Mushrooms are often considered one of the gentler psychedelics, especially at lower doses. But potency can vary greatly from mushroom to mushroom. Factors like growing conditions, nutrition, and genetics can all impact how much psilocybin a magic mushroom produces. A newly cultivated strain, Jack Frost, is earning a reputation for its powerful and insightful psychedelic effects.
This snow-colored mushroom can induce states reminiscent of an ayahuasca or DMT trip, with vivid visuals, sensory distortions, and deep meditative effects, according to Nolo, a mushroom ceremony leader and generational Filipino tribal healer based in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, Utah. The power of Jack Frost mushrooms can be healing but also must be handled with care, so here’s some information about how to identify, grow, and engage with this strain.
Jack Frost Mushrooms: History and Origin
Jack Frost is the outcome of breeding between two other psilocybe cubensis mushroom strains: Albino Penis Envy and Albino Teacher, according to James Giordano, professor of neurology and biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center. They don’t grow naturally in the wild, but rather, people began breeding them indoors over the past few years. “They’re really new on the market,” says Giordano. “They only hit the market in 2018 or 2019.”
Jack Frost mushrooms were first crossed and isolated by grower Dave Wombat, who bred Albino Penis Envy mushrooms with Wombat True Albino Teacher mushrooms, according to mycologist Caine Barlow. “Usually, strain history is lost to some deleted part of the internet or people not wanting to out themselves, but in this case, there is no rumor or speculation,” he says. “There is enough recent documentation to identify Dave Wombat as the originator of the strain.”
While many psychonauts have yet to encounter Jack Frost mushrooms, some have taken an interest in them due to their potency. “It is an above-average-potency cubensis that usually comes in at 10 to12mg/g psilocybin, compared to the 6-8mg/g we see on average,” says Bjorn Fritzsche, a chemist at Rose City Laboratories in Portland, OR. Oakland Hyphae, a testing company in Oakland, CA, has found that Jack Frost Mushrooms have a potency range of 7 to 12 mg/g, averaging around 10mg/g, according to laboratory director Tomás Garrett.
However, there are many types of Jack Frost mushrooms out there, and they’re not genetically identical, so they vary in potency, according to Andreas Met, founder and CEO of the psychedelic therapy center Staya Therapeutics.
Characteristics and Features
Jack Frost mushrooms are albino mushrooms, meaning that their stem and cap have a white color. You can also recognize them by their gills—the thin structures hanging under the cap—which become slightly bluish when they mature, and their bulky, sometimes bumpy stems, according to Nolo, who has grown and consumed Jack Frost mushrooms himself.
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“They are visually stunning mushrooms with their white stalks, white caps, [and] blue gills—and because of their white spores, they are often described as though they have a covering of snow,” says Barlow. Nolo adds that growers like to pick Jack Frost mushrooms when they’re a bit past maturity. “The caps start to become a ‘reversed umbrella,’ as the fruiting body can grow larger than the usual Golden Teacher, with caps reaching the size of your palm,” he says.
Growing Jack Frost Mushrooms
“The Jack Frost growth cycle is not much different from general strains but is known to take longer to colonize a given substrate–and can be a bit slower to form primordia and grow mushrooms,” says Barlow. Nolo used to grow Jack Frost mushrooms but found that the yields were slow, so he switched to other strains.
“A full growth cycle of Jack Frost from grain colonization to fruiting can take five to seven months depending on how consistent your conditions are,” he says. “It’s most responsive on colder seasons, as it likes temperatures around 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit and requires little to no light at all.”
Jack Frost can grow in any substrate consisting of hardwood, but Nolo has found that they grow best in cow dung. Some also find that Jack Frost grows well in rye grains, says Barlow, adding that “you should expect a few good flushes from the Jack Frost strain before the mycelium weakens and succumbs to mold.”
“This is not a type of species that grows in the wild. This is a strain that has mutated over time through indoor growing,” says Nolo. “Cloning is the best way to reproduce the Jack Frost strain by using liquid culture or agar culture techniques.”
Jack Frost Mushroom Spores
Many Jack Frost mushrooms—specifically those produced through cloning—are sporeless, says Met. For Jack Frost mushrooms that have spores, the spores can be light purple or white. “Psilocybe mushrooms typically produce purple-black spores, but true albinos have no pigments in their spores and therefore produce white spores,” says Barlow. “They will often be found deposited on the caps of surrounding mushrooms.”
Effects of Jack Frost Mushrooms
Once you consume around one to two grams of Jack Frost, you may start getting visions, according to Nolo. “The effects become more visually vivid at times, and synesthesia of senses starts to get pronounced, where colors, smells, and sounds become more vivid and saturated,” he says. “It also puts you in a meditative state and a deep dive to oneself, as it will not put you in a social mood.”
Anything above 3.5 grams of Jack Frost is considered a ceremonial dose and should not be consumed without a guide, Nolo adds. “You will reach out-of-body states … that can last for 8-12 hours,” he says. “This strain is for the advanced, so being mindful of the dosage and not being in an environment full of people is what I recommend.”
On the other hand, users also shouldn’t be surprised if the effects are comparable to those of other cubensis mushrooms. “Most experienced growers will refer back to ‘a cube is a cube,’ as although there is fun in growing different strains, at the end of the day, it is still just P. cubensis,” says Barlow. “Some people who have used this strain will report effects common with many cultivated strains, such as mild euphoria, time dilation, and strong visuals.”
What To Know Before You Dose
Because of the high psilocybin content, Giordano recommends taking lower doses of Jack Frost than you would of other mushroom strains. “Starting with 1.5 to 2 g of the dried mushrooms is probably a good starting dose, and I would lean on the lower side,” he says. “If you want to be very reasonable, I would say between 0.5 and 1 g of the dried to start out with, and see how strong it is. See how quickly the high comes on and how long it lasts—and then work your way up from 1 to 1.5 to 2 and see how that goes.” This mushroom has a “strong hallucinogenic capability,” Giordano adds. “You get a pretty solid effect pretty quick, and it’s going to last for hours, so start slow and work your way up.”
Because Jack Frost mushrooms can be extra potent, it’s important to take the precautions you would normally take with any psychedelics. Enlist a friend as a trip-sitter, or at least have their number nearby — or jot down the number of a psychedelic support hotline such as the Fireside Project (623-473-7433). It’s also a good idea to have food and water around to avoid low blood sugar or dehydration, says psychedelic-assisted psychotherapist Dr. Cat Meyer.
In addition, some people should avoid psilocybin altogether. Those with a personal or family history of psychosis or bipolar disorder, for instance, are at risk of experiencing psychotic breaks or manic episodes after taking mushrooms, says Meyer. You should also speak with your doctor about any medications you’re on before using psychedelics.
If you’ll be working with a facilitator or shaman, it’s important to vet them carefully. “Ask questions about their training, background, [and] number of facilitations,” Meyer advises. “Many individuals are identifying as facilitators these days. It’s important that facilitators have proper education to support an individual through this work, especially as it relates to trauma resurfacing—as happens often in psychedelic sessions.” She also recommends asking them what boundaries they hold with clients; facilitators should never have romantic or sexual relationships with those seeking help from them.
“Tune into your own body’s response as to whether their presence and their response feels good in your body or doesn’t,” she says. “Listen to this. It’s important that they are aware of consent and boundaries and how this affects clients.”
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