Mystery of Why Magic Mushrooms go blue solved

Magic mushrooms, psilocybin mushrooms, psychedelic mushrooms or simply shrooms have been a subject of conversation in recent times. Some research has been done to understand how this special type of mushrooms work, and why it has such a huge effect and impact on lives that have tried it.

Magic mushrooms contain psilocybin, which is a psychoactive and hallucinogenic compound that occurs naturally. When they are taken, magic mushrooms can affect brain function and alter perception, mood, consciousness and behavior, even to the point where the person who uses it has hallucinations and other perceptual anomalies.

This special specie of mushrooms allows for alteration of brain function by the creation of new pathways that have never been used before within the brain to connect brain regions that normally would have been on a totally different pattern. This has been the singular cause of restoration to many who were depressed and anxious about life. Many have grown to build better lives, and because of the depth of the spiritual experience gotten from tripping on magic mushrooms, many people have made better choices.

For over a decade now, scientists have wondered why magic mushrooms go blue when cut. Magic mushrooms are one of the many species that can produce a deep blue coloration when cut, and this phenomenon was confusing to many researchers until recently. Thankfully, after some research, this ten-year old mystery has finally been solved. The chemists who worked on resolving this mystery have revealed that the dark blue pigments that can be found at the center can be described as indigo, which is a dye that is used in the production of blue jeans.

Thanks to previous research, we understand that oxidized psilocybin produces the blue color, but what remained unresolved by scientists was the nature of this pigment, as well as the biochemical pathway that produced this pigment. In this article, we will study what the new research has found about why magic mushrooms go blue when cut.

The Discovery

A researcher from the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology in Germany, Dirk Hoffmeister, had been working on magic mushrooms with his team for quite a while. Working with the mushroom involved growing it in their lab, and after doing this for years they noticed something: the psilocybin mushrooms got blue when cut. It was a phenomenon they grew used to, but they were curious as to why these special mushrooms would become blue when cut.

They tried to do some research on their own, determined to find results. They first started by trying to extract the blue compound and purify it. Sadly, they failed in this experiment. According to Hoffmeister, this discovery, as well as the initial failure, confused and challenged them to try more unorthodox analytical methods, as opposed to the original methods they had tried before.

What they did next was to work deeper with infrared spectroscopy, Maldi mass spectroscopy, liquid chromatography – mass spectroscopy, and other analytical methods to pay close attention to the compounds as they form. From this in-depth and detailed study of the pigment, they found out that it was more than a single compound, but a highly complex mixture of linked psilocybin oxidation products. Most of these psilocybin oxidation products are quinoid psilocyl oligomers, which are compounds very similar to indigo, which is a deep blue pigment that can be used to dye blue jeans. It was discovered that there was a shared similarity in structure between the blue compounds discovered and blue indigo. These similarities existed in the indole core, and for the two compounds discovered, they both has their basis for their blue colour as quinoids.

The mushroom pigments identified (six of them) by the team of researchers are products of a cascade reaction that starts with psilocybin. This reaction involves a phosphatase enzyme taking off the phosphate group, converting it to psilocin. The reaction continues when an oxidizing laccase creates psilocyl radicals, which then combine to form C-5 coupled subunits and polymerize further via C-7. Jaclyn Winter, who is a researcher studying natural product biosynthesis in bacteria and fungi at the University of Utah in the United States of America has praised the German researchers led by Dirk Hoffmeister for their work in establishing the cascade reaction in this research.

What Does this Mean?

The implication of this study which is the understanding of what the blue pigments do is far from many scientists. What this means is that while the mystery of the blue coloration of magic mushrooms have been solved, scientists still do not understand the purpose behind the coloration of magic mushrooms. Whether it is for protection of the mushrooms or simply a beautification process, we do not know. Dir Hoffmeister states that the hypothesis made by him and his team of researchers is that the blue pigmentation serves a protective role for the mushrooms, and is similar to an on-demand repellent against predators.

Jaclyn Winters backs this up by stating that the compounds formed by the cascade reaction might produce reactive oxygen species, which serve as protection and can be very toxic to insects nibbling on the mushrooms. She is however optimistic that with time we will see more clear studies on the ecological role the blue pigment has to play on magic mushrooms.

Dirk Hoffmeister hopes that his research will not go in vain. Apart from hoping that many other scientists will take up the task to study more about the blue coloration of magic mushrooms and the ecological role it has on the mushrooms, he also wishes that many people become inspired to look at psilocybin mushrooms in a new light. According to him, psilocybin can become a wonder medication for therapy resistant depression and other mental issues, and he hope people look at it this way, instead of looking at the drug as an illegal, recreational drug which needs to be kept as a controlled substance.

Conclusion

A lot has been done and said relating to psilocybin mushrooms. At this point, we know enough about its healing properties and how it can be the single source of power to overcome depression and other elated mental issues. However, more research is to be done if we are to crack the code and figure how to use it to our best interest.

Thanks to the research done by Dirk Hoffmeister and his team of experts, we now know a little more about a characteristic that has kept scientists worried for some time now. As we work towards getting more information, it is important that you use this drug wisely and avoid all unnecessary tripping without getting advise from experts.

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