What Are Liberty Caps?: The Risk of Taking Magic Mushrooms

What Are Liberty Caps?: The Risk of Taking Magic Mushrooms

What Are Liberty Caps?

Psilocybe semilanceata is a species of mushroom commonly known as liberty caps. They produce a pair of potent psychoactive hallucinogenic compounds psilocybin and baeocystin and are one of the most widely occurring hallucinogenic mushrooms in nature as well as one of the most potent. 

They have a very generic appearance, featuring bell-shaped or even conical caps with a small protrusion at the very top. They have a number of unique visual identifiers, but since they resemble many other potentially deadly mushroom species, they should not be sought in nature despite their wide distribution. They are mistaken for these poisonous varieties relatively often, and many times result in a fatality.

Liberty caps have been known and documented as an intoxicant since 1799 when they were first ingested by a British family. They were studied much more in-depth in the 1960s, where a Swiss scientist first identified the psilocybin compound in a European mushroom variety.

The main psychoactive component in liberty caps, psilocybin, works on the portion of the brain that helps regulate both arousal and panic responses to different stimuli. Unlike LSD, liberty caps do not always cause significant visual hallucinations. It differs by affecting and distorting how people that are on the drug perceive the reality around them. They often experience relatively large degrees of distorted perception for several hours after ingestion.

Once ingested liberty caps can take effect and enter the system in about 30 minutes. After this, the effects will increase to a plateau, where they will remain for approximately 4-6 hours following the dosing. In rare cases this change in perception can actually last for days after consumption, often leading to a significant effect on the life of the user.

Dangers & Risks Associated With Taking Liberty Caps

One of the main dangers is the misidentification of the mushroom initially. This leads many people who would not otherwise jeopardize their safety, to do so, sometimes with a tragic outcome. This is becoming increasingly rare, thankfully, due to the increased efforts of police and legislators in preventing lookalike sales of poisonous mushrooms. 

The other dangers and risks are often attributed to the potency or the dosage ingested. Most people will consume their liberty caps as part of a prepared and brewed tea, while others will incorporate it into a food item to mask the unpleasant taste. There are also people that will dry and crush the liberty caps and either encapsulate them in predetermined dosages or mix them into chocolate bars.

The potency of liberty caps will depend on several factors, including the species of mushroom, its origins or where it was grown, the growing conditions, the maturity or harvest period, and whether the user will consume them in a fresh or dried state. The amount of psilocybin found in the dried mushrooms is concentrated more than ten times compared to the amount found in fresh liberty caps.

There has been some experimental medical use with limited acceptance in the US, mostly for treating headaches, hospice anxiety, depression disorders, and other anxiety disorders. Even though the ritual use dates back thousands of years in South American cultures. In the largest number of cases, however, it is used in a decidedly recreational fashion.

The effects felt or experienced by the user are largely similar to LSD, and include altering the perception of the user to large degrees, as well as changes in mood, expression, and feelings. Additional effects will often include:

  • Euphoria and feelings of unity with everything around them
  • Exceedingly peaceful mentality
  • Spiritual awakening and transcendence
  • Rapid mood changes or swings
  • A growing feeling of detachment to the current reality, or feeling as if it is not fully real, also known as derealization
  • Feeling a sense of connection, but disengagement, from the objects and people that surround the user, this is also known as depersonalization
  • Distorted or irregular thought patterns
  • Distorted, altered, or enhanced visualizations, such as extremely vivid colors, and halos of light around people or things
  • Some of the dangers presented by ingesting liberty caps can include:
    • Dizziness or loss of coordination
    • Drowsiness and yawning
    • Impaired concentration or inability to maintain focus
    • Muscle weakness
    • Unusual or unfamiliar body sensations often described as a hum, a buzz, or another type of distinct vibration
    • Feelings of extreme confusion that can lead to anxiety, paranoia, and even panic
    • Nausea and vomiting, upset stomach is particularly likely if a large dose is taken as a tea or other liquid brew
    • Frightening hallucinations also called “bad trips” that can lead to lasting psychological trauma or damage

    These symptoms will vary from person to person, with some users experiencing at least one or two of the effects, while some users will experience many of them, and some users will not experience any. There is a distinct danger of those with existing mental health issues or persistent anxiety are more likely to have a negative experience.

    The most often reported negative or adverse effect from taking liberty caps is a simple and vague psychological distress. Sometimes in the form of anxiety, sometimes in the form of acute psychosis.

    How to Get Help if Addicted to Taking Liberty Caps

    If you or someone you love may be addicted to taking liberty caps, it may be time to reach out for some professional help. When you decide to stop taking liberty caps for good, you should have a strong support network in place to help give you the best chances of a successful recovery.

    Setting up a personalized treatment plan with a qualified treatment center that can create a plan that works for the maximum benefit of the patient. Whatever you feel may fit best with your recovery needs, the right medical assistance and guidance can make all the difference. Not only will they help with any physical detox, but they will also work with the recovering individual to find healthier coping mechanisms so that the individual does not return to drug use in the future. 

    Reach out today if you are ready to take your health and well-being into your own hands. You deserve the time and commitment it takes to start laying a healthy foundation for your future self right now.