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Can Psilocybin Mushroom Strain Predict Effect Differences?

Psilocybin mushrooms, commonly known as “magic mushrooms,” have been integral to human cultures for centuries, revered for their profound psychedelic properties. In recent times, a debate within the psychedelic community has gained momentum, questioning whether different strains of psilocybin mushrooms truly lead to distinct effects during a trip.

Is a cube(nsis) really just a cube(nsis), or can the variety of mushroom chosen influence the qualitative aspects of the psychedelic experience? 

This article undertakes a nuanced examination of this controversy, delving into anecdotal experiences, Reddit discussions, scientific perspectives, and the potential implications for psychedelic therapy.

In response to the ongoing debate, we propose a new mantra to encapsulate a more holistic perspective—one that honors both the consistency and variability inherent in cubensis mushrooms.

Highlighting ongoing studies on alkaloid-related qualitative effects and an upcoming interview with Dr. Felix Blei–the researcher leading this exploration, we aim to put the (mushroom) cap on this discussion, providing comprehensive insights and closing the chapter on this intriguing debate.

We dig into the juicy questions: Does the entourage effect truly matter, or is it just a psychedelic myth? Are Penis Envy varieties truly exceptions, or do they further underscore the intricate nature of strain-related effects?

Later, we explore the role of unethical spore marketing in spreading false information about psychedelic mushroom “strains” and misleading claims about specific variety effects.

Finally, we juxtapose the importance of strain-related effects against other influential factors in the psychedelic experience, such as set, setting, and bioavailability. 

The article aims to provide a balanced and comprehensive perspective, examining whether strain choice holds comparable significance to these broader considerations. How do these factors intersect, and what role does each play in shaping the overall journey?

Key Takeaways:

  • Users fall into two camps: Variability Enthusiasts claim noticeable differences in effects between cubensis varieties, while Cubists maintain that variety cannot determine qualitative effects.
  • The Entourage Effect: Suggesting that combinations of alkaloids in different varieties contribute to unique experiences, ongoing research aims to offer clear answers.
  • Unethical Spore Marketing: Some spore vendors make unsupported claims about specific variety effects, contributing to misconceptions in the community.
  • Psychedelic Passage: Your Psychedelic Concierge — The easy, legal way to find trustworthy psilocybin guides, facilitators and psychedelic-assisted therapy near you in the United States.

Download Our Free Psilocybin Sourcing Guide

For harm-reduction purposes, we provide links to online psilocybin vendors, local stores, delivery services, and spore vendors for growing your own medicine at home.

Debunking the ‘Strain’ Misconception and Embracing ‘Variety’ 

Within the Psilocybe genus, housing over 200 mushroom species, substantial variations in potency, visual characteristics, and cultivation requirements exist. Psilocybe Cubensis, extensively researched and widely cultivated, stands out as the most prevalent species. 

This popularity has led to the identification of numerous “subspecies” or varieties within the Cubensis species, colloquially termed “strains.” 

The inclination to label different varieties of Psilocybe cubensis as “strains” can be traced back to the influence of the cannabis industry on the mushroom domain. As the stigma surrounding cannabis dissipated, the industry witnessed a surge in strain categorization. 

Given the common ground between Psilocybe mushroom farmers and the cannabis industry, the use of “strain” in the mushroom world is an assimilation of terminology. However, despite belonging to the same species, cubensis “strains” (varieties) exhibit significant differences in physical traits, growing characteristics, and the concentration of psychotropic compounds.

Two batches of the same “strain” can be similar, but not identical, as each possesses a diverse genetic profile. Therefore “variety” is the correct and accurate term, while “strain” implies a consistency not achievable through most mushroom cultivation methods. 

Although we employ the term “strain” in our headers to align with the search terminology commonly used, our content henceforth will adhere to precise language, opting for “variety” when referring to genetic expressions within the Psilocybe cubensis species.

Thank you for your understanding as we navigate this balance between accurate terminology and enhancing online visibility, allowing us to continue our exploration into the fascinating world of psilocybin mushrooms.

The Debate: “A Cube is a Cube” vs. Strain Variability

Reddit users and psychedelic enthusiasts often share their personal experiences with various Psilocybe cubensis mushroom varieties. Some claim to notice significant differences in effects between varieties. We’ll refer to this group as the “Variability Enthusiasts”.

“I have to agree. I have tripped hundreds of times and each cube strain feels slightly different and the same strains grown at different times feel similar to each other.” – Reddit User

Experiences shared in these discussions often center around aspects like visuals, energy levels, body load, creativity, potency, and philosophical insights.

