We are delighted to have snagged this interview with Psilocybin expert Voight, who has been growing his own mushrooms and using them for years. He has been generous with his knowledge of cultivating Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms as well as sharing his personal experience of how they have helped him overcome anxiety and depression. Many of our readers have asked for more information on this topic and we are so happy to share this interview conducted by Head Magazine Editor and Publisher, Charlotte Parker.
Charlotte Parker: Hi Voight. Welcome to HeadMagazine.com. We’re delighted to have you join us. I know that you’re a mushroom expert and we’re thrilled to have you.
How did you start growing mushrooms?
Voight: Well, I started with edible mushrooms. As a child, I was always interested in them. I found them fascinating for some reason. I started out with a few mushroom kits, and then later in life, I reached a point where I needed, or I wanted to try medicinal mushrooms or psychedelic mushrooms because my mental state at the time was very poor, and nothing else was working.
None of the drugs the doctors gave me, nothing like that was affecting it. I decided, “Hey, why don’t I try growing mushrooms, and maybe that would help?”
I bought some equipment and found some spores from a local source and got to growing and read plenty of books about it, learned as much as I could and I’m happy to say that they do help, so it was time well spent.
Charlotte: That’s wonderful. About how long ago did you start growing these mushrooms?
Voight: It’s been a couple of years. I started with a small tub in the corner of a room filled with dirt and moved on to a bigger– I guess it’s a greenhouse sort of cabinet, that goes in the corner of the room. I live in the desert, so I can’t grow them outside.
It has to be self-contained, but the barrier to entry was pretty low. Just buy a tupperware container or a plastic tub. The worst part is getting the soil and the sterilized substrate, but other than that, it’s very easy to get going.
Charlotte: What type of mushrooms do you mostly grow?
Voight: My favorite strain right now is called Oak Ridge. It was found in Tennessee five miles from the Oak Ridge nuclear production facility, which is why it gets the name, but they’re easy to grow. They’re extremely hardy. They can fight off plenty of infections, molds, anything that would contaminate the batch. Really just let them sit there and do their own thing. Mist them once or twice a day.
Charlotte: The Oak Ridge, are they psilocybin mushrooms?
Voight: They are, yes.
Charlotte: All the mushrooms that we’re growing here are psilocybin mushrooms?
Voight: Yes. These are all going to be Psilocybe cubensis. I don’t grow any of the Mexicanas or the Blue meanies, or anything like that. I stick with the Psilocybe cubensis so far. They’re all hallucinogenic, but the Blue meanies or Mexican strains can be a little stronger.
Charlotte: What kind of strain is this?
Voight: It’s called Oak Ridge, or I believe some people call it the Entheogen Explosion. I believe that’s the marketing name that they’ve come up with for it.
Charlotte: Entheogenic Explosion?
Charlotte: Is this a different strain of psilocybin? Is that the idea?
Voight: They’re all Psilocybe cubensis. They’re all the same species of mushroom, but it’s like having different cannabis strains or different cultivars within that species. They all have different physical features, different effects, different potencies, but typically they all look relatively similar. They all have their own little unique different features.
In my experience, the caps will be on the gold side. They’ll almost look like a little hat on top, or almost like a nipple almost, for lack of a better term. That’s an easy way to tell.
Charlotte: You mentioned a warning about seeing them in the wild.
Voight: I just do want to add that no one should go look for these things in the wild. Don’t eat mushrooms you find in the wild. That’s just a disclaimer from me. If you want to try this, get it from a reputable dealer, or grow them yourself, don’t go out into the wild and try and find them because there are a lot of mushrooms that look like edible mushrooms or hallucinogenic mushrooms that you can take, but they will kill you. I just want to lay that out. Don’t go eating wild mushrooms you find in the forest unless you know what you’re doing, of course.
Charlotte: You said to get them from a reputable place. How do you find a reputable place either to buy the mushrooms themselves or to find the way to get the strain to grow them yourself?
Voight: Mushrooms are becoming more common these days. You can actually buy the spores. A lot of head shops or smoke stores, paraphernalia shops, I guess, if you want to call them that. The spores themselves are not illegal. You can transport them, you can mail them, and you can take them across state lines.
