During the AMA, industry professionals and psychedelic fans alike had the chance to pose questions to Moss over the span of a few hours. Moss brings over a decade of experience at the forefront of psychoactive mushroom extraction and manufacturing, including his current role at Filament Health.
What has surprised you most in your research?
I am truly amazed at the sheer number of varieties and even separate species of psilocybin-containing mushrooms that have been propagated by pioneer mycologists, hobbyists, and others interested in the breeding of these organisms.
In my research, we have only touched the surface (about 20 varieties fully cultivated at this time, and many more to come!), but the differences in psilocybin content can be massive between them. Not only that, but the differences in where psilocybin bioaccumulates within the fruiting body is also highly dependant on the strain! (think “caps” vs “stems”).
Do different compounds produce different effects or is it all the same active ingredient, psilocybin?
The primary active ingredient that is getting you “high” is the psilocybin and its active metabolite psilocin. Within your body, psilocybin that you consume is being metabolized into psilocin, which can attach to receptors in your brain. Mushrooms produce psilocybin, but some of it can degrade to psilocin while still in the mushroom (blue staining).
So when you eat a dried mushroom, the balance of psilocybin and its metabolite could potentially have some effect on the “come-up” but this system of activity is relatively the same for MOST magic mushroom varieties.
Now different varieties can have a huge disparity in the psilocybin content. In my research, we have fully cultivated around 20 varieties and a few different species (not just psilocybe). Some of these varieties can be even 5-10 times more potent than their counterparts.
And on top of that, the stems and caps of different species bioaccumulate psilocybin and psilocin in different proportions! All that to say that there is a massive amount of research to be done just in the subjective effects that some of these parameters have.
Another huge factor in this research is the “halo” effect. While we do know of multiple other alkalods present in the mushrooms (norbaeocystin, baeocystin, aeruginascin, norpsilocin etc.) in low content. Do these compounds modify the subjective experience? enhance? inhibit? We do not know, and that is a huge part of what my research is focused on.
I will say that another large aspect of this is that since the mushrooms vary in psychoactive alkaloid content species to species, variety to variety, harvest to harvest, and even flush to flush, there is no way that you can give yourself a known dose of psilocybin using raw magic mushrooms.
The only way to do this is with extraction, standardization and proper dosing. That is something that is necessary in order to bring these compounds into the sphere of being appropriate medicine.