Often, Variability Enthusiasts gravitate towards comparison charts aiming to categorize and quantify the effects of distinct varieties. Presented below is a chart we’ve created as an illustrative example.

Comparing Psilocybin Mushroom Strain Effects

Taking a seemingly contrasting stance in this discussion are the individuals who have embraced the phrase “a cube is a cube”– a mantra underscoring the idea that variances between different cubensis varieties may not significantly impact their effects. We’ll identify this group as the “Cubists”. 

byu/oerbital from discussion

“An apple is an apple is an apple. A green apple is not a red apple.

There are green varieties of apple and red varieties of apple, but they are still apples.

A cube is a cube because, except for very few varieties, they all have the same average active contents and the same things make them up. 

Some may grow faster, taller, skinnier, etc, just like apples from the same tree will have variations from year to year depending on the growing environment conditions.” – Reddit User

Cubists typically emphasize that the overall journey experience is primarily influenced by more “big picture” factors like set and setting, preparation, and integration.

They also highlight exceptions such as Penis Envy and Albino Penis Envy—cubensis varieties with notably higher potency on average, a claim often corroborated by the results of the Oakland Hyphae Psilocybin Cups.

"A Cube is a Cube" meme

30 Popular Psilocybin Strains and Varieties by Potency

The Cubists present compelling and logical arguments. We align with the belief that preparation and integration are as crucial as the psychedelic journey itself. Still, it’s challenging to overlook the passionate and convincing personal accounts shared by Variability Enthusiasts.

Next, let’s delve into the scientific claims put forth by both sides of the argument. Interestingly, both groups are drawing upon the same information to support different perspectives.

Scientific Perspective: The Entourage Effect and Alkaloid Profiles

Is a Cube a Cube?

From a Variability Enthusiast’s perspective, the entourage effect sparks special interest, proposing that the combination and ratios of various alkaloids in different varieties could contribute to unique experiences. 

From a Cubist standpoint however, it is precisely this variability that makes interpreting those factors to predict mushroom effects improbable.

A cube is a cube

To foster a comprehensive perspective, let’s briefly summarize the research on alkaloids in psilocybin mushrooms to gauge the potential for the entourage effect.

Baeocystin is an alkaloid found in various psychedelic mushroom species, often in lower concentrations. Discovered in 1968 by Albert Leung and Ara Paul, it was named after Psilocybe baeocystis. However, limited knowledge exists about its effects, and research on mice in 2020 found no hallucinatory effect.

Norbaeocystin, discovered simultaneously with baeocystin, lacks psychoactive studies, leaving room for exploration. Norpsilocin, on the other hand, is a recently found alkaloid believed to be a metabolized form of baeocystin. While potent, it may not cross the blood-brain barrier for hallucinogenic effects.

In a 2020 study, scientists also found that that norpsilocin, in contrast to psilocin, might lack the ability to cross the bloodstream to the brain. Yet, when subjected to tests gauging its impact on the 5-HT2A receptor directly, norpsilocin displayed greater potency than psilocin. 

Thus, although norpsilocin is stronger than psilocin, it seems to face a structural barrier that prevents it from getting to the brain through the bloodstream to create its effects. While norpsilocin may not affect the same receptors as psilocin in the brain, we’re still unsure if it interacts with other receptors or chemical pathways in the body.

Aeruginascin, discovered by Jochen Gartz in 1989, is chemically akin to other mushroom alkaloids and is also found in the Inocybe aeruginascens mushroom species. Although accidental ingestion of Inocybe aeruginascens has resulted in euphoria, little is known about the effects of pure aeruginascin formulations.

ß-carbolines, discovered in 2019 by Felix Blei and researchers, were a surprising find in Psilocybe species. These compounds include monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), akin to those in ayahuasca ingredients. In ayahuasca, MAOIs enhance the effects of DMT by reducing enzyme activity. 

Considering the structural similarity of psilocybin and DMT, MAOIs might amplify the impact of psilocybin in magic mushrooms, prompting questions about how clinical experiences with pure psilocybin differ from whole-mushroom experiences.

In an episode of the Psychedelic Passage podcast, our co-founder Jimmy Nguyen speaks with Dr. Felix Blei, the scientist who discovered ß-carbolines in psilocybin mushrooms. 

Dr. Blei and his team have released new community research on the entourage effects of different cubensis varieties, and you’re invited to participate right from your own home! Find out how to Join Miraculix Research on mushroom strain effects.