The spores are not federally controlled. It’s only whenever they start fruiting into mushrooms and producing the psilocybin is when they become illegal.
You can buy the spores online, which is what I recommend. I use sporeworks.com . They have several varieties.
I prefer the Oakridge strain. They’re very hardy; they grow quickly with good potency and are a good beginner mushroom.
Charlotte: How do you actually grow the mushrooms? What materials do you need to get started?
Voight: The hardest part about the materials is sterilizing the substrate or sterilizing the grain spawn or sterilization in general. If you don’t buy a pre-sterilized bag of grain, you’ll need to buy some grain.
It can be barley, wheat …I’ve seen people use rice. Any nutritive material flour or whole grain works, but to sterilize it yourself, you have to put it in a pressure cooker, some people microwave the grain for a little bit to kill any of the bacteria, then you have to bag it and seal it up. You have to be someone who has basically laboratory levels of cleanliness at that stage.
Charlotte: Can you buy that sterilized grain?
Voight: You can. That’s what I recommend. I buy most of my materials at northspore.com and the spores at sporeworks.com .
Charlotte: Do you think it’s better to microwave it yourself?
Voight: I tried sterilizing my own substrate and I didn’t do it right, and I ended up with a contaminated batch. Honestly, the easiest thing is just you can just buy the pre-sterilized bags online. That’s what I recommend, especially if you’re just starting out, because it’s going to be a bit of a barrier to entry.
Charlotte: Once you get the bag of grain, then what happens?
Voight: The bag of grain comes in a clear plastic bag, vacuum-sealed with a rubber gasket on the front. You get a hypodermic needle with a 10 -12 gauge needle, and you make a solution with the spores in it. You stick the needle in and just inject two to five milliliters of spores into the spawn. You put it in a cabinet, put it in a dark, cool place, and just wait.
Over the next couple of days or weeks, you’ll see these white fingers of mycelium reaching out and grabbing the grain and pulling it in and starting to consume it and colonize it. Then by the end, the grain is just completely encased in mushroom tissue or mushroom mycelium.
At that point, it’s ready to be put in the tub with the dirt or with the substrate or the dirt, and it’s ready to grow and start fruiting.
Charlotte: Once it does that, you take it out of the bag and you put it in special dirt?
Voight: The substrate or the dirt has to be sterilized as well. Again, I do recommend you buy the sterilized dirt. You sterilize your own, and it’s doable at home. You do need some extra equipment but optimally I just buy the sterilized.
Charlotte: Then you put the sprouting mushrooms into the dirt?
Voight: Yes. You cut the brick of mycelium out of the bag. What you do is you make a mycelium lasagna almost. You sterilize everything, clean your hands, make sure everything is spotless.
You’ll put a layer of the substrate on the bottom, put a little bit of the dirt grain spawn. You let the mushroom colonize the dirt as well, or the substrate, and whenever that’s fully colonized you’ll cover that in either cocoa coir or you can use wood chips.
You need something to hold the moisture into the dirt so it doesn’t evaporate out. The covering doesn’t have to be sterilized as long as it’s clean, but cover it.
Then after that, you just keep it moist. You open it or you keep constant airflow going through it to move oxygen over the mycelium to keep it breathing. You’ll keep it moist, ideally 95% humidity, something like that. Mushrooms love moisture. They’ll soak it up like sponges. It helps them get larger. It’ll help them keep them from cracking whenever they grow.
Charlotte: You just what, you water them or mist them or what?
Voight: Yes, you’ll just mist them. Give them a fine mist out of a spray bottle. You don’t have to use a garden hose or anything. You don’t want them too moist or mold can start growing instead of mushrooms and that can kill the entire colony, some of those types of mold. If that happens, you have to throw the whole thing out.
After that, after it’s colonized, it’s honestly just a waiting game. Some of the species will double in size overnight whenever they get going, but the hardest part is staying sterile, staying clean, making sure there’s no mold, or contamination inside of the actual tubs. Overall, you just sit back and let them do their own thing.
Charlotte: Is there trial and error? Were you able to do it the first time or did you mess it up?
Voight: Oh, yes, lots of mistakes. First batch was contaminated. A white patch started forming in the substrate and it spread through the mycelium and it started turning blue green, a sure sign of mold. So, I threw the whole thing out.
