Magic mushrooms and its corresponding ‘psilocybin’ properties, have long been used by shamans and spiritual healers to bring about a euphoric sense of oneness with the universe. Some have used mushrooms to experience life via an altered consciousness in an effort to feel more spiritually in tune, while others simply take them recreationally to get ‘high’.
However, new research reveals that magic mushrooms may have long-term positive benefits both medically and spiritually. John Hopkins Researchers recently conducted a study on psilocybin that yielded some interesting results.
Through their study, the Hopkins scientists successfully induce transcendental experiences in 18 healthy adult volunteers. Lead author of the study and professor of behavioral biology at Hopkins University Roland Griffiths, says that, “The important point here is that we found the sweet spot where we can optimize the positive persistent effects and avoid some of the fear and anxiety that can occur and be quite disruptive.”
Because of the hallucinogenic properties of psilocybin, it can be associated with a bad ‘trip’. However, finding the proper dosage seems to negate that effect altogether, regardless of the individual who consumes it.
In the study, the volunteers were involved in five eight-hour sessions where they consumed either psilocybin or a placebo. The results were outstanding.
According to Griffiths, volunteers enjoyed long-lasting psychological growth and found a peace and calm in their lives like they never had before—with no negative side effects. Over 39% of participants found the experience to be the most meaningful experience in their lives. Their friends and family members also noticed a difference, stating that the participants where more peaceful, calmer and more patience on the whole.
The Hopkin’s study is far from the only one to reveal the positive effects of this wonder fungi.
“There is tentative evidence that psilocybin, along with other psychedelic drugs, can ‘reset’ abnormal functioning of the brain if given in a safe, controlled way as part of therapy,” according to researchers at Imperial College’s Neuropsychopharmacology Centre in London.
So how can this information be used to treat mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, and PTSD?
The ability of psilocybin to alter brain function is inspiring researchers to discover and use the therapeutic benefits of these so-called drugs. Mental conditions such as anxiety, addiction, depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders can be treated with its use.
Because psilocybin is a non-addictive compound, it is incredibly useful for therapeutic treatment. The quote above from researchers at Imperial College shows the potential for its use. These researchers injected 30 volunteers with psilocybin to discover that the activity in the primitive region of the brain associated with emotional thinking was activated while the “default mode” of the brain was less active.
With depression and OCD, the default mode of the brain is over-connected. Rumination and negative thoughts take over and lead to depression and anxiety. However, psilocybin disrupts this network in the brain, liberates sufferers, and shows the way out. Habitual activity in the default network, such as ruminating over fearful thoughts or assuming negative things about yourself and your life, are disrupted or lessened while under the influence. This obviously holds powerful potential.
Unlike pharmaceuticals, such as Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) which are prescribed for longer periods of time and don’t always work, psilocybin is a one-off medicinal treatment. Or in the case of the earlier study by Hopkins, just five sessions. By permanently changing the structure of the brain and encouraging neurogenesis (regeneration of brain cells) psilocybin offers those suffering from mental illness a potential cure.
Unfortunately, psilocybin is still a Scheduled I drug in the United States, which prevents researchers from investigating it expect in restricted trials. Until that ruling is overturned, patients will either remain suffering from their pain or have to use the drug illegally. Neither choice is acceptable. Regardless, the research is there and hopefully in the future the world will have legal access to these natural substances that hold unlimited potential.