Fungi have been around since the earth was young. These tiny creatures have a critical role in the evolution and development of the human psyche. Researchers discovered images and murals on how our ancestors used them.
It is no surprise that now and then when bereft of answers, some turn back to these ancient creatures for comfort and sometimes even answers.
But before we go any deeper into the spiritual stuff, let’s anchor our discussion on what science has found so far. Note that there is little research done on the matter.
Psilocybin: The Magic in Mushrooms
Psilocybin is a hallucinogen that people ingest from certain types of mushrooms. This compound can be found in more than 200 species of fungi.
It can activate the brain’s serotonin receptors in the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain affects cognition, perception, and mood.
Psilocin is responsible for giving people the trip that you often hear about. It does this by binding the same receptors as serotonin. And most of you know that serotonin does help in providing that good feeling.
While psilocybin does not always produce active visual or auditory hallucinations, it does distort how people perceive objects in their immediate environment. The gravity of the experience will depend on how much a person consumes, their past experiences, and how much they expect to experience.
According to research, its mind-altering effects are similar to that of LSD, DMT, and mescaline. Some of the most notable effects include intense excitement and happiness, peacefulness, a dream-like sense of being disconnected from surroundings, and the perception of halos of light and vivid colors.
People who used psilocybin before reported more positive experiences than those who tried it for the first time. Several factors, including group size, dosage, preparation, and expectancy, affected how the medicine responded.
People in groups larger than eight generally thought that the groups were less supportive and that their experiences were less enjoyable. In contrast, smaller groups (fewer than six) were perceived as more supportive and had higher medication response rates.
The generally known effect is as follows:
- +0 – Ingestion
- +30 minutes – The person starts to feel the first effects which
- +1 hour – Relaxed body, feeling of euphoria, and even altered state of consciousness
- +2 hours – Full effect
- +4 hours – Still at the full effect but at the climax now, and experience is starting to descend
- +5 hours – Cognition and physical function return to normal but not at full control
- +6 hours – The person becomes sober but may feel exhausted and hungry
The effect varies from person to person, but the sparse information and data leave room for more learning. Since psilocin alters the perception of time, the effect may be more prolonged than in reality.
You may also experience a wide range of subjective effects. Aside from feelings of disorientation, lethargy, joy, and giddiness, those given high doses felt more negative effects like fear and transient paranoia.
Scientists’ Initial Findings
There is an increase in modern studies on how psilocin can do this. However, scientists speculate that it does this by strengthening the 5HT2A receptors.
Other psychedelic drugs also target the receptors. Brain connections are reinforced, and those with weak or non-existing networks are also connected.
In experiments done with mice, psilocybin made entirely new connections in their brain. In people, psilocybin strengthened connections and perceptions about how they sensed and perceived the world.
Also, it decreased connections which were responsible for how we understand signals from our environment.
The connection and disconnection process may cause an altered state of mind and consciousness when consuming psilocybin.
Policies have changed in the past decade, enabling researchers to study psilocin’s basic effects and possible therapeutic benefits.
The studies include giving people one or two moderate to high doses with the presence and supervision of a psychiatrist. The goal is to have the patient have a good experience.
This study is particularly interesting to those researching people with treatment-resistant depression, which occurs in about 10-30% of patients. These are people who do not respond to treatment or those whose symptoms keep returning even after being administered antidepressants.
In an early study of these patients, about two-thirds responded to psilocybin a week after the treatment. 60% still showed improved depression scores in the following quarter.
Compared to traditional antidepressants, hallucinogens can show months of benefits after a month of use.
So far, only a handful of studies have been conducted using this method, but they suggest that it positively affects those who need it the most.
For Alcohol and Cigarette Addiction
Another early conclusion is that psilocybin seems to work more effectively in treating addiction when combined with therapy.
Preliminary studies and findings show that people with alcohol dependence drank less frequently. They also had fewer heavy drinking days up to two months after getting psilocybin treatment.
For smokers, one study showed that 80% of participants were smoke-free after six months. Sixty percent were still smoke-free up to 57 months later, or almost five years, after just two or three doses of psilocybin.
One question surfaced that asked if it is possible to get the full benefits from psilocybin without tripping. This is where microdosing was proposed.
Its principle is to take fewer doses (2.5mg instead of 5mg per dose) regularly. But some scientists say that there is evidence that people with intense tripping experiences have better therapeutic responses.
However, we may have to wait longer to be entirely sure which ones we should follow. As noted, further research is still needed.
There is still a lot to uncover from what the fungus among us can do for the human mind. Drug laws and uncertainties are fences we need to go over to know for sure. These make it harder to study psilocybin, resulting in fewer published papers.
We can see that it has shown benefits to many people and until things we know.
In one interview with someone self-medicating and microdosing psilocybin, what you expect or want to be the result is one of the most important things to remember. But then again, that is still up for research to prove.