Why magic mushrooms cause nausea

Why magic mushrooms cause nausea—and how this trick can help

Psilocybin mushrooms recently washed over the topic of mental health therapeutics like an elated wave. A potential treatment for anxiety, migraines, and even bipolar disorder. But, not all shrooms are for those worried about an upset stomach or unwilling to detach from their ego. So, why do magic mushrooms cause nausea?

A strong shroom that may or may not lead to an upset stomach

Psilocybe azurescens

Drug activation

Therapeutic, magic mushrooms contain multiple forms (analogs) of DMT, the alledged dream drug. A few different molecules exist in mushrooms that branch off of the inactive prodrug known as psilocybin, all of which are related to DMT as well as serotonin. Yes, psilocybin is inactive. But it easily breaks down or transforms into an intoxicating substance known as psilocin. In fact, raw psilocybe mushrooms also contain small amounts of this active variation. Alternatively, the acid in your gut and enzymes in your intestines will react with the inactive psilocybin. From here, fat-soluble psilocin is created and will absorb into the body within approximately thirty to forty minutes after the shrooms are consumed (onset).

Reaction that makes mushroom cause nausea

Conversion (dephosphorylation) of psilocybin to psilocin

Lab tested mushrooms—and toads?

The chemical reaction that takes place is psilocybin (4-PO-DMT) + gastric juice +/ intestinal enzymes (alkaline phosphatase) -> psilocin (4-HO-DMT.) Interestingly, certain mushrooms but also psychedelic Bufo toads contain bufotenin (5-HO-DMT.)

So, if margarine is one molecule away from plastic, then magic mushrooms are one hydroxyl group away from licking toad.

As for magic mushrooms, pure psilocybin can cause nausea since the chemical reaction can be harsh on the gut. Therefore, it helps if this reaction occurs more in the fungus, or at least outside of the body. Because of this, it will benefit consumers if the percentages of both, psilocybin and psilocin, are on labels once shrooms become legal. Strains that are higher in psilocin might be easier on the body but will also hit you faster.

Colorado River Toad, Please do not lick.

Lemon tek your tea for gut assistance

Alternatively, a magic mushroom tea with lemon to increase the acidity will help the reaction. Also, ginger lemon tea by itself typically needs no introduction to gastrointestinal relief. The catch? Shroom tea provides effects for up to four to five hours, whereas the effects of psilocybin mushrooms digested raw can last seven hours.

This is due to the different rates of absorption in the stomach compared to the intestines. Of course, a shorter trip can be a benefit, depending on the person and the situation.

Beyond active ingredients, raw mushroom flesh of any kind is typically indigestible and can cause nausea and other health issues. There are also potential pathogens in fungi that will be killed if they are cooked. Unfortunately, too much heat will destroy psilocin and other therapeutic ingredients so it is best to stick with simmering hot water.

My magic mushroom tea recipe is as follows:

  • Chop or grind your favourite psilocybe mushrooms
  • Make lemon tek: In a small container (a shot glass for example) add enough lemon or lime juice to cover the chopped mushrooms and stir occasionally for 30 minutes at room temperature or cold.
  • Combine the mushrooms AND lemon juice into a small pot of boiling water and keep the concoction on a simmer. Do not use more than one cup (250 ml) of water per one gram of mushrooms.
  • Wait for thirty to forty minutes for the mushrooms to steep. (A more distinct mushroom odor might be noticed close to complete infusion.)
  • Add your favourite tea partway through steeping.
  • Optional: strain the tea through a coffee filter or fine strainer to remove the mushrooms from the liquid after infusion. Squeeze out the remaining liquid and dilute to taste after the tea is infused and strained.
The Psychedelic Experience teaches how to use shrooms without an upset stomach

Reading from the book “The Pyschedelic experience” by Timothy Leory, Ph.D, Ralph Metzner, Ph.D, and Richard Alpert, Ph.D


Microdoses of therapeutic shrooms are often recommended for optimal medicinal benefit. Smaller doses of magic mushrooms will not cause nausea or general intoxication. If the dose is a little too large for your body at that time though, euphoria can be felt with a subtle shift in contrast, visually.

Open-eye and auditory hallucinations, anxiety, and even psychosis can also be experienced which is more prevalent in high-doses. The three-steps referenced by the Psychedelic Experience – a reiteration of the Bardo Thodol, The Tibetan Book of the Dead – essentially require one to let go. Therefore, meditative practices can complement therapeutic shrooms at almost any dose, especially if they have led to an upset stomach.

If one does not want to let go of game, of societies competitive relentless, their bodies may reject the experience. This can cause severe nausea, discomfort, and a potentially bad trip on magic mushrooms. Unfortunately, letting go is typically easier said than done. This is why trip-sitters, spiritual guides who are knowledgeable in talking people through these experiences, are so important.

This is why we generally recommend microdoses, lemon-checked tea, optimal strains, and proper set and setting. These steps will help anyone worried about an upset stomach but are truly curious if they can benefit from psychedelic shrooms.

Azurescens are the strongest species of shrooms but can cause temporary paralysis. Whereas, psilocybe cubensis is the most common variety of magic mushrooms with many well-balanced phenotypes.

Let us know how you deal with an upset stomach caused by shrooms in the comments. And stay tuned to learn how these therapeutic, psilocybe mushrooms can affect our endocannabinoid systems.

Title photo courtesy of Reset.me – a more traditional Mexican mushroom tea. Or, check out Paul Stamets’ MAPS lecture for instructions on ice water extraction of psilocybin from fresh mushrooms for an alternate option.