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The Science of Mushroom Potency & Effects with Dr. Felix Blei 

Explore how Dr. Felix Blei’s unprecedented research into mushroom potency, effects, and strains, will pave the way for a new frontier in psychedelic studies. 

Join the vibrant community research project at Miraculix Lab, shaping the future of psychedelic therapy through a collaborative and inclusive approach focused on understanding the interplay of mushroom strains for diverse therapeutic applications.

Host Jimmy Nguyen continues his intriguing conversation with Dr. Felix Blei of Miraculix. Building on their previous discussion about the complexities of psilocybin and its effects, they delve deeper into the scientific research surrounding psychedelic mushrooms. 

Dr. Blei shares insights from his ongoing studies, particularly focusing on the differences between mushroom strains and their unique psychoactive effects. 

We explore the concept of the “entourage effect” in mushrooms, similar to cannabis, and discusses how various compounds within these fungi might influence their potency and the experiences they induce. 

Later, he discusses his community research project, which aims to gather data from a wide range of users to create a comprehensive dataset. This dataset will help validate anecdotal evidence and may guide future studies on the pharmacological variations among psilocybin strains.

Continue reading to discover more about Dr. Felix Blei’s research and how you can participate in the study from the comfort of your own home. Engage with the specially created questionnaire designed to collect diverse personal experiences with psilocybin.

This article is inspired by our insightful podcast episode hosted by Psychedelic Passage co-founder, Jimmy Nguyen, which you can listen to on all streaming platforms. 

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.

Key Takeaways

      • Dr. Felix Blei revolutionizes psilocybin research by shifting the focus to examine the various constituents of mushrooms beyond traditional factors like set and setting, drawing inspiration from cannabis research’s entourage effect.

      • Dr. Blei’s research strives to refine the understanding of psychedelic experiences, potentially leading to tailored therapeutic applications based on individual responses to specific mushroom strains.

      • The Community Research Project led by Dr. Blei aims to map out various strains of psilocybin mushrooms, emphasizing community involvement and scientific rigor.

      • 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.

    Looking Beyond Set & Setting to Revolutionize Psilocybin Research

    Dr. Felix Blei’s approach to psilocybin research, using cannabis as a comparative example, shows a significant strategic shift in psychedelic studies. 

    Historically, research in psychedelics like psilocybin often focused primarily on psychological factors such as set and setting—the mindset of the individual and the physical and social environment in which the substance is consumed. 

    These factors have been understood to critically influence the effects experienced during psychedelic sessions. However, the effective components and their interactions within cannabis have inspired a new perspective on studying psilocybin mushrooms.

    The Inspiration For The Community Research Project

    In cannabis research the significance of the plant’s chemical diversity—particularly cannabinoids and terpenes—and their profound impact on the body’s experience has led to the creation of the concept known as the “entourage effect” by Dr. Ethan Russo.

    This concept posits that the therapeutic and psychoactive effects of cannabis are not just due to any single component, such as THC, but rather the result of the synergistic interaction among various compounds. 

    For instance, as we dove into in the last episode, while THC is primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects, other cannabinoids like CBD and terpenes can modulate these effects, enhancing or mitigating experiences like anxiety and euphoria. 

    This understanding has revolutionized how cannabis is utilized therapeutically, promoting a shift toward strain-specific treatments that account for this chemical interplay.

    Drawing inspiration from this nuanced understanding of cannabis, Dr. Blei’s research in psilocybin similarly pivots to a comprehensive examination of the mushroom’s constituents beyond just psilocybin and psilocin. 

    Dr. Blei shares with us the first instance he noted a difference in psilocybin strains. He worked for a company in the Netherlands, where psilocybin research is legal, cultivating mushrooms in liquid form, which enables him to produce rare strains of psilocybin-containing mushrooms. 

    They gave two users each a different strain of psilocybin-containing mushrooms but both had the same amount of psilocybin. After having them fill out a questionnaire, they discovered each user reported wildly different felt effects.

    His team endeavors to document and understand the roles of other compounds within the mushrooms, such as beta-carbolines and potentially novel terpenes, which might contribute to the psychedelic effects in ways previously attributed solely to set and setting.

    By adopting this more granular approach, Dr. Blei’s research aims to map out a detailed profile of various strains of psilocybin mushrooms and examine how these biochemical variances influence both the intensity and nature of psychedelic experiences. 

    “If I have two strains which act differently from each other, I can just compare what they are producing in the lab and see if there are differences in the chemical composition, like different terpenes, better carbon ions or the precursors. So this could be really the base of a future scientific field and what I want is to really bring people into this and I want to take all these communities seriously.” — Dr. Felix Blei

    Ultimately, this could lead to more refined and possibly effective therapeutic applications that are tailored not only to the individual’s psychological and environmental context but also to their biochemical response to specific mushroom strains.

    The Start Of The Community Research Project

    In preparation of the Community Research Project, many users were reporting the same effects of specific mushroom strains. This led Dr. Blei to investigate the correlation further. 

