Back to all posts

Natural vs. Synthetic Mushrooms: Exploring a Different Side of the Same Coin

March 28, 2024
Table of Contents

The legal, clinical, and ethical landscape of psilocybin is continually impacting the perception and use of psychedelics for clinical and therapeutic use. 

These exciting new changes have made way for different types of psilocybin mushrooms. Synthetic mushrooms may be the next new flashy vehicle for psilocybin manufacturing, distribution, and use. 

But what is the difference between natural and synthetic psilocybin mushrooms? Are they still the same thing with the same potential benefits?

In this article, we will explore synthetic mushrooms and discuss the differences and similarities between artificial and natural psilocybin.

synthetic mushrooms

What Is Psilocybin?

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychotropic compound found in various types of mushrooms. You may have heard of them referred to as “magic mushrooms” before. There are over 180 different types of mushrooms that contain psilocybin. One of the most commonly distributed psilocybin mushrooms is Psilocybe cubensis. This is the only legal variety of mushroom in Oregon.

When ingested, psilocybin is processed by the digestive system and converted into psilocin, which is the active ingredient that causes psychedelic effects. 

It takes roughly 30 minutes for psilocybin to reach the brain. Once there, psilocybin interacts with the brain by influencing the serotonergic system and can cause hallucinogenic symptoms, such as:

  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Physical sensations
  • Distorted sense of time
  • Altered state of mind; and
  • Extreme emotions

What Are Synthetic Mushrooms?

Synthetic mushrooms, also known as synthetic psilocybin, are lab-made compounds created through a series of chemical processes — chemical synthesis or biosynthesis. Unlike natural psilocybin, synthetic psilocybin is isolated so that it doesn’t contain any other compounds found in mushrooms, such as tryptamines. 

Tryptamines are naturally occurring alkaloids in psilocybin mushrooms. While they are harmless, they may be the cause of gastrointestinal distress and muscle tension that is sometimes reported with natural psilocybin.  

synthetic mushrooms

What Is the Difference Between Synthetic Mushrooms and Natural Psilocybin?


While natural psilocybin appears as dried or powdered mushrooms, synthetic mushrooms look a little less organic. They appear as a liquid or a white crystalline powder that can be processed into capsules, pressed into tablets, or dissolved in water. 

Some people may be off-put by the taste and texture of psilocybin mushrooms. There are methods to help with that. It is often mixed with lemon, ginger or honey and made into a tea. The dried mushrooms can also be ground and put in gelatin capsules. 

Synthesis vs. Cultivation

Natural psilocybin mushrooms are grown from spores inoculated and incubated in a special substrate. Once they fruit, they are tested for potency and then batched based on milligrams of psilocybin.

More mushrooms will fruit from the original spores, like a perennial plant. However, each new batch will lose a bit of its potency. Each batch has a unique lot number and its potency is documented on the packaging.

Synthetic mushrooms are synthesized from organic compounds like brewer’s yeast or bacteria like E. coli. While it may sound strange or scary that synthetic mushrooms are chemically or biologically synthesized, each psilocybin product, natural or artificial, is procured in highly regulated environments that undergo stringent testing and batching. 

All psilocybin products are cultivated by licensed manufacturers and tested by a licensed laboratory accredited by the Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (OELAP).

Dosage, Effects, and Potency

Recent research suggests that natural psilocybin may demonstrate a more substantial and more profound impact on neuroplasticity than synthetic psilocybin. Neuroplasticity describes how psilocybin affects the brain therapeutically.  

Synthetic mushrooms may be more accurate in dosage, which is why it is used in clinical trials. Natural psilocybin products used in legal service center settings are batched by 1, 5, 10, and 25 milligram (mg) doses. 

Synthetic mushrooms may have the potential to have higher concentrations based on how they are synthesized. 

synthetic mushrooms

What Are the Therapeutic Benefits of Natural and Synthetic Mushrooms?

Research has shown that natural and synthetic mushrooms have efficacy in improving symptoms of cognitive and mental health conditions such as:

  • Substance use disorders
  • Cancer-related depression
  • Treatment-resistant depression
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety

Coupled with therapy, natural and synthetic psilocybin has the potential to significantly improve the mental health crisis in the United States. 

To get the most out of psilocybin use,  a trained facilitator should be there to guide individuals through the process and then refer the client to mental health resources and support for additional integration.

