Hey Reddit, I’m Ryan Moss, head of R&D at Filament Health. I have been at the forefront of natural product extraction and manufacturing for the last 10 years. Over the past months I’ve had the opportunity to combine my expertise in natural extraction with the exciting world of psychedelics, most notably magic mushrooms! I consider myself an expert in the field of natural product chemistry and thought this would be a unique opportunity to discuss my research with you.

I have learned a lot from the Reddit community, especially in the early days of my research, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to give back and clarify some of the things that are and are not true about natural psychedelics.


Glad to have been able to talk with all of you, I'm signing off for now!

Feel Free to PM me and if there's demand maybe I'll do another one soon! I'm really excited to have this industry move forward! If you're interested please check out Filament Health for current news on what our lab is doing!

Happy Tripping!

Comments: 1269 • Responses: 40  • Date: 

RogueConsultant726 karma

Do different mushrooms produce different highs or is it all the same active ingredient, psilocybin. Or like weed you have various strains with different effects?

MagicAlkaloids2090 karma

This is a great question!

The primary active ingredient that is getting you "high" is the pro-drug psilocybin and its active metabolite psilocin. Within your body, psilocybin that you consume is being metabolized into psilocin, which can attach to receptors in your brain. Mushrooms produce psilocybin, but some of it can degrade to psilocin while still in the mushroom (blue staining). So when you eat a dried mushroom, the balance of psilocybin and its metabolite could potentially have some effect on the "come-up" but this system of activity is relatively the same for MOST magic mushroom varieties.

Now different varieties can have a huge disparity in the psilocybin content. In my research we have fully cultivated around 20 varieties and a few different species (not just psilocybe). Some of these varieties can be even 5-10 times more potent than their counterparts. And on top of that, the stems and caps of different species bioaccumulate psilocybin and psilocin in different proportions! All that to say that there is a massive amount of research to be done just in the subjective effects that some of these parameters have.

Another huge factor in this research is the "halo" effect. While we do know of multiple other alkalods present in the mushrooms (norbaeocystin, baeocystin, aeruginascin, norpsilocin etc.) in low content. Do these compounds modify the subjective experience? enhance? inhibit? We do not know, and that is a huge part of what my research is focused on.

I will say that another large aspect of this is that since the mushrooms vary in psychoactive alkaloid content species to species, variety to variety, harvest to harvest, and even flush to flush, there is no way that you can give yourself a known dose of psilocybin using raw magic mushrooms. The only way to do this is with extraction, standardization and proper dosing. That is something that is necessary in order to bring these compounds into the sphere of being appropriate medicine.

Raphinas-left-foot332 karma

How common are the mushrooms that can kill you?

MagicAlkaloids536 karma

Very common! I see amanita muscaria growing all over the place, and it's such a beautiful mushroom. Unless you are someone who knows their mushrooms, never eat one that you find!

Fishtails260 karma

I didn't know that Amanita muscaria could actually kill you, I thought it generally would just make you vomit your brains out, but not be fatal. I have a friend who's eaten them a number of times, because he's a fucking weirdo.

I love this AMA. I took a mycology class in university, and it remains one of my favorite classes that I've ever taken. Our textbook was "Magical Mushroom and Mischievous Molds." It's still on my bookshelf 15+ years later.

RevengeofKropotkin240 karma

That’s a textbook straight out of Harry Potter lol

MagicAlkaloids196 karma

don't forget to pack a bezoar!

Arsea327 karma

hi serious question, I'd like to be in trials to see if mushrooms help with depression and anxiety. I've tried 4 different ssris and none have worked for me. I have done shrooms a few times before, mostly microdosing and i think it seriously boosted my mood for months afterwards. it changed my outlook. gave me more perspective. How would one go about being a lab rat?

MagicAlkaloids263 karma

This is a great question that I do not know the answer to, but I can certainly find out. Send me a PM!

666kittens305 karma

What are your thoughts on Lions Mane? I’ve heard so many different things, about how beneficial they are and about how potentially harmful it can be as well.