I just want to say if someone has a terrible allergy to mold, I wouldn’t recommend growing mushrooms because sometimes the fungal spores spread. They’re hard to clean up and they float around. Although it’s not a problem for most people… but if someone has a bad allergy I would recommend staying away.
Charlotte: Isn’t it dangerous for people to eat that stuff if it’s bad? You’re saying only once you see the actual mushrooms should you imbibe any of that stuff, right?
Voight: The mushrooms themselves are like apples or oranges. They’re fruits. What the mycelium or the fungi uses to reproduce the actual living part of the mushroom is underneath. The mycelium, which is what you’re cultivating most of the time, it’s that white brick. That’s the actual organism that is the fungus or that specific breed of fungi. It’s almost like a neural network.
Charlotte: What happens if someone eats that?
Voight: It doesn’t taste great, but other than that, some people say it has beneficial effects on cognition. It helps speed up your thoughts; it helps with mood. I’ve seen people slice it up and grill it. It’s not going to hurt you. It’s completely edible; it’s completely usable. It’s not going to get you high if that’s what you’re after.
Charlotte: So it’s not going to get you the same level of psychedelic experience that the mushroom itself would.
Voight: No, the mycelium itself does not produce any psilocybin, to my knowledge. Maybe a minute amount. It’s not enough that you’d want to consume it, outside of any medicinal effects that may impart.
The mushrooms themselves are what contain the psilocybin; the mature fruiting body of the fungi is what produces the psilocybin.
You can tell because whenever you cut a mushroom off the block, it’ll turn blue wherever it takes a cut or if you touch it. It will start turning blue where any trauma happens, and that’s the psilocybin starting to oxidize. That’s also a way to tell if the mushroom is psychedelic or not is that whenever you cut it or tear the mushroom or give it any damage, it’ll start turning blue there, or it’ll start turning like a really rich vibrant blue there.
Charlotte: That’s interesting. What are the dos and don’ts here? Also about how long does this whole process take?
Voight: From spawning to harvesting, depending on the species, the strain and the conditions – how hardy it is – from spawning to harvest, maybe a month and a half or a little less.
Voight: Regarding the spawning, depending on how hardy the strain or how fast-growing it is, it will colonize the grain, spawn in a week, maybe a week and a half.
I’ve had some take two, two and a half weeks to do that. It just really just depends on the individual spores. Then from preparing the substrate to actually harvesting is going to be maybe two, three weeks.
Charlotte: Any dos and don’ts, best practices, what to avoid, that sort of thing?
Voight: The most important thing that you need to do is just be clean. Wash your hands, sterilize all your surfaces, get a spray bottle of 90% alcohol, as high as you can get, and just douse everything in it. Wipe it down three or four times. Just make sure, hell, if there’s been moldy bread in the kitchen or if I saw something had mold on it, I’ll go over before I do the spawn and just go over it four or five times just to make sure none of the spores are hanging around.
That’s the most important part of the whole process. If you get that down, everything else is just follow a checklist. Always wash your hands, always sterilize all your surfaces, make sure you have filters to go on your tub so you can keep airflow through it. No spores are going to get in there and start contaminating it.
Charlotte: Is there a setup in general that somebody can purchase?
Voight: There is, yes. There are mushroom spawning tubs online. They are a little pricey, but they are pre-drilled. They have specialized airflow, I suppose. Honestly, the easiest thing to start growing is getting one of those clear storage bins and drill holes in the top and a grid. Measure out one-inch spaces, drill holes every one inch to have a nice airflow. Then you’ll want to drill some holes on the side. The biggest thing here is airflow, but also staying clean.
Charlotte: Do you cover them when they grow?
Voight: Yes. You’ll want to keep the cover on them all the time while they’re colonizing. You never want to open that tub until you’re confident that the mycelium has colonized the entire substrate block – just because before that it’s very susceptible to contamination. Any bacterial colonies, any other fungal spores, mold, anything like that at the early stages can ruin the whole batch and completely turn it from a nice block of healthy mushroom to just a toxic, nasty thing. It smells a lot.
