Psilocybin--summary of knowledge and new perspectives

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2014 Mar;24(3):342-56. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2013.12.006. Epub 2013 Dec 17.


Psilocybin, a psychoactive alkaloid contained in hallucinogenic mushrooms, is nowadays given a lot of attention in the scientific community as a research tool for modeling psychosis as well as due to its potential therapeutic effects. However, it is also a very popular and frequently abused natural hallucinogen. This review summarizes all the past and recent knowledge on psilocybin. It briefly deals with its history, discusses the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, and compares its action in humans and animals. It attempts to describe the mechanism of psychedelic effects and objectify its action using modern imaging and psychometric methods. Finally, it describes its therapeutic and abuse potential.

Keywords: 5-HT1 receptors; 5-HT2 receptors; Behavioral studies; Brain imaging; Hallucinogenic mushrooms; Hallucinogens; Neurobiology; Pharmacology; Psilocybin; Psychedelics; Psychological measures; Serotonin.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Hallucinogens / adverse effects
  • Hallucinogens / pharmacokinetics*
  • Hallucinogens / pharmacology*
  • Hallucinogens / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Psilocybin / adverse effects
  • Psilocybin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Psilocybin / pharmacology*
  • Psilocybin / therapeutic use
  • Substance-Related Disorders


  • Hallucinogens
  • Psilocybin