Shrooms vs Acid: differences and similarities explained
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Among the classical psychedelics, LSD (aka acid) and psilocybin mushrooms (aka shrooms) are likely the most well-known and widely used today. Although LSD is made in a lab and psilocybin is found in mushrooms growing naturally in the ground, both can produce life-altering, transcendent experiences. But if we were to get more granular, what really distinguishes the LSD experience from the psilocybin mushroom experience? In this article, we’ll compare the effects of shrooms vs acid and consider some of the most popular questions concerning their differences. We’ll end by discussing some reasons why one or the other experience may suit you better.
Effects of Shrooms vs Acid
Both LSD and psilocybin mushrooms alter consciousness by interacting with the serotonin system, namely via 5-HT receptor agonism. Experientially, both drugs have a unique ability to facilitate personal and spiritual development. They can produce enduring therapeutic effects for a wide range of disorders and conditions, and at high doses, generate ego-dissolving mystical experiences.
With the abundance of anecdotal data available online, it’s possible to extract some general differences regarding the shrooms vs acid experience. It’s important to note, however, that the effects of shrooms vs acid will depend heavily on one’s individual sensitivity and reaction to each drug, as well as the dosage, set and setting. Set refers to the user’s mindset and expectations going into the trip. Setting refers to the physical environment in which the experience takes place.
Effects of Shrooms Explained
Psilocybin’s effects may be unpredictable and come on intensely. The effects can vary from trip to trip due to set, setting, and dosage. In addition, there are differences in the psilocybin and psilocin content from one mushroom species to another.
Broadly speaking, psilocybin mushrooms, in a dose-dependent manner, produce a trip characterized by:
- Altered thinking and sense of time
- Enhanced empathy
- Closed and open eye visuals
- Feelings of unity/interconnection
- Ego death (higher doses)
- Out-of-body experiences (higher doses)
Psilocybin mushrooms tend to produce an inward focus. This makes the trip highly conducive to deep introspection and personal insight into your thinking and behavioral patterns. When philosophical and deep thinking arises, the focus may be on more big-picture or cosmic ideas. To this end, reverence of nature and/or the divine are consistently emerging themes.
Grounded, Earthy, Wild
Thematically, users often describe the mushroom experience as more earthy, primal, and wild when compared to LSD. As Dr. Albert Hofmann, the Swiss inventor of LSD, stated in his memoir, LSD: My Problem Child, the psilocybin experience for him and his close associates was more “darkly colored” than LSD, carrying them “not into luminous heights, [but] rather, into deeper regions.” With shrooms, you may feel like you’re being swept along by the experience without as much control over the direction in which it’s going. The emotional valence of the trip can change quickly and often. It can feel as if you’re straddling the dividing line between a “good” and “bad” trip. At high doses, this can be intense and disorienting, as your familiar grasp of the world and identity disintegrates.
Compared to LSD, psilocybin mushrooms produce more grounded and intense physical effects. It’s common to feel a heavy body load that can make prolonged movement tricky and couch lock likely. A handful of side effects may emerge early on. These could include GI distress, increased heart rate, pupil dilation, and cold extremities from vasoconstriction. For many, nausea is a significant drawback, especially during the come-up. You can alleviate this effect by grinding the dried mushrooms into a powder. The powder can then be placed in capsules or food/drinks and taken alongside ginger.
Effects of LSD Explained
Similarly to shrooms, LSD will produce the basic effects common to the classical psychedelics. These could include:
- Strong euphoria
- Closed and open eye visuals
- Emotion enhancement
- Altered sense of thinking and perspective
- Sense of unity/interconnectedness
While LSD binds to and activates multiple 5-HT receptors similarly to psilocybin, it’s unique in that it also interacts with the dopaminergic system by agonizing the dopamine D2 receptor.
This difference in pharmacological action accounts for its more extrospective, energetic, and uplifting qualities. As a result, socializing may be easier, including interacting with sober people. This is partly because the LSD trip generally feels more controllable. Many people retain a greater degree of agency over the direction of the experience, compared to a psilocybin trip. As the saying goes, “with LSD you’re in the driver’s seat, with shrooms you’re in the passenger seat.”
Cognitively, LSD tends to produce a headspace that is bright, alert, and clear. It often has a more analytical quality, allowing easy access into your inner psyche. Many people find creative, divergent thoughts and novel insights come more readily. This makes it ideal for psychotherapeutic work in therapeutic settings. Physically, LSD produces a less incapacitating body high, making movements like dancing easier. Since it’s a vasoconstrictor, it can generate some peripheral side effects such as pupil dilation, headaches, cramps, and muscle tension.
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