Fungal hallucinogens psilocin, ibotenic acid, and muscimol: analytical methods and biologic activities

Ther Drug Monit. 2013 Aug;35(4):420-42. doi: 10.1097/FTD.0b013e31828741a5.


Psychoactive drugs of fungal origin, psilocin, ibotenic acid, and muscimol among them have been proposed for recreational use and popularized since the 1960s, XX century. Despite their well-documented neurotoxicity, they reached reputation of being safe and nonaddictive. Scientific efforts to find any medical application for these hallucinogens in psychiatry, psychotherapy, and even for religious rituals support are highly controversial. Even if they show any healing potential, their usage in psychotherapy is in some cases inadequate and may additionally harm seriously suffering patients. Hallucinogens are thought to reduce cognitive functions. However, in case of indolealkylamines, such as psilocin, some recent findings suggest their ability to improve perception and mental skills, what would motivate the consumption of "magic mushrooms." The present article offers an opportunity to find out what are the main symptoms of intoxication with mushrooms containing psilocybin/psilocin, muscimol, and ibotenic acid. The progress in analytical methods for detection of them in fungal material, food, and body fluids is reviewed. Findings on the mechanisms of their biologic activity are summarized. Additionally, therapeutic potential of these fungal psychoactive compounds and health risk associated with their abuse are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agaricales / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Body Fluids / metabolism
  • Hallucinogens / adverse effects
  • Hallucinogens / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Ibotenic Acid / adverse effects
  • Ibotenic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Muscimol / adverse effects
  • Muscimol / pharmacology*
  • Psilocybin / adverse effects
  • Psilocybin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Psilocybin / pharmacology


  • Hallucinogens
  • Ibotenic Acid
  • Muscimol
  • Psilocybin
  • psilocin