Baeocystin Guide: Effects, Benefits, Risks, and Legality

Baeocystin Guide: Effects, Benefits, Risks, and Legality

Psilocybin is the most widely known and studied compound in magic mushrooms, But it is not the only active substance these fungi contain. Some species have relatively high quantities of baeocystin, a naturally occurring alkaloid (psychoactive plant compound) with a similar chemical structure. 

This guide details the latest information on baeocystin’s most common sources, chemical structure, effects, and legality.  It also covers baeocystin potency and mushroom testing

What Is Baeocystin?

Baeocystin is one of the four main psychedelic alkaloids that have been identified in psilocybin-containing mushrooms, along with norbaeocystin, psilocin, and psilocybin. 

Alkaloids are a group of chemical compounds found in various plants, especially mushrooms, with potentially psychoactive effects. The source of these compounds is the amino acid tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin.

Sources of Baeocystin

Baeocystin is a chemical compound belonging to the tryptamine family, which are organic compounds found in various organisms, including plants, fungi, and animals. 

Baeocystin occurs primarily in psilocybin-containing magic mushroom species. 

Scientists Albert Leung and Ara Paul discovered baeocystin in 1967. They named it after the mushroom they isolated it from: Psilocybe baeocystis (commonly known as “bluebells” or “olive caps”), a psychoactive species that grows primarily on the West Coast of North America.

Since its discovery, scientists have detected traces of baeocystin in all Psilocybe (psilocybin-containing) species and mushrooms of the genus Panaeolus and Copelandia, including:

  • Psilocybe cubensis
  • Psilocybe mexicana
  • Psilocybe azurescens 
  • Psilocybe cyanescens
  • Psilocybe tampanensis
  • Psilocybe semilanceata
  • Panaeolus renenosus
  • Panaeolus subbalteatus 
  • Copelandia chlorocystis

Among Psilocybe cubensis, the most common psychedelic mushrooms, baeocystin is present in species such as Treasure Coast Albino, B+, Mazatapec, and the popular Thai. 

Baeocystin Chemical Structure and Active Mechanisms

Baeocystin and psilocybin belong to a class of compounds known as tryptamines, which closely resemble the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT). 

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This structural similarity allows psilocybin and baeocystin to bind with and activate serotonin receptors, including the 5-HT2A receptor responsible for inducing psychedelic experiences. Due to the similarities in their chemical structure, baeocystin classifies as a psilocybin derivative or analog.

Chemically, baeocystin differs from psilocybin by one methyl group, and many describe it as the “N-demethylated derivative of psilocybin.” The presence or absence of one methyl group might seem like a small structural change, but it can result in significant changes in pharmacology. For example, amphetamine and methamphetamine differ only by one methyl group but display dramatically different activity.

There is only one study to date focusing on baeocystin’s hallucinatory activity. In 2020, Alexander Sherwood and researchers at the Usona Institute measured the head twitch response (HTR, a reliable predictor of hallucinatory effect in humans) of mice exposed to different concentrations of baeocystin. The results showed two significant yet contradictory results: 

  • Baeocystin displayed no HTR in mice, suggesting the compound might not be able to cross the blood-brain barrier to have a hallucinatory effect on its own. 
  • However, researchers found that norpsilocin (baeocystin’s metabolized form) was more potent than psilocin when tested on the 5-HT2A receptor directly. 

Putting these pieces together suggests that baeocystin might not significantly contribute to psychedelic effects as an individual compound, but could exert a synergistic influence with psilocybin in the body. 

Some scientists think that mushroom compounds, like cannabis, create an “Entourage Effect,” working synergistically in the body to maximize their impact. As suggested by the Sherwood study, baeocystin may play a role in generating the overall magic mushroom experience. 

Baeocystin Effects

Scientists are still investigating baeocystin’s psychedelic potential. Regardless, baeocystin likely amplifies psilocybin’s effects in magic mushrooms and anecdotally may have psychoactive properties all its own.  Depending on the dosage, baeocystin-containing magic mushrooms can cause:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Altered sensory perception, such as brighter colors, more complex patterns, and louder sounds
  • Changes in thinking and cognition, such as increased creativity and introspection and reduced fear and anxiety
  • Changes in perception of time and space, as if time is moving faster or slower
  • Mystical or spiritual experiences

Baeocystin Research for Medical Benefits

A growing body of research indicates that using psychoactive alkaloids such as psilocybin and MDMA to treat disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is highly effective. However, no human research has isolated baeocystin from other mushroom compounds to determine its individual influence. The few anecdotal reports available on baeocystin often contradict each other, with some users reporting activity at low dosages while others reporting no activity at all. 

The Sherwood study, which provided data on the first biological screenings of baeocystin and norpsilocin, can serve as a springboard to dive deeper into future research. 

Also, thanks to CaaMTech scientists, who solved the crystal structure of baeocystin in 2022, researchers now have a synthesis route for making baeocystin and norpsilocin in the lab. By making the compounds, scientists can begin to understand baeocystin’s pharmacological properties. 

Baeocystin Legality

Baeocystin is not listed as a DEA-banned compound. However, psilocybin-containing mushrooms are federally illegal and are the primary sources of baeocystin.

Magic mushrooms are banned nationwide, except for about a dozen cities as well as two states–Oregon and Colorado. 

Baeocystin in Psilocybin Mushroom Dosing 

Little data exists on baeocystin’s human pharmacology and effects in mushroom dosing, except for a few anecdotal reports. For example, in the book Magic Mushrooms Around the World, author Jochen Gartz found baeocystin levels as high as 0.34% by dry weight, or about one-third the concentration of psilocybin. For dosing, Gartz reported that:

  • “10 mg of baeocystin were found to be about as psychoactive as a similar amount of psilocybin.” 
  • 4 mg of pure baeocystin caused “a gentle hallucinogenic experience.”

Bottom Line

Baeocystin, a psilocybin analog with a similar chemical structure, is one of the main psychedelic alkaloids found in psilocybin mushrooms. Currently, little research exists on baeocystin, yet scientists believe it might play a vital role in the psychedelic effects humans experience. Further studies on the biological impacts of baeocystin and its metabolites could help researchers better understand psychedelics and the potential therapeutic benefits of these substances. 

With magic mushroom use increasing in popularity, mycological enthusiasts, medicinal patients, and DEA-licensed clients want to be better informed about products and their active ingredients. ACS Laboratory has cutting-edge techniques and equipment to ensure the potency and purity of multiple psychedelic compounds, including psilocybin and baeocystin.

Contact ACS Laboratory about psychedelic mushroom testing. 

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