Research on Psilocybin Mushroom Alkaloid Content

Dr. Blei is has recieved ethical approval for this innovative questionnaire, which has undergone validation against the 5D-ASC, a scale measuring altered states of consciousness. 

As the founder, CEO, and scientist behind Miraculix QTests, Dr. Blei pioneered rapid at-home tests for quantitative psilocybin detection.

Dr. Felix Blei's Miraculix Qtests

“The idea is people rate their experiences themselves with an easy questionnaire and we correlate the effects to the alkaloid levels they measured with our test,” shares Dr. Blei.

So, Do Different Psilocybin Mushroom Strains Produce Different Effects?

Historical and modern scientific studies underscore that, chemically speaking, mushrooms extend beyond solely containing psilocybin. However, without further research, we lack conclusive evidence to assert if and how various alkaloids in mushrooms influence their effects. 

Lacking comprehension of the diverse effects of various alkaloids, it becomes even more challenging to ascribe specific effects to particular cubensis varieties. This difficulty arises due to varying alkaloid levels not only within a single variety, such as Golden Teachers, but also among different flushes of a variety and within different parts of a single mushroom.

Thus, our final conclusion on this debate is nuanced. 

The ongoing discourse between Variability Enthusiasts and Cubists in the “a cube is a cube” debate points to a critical juncture in our understanding of psychedelic experiences with Psilocybe cubensis varieties. 

While the Variability Enthusiasts explore the potential of the entourage effect and diverse alkaloid profiles, the Cubists caution against overestimating our ability to predict qualitative effects due to inherent variability.

Taking a stance, it is evident that embracing the variability in psychedelic experiences is essential for progress. While recognizing the entourage effect and diverse alkaloid profiles as potential contributors to unique journeys, we must navigate the complexities with humility, acknowledging the intricacies of individual responses and the limitations in our current understanding.

While some Cubists point to Penis Envy and APE varieties as exceptions to the “a cube is a cube” philosophy, it’s important to note that even amongst these varieties, variations in potency exist. For instance, one sample of Penis Envy or APE may sometimes prove to be less potent than other varieties like Tidal Wave or Yeti.

Popular Psilocybin Mushroom Varieties and Strains Ordered by Potency

The reality is, we will never be able to make generalized and accurate predictions about the quantitative alkaloid content or qualitative effect of any specific cubensis variety–each mushroom is simply too unique. The only way to determine quantitative alkaloid content will be by testing a personal batch of mushrooms using lab or at-home psilocybin QTests.   

While knowledge of the quantitative alkaloid content in your personal batch of psilocybin mushrooms won’t enable predictions of qualitative effects, it will assist in determining dosage more accurately.

We encourage you to learn more by checking out “How to Test Potency of Psychedelics at Home: Mushrooms, LSD, MDMA”.   

Ongoing research does have the potential to unveil whether alkaloids inherently yield qualitative effects, and we must admit, we are intrigued and optimistic about the prospects of such revelations. 

However, even if we were to identify the effects associated with each alkaloid, the impact of variety choice will always pale in comparison to other aspects of the psychedelic experience, such as bioavailability and set and setting, which we’ll delve into very soon.

Furthermore, considering individuals’ pre-existing tendencies for visual, auditory, or kinesthetic experiences is equally pertinent. Analogous to distinct learning styles, where some people are more inclined toward visual learning and others toward tactile methods, individuals may exhibit preferences or tendencies in how they perceive and interpret psychedelic experiences.

Taking all of this into account, we propose a new mantra, honoring the general consistency of active ingredients in the cubensis species, while acknowledging the ambiguous variability of cubensis varieties:

“A cube is a cube variety.” – Psychedelic Passage

In nature, fungi reproduce by releasing spores into the environment. When spores meet and germinate, a unique mushroom variety is born every single time that mushrooms are cultivated, whether at home or in a lab (with the exception of isolation).

This variety possesses genetics similar to its parents, but not identical. This process bears a resemblance to human reproduction, where the offspring often shares physical traits with the parents but is genetically unique.

Thus, just as a human is a human, and a human is a human individual, so too is a cube a cube variety.

“The point isn’t that they are all exactly the same. The point is (that) they don’t differ reliably enough to predict effect differences based solely on what strain it came from.” 

Reddit User

As we venture into countless more Reddit rabbit holes, it’s crucial to maintain a nuanced perspective for a well-rounded understanding. Anecdotal reports are essential in the psychedelic community, serving both personal and research purposes. 

