Despite their similar names, culinary truffles and psilocybin truffles are entirely different. One sends your tastebuds on a gourmet adventure. The other sends your mind and body on a psychedelic trip.
Also known as magic truffles or philosopher’s stones, these unassuming fungi contain the same psychoactive compounds found in psilocybin mushrooms. But what’s the difference between psilocybin truffles vs. mushrooms, and why would a person take one over the other?
Psilocybin truffles and mushrooms differ in dosage and accessibility, depending on the part of the world you’re in. For example, psilocybin truffles are legal and available for purchase in the Netherlands, but access is limited in most of the rest of the world.
This article will examine their similarities and differences, plus what you should know about microdosing.
What Are Psilocybin Truffles?
Psilocybin truffles aren’t truffles at all. They’re underground masses that contain the hallucinogenic chemicals psilocybin and psilocin—the same chemicals that give magic mushrooms their psychoactive properties.
Let’s back up: Mushrooms are complex organisms. You’re probably familiar with the cap and stem, the recognizable parts of mushrooms that end up on your plate or your pizza. The cap and stem are reproductive structures, also called the fruiting body. Mushrooms also have root-like systems called mycelium, which produce the fruiting body.
Certain species of mushrooms produce a ball of mycelium called the sclerotium. Sclerotia are like the mushroom’s backup plan. They allow the fungi to store nutrients and survive drought and natural disasters.
There are more than 200 species of fungi with hallucinogenic properties in nature. 1 A significant portion of research focuses on the Psilocybe cubensis, which is one of the most common psychedelic mushrooms.
In comparison, psilocybin truffles are rare. Although many mushrooms produce sclerotia, only a few Psilocybe species have this trait, such as Psilocybe caerulescens and Psilocybe tampanensis. 1
So, magic truffles belong to the same species of psychoactive fungi as magic mushrooms. They’re different parts of the organism with comparable levels of psychoactive compounds. But due to a legal loophole, people can purchase psilocybin truffles and grow kits in the Netherlands, even though psilocybin mushrooms are illegal. (More on that below.)
What Are the Types of Psilocybin Truffles?
Remember, not all truffles are psychoactive. Below, we’ve listed list of some common types of psilocybin truffles. 2
- Psilocybe atlantis
- Psilocybe hollandia
- Psilocybe mexicana
- Psilocybe tampanensis
Psilocybe atlantis is a close relative of Psilocybe mexicana. 3 Researchers discovered this species in Georgia in 2003. 4
Psilocybe hollandia is chemically similar to Psilocybe semilanceata, commonly known as the liberty cap mushroom. 5
In 2018, researchers worked with participants at a psilocybin retreat who consumed 15 grams of Psilocybe hollandia truffles, which contained 1.9 mg of psilocybin and 10.5 mg of psilocin. Results indicated that participants felt more creative and emotionally empathetic, and they have an improved sense of well-being. 6
Psilocybe mexicana is synonymous with Psilocybe armandii, Psilocybe galindoi, and Psilocybe galindii. Psilocybe mexicana is commonly known as teonanácatl (or God’s flesh), mushroom of the Gods, nize, and pajaritos.
Psilocybe mexicana grows throughout subtropical regions in Mexico. This magic truffle is notable for forming sclerotia after three weeks of inoculation onto rye grass seed, a common cultivating medium. 2
Researchers Steven Pollock and Gary Lincoff first collected a specimen of Psilocybe tampanensis in September 1977. Its natural habitat is sandy soils and meadows in Florida, near Tampa. This magic mushroom species forms sclerotia over 12 weeks in rye grass seed. 2
Psilocybe tampanensis sclerotia are commonly known as the New Age Philosopher’s Stone (usually shortened to Philosopher’s Stone) and Cosmic Comote.
Although they’re called magic truffles, psychoactive sclerotia aren’t the same as culinary truffles. Black truffles from France and white truffles from Italy are two highly valued varieties that are difficult to find, grow, and store, which drives up their market price.
While these truffles will add a few dollar signs to your dinner, they don’t contain any psilocybin or psilocin, so they won’t make you hallucinate.
How to UsePsilocybin Truffles
Psilocybin truffles can be steeped in hot water to prepare a tea or eaten whole (although the flavor isn’t fantastic).
For example, at one psilocybin truffle retreat, participants drank ginger tea infused with truffles and ate the leftover truffles in their mugs. Anecdotal reports suggest that truffle tea causes people to feel psilocybin’s effects quickly and for a shorter time. 6
Psilocybin Truffles vs. Psilocybin Mushrooms
So, how do psilocybin truffles vs. mushrooms stack up? Although they come from the same Psilocybe genus, they’re pretty different.
Magic truffles look like hardened, rock-shaped masses with rough, brown-hued exteriors.
Magic mushrooms look like, well, mushrooms: They have a stem and cap. For example, the most common type of psilocybin mushroom, Psilocybe cubensis, has caramel-colored caps and off-white stems that turn blue when bruised.
Psilocybin truffles contain similar psychoactive substances as psychedelic mushrooms: psilocybin and psilocin. 7 Psilocybin’s effects include: 8
- Introspective thinking
Some online retailers advertise that their truffles contain high concentrations of psilocybin, but little research has precisely quantified the psychoactive compounds in Psilocybe sclerotia. 3
Levels of psychoactive compounds in Psilocybe mushrooms can vary widely, depending on factors like the type, where it was grown, size, age, and even exposure to the sun.
Although a significant amount of research focuses on psilocybin mushrooms, a growing number of studies also examine psilocybin truffles benefits.
