The interesting and scary:
As there are no shortage of street names for these mushrooms, some people call them magic mushrooms, shrooms, boomers, simple Simon, sherm, musk, silly putty, psilocybin mushrooms, or even hallucinogenic nirvana shrooms.
There are many types of these mushroom throughout the world. In Mexico alone, there are 53 known species of hallucinogenic mushrooms, which have been used in ancient religious ceremonies, and even alchemy.[i] Some of the more prominent scientific names are Pholiotina, Copelandia, Gymnopilus Mycena, Panaeolus, Pluteus, Psilocybe, and Inocybe, among many others. [ii]
As with every substance, some people swear by their beneficial qualities of helping to cure a myriad of psychological diseases. Some believe that they are detrimental to a person’s health due to addictive qualities, flashbacks, and panic attacks. In this article, we’ll be looking at variables and studies in order to asses if these mushrooms can really make a positive difference in person’s life or is just another drug that people want to abuse under the guise of “good for you.”
The ingredient in the mushroom that gives you high, or hallucinations happens to be psilocybin. This is the substance that many claim transforms you to another dimension and makes you feel mystical and magical, but also causes “unpredictable provocation of panic attacks and flash-backs”.[iii]
Although the Netherlands happens to be one of the most liberal countries when it comes to drugs, magic mushrooms were outlawed and became illegal as of December, 2008. [iv] There are a couple of reasons behind this decision, as there is potential harm when using this substance. For starters, shrooms may cause physical and psychological dependence, panic attacks, hallucinations or “bad trips”, as well as, acute and chronic toxicity.[v] [vi] Here is the conclusion of the survey study on 2000 people:
“In conclusion, this survey of almost 2000 people showed that psychologically difficult experiences after taking psilocybin mushrooms can include acute psychological distress, dangerous behavior, and enduring psychological problems. Factors contributing to the increased likelihood of putting self or others at risk of physical harm included the magnitude of the estimated psilocybin dose, the degree of difficulty of the experience, the duration of the difficult experience, and the absence of physical comfort and social support during the experience.”
(Carbonaro, Bradstreet, Barrett, Maclean, Jesse, Johnson, & Griffiths, 2016) [vii]
So, if this stuff is so dangerous and illegal in one of the most liberal places on earth when it comes to drugs, why do people still insist that magic mushrooms are better than conventional medicine for certain ailments? There is a reason. That same hallucinogenic psilocybin that may cause all the problems as outlined earlier, may have some therapeutic effects. Let’s break it down.
Shrooms for Depression
I went through several studies on treatment-resistive depression, and the results looked really promising. Unfortunately most studies were very small in size. Nonetheless, here are some examples:
One of the studies was conducted on 19 patients with depression, and all 19 had reduced depression after one week of treatment with measured doses of psilocybin. [viii] Only 47% or 9 people maintained reduction of depression at 5 weeks.[ix]
In another study, 12 patients (six women and six men,) with moderate-to-severe treatment-resistant depression were given two doses of psilocybin 7 days apart. [x] Although the psychedelic effects peaked within 2 to 3 hours, the depressive symptoms reduction was observed within 1 week of the test and within 3 months with high dose treatment.[xi]
Cancer patients may also benefit from the use of psilocybin, as this substance substantially decreased the symptoms of depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.[xii] The 51 patient study showed significant decreases in depression and anxiety, as well as improvements in attitude about life, relationships, mood, and even spirituality. [xiii]
The way it works is psilocybin decreases the cerebral blood flow in the temporal cortex of your brain, including the amygdala, which has direct connection to the reduction of depression. [xiv]
To use or not to use – draw your own conclusion
I’ll attempt to make it easier for you to decide if you want to take or stay away from magic mushrooms, even in the cases of severe depression, as psilocybin can also alter your personality in a long term.
“…the new study, which is published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, is one the first to show that a drug, when used in an experimental setting, can alter personality long term.”
The way psilocybin works is it may affect the activation of serotonin receptors 2A/1A in your brain, which promotes emotional empathy. [xvi] According to a study, psilocybin significantly increased emotional empathy.[xvii]
Therefore, if you decide that you are unhappy with your current personality, and want to alter it in order to be more emotionally empathetic, among others known, as well as not yet known outcomes as the result of taking this drug, you may want to think twice, as the alteration to your personality can be long term.[xviii] [xix]
As an alternative to using shrooms, there is a “Living Wonderfully” lifestyle that naturally tackles the depression, and many other ailments without the need to change your personality.