The Difference Between Magic Mushrooms And DMT: Two Spiritual Substances

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The Difference Between Magic Mushrooms And DMT: Two Spiritual Substances

Not all psychedelics are the same. We take a look at how DMT and Magic Mushrooms are both similar and different, paying special attention to how the effects of each compare in terms of length and psychological response.

Now more than ever, psychedelics are capturing the attention of wider audiences internationally. With an increase in literature written on the potential of substances like magic mushrooms and DMT, the internet has become inundated with queries on what makes each psychedelic unique. Below, we break down the difference between magic mushrooms and DMT, examining the ways in which the ingredients and trips compare.


In order to accurately gauge how these two psychedelics contrast, it helps to have a thorough understanding of each substance’s unique characteristics. Magic mushrooms, known formally as Psilocybin Mushrooms, appear in over 200 varieties around the world. With most species occurring in Mexico and North America, “shrooms” have maintained special significance throughout history, used in religious and spiritual ceremonies.

Magic mushrooms contain the ingredient psilocybin, which breaks down in the human body to produce psilocin - the compound responsible for inducing psychedelic effects. Ingesting mushrooms is often reported as a spiritual experience by many users. Shrooms encourage sustained, emotional highs that last anywhere between 6-8 hours and vary in potency. A moderate dose of psilocybin is considered roughly 10-40mg or 1-4g of dried shrooms, with a heavy dose being over 50mg/5g. Shrooms can be consumed directly or brewed into teas.


N,N-dimethyltryptamine, or DMT is the active ingredient in ayahuasca, a legendary substance used in spiritual ceremonies. DMT can also be consumed on its own by smoking it out of a long pipe or bong. This substance, referred to as “The Spirit Molecule” in Rick Strassman’s book of the same title, has gained notoriety for its intense, transcendental effects that last anywhere between 5-10 minutes, but can feel significantly longer to the consumer.

DMT is illegal, but is intriguing scientists and consumers alike with its uniquely uncanny effects. In fact, DMT has surged in popularity at a higher rate than any other psychedelic drug in recent history. A surge in media coverage is largely to thank for DMT’s increased consumer base as it currently experiences a form of “fame” in worldwide culture. 


Like other psychedelic substances, both magic mushrooms and DMT have suffered from a general lack of real understanding in the media and the medical community. In the case of both substances, there is no evidence to support that either DMT nor magic mushrooms is/are addictive.

Shrooms are notably difficult to abuse as the ingestion of psilocybin creates a temporary tolerance in the consumer. Similarly, DMT is non-addictive, though there has been documentation of consistent use by some individuals that proved to be psychologically detrimental over time. Additionally, neither of these substances are lethal, despite the intense psychological and physical effects contained in both.


Both DMT and psylocin are of the tryptamine family, indole alkaloids found in trace amounts in the human brain. Tryptamine is hypothesized to play a role in neurotransmission, responding to the psychedelic potential of both DMT and psilocybin. In fact, psilocybin actually contains DMT in its genetic structure, accounting for so many of their similarities.


The effects of consuming DMT and shrooms vary in length and nature, but contain similarities throughout. It’s difficult to harness the experience of each substance, as they vary depending on the person. Both DMT and shrooms are known to produce visuals and bring individuals out of their current state of reality. Especially in the case of DMT, consumers lose their entire sense of space and time with a rapid onset of effects, causing the trip to feel as though it lasted much longer in retrospect.

While magic mushrooms are purported to encourage feelings of connectivity to the earth and nature, DMT is said to be more cosmic and fixated on the themes of extraterrestrials, gods and the nature of life and death. DMT users have detailed making contact with fantastic creatures, dead relatives and even god during their trips. DMT is truly a fully immersive substance that concentrates the effects of an intense psychedelic into a small amount of time.

Mushroom users also report losing touch with reality, experiencing periods of intense introspection. Mushrooms often encourage highly emotional responses in some individuals, triggering memories of the past and inducing an array of acute personal examinations. At the same time, subjects may also relish in the otherworldly beauty of nature through a uniquely psychedelic lens. Mushrooms are poisonous and though non lethal, may cause nausea and in some cases, vomiting.


Although psychedelics didn’t reach mainstream western consciousness until the 1960s, DMT and shrooms have been implicated in religious and divinatory ceremonies since the origins of humanity.

DMT has been historically used as the key ingredient in ayahuasca, an incredibly potent psychedelic mixture that lasts hours longer than pure DMT. The brew is used as a traditional medicine in indigenous cultures of the Amazon basin. In order for DMT to be activated when consumed, it needs to do so in the presence of an MAOI inhibitor, in this case, the ayahuasca vine Banisteriopsis caapi

As a part of religious sacrament, ayahuasca is taken by or in the presence of a shaman and used as a purgative medicine. The most common responses to ingesting ayahuasca are both psychological and physical, with most users vomiting or having diarrhea, clearing the stomach of potential parasites.

Magic mushrooms date back over 6,000 years when used in spiritual practices and traditional medicine. Cultures in mesoamerica used mushrooms for communion and divinatory purposes, creating statues and icons detailing their supernatural qualities and spiritualistic potential. Aztec cultures notably referred to psilocybin mushrooms as “genius” and “magic.” 

Although DMT and shrooms maintain structural similarities, these two substances can create vastly different responses when ingested. Extreme caution should be taken when ingesting psychedelics - all users are recommended to be in the presence of a trustworthy, sober individual to ensure the safety of everyone involved.