Psilocybin: The Magic in Magic Mushrooms

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The Low-Down on Magic Mushrooms

Maybe you’ve heard about Magic Mushrooms, or Shrooms, or maybe you even experimented with them at some point. Here’s a look at psilocybin, the hallucinogenic ingredient in Magic Mushrooms.

What Are Magic Mushrooms?

Magic Mushrooms, or Shrooms, are a group of over 200 kinds of mushrooms that contain a naturally-occurring substance called psilocybin. When ingested, it’s a psychedelic that often causes hallucinations.

They can be dried and eaten or steeped in hot water and drunk as a tea.

How Many People Use Shrooms?

Not as many as you might think, actually. I hear about shrooms all the time, so I thought a lot of people were using them. However, the Drug Policy Alliance keeps track of usage statistics, and they found that only 0.1 – 0.3% of the population currently uses psychedelic drugs, which includes Shrooms and LSD. So, about 30 million people in the US are currently active users of psychedelic drugs.

They’ve been around for thousands of years, and many indigenous cultures have used them for ceremonial purposes or for medical uses.

What About Psilocybin?

Psilocybin is the naturally-occurring active ingredient in magic mushrooms, and it turns into a derivative called psilocin once you ingest it.

A common dose usually involves 3-4 mg of psilocybin, but when they do studies on it in research facilities, they usually give it in doses of 14-30 mg.

It is actually one of the least toxic drugs out there.  It’s not damaging to you physically, but psychologically.  They’ve done tests in laboratories and found high doses that will kill an animal, but there are no reports of death by shrooms unless the person hallucinated and jumped off a bridge or something. The point is, it’s not physically toxic so that you can readily overdose on it.

What Happens When You Take Shrooms?

It varies from person to person. Everyone seems to have different effects and different experiences from taking them. They mostly affect a person’s consciousness and perception, though. Some effects include heightened senses, weird sense of time, seeing solid things flowing or moving, freaky thoughts and speech, and an enhanced sense of spiritual reflection.

The effects last for around 4-6 hours, but the peak effect usually happens around hour #2 or #3.

Psilocybin is not addictive. In fact, you gain a tolerance pretty quickly, so if you used them 4 days in a row, after the 4th day you probably wouldn’t feel any effect from them whatsoever. You’d have to take higher and higher doses just to feel anything.

You should know, though, that psilocybin has been listed as a Schedule 1 drug of the Controlled Substances Act ever since 1970 (in the US), so it carries severe criminal penalties when you get caught using or selling them.

What Researchers Found

Researchers have been administering psilocybin and researching its effects for a long time.  It turns out that psilocybin seems to be quite useful for treating a lot of psychological and psychiatric problems.  It’s been shown to be effective for alcoholism, schizophrenia, depression, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, and OCD.

One study gave psilocybin to cancer patients who were suffering from depressions and anxiety. The results showed that over three-fourths of them were no longer depressed or anxious after taking it, and they even lost their fear of death. What’s even more interesting is that the positive changes didn’t go away after the test ended. The results persisted even months and years later.

Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins University did over 300 studies and found that more than two-thirds of the people who took psilocybin reported that the experiences they had while under the effect of the drug were “one of the most important experiences of their lives”.

The Future of Psilocybin

There are people trying to get psilocybin approved for medical use. The Heffter Research Institute petitioned the FDA to start a Phase 3 clinical trial to get it approved as a pharmaceutical.

New uses are also being examined. One study found that, when used in smokers who cannot quit smoking, 80% of them had quit smoking, and it lasted for at least 6 months.

People who use psilocybin often report a permanent change in their personality. They may become more open or more spiritually-aware. They also report becoming more creative or just plain happier.

Note: I’m not telling you to try shrooms.  They’re illegal! This is just info…

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Michele Swensen is a writer and web designer who loves learning, animals, writing, reading, and playing the piano. She’s a member of Mensa and a college graduate.

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Michele Swensen is a writer and web designer who loves learning, animals, writing, reading, and playing the piano. She’s a member of Mensa and a college graduate.
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