Psilocin is found in mushrooms in the over 200 species containing psilocybin. The two compounds are metabolically related, and although both are serotonin receptor agonists, psilocin appears to have greater psychotropic action than psilocybin. Once ingested, psilocybin converts to psilocin through dephosphorylation. Historically, the pharmacological effects of psilocin were first studied by the Swiss chemist Albert Hoffmann in 1959. It has been used for centuries across many cultures for indigenous rituals and ceremonies. One research study even suggested therapeutic use of psilocybin for anxiety associated with terminal cancer and revealed effects of emotional transformation with long-term positive changes up to six months after its administration1. Such evidence reveals that further investigation into the properties of psilocin may lead to possible therapeutic applications in various health-related fields.
Psilocin has been engaging scientists recently due to its unique ability to produce profound alterations in states of consciousness and appears to improve human well-being. While studies into psilocin’s effects on humans are only beginning, clinical trials already show that it may one day be used as a therapeutic service for treating certain mental health issues such as addiction and depression. After completing extensive preclinical testing, some clinical trials are now undergoing evaluation, examining the potential for psilocin’s use as a psychological treatment. With new studies conducted by major research institutions such as Johns Hopkins Medicine, scientists have illuminated psilocin’s effects on the brain and further uncovered possibilities for its use in therapeutic settings. As studies continue, there is much excitement around the potential of psilocin as a significant mental health aid.
Psilocin is a naturally occurring alkaloid found in certain mushrooms, such as Psilocybe cubensis. Its chemical structure is from the tryptamine class of bioorganic molecules, meaning it includes an indole core composed of a nine-membered ring joined to an ethylamine chain with the molecular formula C12H17N2O. It is highly similar to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is what contributes to its hallucinogenic effects. Psilocin can be generated by the body after ingesting psilocybin, another tryptamine molecule found in these mushrooms that breaks down into psilocin once metabolized. Overall, its chemical composition influences its psychedelic properties when ingested and enables it to interact with brain receptors.
Chemical Information and Physical Properties
- Griffiths RR, Johnson MW, Carducci MA, Umbricht A, Richards WA, Richards BD, Cosimano MP, Klinedinst MA. Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial. J Psychopharmacol. 2016 Dec;30(12):1181-1197. doi: 10.1177/0269881116675513. PMID: 27909165; PMCID: PMC5367557.