Article image

Measuring psilocybin mushroom potency just got easier

In recent years, the perception of psilocybin and psilocin, the active compounds found in certain mushrooms, has shifted dramatically, along with the potency.

In the 1970s, federal authorities dismissed these compounds as illegal substances without medical benefits. Now, they are at the forefront of innovative treatments for challenging mental health conditions. These include treatment-resistant depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This evolution in understanding has resulted in regulatory changes. Some areas now allow the medical use of these mushrooms. Meanwhile, other regions are considering their decriminalization or even their use recreationally.

Dosing dilemma: ensuring precision in psilocybin therapy

The growing acceptance of psilocybin for therapeutic use presents a new challenge for medical professionals: the need for precise dosing. Consequently, administering the correct dose to patients is crucial. It guarantees both the safety and effectiveness of the treatment.

To address this challenge, researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington have created a groundbreaking method. This method accurately measures the potency of psilocybin and psilocin in Psilocybe cubensis, a hallucinogenic mushroom species that is commonly studied.

Kevin Schug, the Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry at the university, emphasizes the significance of these advancements.

“These legislative changes are expected to facilitate further research and potential clinical applications,” Schug explains, highlighting the pivotal role of accurate dosing in the therapeutic use of psilocybin.

The science of psilocybin potency

The team’s method employs liquid chromatography paired with tandem mass spectrometry. This sophisticated analytical technique is used to extract and quantify the active compounds in mushrooms.

The study, detailed in the February issue of Analytica Chimica Acta, not only showcases the method’s efficacy but also its reliability, as confirmed by cross-validation with two separate laboratories.

This collaborative effort included contributions from Scottsdale Research Institute in Phoenix, Shimadzu Scientific Instruments in Maryland, and Millipore-Sigma in Round Rock, Texas, underscoring the comprehensive approach taken to ensure the method’s accuracy and applicability.

Schug further elaborates on the importance of this development. “As medical professionals identify more safe and effective treatments using mushrooms, it will be important to ensure product safety, identify regulatory benchmarks, and determine appropriate dosing.”

He underscores the critical role of established and reliable analytical methods, like the one his team describes, in the integration of mushrooms into clinical settings.

Psilocybin’s promising future

The introduction of this precise measurement technique marks a significant milestone in the journey toward the widespread acceptance and use of psilocybin in medical treatments.

By providing a reliable way to gauge mushroom potency, this method paves the way for safer, more effective treatments, offering hope to those battling stubborn mental health conditions.

The full study was published in the journal Analytica Chimica Acta.


Like what you read? Subscribe to our newsletter for engaging articles, exclusive content, and the latest updates. 

Check us out on EarthSnap, a free app brought to you by Eric Ralls and


News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day