Mushrooms and MDMA: The Art and Science of Hippie Flipping

Your guide to hippie flipping: Explore the combined effects of MDMA and magic mushrooms. 

Overview: Hippie flipping involves combining MDMA (ecstasy) and magic mushrooms (containing psilocybin), resulting in a unique blend of psychedelic effects. The preferred protocol is starting with mushrooms and introducing MDMA later. While offering a unique psychedelic experience, caution is needed due to potential risks associated with both substances. MDMA enhances emotional connection but poses physical risks, especially for individuals with heart conditions. Psilocybin mushrooms have therapeutic potential but require careful identification to avoid toxic species. Harm reduction strategies, including substance testing, mindful preparation, and a trusted trip-sitter, are crucial. Recent studies suggest that combining a low dose of MDMA with psychedelics may mitigate negative effects. It is important to approach psychedelic experiences, including hippie flipping, with caution, awareness, and a thorough understanding of risks and benefits for a safe and meaningful journey.

What is Hippie Flipping?

Hippie flipping is a term used to describe the simultaneous use of MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy or Molly, and magic mushrooms, which contain the classic psychedelic compound psilocybin.

The term “flipping” is used to refer to various drug combinations involving MDMA, such as candy flipping (MDMA and LSD). In the context of hippie flipping, the most popular protocol involves starting with magic mushrooms and consuming MDMA an hour or two later.

Hippie flipping provides a distinctive experience, seamlessly merging the psychedelic effects induced by mushrooms with the euphoric and empathy-promoting qualities of MDMA. Embraced by many psychonauts, hippie flipping is sought after for its versatile effects, serving purposes ranging from recreational enjoyment to self-medication.

Interestingly, lifetime use of both MDMA and psilocybin has been associated with a lower risk of depression. Of course, it's important to understand that using these substances isn't without risks. This is especially true when combining them — “hippie flipping” — which can bring about additional positives, but additional dangers, too. More research is needed to fully grasp both the positive and negative aspects of hippie flipping.

Understanding MDMA

MDMA also known as “ecstasy” or “Molly,” is a synthetic drug categorized as an entactogen or empathogen. Entactogens are recognized for their euphoric effects and ability to amplify feelings of empathy and sociability. This means that individuals using MDMA may experience heightened emotional connection, increased openness, and a greater sense of social bonding.

MDMA stimulates the central nervous system by increasing the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain, primarily serotonin, and to a lesser extent, norepinephrine and dopamine. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers facilitating communication between nerve cells (neurons). This neurochemical surge contributes to experiences of heightened energy, intensified sensations, and increased feelings of openness, happiness, love, and trust.

Originally a recreational substance, MDMA gained popularity in rave and electronic dance music scenes before being embraced by underground psychotherapists in the late ‘70s for therapeutic purposes. The drug was subsequently banned in 1985 after it began to be distributed and used more widely.

Recent studies highlight MDMA's potential in treating treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), leading the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to designate MDMA-assisted therapy as a “breakthrough therapy.”

One phase 3 clinical trial published in 2023 revealed that over 70% of participants no longer had PTSD after MDMA-assisted therapy. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), conducting these clinical studies, has applied to make MDMA-assisted therapy a new legal treatment option for those with PTSD.

MDMA's effects are thought to enable patients to establish open and trusting relationships with therapists, facilitating the processing of challenging traumas without the fear that is usually experienced.

When used moderately, MDMA is considered physically safe, though its use does come with risks. For example, MDMA increases heart rate and blood pressure. As a result, individuals with underlying cardiac conditions are typically advised against its use.

Exploring Psilocybin Mushrooms

For millennia, psilocybin mushrooms, often known as “magic mushrooms,” have played a significant role in the medicinal, spiritual, and religious practices of Indigenous cultures, particularly in Central America. For example, the Mazatec people of Oaxaca, Mexico, who refer to the mushrooms as ‘teonanácatl’ meaning “God's flesh,” continue to use them in sacred ceremonies for healing and divination.

The key psychoactive component in these mushrooms is the classic psychedelic, psilocybin, recognized for its psychedelic effects. Interestingly, it is a byproduct formed when the body metabolizes psilocybin, called psilocin, that actually produces these effects. 

Psilocin, which is also found in magic mushrooms, interacts primarily with serotonin receptors in the brain, particularly the 5-HT2A receptor. Other ‘classic psychedelics’ like LSD, DMT, and mescaline also produce their psychedelic effects this way.

Mid-twentieth-century research in the US and Europe hinted at psilocybin's therapeutic and spiritual potential. In these studies, psilocybin was typically administered in a controlled setting with patients wearing eyeshades and listening to curated music to promote looking inward and amplify the psychedelic effects of psilocybin.