Whether you identify as a Cubist or a Variability Enthusiast, treating each other’s viewpoints with respect is crucial. Both perspectives contribute to progress in our understanding of psychedelic experiences.

Misleading Claims on Strain Effects & The Role of Unethical Marketing

Despite the wealth of accessible information, some companies persist in making claims about specific variety effects without acknowledging the anecdotal nature of those assertions. Often, this occurs among small spore vending businesses seeking to differentiate their products.

While the microscopic nature of spores understandably necessitates creative marketing strategies, it has inadvertently contributed to a confused community of psychedelic enthusiasts who mistakenly believe that, akin to cannabis strains, spore “strains” (varieties) will consistently produce distinct qualitative effects.

We advocate that the only ethical approach for spore vendors to communicate diversity based on qualitative effects is by transparently disclosing that claims are anecdotal. Still, it is essential to emphasize the unpredictable and nuanced nature inherent in all psychedelic experiences.

Other ethical ways to establish diversity include sharing information about a variety’s genetic history, natural occurrences, favored growing conditions, and showcasing images of fully grown mushrooms rather than solely relying on spore syringe visuals.

One of our favorite psilocybin spore vendors, Inoculate The World, offers some great examples of marketing that ethically diversifies mushroom varieties: 

Golden Teacher Psilocybin Mushrooms

The Big Picture: Factors That Actually Influence the Therapeutic Value of Psychedelics

While our discussion up to this point has revolved around the potential effects of varying strains on the psychedelic experience, it is essential to broaden our perspective and consider the myriad of factors that largely influence the therapeutic value of these substances.

Set and Setting:

Established as crucial by all types of psychedelic research since the 1960s, the mindset of the individual and the environment significantly shape the psychedelic experience. This principle emphasizes the importance of mental and physical surroundings in determining the outcome of a psychedelic journey. 

For instance, individuals dealing with suicidal ideation or bipolar disorder may experience a worsening of symptoms and thus may not always be suitable candidates for psychedelic therapy, though this determination is highly case-specific.

Other factors include who you’re surrounded by, how well you know them, how much you trust them, the music you listen to, the visual media you expose yourself to, familiarity and comfort with your physical surroundings, access to nature and natural light, etc.

The significance of set and setting has been a cornerstone in ensuring positive and meaningful experiences, making it a fundamental consideration in the broader context of psychedelic exploration.

Individual Neurochemistry:

A key determinant in the psychedelic experience is the inherent variability in individual neurochemistry. Variances in personal brain chemistry contribute to different responses to psychedelics

For instance, individuals who have been on antidepressants for an extended period may discover that their serotonin receptors are desensitized. As a result, they may require a higher dosage of psilocybin to experience its effects.

Understanding and acknowledging these individual differences are paramount, as they underscore the uniqueness of each person’s journey. This recognition places emphasis on tailoring psychedelic experiences to the individual, fostering a more personalized and effective therapeutic approach.

Preparation and Integration:

Preparation and integration are pivotal elements that profoundly influence the therapeutic value of psychedelic experiences. These two phases, often deemed as bookends to the psychedelic journey, play essential roles in optimizing the positive outcomes and ensuring a holistic approach to therapeutic exploration.

Preparation involves deliberate actions taken before embarking on a psychedelic journey. This phase sets the foundation for a safe, intentional, and meaningful experience. Key aspects include:

    • Mindset Cultivation: Fostering a positive and open mindset is crucial. Practicing mindfulness, meditation, and reflective exercises can create a receptive mental space for the upcoming journey.

    • Intention Setting: Clarifying one’s intentions for the psychedelic experience provides a guiding framework. Setting clear goals enhances the potential for therapeutic insights and personal growth.

    • Environment Optimization: Creating a comfortable and safe physical environment is essential. Factors such as lighting, temperature, and the availability of comforting items contribute to a conducive setting.

    • Social Support: Establishing a support system, whether through experienced trip sitters or trusted individuals, ensures a sense of safety and companionship during the journey.

    • Dosage Consideration: Understanding the appropriate dosage based on individual tolerance and goals is vital. Consulting with experienced professionals or researchers can provide valuable insights.

Integration is the process of incorporating insights gained during the psychedelic experience into everyday life. This phase is as crucial as the journey itself, facilitating lasting positive changes. Key components include:

    • Reflection and Journaling: Reflecting on the experience through journaling helps solidify insights and emotions. Documenting thoughts and feelings aids in the integration process.

