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What is Copelandia cyanescens?
Copelandia cyanescens is one of the many species of fungi that contains tryptamine alkaloids. It means it is mind-altering, or psychoactive. It has been known as a Hawaiian species because it is found and consumed there most frequently, but it seems to be of Asian origin.
More than 180 species of fungi are recognized as containing the tryptamine alkaloids psilocine and/or psilocybine. They are Agaricales and include the genera Psilocybe (117 species), Gymnopilus (13 species), Panaeolus (7 species), Copelandia (12 species), Hypholoma (6 species), Pluteus (6 species), Inocybe (6 species), Conocybe (4 species), and Agrocybe, Galerina and Mycena (one each). Concerning the distribution of Psilocybe, the majority of the species are found in the subtropical humid forests of Mexico and New Guinea. Mexico has the highest number of neurotropic fungi, with 76 species), of which 44 belong to Psilocybe (39 % of the world). They have a long history of use in Mexico and are currently one of the most popular and commonly available natural psychedelics.
At an archaeological site in the Non Nak Tha region of northern Thailand, the bones of zebu cattle were recently unearthed in conjunction with human remains. We know that Psilocybe cubensis flourishes in the manure of cattle and buffalo in this region of north-eastern Thailand. Terence McKenna has suggested that the temporal and physical relationship between the human bones and the bones of cattle is conclusive evidence that psychoactive mushrooms were known to the people who frequented this region around 15,000 B.P. (McKenna, 1992).
On the Tassili Plains in northern Algeria, cave paintings dating as far back as 9000 B. C. E. (Samorini. 1992; Gartz, 1996) portray anthropomorphic figures with mushroom images on their bodies, evidence that mushrooms were known and used in a mystic manner. Emboden (1979) describes, among traditional folk remedies from the 2nd century Chin dynasty in China, a cure for ‘the laughing sickness', mushroom intoxication attributed to the accidental ingestion of psilocybian mushrooms.
In Central and Southern America use of psilocybin mushrooms (and other hallucinogens) was common until the arrival of Spaniards who spread the Catholic faith with sword and fire and forbade the use. The Mixtec Indians even had a god for hallucinatory plants, especially the divine mushroom, who is called Seven Flower and is depicted with a pair of mushrooms in his hand (Wasson 1898). But also the Aztec had their god for the entheogens, Xochipilli, Prince of Flowers. Mushrooms ingested by the indians were supposedly Psilocybe mexicana or caerulescens and Panaolus sphinctrinus.
The appeal of mushrooms in the "modern world" originated when Gordon Wasson came to the Mazatec village of Huatla de Jimenez, and experienced a session of "velada" held by curandera Maria Sabina. Velada included a religious ritual under a heavy influence of Psilocybe mushrooms (Wasson 1898). Information about the mushrooms spread and experimentation began. In 1958 the active ingredients of the mushroom, Psilocybin and psilocin, were found and their analogues were synthesized by Dr. Albert Hoffman, who also discovered lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) (Schwartz 1988). Experimentation with the mushrooms historically increased, leading to their significant influence in the part of the "60's psychedelic movement" (The Vaults of Erowid: Sacred mushrooms.). And even these days, Psilocybin mushrooms are one of the most common hallucinogenic substances for recreational use (Adlaf 1998).
Copelandia cyanescens, which seems to be of Asian origin, may have been introduced into the Hawaiian Islands with cattle which were imported from the Philippines during the early 1800's. It has been identified twice: it was originally reported and described from Sri Lanka by Berkeley and Broome in 1871 as Agaricus cyanescens. A few years later it was identified from the Philippines as Copelandia papilionacea by Bresadola (1881-92).
Together with two other melanosporous species Copelandia cyanescens belongs to the family Coprinaceae and is primarily coprophilic, but has been known to occur in grassland areas where manure had previously been deposited. They are commonly found in Hawaii, Louisiana and Florida (United States); Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia (South America); The Philippines, Eastern Australia, India, Bali, Southeast Asia and other similar locations.
The mushroom is small with a long narrow stem, and with a light-coloured head. A characteristic of these psychoactive species is the intense bluing reaction which occurs through oxidation when the flesh of the mushroom has been damaged by handling. This confirms to some collectors that the gilled fungi are not deadly mushrooms. While some mycologists believe that the bluing reaction in C. cyanescens is variable and often absent, others often report its occurrence in this species as common and intense.
Copelandia cyancescens contains more psilocin than psilocybin. Its concentration of these (psychoactive) alkaloids is higher than in any other mushroom ever found (Schultes and Hofmann 1980). The primary difference between the two is that psilocin is unstable and it breaks down when the mushroom is dried, while psilocybin lasts much longer (a 115-year old mushroom sample was found to contain some). The two are equally psychoactive, since one molecule of psilocybin breaks down into one molecule of psilocin. These substances increase the dopamine level in the brain which is what causes the trip.
