Suffering from clinical depression or chronic anxiety? Usual meds and therapies are proving to be ineffective? Recently published scientific data shows that psilocybin or magic mushrooms can be very useful in reducing depression and anxiety in people. Compared to the conventional anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications, shrooms have almost zero side-effects. A single microdose of psilocybin offers long-term relief from the symptoms, making it increasingly popular among patients suffering from chronic mental health conditions and end-of-life crisis associated with terminal diseases.
If you want to know more about the use of psychedelic mushrooms for depression and anxiety, this article provides a broad overview. We will try to explain the science behind it in simpler terms. So let’s just dive in!
What is magic mushroom?
Psychedelic or magic mushrooms are naturally occurring fungi of the polyphetic group that contains psilocybin and psilocin in them. These two psychoactive compounds are considered to be some of the strongest hallucinogenics found in nature.6,000-9,000 years ago, ancient societies used psilocybin mushrooms in their religious rituals. Prehistoric rock arts from Spain and Algeria are proof of that. Native Mesoamerican cultures, the Aztecs and the Mazatecs – all had the tradition of using magic mushrooms for their shamanic performances and rituals.
The shrooms found their way from Mexico to the West via the hippie trail of the 1950s and 1960s. Easy access to the fungi in their natural or cultivated conditions soon made it one of the most common psychedelics used by people across the globe.
Psychedelic mushrooms for depression and anxiety relief – Latest scientific researches
• There are now many scientific studies and clinical trials, including an Imperial College of London research, which claims that psilocybin can be extremely effective in reducing treatment-resistant depression. A couple of years back, the FDA in the US has approved a similar trial. Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, who led the Imperial College study, says, ‘Psilocybin may be giving these individuals the temporary ‘kick start’ they need to break out of their depressive states.’ It produces ‘similar brain effects’ to those of ‘electroconvulsive therapy’ which is often used in depression treatments.
• In 2019, a clinical trial organized by the King’s College of London and the mental healthcare company Compass Pathways further strengthened this claim. According to James Rucker, one of the principal investigators in the research team, there is strong evidence that psilocybin can reduce depression which doesn’t respond to common antidepressants like Prozac.
• Another study conducted at the Grossman School of Medicine of New York University has found that microdoses of psilocybin can be useful in relieving anxiety, depression and other end-of-life psychoses in cancer patients. The 2016 study in its report has said that ‘immediate, substantial, and sustained improvements in anxiety and depression and led to decreases in cancer-related demoralisation and hopelessness, improved spiritual wellbeing, and increased quality of life.’ This year, after a follow-up to their 2016 findings, the lead investigator of the parent study Dr. Stephen Ross, an associate professor of psychiatry at NYU, points out, ‘This approach has the potential to produce a paradigm shift in the psychological and existential care of patients with cancer, especially those with terminal illness.’
Psychedelic mushrooms for depression – How does it work?
Whether clinical depression or chronic anxiety – how exactly does psilocybin reduce them? To put it simply, the compound relaxes those regions of our brain which control the thoughts and behaviors associated with these mental conditions. Conventional antidepressant meds combat depression by increasing the serotonin secretion in the brain and thereby uplifting the mood. Psychedelic mushrooms work quite similarly. It stimulates the 5HT2A serotonin receptor in our brain. Moreover, the beta-carbolines like harmane and harmaline in the magic mushrooms help to combat depression by blocking the enzyme monoamine oxidase in our bodies.
How long do the effects last?
The onset of the psychedelic as well as the therapeutic effects of psilocybin mushrooms is usually very fast. It takes about 20 min to start feeling the effects. One of the main advantages of using psychedelic mushrooms for depression is that it can provide long-term reliefs. Whereas the psychoactive effects can last for six hours or more, relief from depression can last for weeks. No medicine can provide this. Usually, patients need to take antidepressant pills every day or attend therapy sessions every week and the treatment cycle continues for years.
Psilocybin mushrooms – an antidepressant without the side-effects
Usual antidepressant medicines come with a lot of potential side-effects. These include:
• Dry mouth
• Blurred vision
• Indigestion and upset stomach
• Diarrhea or constipation
• Loss of sexual desire
• Weight gain
Microdoses of psychedelic mushrooms produce no such effects. It is considered to be the safest psychedelic drug on earth.
Better emotional reconnect. One of the major advantages of magic mushrooms is that it reduces the symptoms without blunting the emotions, which is usually the case with common antidepressant and anti-anxiety meds. A study published in the journal Neuropharmacology in 2018 claims that psilocybin “potentially revives emotional responsiveness in depression, enabling patients to reconnect with their emotions.”According to Michael D Mcgee, the chief medical officer at one of the renowned addiction treatment centres of USA, psychedelic mushrooms loosens up the ‘egoic experiences of identity and self and it allows people to feel more connected not only to themselves but to people and to the environment.”
Self-medicating with psychedelic mushrooms for depression has become increasingly popular nowadays. Microdosing, or taking a very small amount of psilocybin at a time, is the most effective way to use it. This ensures that you enjoy all the therapeutic effects without getting seriously high. Also, microdosing prevents habit formation and tolerance buildup, which means that you enjoy the optimal effects for a much longer period. Consult a medical professional or a shroom expert, they will help you to determine the ideal dosage for you.