Charlotte: If that happens, can a person see that it’s happened?
Voight: Definitely, yes. Use your nose, use your eyes. If there’s any strange patches of blue or something looks slimy or starts getting black, if it looks like it’s starting to rot, or it looks like there’s other fungus in there that you’re not cultivating – just throw it out.
Charlotte: When you throw this out, it would be best to throw it out responsibly and wrap it up?
Voight: Yes. If it’s contaminated I always would wrap it up and put it in the garbage and make sure it goes to some place where it won’t hurt anyone.
Charlotte: When do you harvest? Do you harvest them all at once?
Voight: You won’t do all of them at once. The mushrooms have a pretty regular rate of growth, so mushrooms that have started forming around the same time will typically be harvested at the same time, just from the constant rate of growth they have going on. I usually harvest them right as the cap is starting to open up, but right before the veil underneath breaks.
Whenever the mushroom is growing, the cap is actually attached to the stem by this veil. It’s a very thin layer of tissue that covers the gills of the mushroom that I’m sure we’ve all seen. The gills are where the spores are produced and the reproductive cells. The veil protects the gills until the cap starts opening up to spread the spores as far as it can.
I usually harvest right after the veil starts to break, but before a cap is opened up all the way because you want to harvest them before it starts to sporulate because if you don’t, your entire tub will be coated in this, it’s like a fine soot almost if you rub your finger through it. That’s just all the spores that the mushrooms have dropped and it can interfere with second runs or it producing more mushrooms.
Also, I’ve heard, I’m not sure about this, but I’ve heard it reduces the psilocybin content of the freeing body itself after they sporulate. That may or may not be true, but it’s not ideal. It’s not aesthetically pleasing. It’s not good to taste. It’s something you’d really rather avoid.
Charlotte: How do you harvest the mushroom.? Do you break them – or cut them off?
Voight: There’s differing thoughts on this. I’ve used both methods just to experiment to see if there’s any difference. You can just grab them by the base and rock them a little bit and pull them off of the block and it’ll come out. It’ll just come out of the ground with some of the mycelium attached almost like roots. Some people say that damages the mycelium itself and actually slows down or inhibits further mushroom growth from that particular point on the block, but I haven’t noticed that myself. I haven’t noticed any difference.
Charlotte: What is the preferred way?
Voight: Most people would want to take a very sharp knife or a razor blade or something just very sharp. Be very careful, of course. Don’t hurt yourself, but just get close to the block and just cut through it, just slice it off and leave part of the stem on the block itself. I’ve heard that that helps more mushrooms grow from that particular spot instead of ripping it out of the– or pulling it off the block physically.
Charlotte: How much should a person take, and do you take it raw? Do you dry it?
Voight: The dosage will depend on if you take it fresh or if you take it dry. Fresh mushrooms are almost 90% water, something like that. It’s a lot of water in there. You need to take more fresh mushrooms if you want to get the same effect as taking dried.
My first time taking mushroom I did it with fresh mushrooms. I just went over and grabbed some off the block. You need more with the fresh – but I generally don’t recommend it and think it’s more practical and easier to take the dried. The dosage is more controllable and consistent.
I recommend eating them dried A good dose to start would be one gram.
Charlotte: You weigh it?
Voight: You’re going to weigh it – even half a gram if you want to start there.
Charlotte: That’s fresh?
Voight: This is dry. One gram dried is equivalent to 10 grams fresh.
Charlotte: How do you dry them?
Voight: You can put them in the sun. You can actually just put them on a tray out in the sun and let him dry that way.
Charlotte: How long does that take?
Voight: Oh, they can take, if they’re small mushrooms, an hour or two, but if they’re larger, it could be anywhere from 8 to 12 hours to dry them all the way.
You want to get them completely dry to where they’re breaking like potato chips, just to make sure that all the moisture content’s out so they don’t go bad sitting in there.
Again, a low dose would be one gram. That’s not going to give you too many hallucinations. You’re going to get a really happy drunk stupid buzz, like you’ve been drinking, but without the hangover. It’s like a really clean drunk feeling, or if you’ve ever smoked a really happy high.
Charlotte: Is that with the dried or the fresh?
