Considering the other actives in plants and magic mushrooms

By Alfa · Jun 8, 2008 · ·
  1. Alfa
    There is a strange tendency that many people have, often academics, to reduce or simplify the workings of plants to one of it's major constituents, while ignoring the role that other constituents play. You will find such discussion on many psychoactive plants. Yohimbe and St. Johnswort are good examples of this.

    But when a plant is looked at more deeper (mostly when a plant is very interesting and widely used) it often turns out that effects are caused by a less simplistic cause: a wide array of major and minor constituents.

    Because many strong psychoactive kratom alkaloids have become commercially available and because of research; we now know that there are many active compounds, not just mitragynine. Even with cannabis, most people are still in the illusion that cannabis has one active alkaloid: THC. The coca wiki shows how wide such a spectrum often is. Often research into other actives shows us real treasures.

    Psilocin and psilocybin are thought to be completely responsible for the effects of psilocybe mushrooms. And because psilocybin easily oxidizes to form psilocin, it is often thought that psilocin is the only active in psilocybe mushrooms.

    There has been a lot of research on psilocybe mushrooms and since they have been and are commercially legally available in various countries, many people have been able to distinguish a clear difference in effects between the species of psilocybe mushrooms.

    While variations of specific species will not differ much in effect, there is a lot of difference between psilocybe mushroom species and also between magic mushroom genus. When comparing the experiences of many people with the available research on constituents per specie, then it becomes easy to draw some conclusions.

    There are a lot of different tryptamines and constituents in magic mushrooms. The effect of a specie is is defined by the quantity if each active, in relation to the total mix.
    Some widely used psilocybe mushrooms:

    • Psilocybe cubensis: 5 hours of various effects which come and disappear. Visuals are of medium intensity.
    • Psilocybe semilanceata: 4-5 hours of mystical and happy feelins. Often accompanied with a lot of laughter. Visuals are of medium intensity.
    • Psilocybe tampanensis: 3 hours of mystical and happy feelings. Often accompanied with a lot of laughter. Mild visuals.
    • Paneaolus cyanescens: 6 hours of serious mindset with intense visuals. Due to the intensity and serious character of the effects, this mushroom can easily cause bad trips. Contains mainly psilocin and relatively little other constituents.
    So all psilocybe mushrooms, but with very distinguishable effects. A quick stroll of available data brings us to Jochen Gartz his work, analysing psilocin, psilocybin and baeocystin content of several psilocybe mushroom species. Other constituents, like various indoles, including serotonine, and even phenethylamine are left out of this research. Still it paints a pretty clear picture of the relation between the actives in psilocybe mushrooms and their effects:

    Psilocybe cubensis:

    Contains mostly Psilocybin(0.40% - 0.63%), with a small amount of Psilocin(0.11 - 0.25%). Barely contains Baeocystin(0 - 0.02%).

    Psilocybe semilanceata:
    Contains mostly Psilocybin(0.80 - 0.98%), with a minor amount of Psilocin(0 - 0.15%) and a relatively high amount of Baeocystin(0.11 - 0.34%).

    Paneaolus cyanescens:
    Contains mostly Psilocin(0.51 - 0.61%), with a medium amount of Psilocybin(0.20 - 0.32%). Barely contains Baeocystin(0 - 0.02%).

    At the time of writing this, I do not have my books at hand, but several books, like Paul Stamets 'psilocybe mushrooms of the world' have comparison charts and tables that show that mushrooms that have similar effects to one of the above, have similar amounts of actives present. For example: if my memory serves me right then psilocybe tampanensis has a relatively high amount of Baeocystin and serotonin present, which is similar to Psilocybe semilanceata and could explain for the effects of laughter and feelings of joy associated with these mushrooms.

    Therefore to get the complete picture of the effects of a plant, it is important to take a good look at the known constituents that a plant(or mushroom) has. Consider the dose and effects of each active. Also consider that combined effects may be at play. Especially in relation to MAOI, enzymes like Cytochrome P450 and most importantly different effects of actives on the same receptor.(agonists, reuptake inhibitors, etc)

    Let me know if you have any questions, remarks or criticism.

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  1. savingJenniB
    Wow! My Aunt totally agrees! In the early '70's she took part in a pharmacological study. The study was on THC ~ she jumped on it immediately.

    Free and legal ~ her preferred drug of choice. What's more she was actually going to get paid for it! Initially she thought she'd died & gone to heaven . . .

    Alas, that was not her experience. She had made a six-week commitment to do only the drugs provided by the research group / drug company and to complete a weekly form regarding drug's effects / side effects.