    “Until now, the common hypothesis, it’s just set and setting. It’s how much you take and in which environment you take it. And if we can measure the psilocybin amount up front, we can eliminate this as a factor and can see if there’s a difference if people all take, say 20 milligrams of psilocybin, but different strains or different species, is there a difference in the felt effects?” — Dr. Felix Blei

    Once a paradigm catches on, it can be difficult to challenge. Since the widely accepted hypothesis is that set and setting are the major contributing factors to a psychedelic experience, Dr. Blei would have to begin his research without the help of a university. 

    Luckily for Dr. Blei, Miraculix allows him to do independent research without compromising the scientific method. Once his own research showed promise, he could begin to challenge the common belief that set and setting are the only factors to affect a psychedelic experience. 

    Reworking The Scientific Questionnaire With Sergio Perez

    In collaboration with Sergio Perez—an experienced anesthesiologist and psychologist working at a ketamine clinic in Berlin— Dr. Blei has embarked on an innovative project to refine the evaluation of psychedelic experiences. 

    Recognizing the shortcomings of existing academic questionnaires, which often employ misleading terminology, Blei and Perez sought to create a more accessible self-assessment tool that accurately reflects the diverse and personal effects of different psilocybin strains. 

    Their revamp focused on simplifying language to enhance understanding and inclusivity, ensuring that subjects could effectively communicate their experiences. 

    The newly designed questionnaire categorizes the psychedelic effects into three distinct dimensions: sensory perceptions, altered states of mind and body, and mood changes. 

    This research is foundational in their broader goal to scientifically map out the impact of specific mushroom strains on various types of psychological states and conditions—potentially revolutionizing the therapeutic use of psilocybin by tailoring treatments to suit individual psychological profiles and needs.

    “My current hypothesis is that there are different effects between species or strains in these categories. And like you said, this could have huge effects on how you can use these strains in which kind of setting or with different diagnosis. 

    It will be much more helpful for someone with PTSD to get a better access to their memory that they don’t want to think about and not have a visual experience which maybe just distracts from the thing you want to do with this person.” — Dr. Felix Blei

    Learning From Cannabis Research: Avoiding The Same Mistakes

    Dr. Blei wants to avoid making the same mistakes that were made in cannabis research that prolonged discovering the true mechanisms of cannabis.

    Instead of ignoring anecdotal stories, he wants to lean into the community aspect of scientific research, and invites those seeking psychedelic experiences to contribute to this research. 

    “Everyone can really contribute to this psychedelic research now just by sharing their altered experiences together with the psilocybin amount which were present in these mushrooms. 

    And you can do this with our quantitative test kits, easy at home. And now we have an ethical approval which is nice for all the people who contribute, they can be assured this is anonymous data, nothing can come back to you.” — Dr. Felix Blei

    The Future of The Community Research Project

    In collaboration with the Berlin Charité—the esteemed University Hospital of Berlin, Dr. Blei seeks to scientifically verify the anecdotal claims that have been surrounding different mushroom strains. 

    Using a spore renderer to acquire two strains with opposite reported effects, they can use blinded methodology to further explore these reports. 

    Participants in the study are asked to experience and rate these strains without knowing their identities, thereby providing data that could lead to significant clarifications in how different strains affect users

    This approach not only promises to enhance our understanding of psychedelic experiences but also ensures rigorous scientific oversight.

    Dr. Blei has secured ethical approval for the study through his university position in Jena, guaranteeing that all participant data remains anonymous and secure, setting a strong foundation for future publication in a peer-reviewed journal. 

    He also promises to publish the research free and openly to ensure widespread availability and to avoid patenting, which has loomed over psychedelics since they grew popular in therapeutic applications. 

    Charité Berlin’s Other Research 

    While Dr. Blei’s focus is on psilocybin, Berlin University has been pioneering the same type of research with LSD, DMT and mescaline. With Tim Hirshfeld and Tomislav Majecek spearheading the research, they have already published work on the dose-response curves of an LSD experience.

    Potency Differences in Lab-Grown Versus Nature-Grown Mushrooms

    The research highlighted by Dr. Felix Blei points to significant differences between homegrown (or lab-cultivated) and wild-grown psilocybin mushrooms, particularly those of the Psilocybe cubensis variety. 

    Over years of cultivation in controlled environments, homegrown cubensis strains appear to be undergoing a form of degeneration, reducing their molecular diversity and genetic stability compared to their wild counterparts. 

    This phenomenon mirrors what has been observed in cannabis, where domestically cultivated strains lack the genetic and molecular diversity of wild landrace strains. 

    Wild-grown cubensis mushrooms, found in natural environments like dung fields, showcase a richer array of molecules, a diversity that is likely fostered by their need to adapt to varying environmental challenges and conditions. 

    This biological robustness in wild mushrooms allows them to produce a broader spectrum of molecules as responses to these environmental stimuli, contrasting starkly with the more uniform molecular production seen in mushrooms grown repetitively on homogeneous nutrient sources in labs or at home.

    For example, truffles, which are popular in Europe, are all ATL7 clones made from one sample which was originally collected from the wild. The constant breeding of clones with the same genetic material leads to the degeneration we see in mushrooms cultivated indoors. 

