What is the Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Psychedelics?

Difference Between Natural And Synthetic Psychedelics

Psychedelics often get a bad name as useless “designer drugs” or “party drugs,” which is unfair. Even though LSD and MDMA were first made in laboratories, some psychedelic compounds, like psilocybin and mescaline, come from plants and have been used as medicines for thousands of years.

There are some distinctions between natural and man-made psychedelics, but maybe not in the ways we usually think. You might be curious if their chemical effects are the same; what makes “natural” psychedelics different from “synthetic” ones? Is one better for medicine than the other? Is one better than the other for safety?

Here, we’ll look at natural and man-made psychedelics to see what makes them different and what they have in common. Then we’ll talk about why choosing between natural or synthetic drugs isn’t as important as what you want to get out of it, how you will do it, and where you will do it.

Defining “Natural Psychedelics”

Since much of what we discuss depends on the difference between natural and man-made psychedelics, it’s important to be clear from the beginning. “Natural” is a word that is used a lot these days, and it is often used in a manner that is misleading or even flat-out false. This is partly because no legal definition of “natural” or “all-natural.” Advertisers can subtly change how we think about natural products and ingredients.

The dictionary says something is natural if it is made or caused by nature and not by people. With this vague definition, it’s easy to see that “natural” doesn’t always mean “good.” For example, a plant called Belladonna fits this description but is very dangerous to humans and many other animals. It’s important to know that “natural” doesn’t always mean “better.”

For our purposes here, natural psychedelics are those that come from plants. This includes entheogens like ayahuasca, formed from the parts of several plants or mixed plant-based ingredients. On the other hand, synthetic psychedelics have been made (or “synthesized”) in a controlled environment. This place could be a lab or a doctor’s office, but this may not be true.

Before we go any further, it’s vital to realize that both natural and manufactured psychedelics fall into three groups:

  • Serotonergic psychedelics, work by binding to serotonin receptors in the brain
  • Empathogens, also known as entactogens, aid in forming interpersonal bonds. 
  • Dissociatives can widen our awareness and consciousness by allowing us to move our perspectives outside of ourselves. 

As we compare and contrast natural and manufactured psychedelics, it’s crucial to remember that the proximity of one chemical to nature does not automatically make it better or worse. Despite their disparate origins, many of these chemicals have similar structures and influence the brain similarly. 

On the other hand, hallucinogenic qualities, intensities, and durations might cause dramatically distinct experiences. The aim with which they are ingested and the situation in which they are consumed plays a role.

What are the Types of Natural Psychedelics?

Plant-derived entheogens such as mescaline or peyote, psilocybin, ayahuasca, and various forms of DMT are natural psychedelics. These molecules differ in structure and origin, but they contain crucial components that allow them to function similarly in the brain. Like most natural psychedelics, each of these chemicals binds to serotonin receptors in the brain.

Thousands of various plants and fungi produce psychedelic chemicals. There is also a toad species whose skin secretions include a type of DMT known as 5-MEO-DMT. Psychedelics can come from various sources, including mushrooms, plants, and roots.

For example, approximately 200 fungal species have psilocybin, the hallucinogenic ingredient, and are collectively known as ‘magic mushrooms’. 

Here are some of the most popular natural psychedelics you can find in the market:


Mescaline is extracted from the peyote or San Pedro cacti, native to the southwestern United States and Mexico. The cacti, formally known as Lophophora williamsii and Echinopsis pachanoi, generate little button-like growths when chopped.

These growths are picked and chewed or made into a bitter tea. Both species are susceptible to extinction for various reasons, including Western interest in “novelty” peyote trips and the cacti’s poor growth rate.


Ayahuasca is a psychedelic drink made from a variety of entheogenic plants. While the recipe changes depending on locale and custom, the essential ingredients are stable. The Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the leaves of Psychotria viridis, or the catruna shrub, are mixed and brewed into a tea that causes a deep psychedelic experience when consumed orally. DMT, an endogenous psychedelic, is the major hallucinogenic element in ayahuasca.


Psilocybin, possibly the most well-known natural psychedelic, is derived from various mushrooms and other fungi, the most well-known of which are different strains of Psilocybe cubensis. These psychedelic mushrooms have a rich history in Central and South American culture, and psilocybin mushrooms are said to have played an important role in Aztec customs.

Hieroglyphs have also been discovered in Africa and Europe, indicating that psychedelic plants were employed for religious ceremonies on several continents. Psilocybin mushrooms are now legal in three US cities ( Oakland, Denver, and Santa Cruz ) and are being studied in FDA-approved clinical trials to treat severe depression.

What Are the Types of Synthetic Psychedelics?

Instead of natural psychedelics, synthetic psychedelics are created through human efforts in a controlled or semi-controlled environment. Synthetic psychedelics include, among other things, LSD, MDMA, and ketamine.

Some, such as ketamine, are Category III substances, which suggests they have some medical application. The other substances on this list are Schedule I, which means they have no medical usefulness and a higher incidence of abuse, despite strong evidence.


