The World of Magic Mushrooms
Magic mushrooms are slowly becoming the 8th wonder drug in the world of psychotherapy and mental illnesses. Maybe not as fast as we would want it, but its moving fast enough. About two decades ago, many people didn’t know what magic mushrooms meant and what made them more magical than other types of mushrooms. Today, many studies and scientific research has been done on the topic of magic mushrooms, how they work in the body, how long they last in the body, and how they can help fight depression and other mental illnesses.
There are about one hundred or so species that contain psilocybin, and magic mushrooms are part of them. Magic mushrooms are psychoactive hallucinogens with the power to alter human perception. It does this by metabolizing into psilocin, which is a chemical compound with similar structure as serotonin, the chemical called the “happy chemical in the body”. This psilocin enters your blood stream and helps create new and unprecedented pathways in the brain, forcing the brains perception of things to be altered and causing hallucinations.
Unfortunately, this drug hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. Thanks to strong control policies, the drug is classified as a Schedule I drug, and has been branded as a controlled substance, restricted to the black markets of the United States of America and many other countries of the world. For this reason, much research hasn’t been done on the drug and how it can be used to treat severe depression, at least not enough to make it widely accepted and used.
What we do know, however, is that this drug has survived many civilizations of the world and has been around for a couple of centuries. As a matter of fact, many anthropologists believe magic mushrooms were in Central America before the expedition of Christopher Columbus into the new world from Europe.
Apart from these facts, many other stunning facts have been discovered in the course of research and experimentation, and some of them will be discussed in this article. Let us now look at seven facts about magic mushrooms that are mind blowing, and that you probably never knew.
1. Humans and magic mushrooms have a long history
No one can easily point out the exact timeline of the discovery of magic mushrooms, but in light of new evidence, anthropologists have been led to believe that there were religious rituals thousands of years ago that involved the use of psilocybin mushrooms. For example, as at the time of Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire in the 16th century, magic mushrooms were important to some Mesoamerican cultures, and there is reason to believe that this tradition was already ancient by then.
As biologist Harri Nyberg states in a 1992 study, “A genuine mushroom cult in Mesoamerican cultures seems to have existed, and its beginnings can be traced to remote antiquity.” This claim is further strengthened by the presence of Maya mushroom stones statues from Guatemala, beautiful pieces of art that date back more than 2000 years.
2. Psilocybin helps to reorganize the brain quickly
Psilocin, which is a result of the metabolism of psilocybin, binds itself to a serotonin receptor in the brain, leading to the serotonin effect. This effect is the cause of sensory distortions and hallucinations caused by taking magic mushrooms. Many may see this effect as simply an intoxication, but recent functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scans show that it is much deeper than that.
When the brains of 15 volunteers were scanned during a study after giving them psilocybin, there was spike in the activity in the brain, as well as simultaneous activity in different areas like the hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex, a pattern that resembles that of people who are dreaming.
3. Psilocybin might be the cause of lasting personality change
Generally, brain activity returns to normal after psilocybin is ejected from the blood, but there are effects that last longer. Studies have shown that personality domains like extroversion, openness and conscientiousness can be highly influenced by the use of psilocybin mushrooms.
4. Psilocybin can help deflate ego for a while
Studies have shown that ingestion of psilocybin has an effect on your ego for the short term. While the reduction of ego might be temporary, it could have an effect on long lasting personality change, like openness as mentioned above.
5. Magic mushrooms help improve mental health
This particular fact happens to be good news for the mental health community, especially since failing mental health is a leading cause of suicides in the world today, and many other people have been forced to live in depressive disorders and other mental illnesses. Thankfully, not only are magic mushrooms very safe, the have shown good potential in many studies to be a helpful drug in dealing with a variety of mental health issues.
6. Magic mushrooms may be the origin of Santa Claus
Anthropologists believe they have unearthed the reasoning behind children’s wishes every December. They believe that the story of Santa Claus comes from the ancient Siberian Shamans who went from house to house to share a special type of gift – muscimol mushrooms – which are a type of magic mushrooms. The stories of the Shamans also suggest that they sometimes came into homes through the roof when there was deep snow, the same way Santa comes through the chimneys.
It gets deeper. The spirit animals of the Shamans are reindeers, the same animals that are used by Santa to share his gifts. The mushrooms given to households by shamans were red with white spots, similar to the dressing of Santa today.
7. Magic mushrooms are not addictive
With the amount of ecstasy provide by magic mushrooms, one would expect it to be highly addictive. Fortunately for all of us, that is not the case. There are many studies citing various reasons for this, from high resistance of the body to the drug to the intense experience caused by the drug. Whatever the real reasons are, we are grateful that a drug this helpful doesn’t have the side effect of addiction for us to be concerned about.
We do not know the full extent of the power of this drug, but we are assured that with the amount of research being done on psilocybin mushroom, we will know more than we currently know, as time goes on. Until then, it is important that we use the drug wisely and not abuse it. It is also important that we seek medical advice before using the drug. The amount of psilocybin contained within mushrooms differ from one to another, so ingesting it without proper professional prescription might cause more harm than good.
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