    To combat this, people have begun cloning landrace strains back into the common cubensis varieties like albino or penis envy, hoping to create stronger and more diverse genetic profiles.

    Dealing with Natural Fluctuations in Mushroom Potency

    In Dr. Blei’s research however, even under standardized conditions, a strain that would grow with a 2% potency, would only show a 1.2% potency the next time. This highlights the natural fluctuation in potency.

    Research shows that most of the psilocybin content is already present in the mushroom when it is quite small, and remains relatively the same as the mushroom grows. 

    There are even slight variations in the potency of the head and the stem. Because of these factors, two very different size mushrooms can have the same potency. 

    Mushroom strain is also a factor in potency, for example while common cubensis strains have a potency of .5-1%, the tidal wave or enigma strain can have a 3.5-4% potency. Not only that, but this strain takes up to 3 months to grow while common cubensis only takes a week or two. 

    Dr. Blei offers a helpful tip for determining the average potency of your psychedelic mushrooms, and finding a dosage that’s right for you. He recommends grinding up the entire batch, and then using a Qtest to test a small but homogenized sample from that batch. 

    Dr. Felix Blei's Miraculix Qtests

    Shop Psychedelic Potency Test Kits

    As a reminder for our microdosers out there, grinding up an entire batch will compromise the potency of doses a few months down the line, so grinding microdoses daily is a good practice for retaining the integrity and potency of the substance.

    Help Bridge the Gap in Psychedelic Research

    Dr. Blei wraps up the discussion by encouraging us to dive into the community research page on his website and engage with cutting-edge psychedelic research at Miraculix Lab. 

    This innovative platform bridges the gap between scientists and participants, fostering a balanced and collaborative scientific community that brings together researchers and the psychedelic community.

    Whether you’re new to psychedelics or an experienced researcher, the community research project warmly welcomes your insights and contributions. 

    Embracing a spirit of inclusivity, it aims to create a supportive and unified research community where everyone, from the curious to the expert, can actively participate and collaborate.

    Get Involved in The Community and Our Research 

    From cultivation tips to ethical considerations and independent assessments of Qtests, discover all you need for a holistic understanding of magic mushrooms and their impact on psychedelic research and therapy.

        • Find The Value in Anecdotes: Still not sure what you’re getting yourself into? Check out other’s stories to get a better idea on how magic mushrooms make you feel.

                • Thank You For Our Privacy Dr. Blei! Ethical concerns are of the utmost importance in scientific research, learn more about why they are important in psychedelic medicine as well.

                  • Do You Question The Efficacy of Qtests and Miraculix? That’s okay! We’ve taken it upon ourselves to put Miraculix QTests to the test, see our results here!

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                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.

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                      Frequently Asked Questions

                      1. What sets Dr. Felix Blei’s approach to psilocybin research apart?

                      Dr. Felix Blei stands out by shifting the focus of psilocybin research to explore beyond traditional psychological factors like set and setting, diving into the biochemical complexities of mushroom strains. 

                      Inspired by the entourage effect observed in cannabis, his research aims to uncover the intricate interplay of various compounds, potentially revolutionizing therapeutic applications.

                      2. How does Dr. Blei plan to refine the understanding of psychedelic experiences?

                      Through his Community Research Project, Dr. Blei endeavors to map out a detailed profile of different strains of psilocybin mushrooms. 

                      By involving the community in this scientific endeavor, he anticipates building a comprehensive dataset that not only validates anecdotal evidence but also guides future studies on the pharmacological variations among psilocybin strains.

                      3. What led Dr. Blei to embark on a collaborative project with Sergio Perez?

                      Recognizing the limitations of existing academic questionnaires in evaluating psychedelic experiences, Dr. Blei joined forces with Sergio Perez to create a more accessible self-assessment tool. 

                      Focused on simplifying language and enhancing inclusivity, their questionnaire aims to categorize psychedelic effects into sensory perceptions, altered states of mind and body, and mood changes.

                      4. What lessons has Dr. Blei learned from cannabis research to avoid similar pitfalls in psilocybin studies?

                      Dr. Blei draws on the community aspect of scientific research, inviting individuals to share their altered experiences alongside psilocybin amounts present in mushrooms. 

                      By embracing anecdotal stories and encouraging participation through quantitative test kits, he aims to steer clear of overlooking valuable insights that could shape the future of psychedelic research.

                      5. How does Dr. Blei plan to bridge the gap in psychedelic research through the Miraculix Lab platform?

                      Dr. Blei envisions Miraculix Lab as a hub for cutting-edge psychedelic research that brings scientists and participants together in a collaborative and inclusive environment. 

                      By fostering a balanced research community where insights and contributions from various backgrounds are valued, the platform aims to revolutionize the exploration of mushroom potency, effects, and strains in the realm of psychedelic studies.

                      References

                      1. Hirschfeld, T., Prugger, J., Majić, T., & Schmidt, T. T. (2023, May 9). Dose-response relationships of LSD-induced subjective experiences in humans. Nature News. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41386-023-01588-2
                      2. Russo, E. B. (2011, August). TAMING THC: Potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British journal of pharmacology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165946/

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