Humans have consumed hallucinogenic fungi and plants for thousands of years. Many of these compounds share a common chemical structure with one another and with neurotransmitters widely produced by the human body, such as serotonin. Classic examples are psilocybin, which is synthesized by certain species of fungi, and N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which is produced by some plants. The basic chemical structure of DMT is embedded in other psychedelics, including psilocybin.

          Chemical structures of DMT, Psilocybin, Serotonin
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The human body also produces DMT. Endogenous psychedelics may perform the following physiological roles:

  • Protect the brain from hypoxic injury 
  • Act as neurotransmitters 
  • Play a role in an endogenous antidepression system, much like the endogenous opioid system acts against pain

          Brain and mushroom illustration
MODIFIED FROM © ISTOCK.COM, Eva Almqvist, bestdesigns, designed by Erin Lemieux
          Glowing mushroom on bark
MODIFIED FROM © ISTOCK.COM, bestdesigns, Shaiith, designed by Erin Lemieux

Fungi serve as the digestive and nervous systems 
of the forest floor. Their sprawling subterranean mycelia decompose organic detritus into usable nutrients. Mycelia also communicate with soil microorganisms and the root systems of plants and trees. They sense and integrate information using electrical signals and some of the same neurotransmitters as in the human brain and gut.

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