Recreational use of magic mushrooms increased in the 1960s, and despite its potential, they were classified as Schedule 1 banned substances in 1970.

In recent years, recognition of psilocybin's therapeutic potential has grown. Research indicates that, coupled with supportive therapy in a controlled, comfortable environment, psilocybin can effectively aid in the treatment of anxiety related to life-threatening illnesses, depression, tobacco and alcohol addiction, and more.

Despite the stigma historically associated with magic mushrooms, there's mounting evidence supporting the safety and efficacy of psilocybin. Similar to MDMA, psilocybin received ‘breakthrough therapy’ status for major depressive disorder and for treatment-resistant depression.

The Effects of Hippie Flipping

Hippie flipping tends to produce a synergy of mushroom and MDMA effects, resulting in a unique blend of perceptions, emotions, and sensations.

Describing psychedelic experiences is always challenging, but magic mushrooms generally induce a state marked by profound shifts in perception, cognition, emotion, and a sense of self or ‘ego.’ This might include visual effects like surfaces appearing as though they are shifting, breathing or morphing, intensified sensations, and heightened appreciation for music, art, and nature.

With closed eyes and at higher doses, deeply spiritual and mystical-type experiences can occur. Mystical-type experiences induced by psilocybin commonly involve a feeling of having gone beyond the boundaries of time and space, deep positive moods, insights about the nature of reality, and a profound sense of sacredness and unity, among other meaningful perceptions and insights. 

An MDMA experience, as mentioned earlier, is commonly marked by euphoria, increased empathy, trust, prosocial effects, and heightened energy. While not a classic psychedelic like psilocybin, MDMA can foster powerfully pleasurable feelings, social connections, and emotional breakthroughs.

Psychedelic experiences are inherently variable, and the nature of these experiences can be influenced by several factors. Individual differences, including mental state, personality, and personal history (set), play a significant role in shaping the outcome of a psychedelic experience. Additionally, external factors such as the environment, dosage, and the presence of a supportive and comfortable setting can also impact the overall experience.

Image depicting the psychedelic experience of 'hippie flipping' with MDMA and mushrooms.
Image depicting the psychedelic experience of 'hippie flipping' with MDMA and mushrooms.

Factors Affecting a Hippie Flip Experience

The effects and experiences induced by psychedelics, including those of hippie flipping, strongly depend on factors like dosage, set and setting, the order and timing of when the substances are consumed, and individual differences. Dose and the principles of set and setting — one’s mindset and expectations going into the experience and the environment in which the experience takes place — are known to be particularly important.

The duration of a hippie flip experience depends on the mushrooms and MDMA doses and how they are timed. The golden psychedelic rule advises starting low and going slow. First-time experimenters are urged to keep dosages light, for instance, no more than 2 grams of mushrooms and 120 mg of MDMA.

Typically, the effects of mushrooms last for four to six hours, while MDMA effects generally span from three to six hours. The effects of MDMA come on slightly faster at around 15-30 minutes versus 45 minutes to an hour for mushrooms.

To optimize the combined experience, a recommended approach is to consume the mushrooms first and introduce MDMA one to two hours later. This timing aligns the peak effects of both substances, offering a more synchronized and harmonious hippie flip experience.

Importantly, this strategy also helps avoid the potential discomfort of tripping on mushrooms during the comedown of MDMA — an often challenging phase of the MDMA experience as its effects begin to wear off, which could be intensified by the effects of psilocybin. Following this dosage protocol, the effects of hippie flipping can be expected to last approximately six hours, with the possibility of some light effects lingering for an additional hour or two.

For a mindful hippie flip experience, it is advisable to set aside a span of three days. The initial day is dedicated to preparation, ensuring a thoughtful and intentional approach to the upcoming journey. The second day marks the actual experience, allowing ample time to delve into the combined effects of mushrooms and MDMA free of any unwelcome distractions. The third day is designated for reflection and integration, offering an opportunity to process and incorporate any insights gained during the psychedelic encounter.

Additionally, the presence of a trusted trip sitter is strongly recommended throughout the journey, providing reassurance and ensuring a safe and supportive environment for the duration of the experience. This comprehensive approach aims to enhance the overall safety and positive outcomes associated with the hippie flip.

Hippie Flipping: Harm Reduction and Safety

While many individuals report interesting and positive experiences with hippie flipping, the primary risk associated with psychedelics lies in the potential for challenging experiences, also known as “bad trips.” Psychedelics can magnify one's inner life, bringing forth emotions and memories that may be challenging and uncomfortable to confront and process.

