Magic mushrooms refers to a wide range variety of fungi containing the psychedelic compound psilocybin.
Though hundreds of kinds of fungi are theoretically capable of producing chemical, only a little handful of species within the genus Psilocybe are generally consumed for their hallucinogenic properties. Supported on archaeological evidence of mushrooms represented in art, it is likely humans are using members of the genus in rituals for at least 3,500 times.
What are magic mushrooms?
Of all Psilocybe species, Psilocybe cubensis is today most-commonly prized as a recreational drug. Also called as golden cap, this small, tan to golden-yellow mushroom grows in nutrient-rich pastures & soils around the world, largely in tropical regions of Americas, Southeast Asia & Australasia.
Users of psychedelic mushroom tend to consume 1-2 grams of dried mushroom rehydrated in foods & teas, or less generally as a liquid extract of psychoactive compounds. Effects of a little grams of mushrooms can take between 15 minutes & half an hour to kick in and generally last 4-6 hours.
What effects do magic mushrooms have on people?
Together with psilocybin, some psychedelic compounds in P. cubensis make a variety of sensory & emotional responses in the brain, depending on quantity consumed, the concentration of the active substances and person’s own body.
Some as with LSD, people who consume psychedelic generally experience visual distortions with light sources adopting a halo effect and colors getting more vivid.
What’s a magic mushroom ‘trip’?
Shapes can appear to shift & change, reflecting an optical effect, while at high doses perception can falsely-interpret images to fabricate hallucinations. Determination of time can also be affected, with short periods appearing to take much longer to occur.
On an emotional level, mushroom increases euphoria & pleasure, promoting a sense of peace. In numerous cases, there’s a dream like disconnect from reality, sometimes accompanied by drowsiness & confused thinking.
Physiologically psychedelic compounds dilate the pupils & stimulate the digestive system to produce feelings of nausea, sometimes to the point of vomiting.
Magic mushrooms can cause several people, particularly those with anxiety or bipolar disorders, to experience high levels of paranoia and respond to hallucinations with extreme fear, what’s called as a ‘bad trip’.
Are magic mushrooms dangerous?
P. cubensis has less toxicity and is considered to be relative-harmless, when compared to the potential health effects of numerous other medicines.
Yet as with any illicit substance, which can affect how our bodies function, there are risks.
For several people, experience will not be all that pleasant, triggering psychological distress, dizziness, weakness & stomach upset. Depending on existing-mental health issues, this could trigger trauma or ongoing recurrences like flashbacks.
Carrying-out certain activities, while under psychedelic’s influence, like swimming or driving, puts individualities at greater risks of accidents.
Then there are the risks taken to get high in the first-place. Foraging for mushrooms, magic or other can lead in chowing down on a deadly variety, for instance. While recklessly delivering doses of psilocybin in other ways, like through the end of a syringe, presents its own potentially lethal health risks.
Legally speaking, the psilocybin is a prohibited substance in numerous places around the world, leading to anything from fines to jail-time for possessing or trafficking magic mushrooms. This is slowly changing with jurisdictions decriminalizing possession of small quantities of the psychedelic in recent years.
How do magic mushrooms affect the brain?
Our body breaks psilocybin down into chemical psilocin, which even happens to be another psychoactive compound found in P. cubensis. It is actually psilocin which affects our nervous system, competing with other messenger chemicals in activating some different types of serotonin receptors known as 5-HT receptors.
It is this competition that interferes with the functioning of areas of brain involved in the management of a vast variety of functions, from mood to temperature control, to appetite, to excitation of the senses. By affecting levels of another neuro-transmitter, called glutamate, in areas of brain involved in thought & self-esteem, the compound can shift our perspective on our sense of self and how we’re connected to our environment.
A further general response to these shifts in brain chemistry appears to be a restructuring of neural networks, suggesting psychedelics like psilocybin appear to ‘reset’ how brain is wired on a fundamental level.
Do magic mushrooms treat depression?
Experimenters are discovering the regulated doses of psilocybin in a monitored environment, along-side guided psychotherapy, could be effective in managing depression as leading anti-depressants, with little side effects.
What is more, by affecting the way by which brain cells connect, it could be a medication that has long-term benefits for treating mood disorders.
However, more research needs to be done to measure how effective the treatment is for large groups of people and also how safe & effective it’s over long periods of time.
The article originally published on Science Alert.