Scientists Can Now Synthesize The 'Magic' Of Magic Mushrooms

Using psilocybin to treat a host of ailments is no longer simply a fever dream.

Have you ever eaten magic mushrooms? If you have, you’re likely familiar with the trippy, psychedelic feels elicited from consuming the psychotropic fungi. These effects can be attributed to psilocybin, a chemical compound found in more than 200 species of ‘shrooms. And aside from making you feel as one with your surroundings—or making it seem as if the sky is purple, or that the music of Dave Matthews Band is tolerable in the slightest—psilocybin is also widely considered to be medicinally valuable. 

Harvard psychologist and counterculture icon Timothy Leary conducted experiments using the psychedelic drug in the 1960s, thus igniting a fervor within the scientific community to synthesize psilocybin so the drug could see even more research. Previously, the “magic” of magic mushrooms was mostly a mystery. Now, following a recently conducted study, psilocybin could conceivably be synthesized for commercial production.

According to Chemical and Engineering News:

“Janis Fricke, Felix Blei, and Dirk Hoffmeister of Friedrich Schiller University Jena have identified and characterized to the greatest extent so far the four enzymes that the mushrooms use to make psilocybin. The team then developed the first enzymatic synthesis of the compound, setting the stage for its possible commercial production. . . During their study, Hoffmeister and coworkers sequenced the genomes of two mushroom species to identify the genes that govern fungal enzymatic production of psilocybin. They further used engineered bacteria and fungi to confirm the gene activity and exact order of synthetic steps.”

Psilocybin has shown promise as a possible treatment for depression associated with terminal illness, addiction, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Micro-dosing the drug is thought to elicit sub-perceptual effects along with cognitive and creative enhancement. Some psychonauts and scientists have even touted psilocybin as a potential “wonder drug” due to its low toxicity and minimal potential for abuse. 

Of course, under the Controlled Substances Act, psilocybin remains a Schedule I drug and is illegal as hell. Still, the findings from Friedrich Schiller University make the reality of using psilocybin to treat a host of ailments much less of a frantic fever dream.