Chemistry and Action

Psilocybin (Figure 3.5a) and psilocin (Figure 3.5b) are indole derivatives substituted in position 4 by a hydroxyl group, where psilocybin is phosphory-lated. Due to its ionic properties, psilocybin is soluble in water. In addition, phosphorylation protects psilocybin from oxidative degradation. Both compounds are found to affect laboratory animals, but there is evidence that only the dephosphorylated form, psilocin, is the active species. In their structure the toxins resemble serotonine, a biogenic amine known to be a neurotransmitter.

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