Talking about some of the most recognized psychedelics in North America, there is no dispute that magic mushrooms could very well be top of the list. Though arguably less popular than cannabis, it is gradually increasing in popularity with its gradual acceptance in some parts of the world. Though it has been rather slow, it is gaining mainstream acceptance. The major components of cannabis which are THC and other cannabinoids have become quite known for their effects, psilocybin in magic mushrooms is still much of a dark shadow to most people. The average user may not even know what it is nor understand what it does.
Let us first look at what psilocybin is all about. It is a major psychedelic compound that exists in some forms of mushrooms. It is known to induce intense feelings of euphoria, distortion of reality, and deep hallucinations that may also be found in users of other psychedelic compounds such as LSD. It takes just about 30 minutes for its full effects to take a full hold on the user and the experience could last for about 4 to 6 hours before it elapses. The effects of rather low doses of psilocybin are often compared to those of cannabis. The use of these effects is known as a microdose.
The use of psilocybin goes way back down in history. Cave paintings in Spain and South America have provided evidence that it has existed way before civilization. Albert Hoffman, the scientist that was credited to have discovered LSD was also credited for the discovery of psilocybin. Psilocybin was then sold out for use in therapy by the pharmaceutical company that the german worked for, Sandoz (Switzerland).
It was the rave at the time but it was short-lived as it was banned afterward in a massive drug prohibition that happened in most countries back in the 1960s. Research continued in the background on the substance though. It was used by both scientists and philosophers for spiritual purposes and instance being Terrence McKenna.
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How it works
Like LSD, it belongs to a group of chemicals called tryptamines. A shroom trip is seen as a much shorter and less intense form of a full LSD experience. There are several ways by which people take psilocybin. This can be by eating mushrooms, drinking shroom tea, or smoking. It is absorbed by the stomach and processed in the liver. The liver metabolizes it and sends it directly into the bloodstream. In the psilocybin form, it doesn’t have an effect on the body just like a normal drug. However, it is converted to its active form psilocin which then affects the brain and then the entire body. Psilocybin and other tryptamines often affect the body’s CNS by influencing the serotonin neurotransmitter. This serotonin is called the happy chemical. It is a mood lifter and when affected by psilocybin induces euphoria. The 5-HT2A receptor in the brain is also affected which triggers the psychedelic effect that is characteristic of psilocybin and other tryptamines.
One notable thing is that with increased usage, the tolerance for psilocybin builds up and the notion of abuse is pretty much far-fetched. Thus, it might be impossible to overdose on psilocybin.
Uses and Effects of Psilocybin
Widely revered for its hallucinatory effects, it doesn’t just create what isn’t already there. It distorts the already visible colors, forms, and emotions that are in front of the user. What the user sees is generally influenced but in most cases, users often can tell the difference between what is real and what is not.
The amygdala is one of the parts of the brain that is often affected by psilocybin. The amygdala is the source of feelings such as fear and euphoria. This has led researchers to assume that there is the potential for magic mushrooms to be used as a possible treatment for intense trauma and consequential disorders such as PTSD. Its effect has been tested on patients with depression, OCD, anxiety, and cluster headaches. All these are notably stubborn mental health disorders.
In the use of psilocybin, some factors can initiate a bad trip other than the compound itself. The set and setting theory was described by Timothy Leary, a psychedelic researcher. He observed that the smallest variables such as light, sound, etc may lead to a bad trip. When these are controlled properly, the chances of a bad trip are severely reduced.
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