Mushrooms and truffles of the ‘magic’ variety share many similarities, most importantly perhaps, the thing that makes them magic. Yet they also are very different in many respects, not just in appearance and habitat, but in terms of the law, too. With psychedelics garnering plenty of attention of late, particularly in the world of neuroscience, all corners of society are turning to these powerful substances for the benefit of mind, body, and soul.
What are Magic Mushrooms?
More commonly known than their truffle counterpart, magic mushrooms refer to any species of fungi containing psilocybin. This prodrug becomes an active drug (psilocin) once metabolized inside the body, triggering numerous responses within the brain. Such triggers can have a profound impact, initiating the typical psychoactive effects associated with hallucinogens, i.e., changes in thought and perception.
While psilocybin mushrooms induce powerful effects when consumed in large quantities, even tiny amounts or microdoses can alter the brain. Supporters of this popular new movement, known as microdosing, claim the practice produces therapeutic benefits without any side-effects, which include increased productivity, energy and creativity, plus improved mood, and feelings of positivity. The science world has jumped on board too, with countless studies from prestigious research centers indicating the potential of psychedelics, not only as cognitive enhancers, but also as a promising alternative to current mental health treatment.
No doubt everyone can conjure up an image of a mushroom; although magic truffles might be a little harder to envision. What exactly are they and how do they differ to their mushroom sibling? Let’s take a look.
What are Magic Truffles?
While the two terms are often interchangeable, the first difference between mushrooms and truffles is where they live and how they grow. And the first similarity between the two is that they are both part of the same organism! That’s right, the mushroom is defined as the fruit that can be found above ground, whereas the truffle is the secreted part living underneath the surface.
Otherwise known as sclerotia, magic truffles are not technically ‘real’ truffles at all. In fact, they are a compact mass of mycelium; a subterranean network of fibers that act as a food reserve stored for harsh conditions. Unlike the mushroom growing and releasing spores above the earth, sclerotia remain underground for their entire life cycle.
"Both mushrooms and truffles contain the same psychoactive ingredient that gives them their ‘magic’: psilocybin"
What are the Differences?
So far, we’ve discovered that magic mushrooms and truffles are part of the same being, yet they each inhabit contrasting environments. Aside from their day-to-day activities, the two also differ in terms of appearance. Psilocybin mushrooms are instantly recognizable with their soft texture, white coloring, and familiar hat. Truffles, on the other hand, are much darker, rougher in texture and more compact. Their lower moisture content creates that tough hardiness, making them more difficult to chew than the gooey softness of fresh mushrooms.
What are the Similarities?
Both mushrooms and truffles contain the same psychoactive ingredient that gives them their ‘magic’: psilocybin. In fact, truffles have just as much potential for intense psychedelic experiences as their other half. Many consider mushrooms the more powerful of the two, with truffles offering a milder alternative. However, the same psilocybin exists in both options, and the impact is determined only by the particular strain or, of course, the amount consumed.
This assumption that magic mushrooms are stronger may arise from the fact that they are far less predictable. As the mushrooms grow at differing rates, their psilocybin content can vary from one to the next, and their higher water volume also adds to their inconsistency. Truffles, on the other hand, are much more stable in this regard, providing consistency and more predictable dosing.
Another similarity lies in storage. If dried, both truffles and mushrooms can be stored safely for months, even years. When fresh, truffles have the advantage, as they can be kept vacuum packed for up to three months, as opposed to just a few days for mushrooms.
Are Both Magic Mushrooms and Magic Truffles Legal?
Arguably the most important question so far. Naturally, the answer depends on the location, as laws regarding psychedelics differ dramatically from one country to the next. And they are changing all the time, too. At the end of 2020, Oregon became the first US state to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, joining countries such as Jamaica, Brazil, and the Bahamas.
In the Netherlands, the law makes a distinction between magic mushrooms and magic truffles. In 2008, the legal status of the former was revoked, although the latter was left untouched, meaning the sale and use of magic truffles is alive and well within the country’s borders and online.
Which One is Better?
As both mushrooms and truffles share the same magic ingredient, they each offer the potential to unleash the benefits of microdosing or instigate a powerful journey of psychedelic enlightenment.