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Tea can degrade psilocybin mushrooms chemist says — A lemon solution


Tea is a well-known way to consume a dose of psychedelic mushrooms. Steeped shrooms produce less nausea with more manageable onset and offset times. Unfortunately, however, chemists are concerned that brewing a tea can degrade psilocybin mushrooms.

Brewing tea helps dephosphorylate psilocybin but it can also break the tryptamine down in pyschedelic mushrooms.
Photo by Jill Willington courtesy of Pixabay.

How a prodrug actively becomes psychedelic

Researchers focus on psilocybin, one of the major compounds in mushrooms. Yet, it does not produce psychedelic effects. A chemical reaction needs to occur to change psilocybin into a psychoactive metabolite. And this explains one of three reasons why tea is a traditional delivery method for psilocybin-containing fungi in several cultures.

Specifically, dephosphorylation occurs in the body of humans and mushrooms. This process changes psilocybin into psilocin, an active tryptamine. The current theory is the reaction in the gut causes some nausea and delayed onset.

We asked an expert if brewing tea can degrade psilocybin mushrooms and if lemon tek can more delicately activate tryptamines. Delic Labs is one of only a few research facilities in North America that has a license to study psilocybin mushrooms. Delic, in continuation of their psychedelic exploration, recently released a paper on improvements with psilocybin testing in collaboration with Havn Life. So, what happens when you let mushrooms that contain psilocybin steep in boiling water?

If you boil this compound, it very quickly dephosphorylates into psilocin. So, if you have psilocybin in there and boil it in a tea, it is going from its prodrug form into the active form. 

What I don’t know, is if heat is going to destabilize or decompose psilocin, the active ingredient. So, I can’t say right now if it has much of an effect on potency, but the extraction is what you’re looking for. With tea, you want to pull out the flavours, the aromas, the caffeine, and all the good stuff inside of tea. And I imagine that is the same strategy with psilocybin — brewing a mushroom tea.

Dr. Eric Jannuson

If psilocybin mushrooms are first extracted and dephosphorylated in a tea, the active tryptamines can quickly absorb into the bloodstream from the upper digestive system. This process will prevent latent metabolism in the liver and reduce the length of the experience when consuming raw, uncooked mushrooms.

When life hands you a lemon, make some psilocybin tea

Dr. Eric Janusson, Ph.D., excels in analytical chemistry as the lead chemist at Delic Labs. President and CSO Dr. Markus Roggen, who instead holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, agreed with the idea of water-soluble extraction but noted the added importance of edible acids.

A few things, one, psilocybin is super water-soluble, so that is the important part. Why does no one brew cannabis tea, because THC is not water-soluble.

And then second, a lot of people supposedly use a bit of lemon juice or other edible acids – like vinegar. While your stomach acid will definitely do it and [psilocybin] will dephosphorylate in the digestive system. If you do the prior “activation” — maybe it could be taken up in the gum area so you have extra absorption in the mouth. But this goes into the [pharmacokinetic] realm. 

Dr. Roggen

The author of this story is also not trained as a medical doctor or pharmacologist. But, a dive into the literature revealed that some psilocybin is converted later on in the liver. Further, psilocin converts to an inactive metabolite in the deeper gut, but this can cycle back into psilocin during late metabolism. Whereas, psilocin without psilocybin — after brewing into a tea, for example — does not undergo the same late-stage metabolism since elimination should occur before it can react with enzymes in the lower gut.

Day old tea

If heat degrades psilocybin mushroom tea, is time a problem?

Yes, it is a problem because psilocybin is relatively stable. But psilocin is not stable to oxidation. [So] in air, psilocin will break down very quickly into unusable and uninteresting compounds. So, psilocybin is the storage package for psilocin. 

So if you “pre-activate” [turn psilocybin into psilocin], you have to do the activation very shortly before you actually consume it. If you “pre-activate” your tea and then put it in the fridge for next week, it will not work. That will be a very bitter, useless tea. 

Dr. Roggen

Soon, we will be able to elaborate on perfect formulations for tea and lemon tek from further analysis. Because in time, precise quantification will map out the exact dephosphorylation and degradation rates of different tryptamines in mushrooms. Now that we can build such a map, a proper formulation will soon ensure your favourite tea recipe doesn’t degrade psilocybin mushrooms.

Let us know in the comments if you have a positive or negative experience with a psychedelic mushroom tea. And stay tuned to learn about the different psychedelic molecules found in mushrooms.


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