Psychedelics, like magic mushrooms, have come a long way since their popularized use in past generations. In fact, shrooms are now assisting in more than just delivering an extraordinary elevated experience.
Psychedelic assisted therapy has gone mainstream as researchers have found how to put their good feels to good use. Psilocybin mushrooms are being found effective in treating common conditions like anxiety, PTSD, depression and more.
With the growing legalization of shrooms across the continent, they are quickly becoming a natural alternative to side-effect inducing antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications and more readily available for purchase.
But don’t just take our word for it — there’s plenty of science that proves therapeutic psychedelics are legitimate for treating a wide range of symptoms and ailments. So, let’s explore the scientific workings of these once party centred compounds, and find out how they’re now being taken seriously in the medical world.
Psilocybin properties & origins
Psilocybin is a chemical compound that is found in a variety of fungi, most popularly, magic mushrooms. Through digestion, psilocybin transforms into psilocin. Psilocin is responsible for the hallucinogenic and euphoric effects that an individual feels when on a ‘shrooms’ trip.
When under the influence of psilocybin, users experience changes in sense and visual perception like views of colour, sounds, aura sights (tracers) and visuals of light. But what is key to therapeutic psychedelics are the emotional effects that are felt. With varied magic mushroom dosage levels, you’ll also experience bouts of laughter, feeling extra connected to your surroundings and a distorted sense of time and space.
These mushroom dosage effects come from psilocybin’s stimulation of a specific serotonin receptor, 5HT2A. Serotonin, also known as ‘the happy chemical’ is a neurotransmitter that influences feelings of happiness and well-being. Which is the goal and necessity of therapeutic treatments for disorders like anxiety, PTSD and depression that deplete good moods.
Mainstream mushrooms on the market today are far from a ‘modern’ substance, however. In actuality, many of the psilocybin mushrooms you find come from ancient origins. From the Aztecs of Mexico to African natives… the healing powers of magic mushroom effects have been used throughout many civilizations.
Like cannabis, each ‘strain’ of psilocybin mushroom can deliver different effects. For instance, the Psilocybe Cubensis Mexicana mushroom offers intense psychoactive effects. Whereas the Psilocybe Cubensis Transkei mushroom variety delivers notable body and sense-enhancing effects.
Therapeutic uses for psilocybin
One profound mushroom trip after effect is the feeling of gaining deeper insight into life. Especially when it comes to thought, and the way that users perceive themselves. It’s typical to feel ‘at one’ with the world around you or feel a strong sense of unity. This type of awakening encounter is being further researched for its use in treating emotional or mood-affecting conditions.
Early studies show a significant increase in communication between areas of the brain that don’t frequently interact after psilocybin is administered. Researchers are concluding that this strengthened connection is most likely responsible for the insight gained after taking shrooms. The action also consequently quiets patterns of thought that lead to addiction, anxiety and depression.
This may be why psilocybin is showing success for aiding the cessation of smoking. Another recent clinical trial found positive results for quitting smoking when administering 1 to 3 doses of psilocybin along with cognitive therapy. After, participants of this trial reported they gained the confidence to remain a non-smoker, and improved ability to manage addictions.
So far, at least two major institutions in Canada are pushing forward on increased studies for psilocybin. The University of Toronto Mississauga recently opened a Centre for Psychedelic Studies, while the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health is conducting related research. Meaning, the country could be exploring increased use of the substance for therapeutic effects, sooner than later. Especially through citizen and healthcare professionals groups that have formed to promote the cause, like TheraPsil: Therapeutic Psilocybin for Canadians.
Psilocybin and depression
Another important breakthrough for psilocybin is its ability to treat normally treatment-resistant conditions like depression. The Beckley Foundation conducted a study on the influence of psilocybin amongst patients with depression in 2016. While some cases of depression can be helped with the use of antidepressants, other more severe cases are known as ‘treatment-resistant’. Of the participants who were dosed with psilocybin, 67% became free of depression within 1 week and 42% remained depression-free up to 3 months later.
With ideal mushroom dosage levels, studies are also noting psilocybin’s powerful uplifting nature for overall and prolonged happiness. An earlier study published by the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2006, reported participants felt elevations in positive attitudes, mood, social effects, and behaviour. The treatment withstood the test of time, by the group reported they felt the same two months after consuming psilocybin. Meaning, shrooms could be able to provide short-term and long-term effects for mood depressant disorders.
Depression and anxiety can hit some individuals more than others. For instance, many cancer patients undergo intense episodes of anxiety, hopelessness, and depression after diagnosis. So, a study investigated psychedelics therapy and psilocybin’s efficacy on depression and anxiety side effects amongst cancer patients. Fortunately, the results were promising with 60-80% of participants finding immediate treatment, with benefits lasting over 6 months later.
The trial’s results went on to publish that ‘psilocybin produced immediate, substantial, and sustained improvements in anxiety and depression and led to decreases in cancer-related demoralization and hopelessness, improved spiritual well-being, and increased quality of life.’
Psychedelics, a whole new world of therapy
With increasing research, growing legalization and even nearing FDA approvals, psychedelics are becoming a validated option for many suffering from debilitating conditions. Psilocybin specifically, is showing a wide-range of success as a natural alternative to those seeking to avoid prescribed medications. And, is now even available in capsule form to be used similar to a daily supplement.
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