Mostly, people wishing to use psychoactive mushrooms eat them or make tea out of them. That works, though the activity is not risk-free and is illegal besides. But might other methods also work?
It’s not uncommon for people to try smoking mushrooms. The method is to dry the mushroom, grind it to powder, then mix it with tobacco, cannabis, or both for smoking.
Does the method actually work?
Well, the mushroom powder does burn. That’s about all we can say positive about smoking shrooms.
Can you Smoke Shrooms?
Short answer? No[i][ii], not if you want to trip. Although some people claim to have tripped from smoking, most report that it doesn’t really work. The problem is that psilocybin is very sensitive to heat and will be destroyed by exposure to fire.
This is in contrast to cannabinoids, the active ingredients in cannabis, which must be heated (cooked or smoked) in order to convert these substances into the forms that cause the high[iii]. Eating raw cannabis is rumored to have health benefits, but it’s nobody’s idea of a party. As for tobacco, eating raw tobacco leaves does deliver nicotine, but it delivers way too much; eat a cigarette, and the good news is you’ll vomit it up again before you get too terribly poisoned[iv]. Many of the so-called “hard drugs” are traditionally smoked as well. So we’re used to thinking that recreational drug use = lighting up. But with psilocybin, it just doesn’t.
So why do some people claim that it does?
That’s hard to say. There hasn’t been much research on what happens, biochemically, when somebody smokes shrooms. There hasn’t been much research on psilocybin use at all, given its legal status. It’s possible that under some circumstances, psilocybin—or some other substance within the mushroom—can deliver a high when smoked. It’s also possible that these are psychosomatic reactions. And since shroom powder is often smoked with cannabis, which can cause mild hallucinations at high doses, it’s possible these are actually cannabis trips, not shroom trips. We don’t really know.
But most people who smoke shrooms don’t trip as a result.
Dangers of Smoking Shrooms
The most obvious danger in smoking shrooms is that you’ll waste your money. Also, in most jurisdictions, possession of psilocybin is a serious crime, meaning that the whole time between when you take possession of the shroom and when you smoke it, you’ll be risking your freedom—and then you don’t even get high. Not that we condone illegal activity here, but seriously?
There is also some concern that in smoking shrooms you could accidentally inhale some spores. The risk there is probably both small (shrooms are normally harvested before the spores have matured) and not different from that involved in handling shrooms under any circumstances. If spores are present, they can get in the air, period. But again, there’s no research, so we can’t say for sure it’s not a concern.
And it’s worth mentioning that somebody smoking shrooms is usually not smoking just shrooms. The standard practice is to take dry shroom powder, mix it with either cannabis or tobacco or both, roll it all up in a joint, and smoke. That means you’re inhaling smoke from cannabis, tobacco, and paper, as well as the sadly-de-psilocybined mushroom. Cannabinoids are relatively safe, but their use is not risk-free, nicotine is basically poisonous, and smoke of any kind is not great to put in the lungs (or the throat).
Mixing mind-altering substances is not recommended in any case.
Some people have also reported some of the negative effects of psilocybin use when smoking shrooms, such as nausea. Exactly how this happens biochemically isn’t clear, but apparently it can happen.
If you are going to use psilocybin (a practice that is itself not risk-free, in addition to being seriously illegal in many places), smoking is not the way to do it. Some people report good results from inhaling mushroom powder, but that’s not really recommended, either. Remember the problem with spores. Your best bet will be some form of ingestion.
You can eat the mushroom directly, though many people dislike the taste. You could also mix it into food (don’t cook the shrooms!) or liquid. Mixing shroom powder with lemon juice is said to increase the effects, or at least speed them up. Making tea is a popular option, provided the water doesn’t get too hot. Mixing shroom powder with honey is essentially the same thing as making tea, but the high sugar content prevents spoilage. And the honey sometimes turns bluish, which is kind of pretty.
[i] (n.d.). Think Twice Before Smoking Magic Mushrooms. Healthline
[ii] Sumpter, L. (2022). Should You Consider Smoking Magic Mushrooms. Zamnesia
[iii] (n.d.). Can You Eat Weed? All You Need to Know About Marijuana Edibles. Healthline
[iv] Myers, D. (2017). What Happens If You Eat a Pack of Cigarettes? The Daily Meal