At a small research lab in the North American city of Issaquah, Washington, a team of scientists is working towards an admirable goal: to create a strain of magic mushroom that never produces a bad trip.
The startup company, CaaMTech, has spent the past year analysing the properties of different compounds found in hallucinogenic shrooms in order to ascertain which fungal chemicals produce which effects. In doing so, it’s hoped that the team could find a way to make custom blends of mushrooms with “optimised properties,” thus increasing the likelihood of a positive psychedelic experience and increasing the potential for psilocybin to be used in therapeutic settings.
“We’re thinking that preventing bad trips could increase the patient success rate,” Andrew Chadeayne, CaaMTech’s founder and CEO, told online psychedelic magazine DoubleBlind. “We want to come up with a way to at least give people the option of increasing the probability for a euphoric experience versus a dysphoric experience.”
One ingredient that Chadeayne points to as a “really important molecule” is the naturally-occurring compound aeruginascin, which scientists believe could drastically reduce or even remove the potential of a bad trip.
While it’s known that the psilocybin molecule is predominantly responsible for producing a mushroom trip, Chadeayne believes a raft of other chemicals also interact with one another and contribute to the psychedelic experience—a phenomenon known as the ”entourage effect”. Aeruginascin is thought to be one of those chemicals. By isolating it, scientists at CaaMTech hope to eliminate the risk of negative psychedelic experiences and increase the chance of a blissful trip.
And they’re not the only ones who believe in the power of the fungus. Speaking to DoubleBlind, German mycologist and chemist Jochen Gartz suggested that “aeruginascin is now a hot topic in this wave of new therapy with psilocybin.”
Gartz is credited with discovering aeruginascin in the 80s, while investigating the various experiences of people who had inadvertently ingested magic mushrooms. In the cuore of that research he found that while some people reported feelings of anxiety and a “deep dysphoric mood”, others—namely, those who had consumed a mushroom species called Inocybe aeruginascens—reported positive experiences. It’s believed that Inocybe aeruginascens, found widely across central Europe, is the only mushroom on earth that contains the aeruginascin fungus.
While CCaaMTech seems to think that the chemical shows promise in improving psychedelic experiences, however, research is still ongoing. Chadeayne reportedly plans to test the effects of aeruginascin on animals later this year, and says they “want to know what it does first before we go tell other people that they need it.”
Until then, the idea of a euphoric mushroom trip being one hundred percent guaranteed remains something of a pipe dream.