MagicAlkaloids472 karma

Having worked in the natural product industry, I am always apprehensive about these types of things. Can the product point to specific compounds or compound families that are doing anything in the body? I would always approach these types of products with a grain of salt.

For example, some mushrooms are being used as coffee but the actual amount of mushroom present in the sachet is incredibly small. There was one company that was putting in 10 g of instant coffee, and 0.1 g of chaga extract and calling that chaga coffee.

I know that there is budding research in the hericenone compounds in lion's mane, but I think the jury is still out.

bigpoopmaker266 karma

What is the most surprising thing about mushrooms in your opinion?

MagicAlkaloids434 karma

I am truly amazed at the sheer number of varieties and even separate species of psilocybin-containing mushrooms that have been propagated by pioneer mycologists, hobbiests, and others interested in the breeding of these organisms.

In my research, we have only touched the surface (about 20 varieties fully cultivated at this time, and many more to come!), but the differences in psilocybin content can be massive between them. Not only that, but the differences in where psilocybin bioaccumulates within the fruiting body is also highly dependant on the strain! (think "caps" vs "stems").

cornflakecookie225 karma

Hi! What is the process of procuring magic mushrooms for legal research in your location, and how much red tape is there? What are the main organisations/foundations who fund these types of research?

MagicAlkaloids437 karma

Good question! We are in British Columbia, Canada, so our regulating body is Health Canada. Under current law, procuring mushrooms spores is perfectly legal, but propagating from them is illegal. We have a Controlled Substance Dealer's License issued by Health Canada, and it was quite a journey to get this license!

So I guess what I'm saying is yes, lots of red tape!

Prinzlerr128 karma

Do you see any of the "stigma" associated with magic mushrooms gradually disappearing in the future, similar to how marijuana used to be looked at as a bad thing but now has much more widespread appeal and overall acceptance?

MagicAlkaloids154 karma

I think this is certainly the case! I was born and raised in British Columbia, Canada, and I can tell you that most young boys here grow up with at least a beginner's magic mushroom experience.

Mesapholis94 karma

Any good books you recommend aside from "How to change your mind"? I am really interested and anticipating the broader application (once legalised) in mental health work and therapy, thanks for your work!

MagicAlkaloids149 karma

Since I love all things chemistry, I'm going to have to go with LSD: My Problem Child by Albert Hofmann. It may be dry reading to some, but it is absolutely amazing the amount of research, intrigue and pure curiosity that was required for a scientist back at the turn of century.

reasonisaremedy91 karma

Do you primarily focus on Cubensis strains of mushrooms or all known pshycho active strains? And do you also search for other potentially psychoactive strains and species or is your work/budget/funding limited mostly to studying strains that are already known to the community to be psychoactive and non-toxic?

MagicAlkaloids115 karma

We are researching all different varieties and species known to contain psychoactive alkaloids. This umbrella is far bigger than just psilocybin-containing mushrooms!

musicListener2583 karma

What are some of the benefits you've found that could be good for non-mushroom consumer?

MagicAlkaloids378 karma

I honestly believe that having a psychedelic experience will really humble you.

Your brain is viewing the world in one way, the "normal" way. Once you see that your brain has many ways of looking at the world (through a simple compound attaching to a receptor), it gives perspective at how powerful your own body is at shaping your perception.

Set and setting is incredibly important, and I would never advocate for somebody to do a psychedelic experience without a professional.

Azreken82 karma

Did your last name have anything to do with your choice in career?

MagicAlkaloids92 karma

It's funny because in my early years I wanted to be a biologist, so yes. Unfortunately, chemistry is just so cool!

investinlove79 karma

I have had legitimate McKenna Cubensis spores (3-5g stalk) in my freezer for ten years.

Would they still be active to propagate, and if so, how do I get them to someone who can keep them going?

The (famous) person who gave them to me told me they are 'the last great mushrooms in the US', and I'm sure a bit of hyperbole was used, but I always wanted to find someone who could use them for the betterment of humanity and science.