Voight: This is with dried. It’s almost like if you’ve ever had a really, really goofy sativa strain of cannabis, it’s almost like that.
Charlotte: Something to it but it’s a happy—
Voight: Oh, yes. You’ll just sit there, you’ll be talking for hours it feels like and then you’ll look, the clock’s only been 10 minutes. Everything seems more interesting, you can engage more. It’s very social at that level in my experience at least. It’s hard to describe, but it’s just like an overwhelming euphoria, you’re just in a good mood. Everything seems a little clearer. Your senses are a little affected. You might get some swirling colors here and there, some patterns and images.
Charlotte: Does that happen every time?
Voight: For me, it’s happened every time.
Charlotte: Every time you take it it’s kind of similar, because I’ll notice, for example, if I take an edible, it’s not always the same even if I take the same edible from the same package.
Voight: Definitely. Sometimes I guess body chemistry at that time could affect it like headspace as well if you’re in the right mood to do it. Overall my experience has been pretty similar every time I’ve taken them, but yes, that low dose one gram you’re not going to trip, you’re not going to hallucinate too much. It’s not going to be the full blast going into space.
Charlotte: That’s if you take a particular amount, you mean?
Voight: Yes. That was taking one gram, which is a low dose of dried mushrooms. Depending on the potency of the individual mushroom that could be anywhere from maybe 10 milligrams of psilocybin – to a little more than a gram.
Charlotte: Wait, so you’re saying to get that effect you take how much?
Voight: For that effect, you would take one gram of dried mushroom.
Charlotte: The one gram is 10 milligrams?
Voight: Yes. That’s a rough conversion. Some strains are more potent. Some strains will have more psilocybin per gram.
Charlotte: You have to get a scale that weighs in grams.
Voight: At the beginning always need to start low. If you’re not sure if you’re sensitive to it, or if you think you might not like it, start with half of whatever I’m saying. Instead of taking one gram, take half a gram. It’s all very personal and individual. At some point, you find your own dose. Everyone’s different.
Charlotte: Is there a danger if someone takes too much?
Voight: There’s no physical danger. The psilocybin itself is a prodrug actually which means it doesn’t act– The psilocybin itself in the mushrooms doesn’t get you high. That has no effect on the human body. It’s the metabolite cylocin. That’s what gets you high, and that’s what your body converts the psilocybin into. I’m not sure, I don’t want to get too technical, but the cylocin, the actual active substance in the mushroom, it has no known lethal dose. It’s non-addictive. It has no withdrawal. It’s very safe-
Charlotte: If you get too much—
Voight: -but if you take too much, you’re going to feel awful. You’re going to be tripping hard. I know some people who have taken massive doses, like 8 to 10 grams at one time and you’re gone. You’re gone, gone at that point, which can be terrifying. Which can be really scary for beginners if you take too much because at that point you’re just on the ride. You can’t get off of it.
Charlotte: The point then would be to be very careful about the amount that you take.
Voight: Yes. Start low, go slow, don’t rush it. You’re going to have time. If you need to increase your dosage, you don’t have to– like some substances, they get out of your system really quick, so you have to take the exact dose you need right then, but mushrooms the effects will last for 6 to 12 hours depending.
Charlotte: That’s what I wanted to ask. If you take this half a gram or gram, how long does the high last?
Voight: For one gram for just a small dose, for me, it’s lasted four to six hours. For higher doses it can last longer or shorter.
Charlotte: The one gram you’re saying you feel that you have a very happy– it makes you feel, it’s a euphoric, good feeling?
Voight: Good feeling. Just good vibes.
Charlotte: -and that lasts through the whole trip?
Voight: It does. For that level of intake, you’re not going to get too many side effects.
Charlotte: You were saying that about a gram of this particular one that is not the highest of the concentrations, you’re saying that gives you a really happy, good feeling.
Voight: Yes. For a low dose for most psilocybe or for most cyanescens you’re going to get, the mushroom’s going to be maybe 1%, 2% of psilocybin. You don’t need a lot. The mushroom itself doesn’t contain a lot. One gram of mushrooms will have about 10 milligrams of psilocybin, but I’m just going to use the weights of the mushroom.
