Impact on the brain

“Hippie flipping”, or mixing MDMA and psilocybin, has been around for decades. But how do these two substances interact, and what are the risks?

Mixing drugs is always a bad idea, but that doesn’t stop people from experimenting. Hippie flipping is one of the more commonly researched combinations, and involves taking psilocybin (magic mushrooms), and MDMA together. Another well-known combination is “candy flipping”, which is a mixture of LSD and MDMA.

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Both MDMA and magic mushrooms impact the pleasure centre of the brain – MDMA increases the feel-good chemical serotonin, while psilocybin also induce serotonin-like effects in the brain. It’s likely this combination will impact someone’s mood and judgement, as well as induce unusual sensory experiences. The experience can be expected to last for around 4-6 hours.

When mixing drugs, the impact on your body and mind become even more unpredictable, and harder to manage. While both magic mushrooms and MDMA have a reputation as being relatively harmless, it’s important to remember the safest drug use is not taking anything at all.

What are the risks?

There are a lot of variables when it comes to mixing drugs, and this combination is no exception. The effects and intensity can vary a lot, even when taking the exact same amount.

There is also a risk that a substance isn’t actually MDMA, but other novel psychoactive substances being sold as that. This means there’s potential to mix completely unknown substances which could have potentially fatal consequences.

The usual risks of MDMA is also still present – that includes the risks of serotonin syndrome, where too much serotonin in the brain can produce muscle cramping, high temperature and irregular heartbeat. When combined with psilocybin, which also impact the serotonin receptors in the brain and essentially keep it in the system for longer, further increasing the risks.

One of the effects of taking MDMA can include increased heart rate and blood pressure. Magic mushrooms can also increase blood pressure and pulse, which means the risks to the heart are higher.

Another big concern is overheating and dehydration. Hippie flipping can have the same effect as taking too much MDMA, leading to an elevated body temperature. This can cause heatstroke, kidney damage, liver damage, heart attack, chronic health problems, and even sudden death.

While the effects of combining MDMA and magic mushrooms can vary based on factors such as the amount being taken, age, a person’s mood and personality, the environment and surroundings, some general effects can include:

  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Muscle clenching, particularly the jaw
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme thirst
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia

The comedown can depend on when each substance was taken, and what order they were taken in. It can combine the effects from both magic mushrooms and MDMA, and can include:

  • Feelings of depression, panic, and paranoia
  • Brain fog, or trouble concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness

While no drug use is safest, there are some steps that can help reduce the risks.

  • Low doses are safer, and avoid re-dosing.
  • Avoid mixing with alcohol and other drugs, especially anti-depressants.
  • Have a plan – as with all drug use, it’s better to have people around that you trust and who have knowledge of first aid.

If you think someone is suffering from an overdose, or a medical emergency, call 111 immediately and ask for an ambulance. Always tell emergency responders what someone has taken – you won’t get in trouble and it could save a life.

If you’re worried about your own drinking or drug taking, you can reach out to the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797, or text 8681. You'll be able to speak with a trained counsellor who can provide you with helpful information, insight and support. They’re available 24/7, all calls are free and confidential. You can also chat to them online through the website.