilocybe maireri. This is one such species of psilocybin mushroom, native to the region.

Psilocybin mushrooms also have a history of ceremonial use in pre-Columbian societies. Archaeologists have discovered “mushroom stones” in Mexico and Guatemala, which are around 3,000 to 3,500 years old. Experts state that these represent psilocybin mushrooms.

You can find the first written account of magic mushroom use in the Florentine Codex (1560), authored by the Spanish missionary priest Fray Bernardino de Sahagún. In this book, there are descriptions of the Aztecs engaging in ceremonies involving psilocybin mushrooms.

Magic mushrooms entered public awareness with the publication of an article about magic mushrooms in Life magazine in 1957. Written by the then vice-president of J.P. Morgan R. Gordon Wasson, this article detailed a magic mushroom ceremony in Oaxaca, Mexico, that Wasson took part in. His guide was the famous mushroom shaman Maria Sabina.

More Westerners began experimenting with psilocybin mushrooms in the 1960s. But this was not the psychedelic drug of choice at the time — it was LSD. When we compare shrooms vs. LSD, we can see that psilocybin mushrooms had a less influential role in popular culture in the 60s.

Magic Mushroom Dosage

The threshold dose of dried magic mushrooms is 0.25 g. This means you generally need to take this amount to achieve psychedelic effects. The normal shrooms dosage range for dried psilocybin mushrooms is 1-5 g.

The Duration Of The Psilocybin Experience

The duration of the effects of magic mushrooms can depend on the dose. So if you’re microdosing shrooms below the threshold dose, the effects may only last a few hours. Whereas a very high dose could last more than six hours. Generally, though, a magic mushroom experience will last 4-6 hours.

Additionally, it’s important to understand how long it takes for shrooms to kick in, as each person is different.

Also Read: Is Microdosing Shrooms an Effective way to Find Yourself?

An Overview Of Acid

A Brief Description Of LSD

LSD is a semi-synthetic psychedelic. It is semi-synthetic because a chemist will produce it through a chemical process; however, the compound was originally derived from alkaloids found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye. LSD itself is not found in the natural world, in contrast to magic mushrooms.

Ergot contains lysergic acid. Through a chemical process, you can turn this chemical into lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

LSD belongs to a group of compounds known as ergolines, distinct from tryptamines. Other ergolines include ergine, also known as lysergic acid amide (LSA), which is found in Hawaiian baby woodrose and morning glory seeds.

The History Of LSD

In 1938, the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann was the first to prepare LSD by altering lysergic acid found in ergot. Then, in 1943, he became the very first person to use LSD, taking 250mcg (micrograms) of the substance that he had produced himself. The origin and use of LSD are, therefore, much more recent compared to mushrooms.

In the 1950s, well-known scientists and thinkers experimented with LSD, including the psychiatrist Stanislav Grof and the philosopher Alan Watts.

In the 1960s, underground chemists manufactured millions of doses of LSD and distributed them to the public. LSD was widely available and easily accessible at the time. Many famous and influential people experimented with LSD in the 60s too, such as Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Ken Kesey, Aldous Huxley, and Timothy Leary.

LSD Dosage

Another difference between the two compounds is in the dosage. For an LSD dosage, the threshold dose is around 20 mcg, so about 1,000th the dose of mushrooms. The typical dosage range for acid is 75-300 mcg.

The Duration Of An LSD Experience

But when comparing shrooms vs. acid, we find noticeable differences as well in effects. For example, the effects of LSD last much longer than those of mushrooms. While a magic mushroom experience may last up to six hours, an LSD experience can last up to 12 hours, and even longer sometimes if the dose is high enough.

The Experiential Difference Between Shrooms And Acid

While both shrooms and acid can produce the classic psychedelic experience, many people who have experimented with both report different qualities between the two. Part of this may come down to the chemical difference between tryptamines and ergolines.

Let’s look at some of the most important experiential differences between shrooms vs. acid.

Visual Differences

There are visual differences between the two experiences.