The historical mind-altering effects of psilocybin are described as a voyage to the spirit world. These hallucinogenic effects are similar to those of LSD; however, psilocybin is two hundred times less potent and also has a shorter duration time (Schwartz 1988). Common physiological reactions include muscular relaxation, coldness of the limbs and abdomen, and dilation of the pupils. A somewhat stronger dose includes vision and mental hallucinations, powerful distortion of space, increased ability to visualize creatively, spontaneous detailed images, feelings of time distortion. These effects of psilocybin are often more pronounced in users who have used mushrooms before. So, the use of the mushroom causes a feeling of disconnection from reality and an altered state of consciousness (Cumno 1994).
The nature of this trip depends upon the person taking it and the mood/state of mind that person is in. So your experience can be quite different from what you can read here or hear from other people.
At first there might occur some side effects; unlike an hangover from alcohol afterwards, mushrooms give sort of a hangover before the actual trip starts. This includes a feeling of reduced temperature, gas and/or stomach discomfort and nausea. This is where a bad trip could start, remember this only happens when you come to think negative about it, these feelings then become stronger and exaggerated and this negative spiral influences the effects in the same way. This is more likely to happen to people who have a history of being depressed, schizofrenic or traumatized. So if you suffer from one of these, but also if you feel stressed, tensed or just not happy, do not take mushrooms.
Copelandia mushrooms are stronger than cubensis mushrooms and are said to give a more visual trip with lucid and 'tropical' colors.
When taking a medium dose the trip takes about 4 - 6 hours and wears down gradually. The interval between hallucinations gets longer, until they disappear completely.
Psilocybin is the active substance that has been and will be (more often in the future) used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. But, for this purpose this mushroom will not be the best choice. Because its levels of psilocine are pretty high, other mushrooms are more suitable and give less side-effects.
Copelandia cyanescens, one of eight binomials published in the genus Copelandia, has also been classified as Panaeolus (subgenus Copelandia) cyanescens (see Allen et al., 1992 and Weeks et al. 1979). According to Guzmán, (pers. comm., 1988), P. cyanescens and C. cyanescens are the same species following two different taxonomic positions.
Panaeolus cyanescens and Psilocybe cyanescens are not the same mushroom. The confusion comes when both species, Panaeolus cyanescens(the subtropical species) and Psilocybe cyanescens(the wood lover) are abbreviated P. cyanescens.
For a dose, use 7 to 10 fresh mushrooms (about 10 grams) or 1-2 grams dried.
Most psychonauts agree that making mushroom tea the easiest way of consuming them. Poor some hot water over the dried and shredded mushrooms, wait five to ten minutes, separate the liquid and repeat with some more hot water.
The mushrooms, fresh or dried, can also be mixed with orange juice, hot chocolate, water-honey and spices.
It should be noted that like all 'major' hallucinogens, psilocybin can precipitate psychotic episodes and uncover or aggravate previous mental illness. If you're stressed out or depressed, don't take mushrooms; if you have schizophrenia or something alike, DO NOT take mushrooms.
A feeling of reduced temperature, gas and/or stomach discomfort and nausea are quite common, although not everyone experiences these effects. Keep in mind that they're absolutely normal and do not let it put you down (which is not good for the rest of the trip).
Combining this mushroom with MAOIs is not recommended, however, after consuming MAOIs only half the dose of mushrooms is needed and the trip lasts about two hours longer. But because of the consequences MAOIs have, its absolutely necessary to be very careful.
Smoking marihuana on the comeup will ruin the clearheadedness that mushrooms have caused. When smoked at the peak, the THC synergizes with the psilocybin/cin and jumps things up a notch and then recedes to a more mellow trip. Lastly, when smoked on the comedown, the pot brings back the trip to some effect; nowhere near the peak effects but definitely a marked increase in activity.
Growing C. cyanescens is not as easy as other strains like P. cubensis. Therefore not much information is available, but still with some dedication and the right materials it is definitely possible at home. The Shroomery helps you out.
Fresh mushrooms can be stored in the fridge for about two weeks. But the least unpleasant is to eat them as fresh as possible or to dry them. Dried mushrooms are slightly less potent than the fresh ones, but can be stored for years.
Links / References
Psilocybe from The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances by Richard Rudgley. Including Gordon Wassons psilocybin experience with curandera Maria Sabina.
The Ascent and Spread of Psilocybian Mushroom Consciousness by John W. Allen with James Arthur
Mushroom John's Shroom World online articles and books by John W. Allen
This article is based on the following pages:
Copelandia and Other Psychoactive Fungi in Hawaii by John W. Allen and Mark D. Merlin, 1989. Newsletter Hawaiian Society Botanical vol. 28(2):27-30.
The Ascent and Spread of Psilocybian Mushroom Consciousness by John W. Allen with James Arthur
Species identification and chemical analysis of psychoactive fungi in the Hawaiian islands by Mark D. Merlin and John W. Allen