A significant amount of time should be invested in the safety, ethics, and clinical responsibilities of facilitators to ensure that the process is as therapeutic and scientifically driven as possible. 

Clinical Cognitive Training is a training center in Oregon that helps individuals obtain their facilitator license and psilocybin worker permit. Our training programs include courses that cover: 

  • Vocabulary of psychedelics
  • Historical & cultural significance of psychedelics
  • Cultural & societal equity with psilocybin use
  • Psilocybin pharmacology
  • Neuroscience & current research
  • Psilocybin dosing & delivery options

The Future of Natural and Synthetic Mushrooms

While legal manufacturers, distributors, and facilitators only have the authorization to handle natural psilocybin, the legal and ethical landscape of psilocybin may be changing to include synthetic mushrooms soon. Most clinical trials involving psilocybin have made use of synthetic mushrooms, and several manufacturers are already working with it. 

Companies that are currently working with synthetic psilocybin compounds include:

  • Compass Pathways
  • ATAI Life Sciences; and 
  • Psygen Labs

Legal Landscape

Federally, both natural and synthetic psilocybin are considered Schedule 1 drugs under the Controlled Substance Act. The definition of a Schedule 1 drug reads as follows:

“Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

However, research is pioneering legislation to reconsider the legal definition of psilocybin and psilocin. Two states already legalized psilocybin for adult use in a licensed setting. Oregon’s setting mandates ONLY natural psilocybin be used at a licensed service center.
Synthetic psilocybin may be used in clinical trials for standardization.

Where Is Psilocybin Legal?

Oregon (Measure 109 and Measure 110) and Colorado (Proposition 122) are the only two states that have legalized psilocybin for therapeutic use. Continued research is making headway with changing the minds of lawmakers and legislators. 

The following states have convened working groups to study the therapeutic effects of psilocybin: 

  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • Texas
  • Washington

Several cities have also had local government reforms that decriminalized or lowered law enforcement priority with punishing the consumption and possession of psilocybin. Some of these cities include:

  • Seattle, WA
  • Berkeley, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Detroit, MA
  • Salem, MA

It’s highly anticipated that psilocybin will become an FDA drug before 2026.

synthetic mushrooms

Ethical Considerations

There are ethical considerations that should be accounted for when exploring the potential of natural and synthetic psilocybin use as a therapy modality. These concerns include:

  • Harm reduction
  • Potential abuse
  • Informed consent

Psychedelic use may leave patients in a physically and emotionally vulnerable state. It is up to therapists and licensed facilitators to ensure that patients remain safe while undergoing treatments. 

Natural and synthetic psilocybin mushrooms are continually undergoing research to improve the impact of psilocybin as a mental health therapy. Therapists and facilitators must be highly trained and regulated to ensure patient safety and therapy efficacy. 

At Clinical Cognitive Training, we help potential psilocybin facilitators find their place in the emerging space of psychedelics. We train our students to help people explore therapeutic treatments that promote clinically-focused, culturally respectful, and ethically responsible psilocybin use. 

If you are an Oregon resident and would like to participate in this revolutionary movement to influence personal growth and transformation, contact us for more information today. 

Clinical Cognitive Training: Pioneering the Future of Natural and Synthetic Psilocybin Use in Therapy

Are you interested in becoming a licensed psilocybin facilitator? 

At Clinical Cognitive Training, we prepare and certify individuals to become psilocybin facilitators and pioneers of natural psilocybin use in therapy.

Your education at Clinical Cognitive Training will include training and instruction on:

  • Psilocybin client intake interviews
  • Medical history review processes
  • Consent processes
  • Confidential record keeping

Our mission is to ensure students are prepared to handle clients ethically and respectfully in a safe and controlled environment. 

We offer the choice of two programs:

  • On-Campus 11-Week Program: This 175-hour program is a fast track to becoming a certified psilocybin services provider. The program adheres to Oregon state requirements, so you will be fully prepared to assist clients once you graduate. 
  • Hybrid One Year Program: During this program, you will learn the same curriculum as the on-campus program, just at your convenience through our online portal. Once you have completed the online course, you’ll make arrangements with our Clinical Coordinator to complete the required on-site experiential practicum. 

If you are an Oregon resident over the age of 21 with a high school diploma or equivalent, we invite you to apply for one of our psilocybin facilitator programs. Join the future of psychedelic therapy and apply today. 

synthetic mushrooms

The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.