Guest blog by Bem from Canada Shrooms.
Mushrooms are some of the oldest organisms on Earth. They’ve been here for far longer than us as they appeared at around two billion years ago. At that long period, they have evolved into wondrous creatures that can be both awesome and strange at the same time.
For one, there are types of mushrooms which are a good source of food with plenty of health benefits. But there are also types which could immediately kill you when you eat one.
But in between these two, there is one which nestles nicely in a reasonably sophisticated crevice: Magic mushrooms.
What are Magic Mushrooms?
Shrooms are fungi that contain psilocybin and psilocin. These compounds are the reason why they are labelled as psychedelic drugs. They aren’t precisely hazardous, but why are they in a complicated place?
It is because they are commonly perceived as dangerous to one’s health. However, this is far from the truth at all.
What are the two common types?
There are two major types of psychedelic mushrooms: the psilocybe semilanceata and the psilocybe cubensis.
Psilocybe semilanceata or Liberty caps are skinnier but are more potent than the psilocybe cubensis. It is usually found in damp, grassy fields populated by cattle or sheep.
However, unlike the cubensis, it doesn’t directly grow on dung.
Cubes are chunkier and grow in moist, humid climates. This particular strain is prevalent and very numerous, especially in South American regions.
How to use shrooms?
Magic mushrooms are eaten fresh, cooked, or even brewed into tea.
However, there are also dried versions that are smoked in combination with cannabis or tobacco.
Humans have been using shrooms for thousands of years, and evidence of ancient use of the fungi as entheogens trace its history back to the Aztecs, Egyptians, and South Africans.
Today, scientists have found out the numerous benefits of psilocybin in the treatment of mental illness, and the outlook for the drug seems promising.
Here are ELEVEN benefits of psilocybin mushrooms.
- Makes your brain better
The main and active ingredient found in magic mushrooms is psilocybin. Psilocybin attaches itself to a receptor found in the brain for serotonin.
People who ingest psilocybin often tell about hallucinogenic effects and mood changes coupled with an abstract, dreamy sense of “expanded consciousness.”
Still sceptical? Fortunately, there is a science behind this claim.
In one study, scientists made 15 volunteers take psilocybin then scanned their brains afterwards.
They discovered that their brain networks linked to emotional thinking were lighting up with activity spikes with various activities happening at the same time in multiple areas such as the hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex.
The activity in the brain network became less organized as that of high-level thinking and a higher sense of self!
- Makes social exclusion more bearable
Remember that time in high school when your crush did not want to go with you to the movies? Hurts like hell, right? Can you remember how long you mustered the courage to ask another girl out again?
Thankfully, you don’t have to go through the same phase again as studies show that psilocybin helps in reducing pain resulting from social rejections. The study states that psilocybin reduces one’s processing of negative stimuli.
It also showed that psilocybin helps in modulating social pain processing which associates itself with changes in self-experience.
So if you ever get rejected by someone again, all you need to do is pop a couple of shrooms up, and you’ll be up and running again in no time!
- Minimizes OCD symptoms
It’s like listening to an old record that plays itself over and over again. OCD causes the brain to get stuck on a specific thought or urge.
An example of this is the need to check the iron about twenty to thirty times just to make sure that it’s unplugged because it might damage your electronics or worse, it might cause a fire and burn your house down.
It’s scary, right? For people with OCD, a simple annoyance of seeing a red pen in a box of blue ones is a severe anxiety inducer.
Thankfully, magic mushrooms may just be the cure that they need thanks to the experiment performed by the University of Arizona, which found out that psilocybin mushrooms are effective in reducing OCD symptoms.
Nine subjects were given a total of 29 psilocybin doses. The result?
A significant decrease in OCD symptoms of varying degrees was seen in all subjects for one or more testing sessions.
- Reduces anxiety
Have you ever felt that extreme fear whenever you were made to stand up in front of the class? Have you ever felt embarrassed in front of your colleagues during one of your parties at work?
Have you had any trouble concentrating or forming up your sentences during a one-time-only killer interview?
These are examples of situations that induce anxiety, and you might have experienced any one of them. Did it ever cross your mind that some people have it worse than the ones you ever experienced?
Experiencing anxiety for a select time is a common occurrence and should be considered a part of a standard, ordinary life. However, there are people with extreme anxiety disorders which are more frequent, more intense, and episodes happen even during everyday scenarios.
What is normal for us is absolute chaos for them.
