Psilocybin, an active chemical compound found in the family of ‘magic mushrooms’ is famously known for its ability to cause euphoria, hallucinations and other ‘trippy’ symptoms. Psilocybin is procured from a number of different mushrooms native to the tropical regions of South America, Mexico, and the United States. There are over 200 species of mushrooms that contain psilocybin and psilocin, another potent psychedelic. Combined, the effects of both psilocin and psilocybin are create an altered, dreamy mental state.

Our ancestors have been using psilocybin for several thousand years. A number of ancient cave paintings old as 9000BC at Saharan desert bear witness to this. Several cultures of Central and South America, including the Mayans, built temples devoted to so-called ‘Mushroom Gods’. They did this thinking the effects of consumption were evidence of a divine encounter. Some rare and ancient pictographs found in Spain depict several mushrooms belonging to genus psilocybe. Psilocybin has been a trusted drug for generations.

Being a hallucinogenic drug, psilocybin is currently undergoing intense studies in order to determine what potential health benefits it can provide, some of which have already been confirmed by the scientific community. However, to avoid the possibility of a ‘bad trip’ it is crucial to understand how to use mushrooms safely, and how to administer a correct dosage.

 

Advantages of Psilocybin

  1. Anxiolytic/Antidepressive effect

Psilocybin has the potential to stabilize our mood by eliminating negative thoughts causing mood disorders like anxiety and depression. A number of double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies done over 25 years have presented us with evidence in support of this. According to the studies, psilocybin reduced the anxiety associated with advanced-stage cancer significantly. Nine subjects with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) received low and moderate doses of oral psilocybin and all exhibited marked improvement of their symptoms following the trials.

The proposed mechanism involves the amygdala of our brain. The amygdala is an almond-shaped collection of neurons in the temporal lobe and its hyperactivity is responsible for causing mood disorders, especially anxiety. Doctor Rainer Kraehenmann of the University of Zurich found psilocybin can drastically cool down the amygdala reducing its hyperactivity thereby alleviating mood disorders. After a normal dose of psilocybin negative stimulatory images will have less of a chance of inciting a mood imbalance.

  1. Counteracting tobacco and alcohol dependence

According to the NHS about one-quarter of adults in the UK (2million) smoke tobacco and can be considered a sizable contributor to illness and death. The psychoactive agent nicotine is what makes tobacco addictive. Tobacco is considered to cause more premature deaths than suicide, homicide, alcohol, narcotics and AIDS combined. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University, Maryland have unveiled some pleasing facts with regard to quitting. They used long term chain smokers that failed to drop the habit after many attempts and gave them controlled doses of psilocybin over a course of months. The results were exciting. About 80 percent of participants were completely free of addiction after six months. That’s much higher than the 35 percent success rate expected from using ‘Varenicline’, an effective smoking cessation drug. However, ‘controlled doses’ are the keywords to be taken account.

The same goes for alcohol addiction. Used daily, controlled doses of psilocybin will reduce the alcohol craving significantly after 1 to 4 weeks. According to another study, participants’ TLFB (Timeline Followback Method) showed that both ‘percent-drinking days’ and ‘heavy-drinking days’ were notably reduced.

  1. Boosts brain’s electrical connectivity

Using standard doses of psilocybin can free your brain from pre-formed, rigid neural firing patterns and will allow the users to look at the world and themselves from a fresh perspective. A study published in the journal of Royal Society tells us that psilocybin alters the brain’s existing electrical networks and allows different sections to communicate with each other using previously unused or brand new neural pathways. This ‘neural bypassing’ effect is clearly demonstrated using medical imaging methods like fMRIs.

This neural rearrangement is not a haphazard procedure as it occurs in an orderly fashion. In other words, your brain will not become a random mess after ingesting psilocybin. In fact, it will be more organized and more accessible than before.

  1. In battling Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Psilocybin has shown a positive impact on hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for developing memories, by minimizing the effects of previous negative experiences. Scientists at the University of South Florida conducted several tests using mice (whose brains are structurally almost similar to humans) and found low doses of psilocybin eliminated fearful moments from their memory.

  1. Treatment for chronic insomnia (Sleeplessness)

“I was fascinated to see similarities between the pattern of brain activity in a psychedelic state and the pattern of brain activity during dream sleep,” says Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, a lead researcher at Imperial College London. He analyzed a number of fMRI reports that demonstrated the ‘lighting up of the brain’ in a way similar to dream sleep after taking psilocybin.

Mentioned above are only a few of the proven advantages that are associated with Psilocybin. Science is only now just beginning to unravel the mysteries surrounding it. It is important to know that the psychedelic effects are usually gone within five to ten hours but the ‘benefits’ are usually longer lasting. A single high dose of psilocybin was enough to exert a long lasting, positive personality change in 60 percent of participants according to a study done by Johns Hopkins researchers. However, overdosing is strictly not recommended as the result, often referred to as a ‘bad trip’, can trigger self-harming behavior and intense hallucinations. So stick to the correct dose (micro-dosing) and take the first step in exploring the world through you.

 

References

1.Psilocybin, Investigators Brochure, Lisa Jerome 2007

2.Psilocybe Mushroom FAQ,BY NIPO, GNOSIS, EROWID, AND OTHERS

https://erowid.org/plants/mushrooms/mushrooms_faq.shtml#2

3.Psilocybe Mushroom History by Erowid, Version 1.01

https://erowid.org/plants/mushrooms/mushrooms_history.shtml

4.Antidepressive, anxiolytic, and antiaddictive effects of ayahuasca, psilocybin and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD): a systematic review of clinical trials published in the last 25 years, by Rafael G. dos Santos, Flávia L. Osório, José Alexandre S. Crippa, Jordi Riba, Antônio W. Zuardi, and Jaime E. C. Hallak

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4910400/

5.Hallucinogen in ‘magic mushrooms’ helps longtime smokers quit in Hopkins trial

https://hub.jhu.edu/2014/09/11/magic-mushrooms-smoking/

6.Homological scaffolds of brain functional networks, The Royal Society

https://royalsociety.org/journals/