    She soon realized ingestion of THC pills was a far far cry from the happy joyful buzz of a joint. Basically the high was nearly non-existent ~ with the exception of waves of "The Munchies" and an occasional dull stupid feeling, she literally felt nothing. No crispy "great to be alive" feelings, no hot sex, no glow, no spirit, no dancing . . . it was dull, flat . . . . entirely lacking. . . .

    She was so elated when the experiment was over and she could go back to smoking regular illegal pot!!!!
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  2. Richard_smoker
    Very interesting indeed!

    Call it scientific nature...or perhaps scientific 'tendencies' would be better...

    I think this boils down to pressure by pharm companies (and others...but big pharma is probably the most influential culprit)...that is pressure to boil all effects down to ONE singular element...something that we can SYNTHESIZE...if there's any money in it!
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  3. 0utrider
    well, kratom is also a good example.. with its many active ingredients, no surprise many isolated alkaloid extracts dont really work at all
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  4. Desertfox
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  5. Expat98
    ^^That video says a lot about all of the studies purportedly showing a link between cannabis and psychosis. At the very end of the video the researcher tells her that she scored a 14 on the scale. Anything above 4 is considered to be "psychotic". She did not appear to me to be psychotic in any way, shape, or form.

    When news articles about studies showing a link between cannabis and psychosis are posted, people often raise the question of exactly how they are defining psychosis. Well, according to this video it appears that they are using some bullshit questionnaire. If we were to go by common sense instead, I don't think anyone would say the woman in this video was experiencing psychosis.
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  6. gonegrowin
    As a biologist, it is impossible to look at all compounds at once. At least from a financial standpoint. It is neccessary to look at one thing at a time, as even one thing takes much time to fully understand. You must understand the pharmacology, biological pathways in which it is created, the genes responsible, the amounts produced. Each one of these things i just mentioned can go into so much detail in itself. Generally, science does not seek to prove that one thing does something, moreso to prove that something DOESN'T do something. In taking this approach, we can move on to the next suspected chemical (or whatever ones hypothesis concerns), and write off the previous. Thus, if none of the suspected chemicals (in the case of psycoactive chemicals in a plant) do as they are thought, we can write them all off individually, and begin to test our hypothesis in a different means, which would be to combine 2 or more of the chemicals that have little to no effect on their own. Then you have to mess with dosage, which can take forever. Its a slow, grinding process that takes forever and requires tons of funding. But you have to think a bit different, as the approach seems weird at first.

    On that note, the people who provide the funding often have a say in the results (although they shouldn't, its unethical and unscientific). Isolating chemicals is a specialty of pharmacuetical companies, and chemically related companies in general. Because they can patent and then sell them. These companies provide enormous amounts of funding, provided they don't just do the studies in house as opposed to letting a third party do it. And there have been so many cases of doctored results and studies from Monsanto and other agrichemical companies. Its a screwed up money driven process. The bottom lne is usually money. Another example- GlaxoSmithKline and Paxil (Paroxetine). They messed with the results of the studies (or just neglected to study it at all), and said the stuff was not habit-forming. As it turns out, the withdrawel symptoms are extremely severe. Paxil was one of their most profitable drugs. Would it have been had they not lied? So of course many (not all) studies focus on one active chemical, as its related to the scientific method and lets these companies make a profit.

    Sorry to ramble, im jaded
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  7. ImALumberjackAndImOK
    Hey Alfa, terrific topic. Michael Pollan takes up a similar line of criticism in his book, In Defense of Food, only he doesn't touch on entheogens.

    The elephant in the room, it seems, is that Western medicine is still an immature science. While Ayurvedic and TCM practices have had thousands of years to develop and test their theories, ours changes dramatically from one decade to the next. Basically, we're a country of lab rats trusting our health to a medical community that can't even agree on whether eggs are good for us!

    Gonegrowin addresses the economic reasons why we don't do the types of studies that you and I would like to see. There are also important social reasons having to do with the position of doctors and scientists within our culture. After religious authorities were displaced around the late 19th-century, science was seen as having all the answers, so the non-scientists are looking up to the scientists (and doctors) with their helpless sheepy expressions saying "can you cure me" and the scientists are eager to say "yeah, what you need is this chemical, and we know how it works because we ran a bunch of experiments that compared people who took this chemical with people who didn't and there was a statistically significant blah blah dee daa blah".

    If your patients were placing all of their hopes in you would you just say, "Well, it's important that we get the balance of chemical constituents just right, and it depends on whether or not you just ate a mango..."

    The point is that the sheeple want certainty and they will pay for it. Drug companies and unscrupulous doctors are happy to sell the illusion of certainty, and predictive medicine has had all sorts of amazing revelations to back it up. Consider scurvy and Vitamin C or Pellagra and Thiamin. Doctors were able to cure these diseases with administration of a simple, explicable chemical. Now everybody believes that this is how all diseases work...
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