One gram to one and a half grams or one gram, depending on your tolerance, how big you are, what your metabolism like, you’re not going to get any hallucinations from it, but it’s going to make things you’re doing feel better like hanging out with friends. You’ll be able to go out and socialize and still function and enjoy what you’re doing and not be too impaired.
Charlotte: You don’t recommend driving. You’re saying take an Uber.
Voight: Yes. Never operate any heavy equipment, never do anything that could put you in danger or put someone else in danger. Of course, just be very careful.
Charlotte: You can be social and hang out.
Voight: You go out on a hike, go to a concert maybe, go to a museum or something. I found it helps me appreciate art museums more. It helps me like get into the painter’s mind just a little more.
It’s a little bit of an empathogen as well. It enhances your emotional connectivity to what you’re doing and the people you’re talking to. At least for me, that level of one gram, a very low dose is very social, feels good. Feels just nice to go out and do whatever you’re doing.
Charlotte: You’ve mentioned that they’ve helped you through emotional difficulty- let’s say that they help with depression and anxiety and so forth. Does that dose help?
Voight: Yes. Low doses are not the same as microdoses. Microdoses they can be one-twentieth of an actual active dose.
Charlotte: What’s the difference between a dose and a microdose?
Voight: A microdose is just a sub-psychoactive amount that you can take on a daily basis, and after a while, it builds up in your system and it’s helped me with depression, my anxiety, it’s helped me with emotional turmoil, that sort of thing. It promotes an overall mental health, at least for me. Your results may vary, but it does have a marked improvement on my depression at least. A microdose would be anywhere from a tenth of a gram to maybe a quarter of a gram.
Charlotte: Do you feel anything when you take a tenth of a gram?
Voight: No. You’re not going to feel any acute effects. After a while of taking it, you’re going to feel that your mood’s going to be a little higher. You may be a little bit more calm, more energy, more motivation to go out and do things to alleviate some of the symptoms of certain mental health conditions. Everyone just has to figure out their own dosage, what works for them. But if you have any treatment-resistant depression and anxiety, I do definitely recommend if nothing or if other things haven’t worked to maybe try microdosing. It’s helped me.
Charlotte: If I take a microdose, that’s not going to make me more social or give me that happy feeling or whatever?
Voight: No. You’re not going to perceive any effect like that. Not at that level, but again, after maybe a few weeks of taking it, you’ll start feeling a general overall increase in wellness mentally, at least that’s how it is for me.
Charlotte: Are you talking about the microdosing?
Voight: Yes, microdosing. Microdose is just a sub-perceptual, sub-cycle active dose that you can take over a long period of time to avoid the getting high, but also keep that mood-boosting antidepressant effect. That’s a microdose.
Charlotte: If you take the regular dose, the one gram, and you have the happy, wonderful feeling, is there a hangover to that or when it ends?
Voight: It tapers off after maybe four to six hours for me. It’s not really a comedown at that level.
Charlotte: It’s like an edible in a sense, a similar comedown?
Voight: It’s a similar feeling to an edible. Giddy, euphoric. It lasts a long time. At that level, colors will be more vibrant, you’ll be more social, you’ll be more emotionally connected to whoever you’re hanging out with, but if you want to go higher than that, instead of one gram, depending on your metabolism, taking one and a half to two will be the next step up.
Charlotte: What would you recommend for a person like me, who cuts the ten mg edible in half and takes five grams, and that’s usually enough for a good high.
Voight: The mechanism of action for the psilocybin’s different from the THC. I don’t know of any way to convert the feelings or the effects, but I would say if you’re getting that effect out of maybe half a gummy, you might be a little bit more sensitive to stuff like this, in general, that sort of effect. Maybe start out with three-quarters of a gram or half a gram just to start with and then wait one and a half hours to two hours or until you feel that it’s come on. Then you can take more from there.
Charlotte: How long does it take to come on– and you just ingest it, you just eat it?
Voight: Yes. My first trip I used fresh mushrooms. I just ate them off the block. I cleaned them up a little bit and ate them and that took a lot more. But if you’re just taking dried, which, in general, you’re going to be doing, you can just put them in your mouth, chew them up real good, and eat them, which I don’t recommend. I can’t stand the way they taste. They don’t taste good. I know some people say that they can cook with them. They don’t taste good at all. That is a disclaimer. You’re not going to like the taste, but you can just put them in your mouth, grind them up, and eat them. They are just mushrooms. They’re not good.