MagicAlkaloids71 karma

PM me

zoltakk66 karma

Thanks for doing this! A question I’ve had for a while is why magic mushrooms produce psilocybin and psilocin in the first place. Like, what evolutionary purpose does it serve for the organism?

MagicAlkaloids151 karma

There is a lot of evidence that these compounds are used by the fungus as a anti-predation technique against us vertebrates.

Me eat blue mushroom, me feel sick, me no like blue mushroom.

Beautifulturn52756 karma

Thanks for all that you are doing and have done for the psychedelic community. Where do you see the balance between big pharma and psychedelic research? How has the pharmaceutical world embraced this research?

MagicAlkaloids111 karma

Thanks for that, I hope that one day soon these compounds are able to reach all those who need them!

I think it has gone in the right direction so far, the question is where is it going? I think "big pharma" is really the necessary evil by which the industry can get these medicines through the rigorous FDA trials required to prove their efficacy.

The really interesting aspect for me is that there is a belief out there that the only way to do this is with chemically synthesized psilocybin, but where does natural psilocybin-containing mushroom extract fit into this world?

Out of any of the 200+ natural products I've worked with in my career, I can't think of a better case to be made for a naturally extracted drug than there is for psilocybin.

  1. The mushrooms can be cultivated with ease (the impact to the natural population of these organisms is zero).
  2. The cultivation can be performed in a controlled manner, with GMP protocols and consistency as the top priority.
  3. The extract can be produced in a responsible manner (free of synthesis by-products and waste).
  4. The patient dosage can be controlled just as easily as with any other drug preparation.

To answer your last question, I think pharma has embraced the research, but only when it comes to altering the molecules for patentability and exclusivity. They do not care for the natural psilocybin molecule, nor the mushrooms or deriving it naturally.

I'm hoping that with my research we can change this view and bring natural compounds to everyone who needs them!

Vtron8953 karma

How dangerous is a single dose of mushrooms? I've been led to believe that it can totally rewire a person's brain. I've (legally) used them many times and never noticed any lasting effects.

MagicAlkaloids107 karma

I think for people predisposed to psychiatric conditions, there is a very large danger in consuming psychedelics, that is why we need to bring this out into the open and have professionals in charge!

honeyedlight39 karma

What do you want the general public to know about shrooms that most people don’t think of?

MagicAlkaloids114 karma

The biggest thing that I would like people to know is that there is no legitimate way for a person to dose themselves appropriately using dried magic mushrooms. The psilocybin content can vary 2-5 times between harvests and 5-10 times between varieties. Stems and caps can also contain incredibly disparate amounts of psilocybin! The only right way to do this is by extraction and standardization!

OwenTheScout30 karma

Have you yourself consumed any kind of psychedelics? If so, what was your experience like and what did you gain from it?

MagicAlkaloids40 karma

When i was younger I had multiple experiences. I would say some good and some bad, but looking back after many years, I think they were all positive, even the bad ones!

MatsGry29 karma

What is the most interesting parasite you’ve found in a mushroom?

MagicAlkaloids31 karma

The most common contaminations that people who grow these types of mushrooms come across is Trichoderma harzianum, T. viride, T. koningi, or just "trich" for short. Luckily, we work in a sterile laboratory setting and while contamination is something we keep a close eye on, is not something we have experienced.

Str8kush28 karma

Have you had an opportunity to meet or work with Paul Stamets?

MagicAlkaloids40 karma

Unfortunately, I have no met the God Father of mushrooms, maybe one day!

Specialpooptime26 karma

Are you working from isolated agar or are you working from clones or multispore solutions?

MagicAlkaloids32 karma

Initially from spore, but we isolating on agar constantly.

