While you might not be familiar with the term ‘psilocybin’ yet, it’s likely you’ve heard of magic mushrooms before. These hallucinogenic shrooms have been around since ancient civilizations, used mostly for recreational and spiritual purposes. But as science and research have progressed over time, the medical field is quickly figuring out that the fungi and its compounds can be effective for therapeutic use.
Now psychedelics in general are being taken seriously to help the symptoms of many treatment-resistant disorders. With even some in clinical trials for FDA approval. So, let’s catch up on magic mushrooms, their history and w they’ve begun trending again.
Psilocybin in the Past
Magic mushroom use has been noted back to ancient civilizations, including the Aztecs and Mayans. Their use was well-documented through uncovered rock paintings, and even statues found in the Central America region. What they might not have known at the time, was magic mushrooms contained a scientific compound called psilocybin. This alone produced the hallucinogenic effects many tribes felt connected them to the gods and outer worlds.
The use of magic mushrooms arose again in the 1950’s when experimentation by a mainstream population became popular. The resurrection is said to have come from mycologist R. Gordon Wasson. Wasson was travelling through Mexico studying mushrooms in 1955. After coming across a species that was high in psilocybin, and ‘magical’ in effects. Shortly after his return, his findings were published in Life magazine, sharing the information with the masses.
From there, one of Wasson’s colleagues took further research into his own hands. Roger Heim partnered up with the ‘father of LSD’, Albert Hofmann, and successfully extracted psilocybin from fungi samples. At the same time, these two pioneers were conducting their research, ‘hippies’ seemingly caught onto the trend. Magic mushrooms became a cultural phenomenon. Leading the counterculture, was Harvard student Timothy Leary who became the face of the magic mushroom movement.
Modern Shrooms for Therapeutic Use
Shortly thereafter, psilocybin was banned in 1971 in the Controlled Substances Act. This is when the ‘war on drugs’ officially began. Years past, and shroom use stayed underground. Until 1997 when research into the psilocybin compound picked up steam again. The University of Zurich completed the first trial on psilocybin, after its criminalization in the 70’s. The study was specifically tied to comparing brain activity related to the schizophrenia condition. What they found was psilocybin had a diminishing effect on the part of the brain that houses the ‘ego’.
Since this modern-day study, more and more are uncovering the positive effects of psilocybin. Especially for psychological disorders. Here’s a summary of the most profound findings, thus far.
- Psilocybin is undergoing trials as a ‘breakthrough treatment’ for depression, through the FDA. This classification means the trials will have a speedier process of actually becoming approved. The FDA trails came after a plethora of research pointed to psilocybin being effective at relieving depressive type symptoms. Even some, that showed long-term results for the patients who participated.
- Regardless of depression, psilocybin is shown as effective for uplifting moods and general happiness overall. Again, with prolonged results. One study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2006, reported improved elevations in mood, attitudes, and behaviours. When the same group was surveyed after two months, the results remained positive.
- Psilocybin is also being explored for its effectiveness towards addictive behaviours. One study treated patients with psilocybin as a method to quit smoking. It worked for 67% of the participants, who remained smoke-free for over a year after the study concluded.
- Near the ‘end of life’ for cancer patients can become quite anxiety-ridden. So researchers put psilocybin’s mood-elevating effects to the test for this specified population. New York University conducted a study on terminal cancer patients, reporting 60-80% of participants had a quick decrease in stress after being administered psilocybin. In another similar trial at John Hopkins University, cancer patients saw similar results. This study published that 80% were relieved of anxiety and depression, after being treated with controlled doses of psilocybin.
Science is attributing psilocybins’s therapeutic effects to the way that the compound interacts with the brain’s neural connections. Improving the strength of certain bonds, and disrupting overactive connections that cause dysfunction. In addition, psilocybin has a direct impact on the serotonin receptor 5HT2A. This is not only helpful for moods, being known as ‘the happy chemical’ but for other health functions, too.
The Movement for Shroom Legalization
With a recent spotlight on mental health, there’s been a new surge on finding alternative sources of healing. So, as the general public caught on to new fads of ‘microdosing’ magic mushrooms for therapeutic effects, large groups are now demanding legalization for medical use. In Canada, currently, there is a gray area of legality that many are using to their advantage for self-medicating with psilocybin.
While psilocybin itself is a drug listed in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the actual mushrooms are not. This has lead to a number of dispensaries operating in Canada, regardless of legality. Still, advocates of psilocybin are pushing for legalization and a wider acceptance of use for medical purposes.
As for the latest news on shroom legalization, progress was made just this year. Canada legalized the use of Magic Mushrooms by terminally ill patients, in August of 2020. Giving hope that widespread legalization for qualifying conditions will be coming next. Regions of the United States and other countries are advocating just the same. In the last few years, psilocybin has been legalized in some fashion in the following areas –
- Denver, Colorado
- Oakland, California
- The Netherlands
Magic Mushrooms Through The Years
Magic mushrooms have gone on a trip since their discovery, almost as dynamic as their effects. The fungi’s main compound psilocybin has been used for spiritual purposes, social purposes, and is now being explored for its legitimate health benefits. If you’re interested in joining the modern world of shrooms, look no further than Greenz’s premium collection from the top local breeders. Not only can you explore their natural form, but products infused with psilocybin like chocolates, too.