HEALTH BENEFITS OF MUSHROOM MAGIC
The magical effects of magic mushrooms are famous and infamous, but what many people don't know is that magic mushrooms can also have health benefits. Studies have already been done on a small scale. It turns out that the substance in magic mushrooms that provides the mind-altering effects, psilocybin, can have positive effects on our mental health. More research is needed, but the results are promising.
The effects of magic mushrooms
Magic mushrooms are mushrooms that contain a special substance, namely psilocybin. This is converted in the body into psilocin, which is the substance that causes the mind-altering effects. These can be visual hallucinations, but also the feeling that time and space disappear, fast and out of the box thoughts and the sharpening of the senses. Every person can react differently and the intensity of a trip depends, among other things, your own experience with mushrooms, the content of your stomach and the dosage.
Psilocybin is found in about 200 mushroom species. The substance activates serotonin receptors. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that affects mood, appetite, digestion, sleep patterns, memory, sexuality and social behavior. That is why magic mushrooms have a broad effect that can be felt in different ways. More and more research is being done into the possibilities of magic mushrooms (or the substance psilocybin) in supporting mental health.
Research into the effects of magic mushrooms and truffles
Scientists see many benefits in the use of psilocybin mushrooms or truffles for mental complaints. In 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designated psilocybin therapy as “Breakthrough Therapy”. This will help speed up the process of turning this into a medicine.
Psilocybin for depression
Also in the Netherlands, a study is currently taking place about the effects of psilocybin with depression, at the University Medical Center Groningen, the Leiden University Medical Center and the University Medical Center Utrecht. This research is still ongoing and no data are available yet.
Promising research has already been done into the possibilities of psilocybin in depression, especially treatment-resistant depression. This is when medication and treatment do not work to improve symptoms. In the study, patients with major depression received two doses of psilocybin, seven days apart. They noticed the first psychedelic effects within an hour, then the effects diminished after six hours. After a week and also after three months, the symptoms of the depression had clearly decreased.
Feel better with magic mushrooms
Magic mushrooms can help you development as a person, to stimulate psychological growth and to feel good. A small-scale study was conducted at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. There were 18 participants who received varying doses of psilocybin for five sessions. All participants were academics and were interested in spirituality.
The effects of the psilocybin were clearly very meaningful to these people. They were all surveyed after fourteen months and 94% of the participants indicated that the experiment was one of the most meaningful experiences. 39% even called it the most meaningful. Other studies by Johns Hopkins also show that people who receive psilocybin, feel better about themselves and are more satisfied with their lives. It was striking that they were not the only ones who saw a change. Their family and friends could also find that these people were calmer, more content, friendlier and happier after the experiment.
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine opened the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research in 2019. They will do more research here on the influence of psychedelics on brain functioning. They will focus, among other things, on the possibilities in Alzheimers and anorexia.
Bad habits and addictions
Psilocybin could also be a good drug for addictions. This was also investigated by a Johns Hopkins researcher. A small study examined 15 participants who were addicted to smoking. 80% of them confirmed that they were still stopped smoking after six months. One year after the survey, it turned out that 67% had still stopped and two and a half years later, 60% were still smoke-free. If you use the standard methods to quit smoking, you will have success rates of only 40%. A large-scale study is now being conducted, in which psilocybin is compared with a standard nicotine patch.
For anxiety and stress
Psilocybin was given in a 2016 study to cancer patients. They suffered from depression and anxiety. They were only given a single dose, but this helped their long-term rig to get rid of their fears. The physician who conducted the study indicates that psilocybin is a promising agent for promoting the emotional and spiritual well-being of patients with life-threatening illness. The remarkable thing is that 60 to 80% had less depression and anxiety after six and a half months. But even 4 ½ years later, 70% of the participants indicated that they still felt the positive effects of the treatment.
Scientists indicate that they do not yet fully understand the effect of psilocybin on the brain. Probably neuroplasticity plays a big roll, this is the brain's ability to adapt and change under the influence of experiences. Therefore, a single dose of psilocybin can have such a long-lasting effect.
"This substance can provide a deep, meaningful experience that can change a person at a fundamental level." says researcher Gabby Agin-Liebes. It can actually change your thinking patterns and your look on life. This has an impact on a deep level, on your beliefs, your spirituality, your faith, and your personality.
Medical use of magic mushrooms is different than when you take magic mushrooms just for a nice trip. If you want to use magic mushrooms because you have psychological complaints, it is not wise to experiment with this yourself. Magic mushrooms can have intense effects on you and a bad trip is certainly also possible, especially if you have psychological complaints. Perhaps participating in the above research is something for you? Click the link in the text to learn more about it.
If you want to know more about what psychedelics can do for depression and addictions, check out our blog!