Metabolism of psilocybin and psilocin: clinical and forensic toxicological relevance

Drug Metab Rev. 2017 Feb;49(1):84-91. doi: 10.1080/03602532.2016.1278228. Epub 2017 Jan 31.


Psilocybin and psilocin are controlled substances in many countries. These are the two main hallucinogenic compounds of the "magic mushrooms" and both act as agonists or partial agonists at 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)2A subtype receptors. During the last few years, psilocybin and psilocin have gained therapeutic relevance but considerable physiological variability between individuals that can influence dose-response and toxicological profile has been reported. This review aims to discuss metabolism of psilocybin and psilocin, by presenting all major and minor psychoactive metabolites. Psilocybin is primarily a pro-drug that is dephosphorylated by alkaline phosphatase to active metabolite psilocin. This last is then further metabolized, psilocin-O-glucuronide being the main urinary metabolite with clinical and forensic relevance in diagnosis.

Keywords: Psilocybin; metabolism; metabolomics; psilocin; toxicity; toxicokinetics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Hallucinogens / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • Metabolomics
  • Prodrugs / pharmacokinetics*
  • Psilocybin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Psilocybin / pharmacokinetics*


  • Hallucinogens
  • Prodrugs
  • Psilocybin
  • psilocin