Lysergic

Some fascinating studies have been done in Germany where the metabolically active mycelium of some Psilocybe species have been administered diethyltryptamine as a potential diet component. Normally, this mushroom species dutifully converts N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) to psilocin, by introducing a 4-hydroxyl group into the molecule by something that is probably called an indole 4-hydroxylase by the biochemists. You put DMT in, and you get 4-hydroxy-DMT out, and this is psilocin. Maybe if you put Mickey Mouse in, you would get 4-hydroxy-Mickey Mouse out. It is as if the mushroom psyche didn’t really care what it was working with, it was simply compelled to do its sacred duty to 4-hydroxylate any tryptamine it came across. It was observed that if you put N,N-diethyltryptamine (DET, not a material found in nature) into the growing process, the dutiful and ignorant enzymes would hydroxylate it to 4-hydroxy-N,N-diethyltryptamine (4-HO-DET) a potent drug also not known in nature. This is the title drug of this commentary. What a beautiful burr to thrust into the natural versus synthetic controversy. If a plant (a mushroom mycelium in this case) is given a man-made chemical, and this plant converts it, using its natural capabilities, into a product that had never before been known in nature, is that product natural? What is natural? This is the stuff of many long and pointless essays.

– Shulgin
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    "Natural" is the misnomer we use to indicate "not made by human". But we are nature’s excrement, are we not? The...
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