How Long Does Psilocybin Stay in Your System?

Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Affect the Brain

Psilocybin mushrooms in a bag and on a bowl

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Psilocybin is a psychedelic compound found in specific varieties of mushrooms. It is also known as "shrooms" or "magic mushrooms". Psilocybin-containing mushrooms can be found in the wild in many parts of the world. They can be eaten fresh or dried, or brewed in a tea. Common sources include the P.cubensis mushroom and others of the genus Psilocybe. Nearly 200 species with varying levels of psilocybin have been identified.

Psilocybin has been granted a breakthrough therapy designation by the FDA to be studied as a possible treatment for depression. The idea to investigate psilocybin for this purpose came from the Mazatecs in Oaxaca, Mexico, who have long been incorporating these psychedelic mushrooms into their spiritual health practices. Despite promising clinical application, psilocybin remains classified under Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act and is illegal to possess or sell in the United States, though it has been decriminalized in some parts of the country, such as Oakland and Denver.

The standard 5 and 9 panel drug tests ordered by most drug testing companies do not typically include tests for psilocybin, however companies such as Quest Diagnostics and NMS Labs do offer urine tests for psilocybin and one of its metabolites, psilocin, that could be purchased by an employer or probation office. Determining how long "shrooms" stay in your system can be tricky. The amount of time it takes for the body to excrete psilocybin depends on many variables, including your age, weight, metabolism, overall health, and how much water you drink. Detection times are also influenced by the species of mushroom.

After ingesting psilocybin mushrooms, it will take 20 to 40 minutes for you to start feeling the effects. By then, psilocybin will have broken down into psilocin which acts on serotonin receptors in the brain. The effects peak at about 90 minutes. The bulk of the effects are felt during the first 6 hours. This matches the timing of when the metabolite psilocin enters the bloodstream to be eliminated through the kidneys.

A 2011 study with brain imaging during psilocybin use showed some areas of the brain have decreased activity in areas involved in self-referencing, such as the prefrontal cortex, lending support to a "reducing valve" hypothesis, which proposes that there is a default layer of activity in the brain, disrupted by psilocybin, which services to constrain a person's experience of the world.

Physical effects include nausea, yawning, headaches, and increased heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature. Mental effects include feeling relaxed and having introspective experiences that may feel spiritual as well as unpleasant effects like nervousness, paranoia, and panic reactions.

How Long Does Psilocybin Last?

Psilocybin is metabolized more quickly by some people than others. Dosage is a large factor, and so is frequency of use, weight, and age. The experience is highly determined by the person's mind "set" and their physical "setting". Psilocin has a 50 minute half life and is eliminated through kidneys. A 2017 study in healthy adults found that the psilocin levels peak after about 80 minutes, corresponding with the average peak in effects after 90 minutes, but this varies across individuals. The immediate effects of using psilocybin wear off in 6 to 12 hours, though most people report continuing to feel the effects until they sleep and a "glow" the next day.

The average half-life of psilocin is 50 minutes, and after 3 hours about two-thirds of a dose has been eliminated through the kidneys in the urine. It generally takes five to six half-lives for a substance to be entirely eliminated from the system.

Some studies and sources report that users can have long-term changes in personality, lasting for over a year. Some people who use psilocybin have reported flashback experiences long after taking mushrooms, typically not severe, though there have been rare reports of people developing Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder after taking psilocybin mushrooms, and this requires further study.

Factors That Affect Detection Time

The type of psilocybin mushroom a person takes affects how quickly the metabolite is eliminated from the body. There are more than 180 magic mushroom species and they all have varying levels of psilocybin content, ranging from psilocybe liniformans with 0.16 percent to psilocybe tampanensis with 0.68% percent to psilocybe azurenscens with 1.78 percent.

How soon psilocybin is eliminated from your body depends on dosage, frequency of use, type of mushroom, your metabolism and factors such as your age, how much you weigh, whether you are well-hydrated, and the health of your body systems.

A look at some factors that can cause psilocybin to linger include:

  • Age: People over age 65 tend to have reduced blood flow to their kidneys and liver, which can delay the excretion of psilocybin.
  • Body mass: People with higher body mass tend to excrete psilocybin faster than those with low BMIs.
  • Being inactive: Psilocybin is excreted faster in active people with higher metabolism rates.
  • Not drinking water: Water can speed up the excretion of psilocybin.
  • Liver and kidney function: Having liver or kidney disease can slow down the time it takes for psilocybin to pass through the body.

Psilocybin is not tested for on the typical urine drug screen used by employers. If use is suspected, however, specific tests for it may be ordered. Like many other substances, magic mushrooms can be found in hair follicles for up to 90 days.

How to Get Psilocybin out of Your System

Drug tests of psilocybin and psilocin involve screening urine samples using High Performance Liquid Chromatography or Tandem Mass Spectrometry. The report is usually made available between 4-8 days. The more shrooms you ingest, the longer psilocybin remains and can be detected. Drinking water can speed up the elimination of psilocybin, but not in any way that is significant for people trying to avoid detection on a drug test. The best way to not have psilocybin detected on a drug test is to not take psilocybin before taking a drug test.

Symptoms of Overdose

Make sure that you get all mushrooms that you pick yourself looked over by an expert before eating them to ensure proper identification. Even experienced mushroom hunters can mistake a highly poisonous mushroom for the one they intended to gather. Mushroom poisoning can result in catastrophic liver damage and death unless there is immediate access to having a liver transplant. While physical overdose on most correctly identified species of psilocybin-containing mushrooms is not likely, some people do have what is called a "bad trip", in which they experience confusion, loss of awareness, and exposure to challenging psychological material.

When to Call 911

If you suspect mushroom poisoning, call 911 or poison control right away at 800-222-122. Don’t wait to experience symptoms.

A bad trip is largely a product of "set" and "setting", but can also be an indicator of a need for more in-depth psychological support. Many people find that bad or difficult trips are minimized through attending to their basic physical needs before and during the experience, keeping overstimulation to a minimum, using lower doses, and checking in with a trusted friend. That said, psychedelic experiences may bring psychological material into your awareness that you find challenging, and it is also helpful to be aware of that in advance and have a plan for working with it. If you are someone with a trauma disorder or other ongoing psychological condition, speak to your psychologist before taking psilocybin.

Getting Help

While psilocybin may have a low potential for physical dependence, that does not mean that psychological addiction is not possible. While many people feel that a handful of psychedelic experiences are enough to get the healing benefits. Some people who regularly take psilocybin may start to feel like their default reality does not compare and seek to have as many psychedelic experiences as possible. If you are having trouble integrating your experiences and returning to a normal life, there are resources available. There are what are called psychedelic integration providers and coaches who can help integrate insights from these experiences, but this is an unregulated industry. If you feel you may have a substance use disorder, speak to a trained therapist. There are different schools of therapy that may be helpful, including harm reduction psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

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