Vroomped17 karma

I have yet to have somebody who doesn't use magic mushrooms (or any drug for that matter) tell me that there are benefits to it.
What's your expert opinion on "my drug of choice is fine, healthy, and just oppressed by the government"?
Do you think there are medicinal benefits to magic mushrooms, or to other illegal drugs?
Do you believe there are well known drugs that are illegal, but are not destructive (Not necessarily 'beneficial', but safe to use)?
[edit: I say well known, meaning I'm sure there's at least 1 drug of the thousands out there that's illegal for one reason or another, but safe. Just trying to generalize for the point of the question.]

MagicAlkaloids55 karma

In your position I would just sit back and look at the clinical data that is being produced, which will truly settle this argument. I think what sets psilocybin apart is that its abuse potential is incredibly low compared to other drugs. I think that the jury is still out on whether magic mushrooms should be consumed by regular people who do not have serious medical diagnoses, but you cannot deny the recent clinical data that has come out especially surrounding treatment-resistant depression.

Scarf149316 karma

Hey Ryan! Thanks for taking time to educate us. Is there a mystery(ies) about magic mushrooms that intrigues researchers because the current answer is not known?

MagicAlkaloids31 karma

I think one of the biggest mysteries for magic mushrooms is whether there is a "halo" effect similar to cannabis. We know of Psilocybin and its active metabolite psilocin. But we also know about many other similar alkaloids differing in their degree of methylation and phosphorylation (norbaeocystin, baeocystin, aeruginascin and norpsilocin). Do these compounds attenuate the subjective experience, how do they change the efficacy of dosing psilocybin? These are the answers I really want to know!

f0rmic67115 karma

Hey Ryan! Have you ever worked with the compound LSA? Personally I find it absolutely fascinating, most notably occurring in morning glory and hawaiian baby woodrose seeds, and often referred to as "natural LSD" in a way. I've experimented with them a bit in the past but frustratingly, there's very little I've been able to find out about their chemistry outside of largely anecdotal experience. I've always been fascinated by the more "fringe" substances that aren't in the common psychedelic lexicon and LSA is the one that's piqued my interest in the last few years.

MagicAlkaloids27 karma

Yes we actually have a project surrounding LSA from baby woodrose. Are you looking to isolate LSA, or make it into a consumable dosage form ? PM me if you want!

NomadTheNomad14 karma

What do you hope someone asks?

Do you ever partake? As a professional staying professional afterwards and how your colleagues react to it.

Do you drink alcohol?

MagicAlkaloids63 karma

As somebody who worked in the natural food coloring world in a previous life, my favorite question I asked myself prior to starting this is: why do the mushrooms turn blue?

I dabbled in psychedelics when I was younger and had both good and bad experiences. It is not something I do now, but that doesn't mean I won't in the future. Within my current setting, there are many rules and regulations that require strict adherence so I absolutely do not partake with our own research product.

Yes, I drink alcohol recreationally. But I would say that alcohol has a net detrimental effect on society in comparison with psychedelics.

worstbandnameever12 karma

What did you learn from Reddit early on? What’s the most common question you get from people when they hear what you do? Where do you see psychedelics in 10 years? Did you see your career path leading here?

Thanks for sharing about your work!

MagicAlkaloids33 karma

Early on: I've been using reddit since about 2009, and even at that time my focus was always chemistry. I have to give major props to r/chemistry for being an amazing resource with very highly qualified users. Whether it be chemistry-related questions or even career advice for aspiring chemists, they are a resource that should be used by anybody considering this as a career.

Early on in my current research, I have to give a shoutout to r/mycology, r/shroomers, r/shrooms, r/psychedelics for being a place where people discuss the cultivation of mushrooms. It's absolutely amazing some of the techniques that these users have brought to the table that work very well in the home environment. We've been able to take some of these concepts and apply them to a laboratory environment and equipment to make some incredible high-yield cultivation environments (which is a pre-requisite for good research to take place).

There are also quite a few good laughs to be had at some experiments that go sideways in some of these subreddits!

potluckparadox12 karma

What is the the average percentage of psilocybin found in “good” magic mushrooms?

How pure is the extract?

What is the best way/process of extracting the psilocybin?

