You already know that magic mushrooms or psilocybin compounds take you on a magical journey right in your backyard or even in your bedroom. 

However, did you know that these dried psychedelic substances also offer therapeutic and mental health benefits?

That’s right! These are now being used as recreational drugs. As these can help with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Now, we are in an era where we have significant evidence and study material that backs up the claim of the psychological health benefits of magic mushrooms. Let’s explore all the mental health benefits of psilocybin mushrooms. 

How do Psilocybin Mushrooms Work?

Before we jump into the magic mushroom’s benefits, let’s understand how these even work. Psilocybin is the active psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms that falls in the same category as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and mescaline, which are serotonergic psychedelics. 

While psilocybin can be synthetically produced, humans have been taking it naturally for thousands of years. 

It works by activating serotonin 5-HT2a receptors on cortical pyramidal cells in the brain that alter cognitive function and perception by changing the brain’s metabolic activity and neuronal connectivity. 

Exploring Mental and Psychological Health Benefits

Studying the mental benefits and effects of these psychedelic mushrooms is nothing new. Researchers started experimenting with magic mushrooms in the 1960s; however, these were significantly slowed down and even abruptly discontinued after the “War on Drugs” by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in 1970. 

It was not until recently that studies involving Schedule 1 drugs like psilocybin mushroom were taken seriously. These studies provide a deep insight into the possible mental health benefits of these substances. Following are the health benefits of magic mushrooms. 

Treating Depression 

The potential of psilocybin for treating depression has been tested under multiple studies and trials. Among these, one set of clinical trials was performed with people suffering from treatment-resistant depression (a condition where they fail to respond to at least 2 courses of antidepressants). Patients were administered 10 mg and 25 mg doses, seven days apart, and then 25 and 30 mg, two weeks apart. This eventually showed lowered levels of depressive symptoms.

Another study by Dr. Ryan Marino, MD, at University Hospitals said, “What the results suggest is that psilocybin’s positive effects can be long-lasting and that people may only need to take it intermittently to get its benefits, potentially reducing the risk of side effects.”

Treating Anxiety 

People have been asking for a long time, “How are magic mushrooms for anxiety?”, well, here’s the answer.  

“At the highest concentration, at that 15-minute point, the mice looked anxious, and the more drugs you gave, the more anxious they looked. But then, in four hours, the exact opposite was true. The mice who were the most anxious at 15 minutes were the least anxious four hours later. It seemed like there was this rebound effect of reductions in anxiety.” – Cody Wenthur, Assistant Professor of the School of Pharmacy’s Pharmacy Practice and Translational Research Division.

This study was conducted on mice, and Wenthur admits that humans and mice are different. He mentioned that this substance, in limited doses, can significantly reduce both anxiety and stress. 

Treating PTSD 

A study conducted by Dr. Stephan Ross, MD, at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, showcased that one-time treatment with magic mushrooms rapidly relieved distress in 80% of the patients. It was a blind study where subjects were administered psilocybin randomly. 

Dr. Ross’s study also somewhat proves the hypothesis that this substance can provide relief to people with PTSD. He mentioned, “If larger clinical trials prove successful, then we could ultimately have available a safe, effective, and inexpensive medication—dispensed under strict control—to alleviate the distress that increases suicide rates among cancer patients.”

Treating Substance Dependency 

Studies have also shown promising evidence that psilocybin mushrooms can help with smoking cessation by helping people reinvent themselves. In a study led by a Postdoctoral Researcher, Neşe Devenot, at the UC College of Arts and Sciences showcased that people have an easier time quitting smoking with guided imagery exercises and psilocybin. 

She mentions, “We saw again and again that people had this feeling that they were done with smoking and that they were nonsmokers now.”

How do Magic Mushrooms Help?

As mentioned previously, psilocybin works by activating the serotonin 5-HT2a receptors; however, the mentioned benefits are achieved thanks to something known as neuroplasticity. 

What is Neuroplasticity?

It can be defined as the brain’s ability to change, restructure, and grow neural networks based on experience. This is the very function that helps us learn new skills. Neuroplasticity works by building strong networks for readily used actions (driving a car), and building new neural networks for learning new skills (learning a language). The more we perform a function, the more neural pathways will be dedicated to that function for efficiency. 

Why Magic Mushroom Works?

In a study named Psychedelics and Neural Plasticity: Therapeutic Implications, researchers tested both microcircuits and brain-wide circuits to test the change in neural plasticity and to produce behavioural effects on psychedelics. They compared the plasticity of patients on psychedelics with traditional antidepressants and Ketamine. 

According to the research, serotonergic psychedelics in controlled doses and settings strengthen specific circuits that induce positive effects without typical hallucinogenic mushroom effects. 

Moreover, by analyzing previously collected data, they observed mental disorders deteriorate dendrites (branched neurons that receive the data or signals from another neuron) over time. Administering controlled doses of serotonergic psychedelics that bind to 5-HT2ARs receptors showed rapid promotion of neural plasticity, suggesting their underlying therapeutic effects. 

Why isn’t Psilocybin Treatment Common?

Despite the positive results and solid evidence that psilocybin compounds are beneficial in treating mental health disorders, it is still a topic of debate. 

Because, at the end of the day, these are fungi that can cause health issues in some people, depending on the dose. These include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache 

What’s Next?

Now, we understand you may want to go ahead and ingest some psychedelic mushrooms for anxiety and other benefits. But remember, the dose makes the poison. So make sure you choose an adequate amount because the time it takes for magic mushrooms to work varies from person to person. 

Also, if you are looking to purchase psilocybin mushrooms legally, The Green Ace has you covered.