For shrooms, the visuals:

  • Are organic and ‘earthy’
  • Move gently and smoothly in how they evolve
  • Involve more morphing and distortions of objects
  • Can be quite intense with eyes closed

For acid, the visuals:

  • Are more crisp and clean
  • Involve more detail in objects
  • Shift rapidly
  • Are less likely to be intense with eyes closed

Some people find that the visual effects of LSD are stronger than those produced by magic mushrooms, but others find the opposite to be true.

Differences In Headspace

The headspace of acid and shrooms can also be quite different.

People find that the magic mushroom headspace is:

  • Harder to control and direct
  • More confusing and disorientating
  • More introspective

The acid headspace, on the other hand, tends to be:

  • More lucid
  • Easier to control
  • More prone to sociability

Physical Differences

The physical effects of psilocybin mushrooms are usually distinct from those you will experience with LSD.

With mushrooms there can be the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach discomfort
  • The feeling of being drowsy and tired
  • The feeling that your body is heavy

In contrast, for LSD, the physical effects can involve:

  • More stimulation and energy
  • Restlessness
  • Less body load
  • More of a body high

Emotional Differences

Both acid and shrooms can produce strong emotional changes, but the way in which they change your mood and emotions can differ, as well.

When it comes to mushrooms, you are more likely to:

  • Be on the fence between a positive and negative experience
  • Experience inconsistent and volatile emotions

If you take acid, you are:

  • More likely to remain positive
  • More likely to be in control of your emotions

Shrooms vs. Acid: Which Experience Is Right For You?

Now that we’ve explored shrooms vs. acid in a bit of depth, you may have a sense of which experience sounds more appealing to you. Often, the right experience for you will come down to personal preferences.

To help you in making a decision about choosing a magic mushroom or LSD experience, it will be useful to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of both compounds.

The Advantages Of Magic Mushrooms

Magic mushrooms will be the right choice for you if:

  • You’re looking to feel more connected to nature
  • You want to experience mushrooms in a legal retreat setting (magic mushrooms are legal and used in retreats in countries like the Netherlands and Jamaica)
  • You want to source the substance yourself (by picking them)
  • You’re hoping for a shorter experience

The Disadvantages Of Magic Mushrooms

Magic mushrooms may not be the right choice for you if:

  • You want to avoid physical discomfort
  • You’d prefer a longer psychedelic journey
  • You’re hoping to be more in control of your trip
  • You want a clearer headspace

The Advantages Of LSD

LSD will be the right choice for you if:

  • You’re hoping for a more sociable psychedelic experience
  • You want to embark on a longer psychedelic journey
  • You want less of a body load
  • You’d prefer to feel more in control of your trip
  • You’re looking for a more lucid headspace

The Disadvantages Of LSD

LSD may not be the right choice for you if:

  • You’re looking for a shorter experience. Since acid can last 12+ hours, depending on the time you take it, it may make sleeping difficult
  • You want to have a psychedelic experience in a legal, controlled setting. In this case, a magic mushroom retreat would be more suitable
  • You want to be sure you are taking the desired dosage. If you buy LSD, a dealer may claim it is a certain dose, but there is no way to personally verify that. With magic mushrooms, you can weigh them yourself and so more reliably aim for the kind of experience you want

In this comparison between shrooms and acid, you will see that there are many similarities between these two common psychedelics. You can very easily take a psychedelic dose of either substance and have an intensely visual, emotional, and introspective experience.

But you will have picked up on many of the substantial — as well as subtle — differences between psilocybin mushrooms and LSD.

If you are thinking of embarking on a psychedelic journey with either substance, be mindful of your personal needs, preferences, and comfort levels and see which substances best match them. This will help guide you to one psychedelic over the other and increase your chances of having a beneficial experience.

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Sam Woolfe

View all posts by Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe is a freelance writer based in London. His main areas of interest include mental health, mystical experiences, the history of psychedelics, and the philosophy of psychedelics. He first became fascinated by psychedelics after reading Aldous Huxley's description of the mescaline experience in The Doors of Perception. Since then, he has researched and written about psychedelics for various publications, covering the legality of psychedelics, drug policy reform, and psychedelic science.

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