LSD is a synthetic version of a natural substance found in parasitic rye fungus that Albert Hoffman discovered while looking for a pharmacological respiratory and circulation booster. He would unintentionally discover its hallucinogenic properties five years later, and human society would never be the same again.

Until its illegal classification in the 1960s, research into LSD’s therapeutic use was widespread. LSD produces an incredible visual experience and a much longer trip, lasting 8 to 12 hours. It is a strong chemical since the effective dose is very small (roughly 125 micrograms).


MDMA, sometimes known as ‘ecstasy’ or ‘molly,’ has a problematic history in the United States because it was a main hallucinogenic target of the War on Drugs. Though there are some health hazards, particularly for people with pre-existing cardiac or respiratory illnesses, it is safe when used properly.

MDMA has been shown to improve prosocial behaviour and was used as a relationship therapy tool until its prohibition in the 1960s. In recent years, the FDA has labelled it as a “breakthrough” medication for treating PTSD.


Since the 1950s, ketamine has been used as an anesthetic for various surgical and medical operations. It is available for “off-label” use under the close supervision of a medical expert due to its Schedule III designation. As a result, ketamine-aided therapy clinics have sprouted up around the country to assist individuals with treatment-resistant depression and other mental health issues.

Ketamine is dissociative, which means it can momentarily detach the mind and body functions. Although it may sound frightening, this synthetic psychedelic can induce contemplative experiences that can aid in long-term recovery and is generally safe when used properly. Ketamine can cause intense hallucinations at larger doses.

Natural Psychedelics vs. Synthetic Psychedelics: Which is Better?

Both natural and synthetic psychedelics can profoundly affect a person’s consciousness and perception, and both can potentially be used for therapeutic or recreational use. However, there are some important differences between the two.

Natural psychedelics have been used in various cultural and spiritual contexts for thousands of years. They are generally considered safe when used in a controlled setting and at the appropriate dosage. Some people prefer natural psychedelics because they are seen as more “organic” or “natural” and may have a spiritual or cultural significance to the person using them.

On the other hand, synthetic psychedelics are manufactured in a laboratory and do not occur naturally in the environment. Some people prefer synthetic psychedelics because they can be more precise regarding dosing and purity and may have more predictable effects. However, some people are wary of their potential long-term effects because they are not found in nature.

It’s important to note that both natural and synthetic psychedelics can have risks and potential negative side effects, especially if used improperly or in unsafe settings. It’s always important to research and consult with a healthcare professional before using any substance, natural or synthetic.

Astral Agency is Your Reliable Source of Quality Shrooms, DMT, and Other Psychedelics

Astral Agency is an online mail-order dispensary that provides Canadians with quality shrooms, DMT, and other psychedelics. We use a third-party testing facility, and the results are posted in the photo gallery of each of our products. We use a special machine called an FTIR spectrometer to test your sample and immunoassay test strips that check for potent substances like fentanyl or benzodiazepines. Some branded products do their testing and come sealed, so we don’t test those.



The safety of psychedelics, whether natural or synthetic, depends on various factors, such as the dose, frequency of use, setting, and the user’s physical and mental health. Generally speaking, both natural and synthetic psychedelics can have risks and potential negative side effects if used improperly or in unsafe settings.

Natural psychedelics, such as psilocybin and ayahuasca, have been used for centuries in traditional medicinal and spiritual practices. Some evidence suggests that they may be safe when used in a controlled setting and at the appropriate dosage. However, the potency and purity of natural psychedelics can vary greatly, and there is always a risk of ingesting toxic substances, harmful contaminants, and psychoactive compounds.

Synthetic psychedelics, such as LSD and MDMA, are manufactured in a laboratory, and their purity and potency can be more precisely controlled. However, synthetic psychedelics can also be more unpredictable regarding their effects and may have a greater potential for adverse reactions or long-term health consequences.

Both natural and synthetic psychedelics can have potent psychedelic effects, and it’s difficult to make a general comparison between the two.

Some synthetic psychedelics, such as LSD and 2C-B, are known to be highly potent, with very small doses producing strong effects. However, some natural psychedelics, such as psilocybin mushrooms, can also produce potent effects, with the intensity of the experience depending on the mushroom species, the dosage, and individual factors such as body weight and metabolism.

It’s worth noting that the potency of a psychedelic substance is not necessarily correlated with its therapeutic or recreational potential. Some researchers have suggested that lower doses of psychedelics may be more effective for therapeutic purposes, allowing individuals to remain more grounded and better integrate their psychedelic journey experiences.

For several reasons, natural psychedelics are considered more environmentally friendly than synthetic psychedelics. Firstly, natural psychedelics are derived from plants or fungi that can be sustainably harvested or grown. In contrast, synthetic psychedelics require a complex and energy-intensive manufacturing process that often involves toxic chemicals. Secondly, the production of synthetic psychedelics can generate a significant amount of waste, including chemical byproducts and hazardous waste, which can be harmful to the environment and require careful disposal.

In contrast, the cultivation of natural psychedelics can have a lower ecological impact than the production of synthetic psychedelics. Some natural psychedelics, such as ayahuasca and peyote, have a long history of sustainable use in indigenous communities.