Interestingly, a recent survey study involving 698 individuals planning to use psilocybin or LSD which explored the effects of combining MDMA with these psychedelics found that when a self-reported low dose of MDMA was taken with psilocybin or LSD, participants reported significantly less intense challenging experiences, including grief and fear. On the positive side, there was an increase in self-compassion, love, and gratitude.

Following this, a placebo-controlled study found that combining MDMA and LSD — known as “candy flipping” — enhanced feelings of happiness, openness, trust, and overall well-being in the early stages of the experience when compared to the effects of LSD alone. 

While promising, further research is needed to replicate these findings.

As we know, psilocybin is a powerful psychedelic compound capable of inducing profoundly altered states of consciousness. Those with a personal or family history of psychiatric illness, particularly psychotic disorders, are at a greater risk of serious adverse reactions when experimenting with psychedelics, including hippie flipping. As a result, individuals with such histories are strongly urged to refrain from use, and they are typically excluded from clinical psilocybin research.

Physical Risks Associated with MDMA and Mushrooms

Hippie flipping comes with additional risks. MDMA, and to a lesser extent, psilocybin, elevates blood pressure and heart rate. As a result, individuals with underlying heart conditions are advised against using MDMA.

As MDMA also raises body temperature, staying hydrated and taking breaks from physical exertion, especially in hot and crowded environments like raves, nightclubs, or festivals, is crucial. That said, one must be careful not to drink too much water, maintaining a regular intake of water (approximately 1 pint every 2-3 hours), as MDMA can increase thirst while making urination more difficult. Over-consumption of water while under the influence of MDMA can lead to a potentially life-threatening condition called hyponatremia

Long-term, repeated use of MDMA has also been associated with negative effects on liver health, posing problems for those with existing liver issues. Due to these effects, individuals with kidney or liver issues are advised to avoid using MDMA.

As mentioned above, MDMA primarily affects the concentration of serotonin in the brain. Therefore, individuals taking or recently taking antidepressant medications like Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), or Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) should avoid MDMA due to unpredictable and potentially dangerous drug interactions, potentially leading to a life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome

Additionally, both MDMA and magic mushrooms can lower the seizure threshold, making them potentially risky for individuals with a personal or family history of epilepsy or seizures.

A key harm reduction strategy is ensuring that the MDMA and psilocybin mushrooms one plans to take are indeed what they are claimed to be or appear to be. Illegally-bought ecstasy sold as MDMA often contains unknown and potentially dangerous adulterants, or may not contain any MDMA at all.

Testing MDMA through lab analysis or reagent testing kits is strongly advised. In Spain, individuals have the option to send their samples to organizations such as Energy Control for comprehensive laboratory analysis. Lab analysis provides a more accurate and detailed breakdown of the substance's composition.

Alternatively, reagent testing kits, available through harm reduction organizations like DanceSafe, offer a more accessible on-the-spot screening method. Reagent tests involve applying a chemical reagent to a small sample of the substance, producing a color reaction that can help identify the presence of certain substances. While these tests are not as precise as lab analysis, they serve as a valuable tool for initial screening and can aid in making more informed decisions about drug use.

Psilocybin mushrooms also come with risks, as there are toxic species resembling psilocybin mushrooms that can be seriously harmful if consumed. Before being consumed, psilocybin mushrooms must be accurately identified (click here for a field guide on correctly identifying psilocybin mushrooms.)

Putting a Bow on Hippie Flipping: A Quick Recap

In summary, hippie flipping involves combining MDMA (ecstasy or Molly) with magic mushrooms containing psilocybin, creating a unique blend of psychedelic effects and euphoria.

The preferred approach is to start with mushrooms and introduce MDMA later, whether for recreational enjoyment or self-medication. However, this practice demands careful consideration.

MDMA, an entactogen, enhances emotional connection and sociability but poses physical risks, particularly for individuals with heart conditions. Psilocybin mushrooms, with a rich history and therapeutic potential, also come with risks that require cautious identification. Harm reduction strategies, including substance testing, mindful preparation, and having a trusted trip-sitter, are strongly advised.

Recent studies indicate that combining a low dose of MDMA with psychedelics may mitigate negative effects and promote positive outcomes. That said, experimenting with psychedelic substances, like hippie flipping, requires caution, awareness, and a thorough understanding of potential risks and benefits. More research is needed in this area.

Ultimately, hippie flipping offers a unique and potentially enjoyable and/or therapeutic psychedelic experience. As always, being responsible and approaching the experience with the kind of caution and careful preparation it deserves is considered crucial for a safe and meaningful journey.

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