Charlotte: If you take the dried, how do you do it? You just eat it?
Voight: Yes. The simplest way is to just pop them in your mouth and chew them up real good to release all of the psilocybin. The only issue with that is they taste awful, and when they hit your stomach, they’re not digestible, so your stomach’s going to end up probably rejecting them. You’re going to probably end up throwing up. That’s the only issue I’ve found with taking them that way.
Charlotte: Is there any other way around it, make them easier to digest and not get sick?
Voight: There is. Definitely.
Charlotte: What is the way around that?
Voight: The simplest method for me is called lemon tekking. There’s different terms for it, but lemon tek is the most common. Basically, what you do is you get citrus juice, most commonly lemon. You can use lime if you want, I suppose.
You take your dose of mushrooms, you grind them up, pulverize them – I use a mortar and pestle myself. But you can use any food processor, Magic Bullet, whatever you want to put them in. Then you put the mushrooms in the lemon juice, and you let them soak for 15, 20 minutes.
What the lemon juice does it starts breaking down the cell walls of the mushroom and extracting all that psilocybin, and softening it and making it easier on you. You can either strain the mushroom bits out if you want and just drink the lemon juice or put it in tea, whatever you want to do with it. A lot of people just shoot the lemon juice straight, including me. It doesn’t taste good, but it’s the easiest way to do it.
Charlotte: Then leave the mushroom bits behind?
Voight: You can, or if you want to include the mushroom bits, that’s completely fine too. There is nothing wrong with that. Your stomach might just get a little more upset afterward. It’s going to last maybe 10 to 15 minutes at most. The problem is, if you were taking a higher dose, that 10 to 15 minutes is going to feel maybe more like 30 minutes to an hour.
Charlotte: Right, but let’s say if you’re taking a reasonably small dose, like the one gram, is it optimal to take the mushroom pieces with it, or do you just leave them behind?
Voight: I usually would just take the mushroom pieces as well. Some people just don’t like them, at least some of my friends don’t like to.
Charlotte: Will you still get the psilocybin high without the mushroom pieces?
Voight: You will still get the high. You may miss out on some of the psilocybin in the mushroom pieces if you don’t take them all, which the only reason that some of my friends don’t, it’s like a texture, a weird food thing. Typically, you would eat the mushrooms as well.
Charlotte: Is it more fun to take it with a friend or is it fine to take it alone?
Voight: Yes. At that level, the low dose, yes, I find it more enjoyable to take with friends or at least hang around with my friends when I do that. The higher dosages I prefer to take alone.
Charlotte: Do they also take it or are you the—
Voight: Sometimes, yes.
Charlotte: If you’re the only one taking it, it’s still okay?
Voight: Yes, it’s still fun. There’s nothing wrong with doing it alone. At higher doses, I do feel it becomes more personal, so you’re going to want either less people around you in my experience, at least for me, or you’re going to want no people around you.
Charlotte: Does that dose of– the one gram, that high. Does that help with anxiety and depression, or is it just temporarily helps you because in that moment you’re happier?
Voight: It does help. It does help afterwards. You still have like a sense of wellness, a sense of happiness.
Charlotte: That sense of well-being stays with you?
Voight: Well-being. Yes, it stays with you, and especially after higher doses, it’ll last for a month or two. That feeling that things are going to be okay ;well-being kind of.
Charlotte: Even after like one dose one time, the well-being stays with you for a bit even with a lower dose?
Voight: Yes, at least for me. Yes, and especially for higher dosages. Quite a few studies have been carried out, and the majority of people involved in them said that the sense of well-being and happiness are with them for months afterwards, and it was an extremely significant experience in their life. It does have an affect that reaches beyond just that moment. It’s not putting a band-aid on it. It seems to be more of a long-term solution from some of the information coming out now.
Charlotte: Tell me a little bit more about the history of your interest in mushrooms. I know that you’ve had a long history, and that you’ve mentioned that they’re very complex and intelligent. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Voight: Yes, absolutely. Again, my interest started from a young age. I grew up in Texas. We had mushrooms coming up everywhere after rainstorms. I just found them interesting, but I didn’t get into the medicinal or psychedelic aspects until later in life. Sort of a late bloomer on that.