Studies show that psilocybin is associated with improvements in anxiety, mood, and even tobacco use. 9,10,11 Additionally, psilocybin is a promising therapy for treatment-resistant depression, to the point that the FDA gave psilocybin therapy “breakthrough status” in 2019. 12
As for psilocybin truffles benefits, researchers who observed participants at psilocybin retreats found that truffles resulted in reduced anxiety, enhanced creative thinking and emotional empathy, and improved well-being up to one week after consumption. 13,6 However, it’s not yet clear whether these benefits are attributed to the truffles themselves or the psychoactive compounds they contain.
Psilocybin has a low potential for abuse and is not known to be addictive. 7 That’s true for magic truffles and magic mushrooms.
However, it’s risky to combine psilocybin and other substances. People who take monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) should avoid psilocybin because the combination can lead to adverse effects, like high heart rate, high blood pressure, nausea, and vomiting. 14
People report that magic truffles cause a less intense hallucination than magic mushrooms. However, researchers are divided on the level of psychoactive compounds in truffles and how that translates to the trips they produce.
One study found no trace of psilocin in truffle samples. 3 Another study identified 1.9 mg of psilocybin and 10.5 mg of psilocin in Psilocybe hollandia truffles. 6 What gives?
We know that different Psilocybe fungi contain approximately 1–2 percent of psilocybin and psilocin, and the average dose of psilocybin that induces hallucinogenic effects is 4–10 mg. 15,16
It’s important to note that the levels of psychoactive compounds in Psilocybe fungi can vary widely. Therefore, whether a person is taking mushrooms or truffles, it’s best to start with a partial dose and wait for one to two hours before taking more.
Psilocybin truffles legality differs from that of psilocybin mushrooms.
In most geographical areas, psilocybin mushrooms are illegal. For example, psilocybin is a Schedule I controlled substance in the United States, which means that the unlawful cultivation, distribution, and possession of psilocybin mushrooms are illegal.
The state of Oregon is one notable exception; in 2023, psilocybin service centers will legally be allowed to provide psilocybin therapy to adults aged 21 years and older.
Psilocybin truffles fall in a legal gray area in other parts of the world. In the Netherlands, psilocybin mushrooms are illegal. However, sclerotia are not technically mushrooms. That’s why you’ll find “smart shops” in the Netherlands that sell both psilocybin truffles and truffle grow kits for personal use.
Accessibility is another key difference between psilocybin truffles vs. mushrooms. It’s illegal to purchase and possess psilocybin mushrooms in most countries. Technically, psilocybin spore kits don’t contain psilocybin, but they’re technically illegal under federal law in the United States. 17
Additionally, although some parts of the United States have decriminalized the possession of naturally occurring psychedelics, including psilocybin, “decriminalization” doesn’t mean the substance is legal.
In contrast, psilocybin truffles are technically legal in the Netherlands. The country explicitly prohibited the cultivation and possession of fresh and dried magic mushrooms in 2008. However, truffles are not included in the ban.
Microdosing With Psilocybin Truffles
Although people promote the benefits of microdosing with psilocybin truffles for mood disorders, results are mixed.
In 2021, researchers used a double-blind, placebo-controlled study to examine the effects of microdosing on emotions and mood. Participants consumed 0.7 grams of dried Psilocybe galindoi truffles, which corresponded to about one-tenth of a medium-high dose. The results showed that “psilocybin microdosing did not affect emotion processing or symptoms of anxiety and depression compared with placebo.” 18
However in 2018, researchers gave participants 0.37 grams of dried truffles to study the effects of microdosing on creativity. The researchers found that convergent and divergent thinking, two hallmarks of creativity, improved after the microdose, although researchers note that the findings were limited by the lack of a placebo or controlled conditions. 19
Psilocybin Truffles Safety Tips
It’s best to follow the “start low, go slow” approach because it’s difficult to estimate the quantity of psilocybin in magic truffles. Growing conditions, age at harvest, storage time, and other factors affect potency. A standard recreational dose is 10 grams of fresh truffles. 19 Start with a smaller dose and see how you feel after one to two hours.
Additionally, consider your set and setting. “Set” refers to your mindset, and “setting” refers to your environment. Psychedelics have been described as non-specific amplifiers, which means they may amplify your thoughts and feelings. As such, it’s helpful to approach a trip with an open mind, relaxed thoughts, and minimal stressors.
Your setting can play an important role in your experience. Like psilocybin mushrooms, magic truffles can cause you to feel detached from your body and surroundings, which can be a good or bad thing. It’s best practice to trip in a safe, secure space where you can comfortably sit and lay down.
Keep in mind that psilocybin trips can last as long as six hours, so you’ll want to plan accordingly. A sober trip sitter can help make sure that you’re safe and centered during your psychedelic experience.
Would You Choose Psilocybin Truffles or Mushrooms?
Magic truffles aren’t technically truffles or mushrooms. Instead, they’re masses of root-like structures that contain varying levels of psychoactive compounds. Like psilocybin mushrooms, truffles can make you trip, although some people report that the experience is less intense than mushrooms.
In the United States, psilocybin (and grow kits) are illegal under federal law. In contrast, psilocybin truffles and grow kits are openly sold in the Netherlands, where only dried and fresh mushrooms are explicitly illegal.
Research shows that psilocybin has therapeutic benefits, although it’s not clear whether there are differences between the benefits of mushrooms and psilocybin truffles benefits. So, if presented with the option, which should you choose? It boils down to legality, accessibility, and preference.
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