Psilocybin, or as it is commonly referred to, magic mushrooms, has always fascinated people. Seen as strong plant medicine that could induce visions, fractal geometry , and fanciful flights, it has always been a bit misunderstood. While it may have been considered a drug for hippies back in the sixties, psilocybin has seen a comeback in recent years. As more and more scientists and clinicians see the benefits that it can provide, the more it has become an accepted part of research to see what substance is truly capable of. While certain universities such as Johns Hopkins has made many strides in research, others are following suit. It is being used across different mental health areas such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression with astonishing results. Here are some of the more recent studies that showcase the true power of psilocybin, according to science:

Psilocybin for Depression

One of the more recent studies completed has indicated that magic mushrooms could be offered as an antidepressant in the next decade or so, if not sooner. Researchers at Imperial College London found that patients who chose to take magic mushrooms rather than traditional antidepressants found that psilocybin gave them a feeling of catharsis. The study allocated 60 participants who suffered from moderate to severe depression to receive psilocybin treatment coupled with therapy sessions with clinical psychologists.

“With psilocybin therapy […] they talk about an emotional release, a reconnection, and this key emotional centre being more responsive.”

Receiving the combination of the two, as patients described, was a very positive feeling. It was a feeling of relief, and of being free – which was something patients said was not possible on antidepressants. Rather than leaving them numb, psilocybin therapy enabled them to really get to the root of their feelings and feel free of them, rather than feeling trapped. Although these are early results, they show promising signs of what psilocybin is capable of in the right contexts.

Effects of mushrooms

Psilocybin can provide a multitude of experiences, and its versatility is what fascinates researchers. For example, psilocybin can be used to reveal concepts such as consciousness, the self, and experiences with higher beings. Several studies have found that mystical experiences that people have while on psilocybin can have deeply positive long-term effects. In fact, the stronger the mushroom dosage, the better the benefits were, even six months down the line:

“Participants showed significant positive changes on longitudinal measures of interpersonal closeness, gratitude, life meaning/purpose, forgiveness, death transcendence, daily spiritual experiences, religious faith and coping,”

Psilocybin allows for a moment where the way your brain operates consciousness normally to become inactive. While this might sound terrifying, this is when an alternative consciousness appears, revealing that sense of self. Those feelings of interconnectedness, of communicating with a higher being are connected when this occurs. It allows your brain to experience something different and brings in feelings of happiness and positivity. And as evidence suggests, the effects can linger long after the trip itself is over and lead to a happier state of living.

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Mushrooms for Depression

At Johns Hopkins, there is a lot of research going on. It has now inaugurated the Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research, which is currently funded by $17 million dollars donated by private individuals who all see the vast potential psychedelics have on mental health and other disease areas.

The current research at the center demonstrates that challenging conditions, such as addiction (both alcohol and smoking) can be combatted through psilocybin treatment. Moreover, the treatment does not just tackle the physical symptoms of the addiction, but it does what a lot of other solutions cannot do – it tries to get to the root of the issue, the very essence of a person and help reshape that for long-term change. As the researchers acknowledge, psilocybin is fundamental in helping with the existential distress that is caused by addiction and disease. By bringing in a deeper level of awareness, a new consciousness alongside assistance in reducing the physical symptoms, psilocybin can play an important role in treating addiction as a whole rather than as an isolated issue.

Similarly, psilocybin also plays a role in alleviating the distress, fear, and depression that is caused by terminal illness. Studies conducted with patients at the end of their lives showed that in moderate dosages, psilocybin was able to help patients cope with their condition, as well as give them a feeling of peace and comfort. Maybe it’s because they experienced the same feeling of consciousness and connectedness, but each patient came back reporting the same feeling of peace at their situation that was not present before.

And now, researchers are turning their sites to difficult and challenging conditions such as Alzheimer’s and the role psilocybin might play. Researchers are currently looking at early Alzheimers, and how cognitive effects could potentially be mitigated by introducing psilocybin. 

However, it is currently being looked at as an aide for depression during Alzheimer’s, where results look promising.

Currently, the research center plans to focus on the following in terms of the impact of psilocybin:

“Studies of psilocybin in patients will determine its effectiveness as a new therapy for opioid addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (formerly known as chronic Lyme disease), anorexia nervosa and alcohol use in people with major depression

Psilocybin

While these might seem like a hefty order, it shows the sheer potential that psilocybin has. With the right dosage, and working with experienced Shamans, psilocybin has massive potential to alleviate some of the most troubling mental health conditions that exist today. But what is also important to note is that psilocybin is not working as a single entity during these studies. In each research study, clinical therapy is offered, highlighting the need to work with an experienced professional during this time. While the trip itself is significant, the way it is processed after can have a massive impact across a variety of different conditions.

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