I have been depressed for a long time, and anxiety, lots of emotional traumas, that sort of thing. Of course, I’d taken a lot of medication, and it got to the point where it wasn’t doable anymore. I said, “Fuck it. I’m going to do some research on alternative medications.”
It just so happened that I found an article by Paul Stamets, and he was talking about the well-being and the feeling of peace and happiness people get from taking it, especially if you do have those mental illnesses. I decided why not put my experience growing edible mushrooms to use…
Charlotte: You were growing regular, not psychedelic mushrooms?
Voight: Yes. Originally, it was white button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms.
Charlotte: Did you ever grow shiitake?
Voight: Not yet. You need a wood log to do that. They actually grow on like a wooden log, so you actually have to find one. I live in the desert right now.
Charlotte: You’ve been attracted to mushroom from a young age?
Voight: Yes. I’ve always found them extremely fascinating. The way mycelium works, it thinks, it can solve. Some molds can solve puzzles or mazes to get the food, and it’ll always take the most efficient route. Mycelium helps trees communicate with each other.
They’ve done some studies that in Africa, the Acacia tree will send signals through the mycelium to the other trees when a giraffe will start eating one of them and they will then start poisoning their own leaf so they don’t get eaten. They’ve seen that mycelium helps trees communicate with each other. They provide a symbiotic relationship with the tree instead of parasitic relationship, which a lot of people assume that mushrooms are parasites or parasitic organism, which they’re not.
Charlotte: You’re saying they’re not parasitic they’re symbiotic.
Voight: They’re symbiotic. Of course, there are parasitic mushrooms. There’s no doubt about that. There are mushrooms that kill their fungus, that kill their host, and then digest the corpse, or the body, the remains for energy. Most mushrooms we’re talking about here will actually provide energy to the tree, sugars during winter. It will though provide help for the tree, and the tree will in turn provide assistance for the mushroom.
Charlotte: It’s very fascinating because the trees themselves also have a complex network of communication.
Charlotte: What goes on there is probably fascinating and well beyond what we are even aware of.
Voight: We’re only beginning to scratch the very, very surface of this, the way mycelium organizes itself. It thinks. It’s almost like a neural net, like a brain almost.
Charlotte: The complex intelligence of the forest and the natural ecosystems, the deep, deep complex intelligence. It’s so important that we save these things, protect them.
Voight: Yes, absolutely. These ecosystems and organisms have been evolving together for thousands of years, millions of years before we even showed up. Fungus was actually the original. I’ve read some studies that have found evidence that fungus was the very first form of life on the planet, and bridges the gap between plant and animal. They’re half and half.
They don’t bring carbon dioxide like plants. They breathe oxygen, they need oxygen. They don’t produce carbon dioxide. They don’t need light, but there’s clearly some level of intelligence there just from how it organizes itself, how it helps the trees, how it knows how to do that. It’s fascinating. They’re very intelligent organisms and we are only now beginning to realize that.
Charlotte: That’s amazing. It really is incredible.
Voight: The biggest single organism on earth is a 3.5 square mile patch of mycelium in a national forest in Oregon and it is the largest single living organism on the planet. It is a colony of honey mushrooms, parasitic honey mushrooms.
Charlotte: It’s a living organism.
Voight: It is a patch of mycelium, three and a half miles square. It is a form of parasitic honey mushroom that actually does kill the tree and then digests the remains for energy. It’s been there they reckon for 10,000 years growing there. It is one of the oldest living largest organisms on the planet. I always thought that was interesting, but sorry about the aside there.
Charlotte: No, not at all. It sounds fascinating. Thank you for the interview.
Voight: Yes, for sure. Thank you for having me.
Charlotte: Our pleasure.
Disclaimer: None of the above article is meant to be medical advice. All opinions are personal to the interviewee. Please talk to your doctor or medical professional before taking any controlled substance. Again, do not take any psychoactive substance without appropriate medical advice. Different laws apply to different communities. Please be aware of the laws in your area and follow them.
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