Phenylethylamine: An Overlooked Active Compound in Magic Mushrooms

Magic mushrooms have multiple active components including phenethylamine. These molecules are almost never acknowledged and are probably involved the pharmacology of these fungi.


Psychoactive mushrooms (aka psilocybin mushrooms or magic mushrooms) have recently received considerable attention in the popular news media. For the most part, reports focus on either the magic mushrooms themselves or the molecule psilocybin. A few articles point out that psilocin is actually the active molecule.1

Magic mushrooms contain many other active compounds. One of them is phenethylamine (PEA).2 Scientists almost never acknowledge this molecule. This is an important issue because several magic mushroom compounds are probably involved their pharmacology and eliciting the overall psychedelic effect (aka the entourage effect).

Phenethylamine is Present in Magic Mushrooms

Consider these facts about phenethylamine:

  • It acts as a central nervous system stimulant in humans. It is similar to amphetamine in its action in that it causes the release of norepinephrine and dopamine.
  • It is found in a wide range of species throughout the plant and animal kingdoms.3
  • Phenethylamine has been quantifiably measured in multiple collections of psychoactive mushrooms.2

Phenethylamine Shows a Need for Improving Psilocybin Chemistry

The presence of phenylethylamine in magic mushrooms shows why it is important to distinguish mushrooms from the collection of molecules inside those mushrooms.

The path to better psilocybin products will begin by treating magic mushrooms as collections of magic molecules. Even psilocybin is only present in about 1-2% of the dry mass of mushroom flesh.4 This means that 98-99% of that mushroom is comprised of other types of molecules including carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and perhaps other psychoactive compounds like phenylethylamine. How do these compounds work together to create the psychedelic effect? Right now, no one knows.

As evidenced by the prevalence of magic mushroom language, psilocybin technology is presently viewed from a mycologist’s perspective.  That perspective is essential to cultivating and/or identifying magic mushrooms. However, future advances in treating conditions like anxiety and depression will require viewing these mushrooms from a chemical perspective.

Barb Bauer Headshot

Barb is the former Editor and one of the founders of Psychedelic Science Review. She is currently a contributing writer. Her goal is making accurate and concise psychedelic science research assessable so that researchers and private citizens can make informed decisions.


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John knowswhatimtalkingabout
3 years ago

There’s a problem with your math, and the fact that there’s no site of sources on there being phenethylamine in mushrooms. Kinda just made a false claim. But now the really shame the writer and editor of this particular snippet. Your math is wrong big time. The most potent psilocybin mushrooms only has a psilocybin content of 1.37% of dry weight. That is out of 100% of the weight of the mushroom. What was claimed was the other 98.63% (had your numbers been right) was composed of other unknown psychoactive compounds; which is frustratingly wrong. It makes me want to… Read more »

Jim Bob
3 years ago

That’s because a large fraction of mushroom weight is from nutrients and carbohydrates! Let’s say that shrooms are only 1.37% psilocybin. If only 1.37% percent is psilocybin, then 98.63% is EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE MUSHROOMS, including things like protein and fiber! There is NO WAY that 100% of that weight is from psychedelic compounds! Shrooms have plenty of non-psychedelic contents. That’s COMMON SENSE! Do you not see what’s wrong with this assumption!? Stop spreading misinformation! You need to either heavily edit this article or delete it altogether. If you can’t even get THAT right, then I can’t believe your claims… Read more »

Last edited 3 years ago by Jim Bob
Bim Job
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Bob

Are you unable to read or comprehend things properly or something? No where was it stated that 100% of the mushroom is made of psychoactive compounds, just that the 98.63% of the mushroom that isn’t psylocybin also contains other psychoactive compounds. Nothing about that implies that all of it is made up of psychoactive compounds, just that it contains some.

3 years ago