Research has presented promising effects of psilocybin found in shrooms on depression. For example, a study made in 2017 concluded that the drug might effectively reset the activities of essential brain circuits known to cause depression.
Various human experiments have already compared anxiety patients’ brains with and without psilocybin.
When psilocybin was induced, neural pathways were given a workout and senses were remixed.
After the treatment, when the psilocybin effects diminished, the brain came back to a reset status, and the patients felt that their minds became rebalanced.
The positive effects of psilocybin eliminated the symptoms of anxiety for weeks for these patients.
- Alleviates Depression
In one identical experiment stated in the prior number, Magic mushrooms are shown to be an increasingly strong candidate as a psychiatric wonder drug.
The compound seemed to improve emotional responsiveness in the brain, and another recent study suggests that it could relieve depression without emotional blunting, which is most often a side effect with conventional anti-depressants known as SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors.
- Helps you quit smoking
Are you caught up with an unhealthy pattern in your life? Say, do you want to quit smoking? Well, guess what? Psychedelics can help you move things forward!
One such story happened with a guy named Gordon McGlothlin. He was quite a smoker. He smoked 20 sticks of cigarettes a day, a habit he acquired when he was just fifteen years old. He tried to stop by using nicotine replacement therapy, psychological therapy, or just going cold turkey. But each time he relapsed.
Then one time, he went to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, took a blue capsule, and listened to classical music. After he left the room, he never put a cigarette on his mouth again. Like, ever.
That blue pill contains psilocybin which is found in shrooms. McGlothlin is just another one of out fifteen other patients that were part of the trial.
And the treatment was pretty fast, too. McGlothlin pure psilocybin and was told he’d never smoke again. At six months follow up, 80% of the patients were not smoking anymore.
- Stops you from being an alcoholic
Psilocybin was already proven to make smokers quit. Do you still need to be convinced that it, too, can stop alcoholics from being alcoholics?
The general idea is that the nature of these types of disorders is a narrowed mental and behavioural pattern. Following roughly the same treatment as with nicotine addiction, it was found out that both drinking and heavy drinking tendencies of the subjects were dramatically reduced after they were given the dosage of the drug.
- Psychological relief from the end of life grief
Perhaps one of the best and most solemn benefits of psilocybin is that it has the power to relieve overwhelming existential anxiety in people who are facing the end of life. The drug is found to have transformative relief for people who are diagnosed with life-threatening cancer.
If you don’t trust words, then perhaps you can trust the numbers.
A single dose could only last for or six hours at most. However, after six months, about 80% of the participants showed a significant reduction of anxiety and depression, while 83% reported higher life satisfaction.
The numbers don’t lie.
9. Dissolve your ego
Magic mushrooms are a form of psychedelic, and some people resort to using psychedelics to lose their sense of self while using magic mushrooms. This “dissolving” of the ego is typically a short term effect but may be related to the longer-lasting impacts. A prime example is an openness mentioned earlier in the article.
People who use prefers to go through psychedelic experiences no longer take it for granted as it’s been the only way they can view things.
Psychedelics can offer vivid, experiential proof that not only things can be different, but there is always an opportunity to seek change.
10. Increase creativity
By this time, you should already have an idea of all the good things that psychedelic mushrooms have to offer. However, it doesn’t hurt to add another one.
Taking a dose of psilocybin expands your imagination, creativity, and aesthetic appreciation as these things are closely linked to the trait of openness.
Even taking small doses of magic mushrooms can greatly kickstart a person’s creativity. This is backed by a 2018 study that presented that participants who ate tiny doses developed more ideas on solving tasks and were more fluent, flexible, and unique in terms of the answers they come up with.
11. Improve overall mental health
The only major hindrance that magic mushrooms are facing right now is that it is still widely illegal in most places. This is because authorities dismiss shrooms as dangerous party drugs. This is an unfounded belief.
For one thing, there is much research that shows that it is safer than many people believe.
Considering all the items listed above, it can be concluded that magic mushrooms contribute to the overall mental health of its users.
See? Magic mushrooms don’t deserve all the hate that they are currently getting. They aren’t dangerous. They are even more beneficial than most “edible” mushrooms!
However, as a word of caution, if you ever decide to try shrooms for yourself, you still need to be careful and observe due diligence. Make sure that you take the proper dosage as overdosing might lead to a horrible trip and might cause nausea and vomiting.
So what do you think? Do you think we missed something that should be on this list? Don’t be shy and comment on your thoughts below.