Does the extract have any positive and or adverse effects that differ from taking raw (dried) mushrooms?

MagicAlkaloids14 karma

Average I'd say 0.5% dry wt/wt. So in 1 g of mushrooms you have 5 mg of psilocybin. However, this can vary by as much as 5-10 times. Especially considering that usually people aren't grinding them, so the differences between stems and caps can be 2-5 times within the same organism!

The extract is however pure we want to make it, 40-95% psilocybin, but if we are also targeting other alkaloids, it will be less!

ToohotmaGandhi9 karma

How would one get into this field? And colleges with courses you would recommend?

MagicAlkaloids12 karma

I would learn the fundamentals of natural product chemistry, extraction, isolation, analysis etc. Food chemistry is also very relevant.

halliday379 karma

Are you allowed to eat them legally for research?

MagicAlkaloids19 karma

No, there are many protocols and strict regulations involved in running this type of laboratory!

GuidoTheRed8 karma

When you say "natural extraction," are you referring to removing psilocybin from the mushrooms to be distributed/consumed in a different form?

Because that would be great. Thanks for doing the work.

MagicAlkaloids20 karma


Extraction -> standardization into safe, measured dosage forms so that we can appropriately distribute this as medicine!

LetterboxLamb6 karma

Why when high on Munshrooms can you talk to nature?

MagicAlkaloids18 karma

Maybe the mushrooms are nature talking to you already.

SirPsychoBSSM6 karma

I'd love to hear about extracts. Particularly the interaction between psilocybin and alcohol. As I understand it, psilocybin has poor solubility in alcohols and the "Crystal of the Gods" method popularized by PF isn't producing psilocybin crystals. Is there any light you can shed on alcohol extracts?

I'd also like to get clarification on the stability of psilocybin in aqueous solutions. I hear people say that teas and "blue juice" only keep for a few days in the fridge but freezing can extend this (even grandpa Stamets said this IIRC), however a recent paper showed that freezing temps can have as large of an effect on psilocybin breakdown as temps over the boiling point of water.

MagicAlkaloids8 karma

You certainly have been around the shroom-internet.

You are correct on all fronts, and these issues are one of the biggest frustrations with some of these communities, there is too much misinformation floating around.

Psilocybin is NOT soluble in alcohol, it is not a good choice as an extraction solvent.

Aqueous solutions extract psilocybin well, but enzymes that degrade psilocybin into psilocin, and then psilocin into semiquinoid dimers (BLUE) are also extracted. You are right, freezing is also not good for psilocybin.

MillieGouLightly6 karma

What advice would you give to someone trying magic mushrooms for the first time?

NomadTheNomad24 karma

Set and setting. Enjoy with friends you trust. Safe in nature is always a pleasure and you can never go wrong with taking big orange 🍊 with to smell at / play with / eat. And Don't Panic!

MagicAlkaloids18 karma

^This guy mushrooms!

Upstairs_Ad_30395 karma

First of all, I want to thank you for posting this as I have a lot of questions and somehow just stumbled across this Sub.

I know there are many different strains of Magic Mushrooms, in high school I used to grow them. I remember I grew blue meanies, golden teachers and Cambodians. It was very noticeable that the Cambodians and Blue Meanies Produces a more visual trip. where as the Golden Teachers was very much a Head/Body high. Is the potency of psilocybin just lower in the Golden Teachers?

Also I never noticed a difference between eating the stem and mushroom cap? I have heard many tales of people saying the cap is more visual and the stem is less. how much of that is true?

MagicAlkaloids9 karma

We do not have a definitive answer on this question, but if I had to guess I would say you are right, and that it is simply the potency between the different varieties.

We have observed that depending on the individual variety, the content can be upwards of 5-10 times the content of the lower potencies. Another variable is the idea of "halo" effect where some of the minor alkaloids are potentially involved in the subjective experience!

cianpatrickd2 karma

Can magic mushrooms power a warp drive?

MagicAlkaloids11 karma

Just make sure to bring a towel.