Landscape
25 Oct 2018

Mushrooms and Cannabis: A Primer on Mixing Psilocybin with THC and CBD

by Roderick

With legalization in Canada, cannabis will be more available than ever before. Anecdotes abound in reference to smoking or eating the substance alongside a mushroom experience. In the spirit of education on this newly legal herb, we took a deeper look at the science surrounding the combination of mushrooms and marijuana.

At first glance, cannabis is suggested to “intensify the mushroom experience,” though also may “cloud” the psilocybin adventure. The timing of mixing the two also seems to play a role, with different outcomes depending on the progression of the trip. Ultimately, the conclusion seems to be that experience with both substances is a substantial advantage to obtaining positive outcomes.

To better understand the interwoven effects of mixing two different substances, it’s best to have a clear picture of what each accomplishes on its own. When it comes to psychoactive chemicals, every person will have their own experience; the expectations and results explained here are only a suggestion.

Shrooms

Active Compounds: Shrooms, at least the most common Psilocybe cubensis, usually contain relatively consistent levels of psilocybin and psilocin, the active compounds of “magic mushrooms.” Few other chemicals found in mushrooms are currently suspected to contribute to the subjective experience.

The Experience: Considered an “upper” (similar to a sympathetic arousal state) though may also produce a “body high”. Characterized by euphoria, visual and mental hallucinations, changes in perception, a distorted sense of time, spiritual experiences, giddiness, joy, open and closed eye visuals (common at medium to high doses), along with synesthesia (e.g. hearing colours and seeing sounds). The mind-altering effects of psilocybin typically last from two to six hours.

The Downsides: Possible adverse reactions such as nausea and panic attacks, about a third of users report feelings of anxiety or paranoia. Feelings of disorientation, lethargy, and depression. Tachycardia, dilated pupils, restlessness or arousal, increased body temperature, headache, sweating and chills.

Known Interactions: Aside from direct MAOIs, tobacco smokers may experience more powerful effects with psilocybin, because tobacco smoke exposure decreases the activity of MAO in the brain and peripheral organs.

Pharmacology: Psilocybin is rapidly metabolized to psilocin, which then acts on serotonin receptors in the brain. It partially activates several serotonin receptors. Psilocin has a high affinity for the 5-HT2B and 5-HT2C receptors in the human brain, and with a slightly lower affinity for the 5-HT2A. Psilocin further binds with low affinity to 5-HT1 receptors, including 5-HT1A and 5-HT1D. In addition, psilocin indirectly increases the concentration of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the basal ganglia. Finally, psilocin is degraded by the enzyme monoamine oxidase in the liver, lungs and gut.

Cannabis

Active Compounds: Cannabis research has quickly discovered hundreds of cannabinoids and terpenes that may be active in some form. The multitude of strains promotes the subtle variance in Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD), the primary active ingredients in hemp. The perceived differences in the modifications to the ratio between the two, along with a host of other suspected active compounds, allows for some discretion in modifying the mushroom experience with cannabis.

The compound CBD specifically may be helpful in countering the negative effects of mushroom usage. It has been considered to reduce the “jitters,” balancing the effects of THC in reducing disorientation, tachycardia, and eventual drowsiness. This may be due to the data that has shown it to act as a serotonin receptor activator.

The two active compounds have further been implicated in reducing nausea induced by many things, whether it be disease or other substances. The multitude of other compounds may provide a plethora of effects as well, depending on the personal metabolism and physiology of the user.

The Experience: Generally considered to be a “downer.” Attributed to CBD, especially prevalent in Indica species. Creates a “high” or “stoned” feeling, a general change in perception, heightened mood, and an increase in appetite.

The Downsides: A decrease in short-term memory, dry mouth, impaired motor skills, red eyes, and feelings of paranoia or anxiety.

Pharmacology: THC exerts its most prominent effects via its actions on two types of cannabinoid receptors, the CB1 receptor and the CB2 receptor. Further, THC indirectly increases dopamine release. Cannabidiol (CBD) also acts as an allosteric modulator of the μ- and δ-opioid receptors. Metabolism occurs mainly in the liver by cytochrome P450 enzymes CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and CYP3A4.

Shrooms and Cannabis

The Experience: In general, mixing cannabis and shrooms is considered to intensify the experience by triggering more abstract or thought-provoking visuals and sensations. This can be especially apparent near the end of a mushroom experience, prolonging the related visuals and changes in perception. THC-rich strains, primarily C. sativa, may assist in providing extra energy and positivity. CBD-rich strains, primarily C. indica, may assist in reducing nausea and limiting anxiety or “jitters.”

The Downsides: The primary downside to mixing cannabis and mushrooms is their combined ability to provoke paranoia and anxiety. Together, they can also increase the risk of negative emotions or repetitive thoughts. Combined with the disorientation of time associated with mushrooms, cannabis can make a poor experience feel even longer. Finally, an overall “disconnect” due to marijuana-induced lethargy may dull visuals and numb sensations.

Known Interactions: Both substances have an indirect effect on the brain chemical dopamine, commonly known as the “feel good” or “reward” drug in the brain. While this can foster motivation and drive during a trip, it can equally be cut by indecision or repetitive thoughts. As mentioned above, THC (found abundantly in Sativa strains) can boost and energize the sensations provided by the mushrooms; CBD (primarily in Indica strains) can calm a fast adventure or ease nausea and anxiety in beginners.

For those experienced with the medicinal or spiritual use of magic mushrooms, or those who consume cannabis daily, the combination of the two may enhance and ease the exploration of ideas and the mind. Considering the more significant effects of magic mushrooms when compared to cannabis, the herb is often seen as an accompaniment to the fungus. Timing of marijuana consumption along the duration of the trip can provide significant control over the outcomes.

Cannabis at the beginning of an experience can enhance the entirety, ease initial nausea, and remove any “rough transitions” that may arise while “coming up.” It can also help relieve anxiety or impatience associated with the relatively long duration of mushroom onset.

Once underway into the mushroom adventure, cannabis may seem unappealing to the average user, but experienced users can consider it to amplify the height of the sensations. Smoking can feel like a daunting undertaking, making the application of edibles at this point a viable alternative.

Past the peak, cannabis seems to enact its most potent synergy with magic mushrooms. Enhancing the already modified perception of time, the combination can greatly enhance the duration of lesser sensations and visuals. It can also help to damper any negative emotions that may accompany the waning hours of a trip. Finally, it can help slow thought and provide deeper context to contemplation of the recent experience.

Ultimately, the combining of any two substances is best left to those who have experience individually with both. For those prone to anxiety or “bad trips,” cannabis is best left until the end or when the mushroom sensations are well under control. This prevents dulling the “come up” that can be so awe-inspiring among initiates, and further prolongs the visuals and thoughts the mushrooms provide.

For those seeking to enhance their experience, or explore more nuanced depths and heights, the combination of magic mushrooms and cannabis is a considerable suggestion. Applying cannabis to a fungal voyage can be a tactical way to enhance or inhibit sensations of all kinds.

Sources:

van Amsterdam J, Opperhuizen A, van den Brink W (2011) “Harm potential of magic mushroom use: a review”. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 59 (3): 423–9.

Kathmann M, Flau K, Redmer A, Tränkle C, Schlicker E (2006) “Cannabidiol is an allosteric modulator at mu- and delta-opioid receptors”. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg’s Archives of Pharmacology. 372 (5): 354–61.

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