    • Therapeutic Support: Seeking guidance from mental health professionals or psychedelic integration therapists can offer valuable perspectives and coping strategies for challenges that may arise during integration.

    • Mindfulness Practices: Incorporating mindfulness practices into daily life helps maintain a grounded and centered mindset. Techniques such as meditation contribute to ongoing self-awareness.

    • Creative Expression: Engaging in creative outlets, such as art or music, provides a means of expressing and exploring the residual emotions and insights from the psychedelic journey.

    • Community Connection: Sharing experiences within a supportive community or participating in integration circles fosters a sense of connection and understanding. It allows individuals to learn from others’ journeys and provides a space for mutual support.

Preparation and integration act as guiding pillars, ensuring a thoughtful and intentional approach to psychedelic exploration.


Factors like diet, medication, and recent meals can impact the overall psychedelic experience. For example, antidepressants can blunt the effects of psychedelics.

These external influences, collectively termed bioavailability, add another layer of complexity to the psychedelic journey. Considering these factors becomes crucial in ensuring a safe and effective experience, as they can interact with psychedelic substances, influencing their absorption and effects.

A Complete Guide to Psilocybin Mushroom Strains

Embarking on the journey of psilocybin exploration involves more than selecting the right variety; it’s about understanding the nuances that each variety brings to your experience. 

  • We bust myths around mushroom varieties, offering detailed pictures, experimental data on potency, anecdotal reports, and resources for those looking to understand the strength of different psilocybin mushrooms.
  • Explore whether different psilocybin mushroom varieties can predict the nuances of your experience through a blend of scientific perspectives, anecdotal experiences, and community insights.
  • For tips on how to determine the right mushroom strain for you, we cover therapeutic approaches, dosing intentions, and factors like accessibility and consistency, all while providing beginner-friendly advice.
  • We highlight the unique properties and cultivation methods of what some consider to be the best mushroom strains for psychedelic therapy, alongside guidance on safe sourcing.

Find Confidence and Clarity with Psychedelic Passage’s Guidance

Hi there! We sincerely hope that you’ve found valuable takeaways that resonate with your current intentions. To explore research-based education, stay updated with psychedelic news, and benefit from practical how-to articles, we encourage you to head over to our resources page.

If you’re seeking personalized advice and are prepared to take the first step toward a therapeutic psychedelic experience, we invite you to book a consultation with our team of experienced psychedelic concierges.

This consultation is more than just a conversation; it’s an opportunity to be matched with a trustworthy local facilitator. You’ll be seamlessly connected to our rigorously vetted network of psychedelic guides, ensuring potential matches align with your needs.

Psychedelic Passage offers confidence and peace of mind by alleviating the burden of having to guess who’s right for you. Discover how Psychedelic Passage can help you navigate preparation and integration, psychedelic dosage, and set and setting, by learning more about our services and checking out client testimonials from those who’ve gone before you.

Your healing path is uniquely yours, and our commitment is to serve you at every juncture. Psychedelic Passage: Your Psychedelic Concierge — The easy, legal way to find trustworthy psilocybin guides, facilitators and psychedelic-assisted therapy near you in the United States.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Psilocybin Mushroom Strains

1. Is there scientific evidence supporting the idea that different strains of Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms lead to distinct psychedelic effects?

While ongoing research explores the potential impact of alkaloids and the entourage effect, conclusive evidence is yet to establish definitive links between strain variations and specific qualitative effects.

2. Why do some individuals claim significant differences in effects between Psilocybe cubensis varieties, while some don’t?

Anecdotal experiences shared by Variability Enthusiasts often focus on aspects like visuals, energy levels, and potency. These accounts contribute to the debate, as some argue that these variations are significant, while others, like Cubists, emphasize broader factors like set and setting.

3. What are key factors that contribute to the overall psychedelic experience?

We highlight the importance of factors like set and setting, preparation, integration, individual neurochemistry, and bioavailability. These broader considerations have a more significant impact on the psychedelic experience than the specific choice of mushroom variety.

4. What is the significance of the entourage effect in the context of Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms?

The scientific perspective section delves into the entourage effect, examining how the combination and ratios of alkaloids in different varieties might contribute to unique experiences, providing insights from both Variability Enthusiasts and Cubists.

5. What ethical concerns exist regarding spore marketing?

We emphasize the need for transparency about the anecdotal nature of variety effects, within the spore marketing business. Some companies make misleading claims without acknowledging the nuanced and unpredictable nature of psychedelic experiences.


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