You may have seen in it in Johnny Depp’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or an awkwardly depicted scene in Alia Bhatt’s Shaandaar or maybe even in Amala Paul’s Aadai ; all these scenes unanimously share is the characters in the movie consume a ‘mushroom’ and are immediately transported to the ‘world of rainbows and unicorn.’
So why do these mushrooms supposedly take you to the Shangri-La or the dream world and not just fill your tummy like the edible fungi, which is also one of the best sources of vitamin D . Here’s why, magic mushrooms or shrooms , scientifically termed as psilocybin mushrooms are a polyphyletic (evolving organisms), an informal group of fungi that contain psilocybin – a naturally occurring psychedelic prodrug, which turns into psilocin (psychedelic substance)  .
Before we get into the journey of shroom exploration, let me tell you what psychedelics are.
What Are Psychedelics?
Psychedelics, also known as hallucinogens, are psychoactive substances that can produce changes in perception, mood and cognitive processes, affecting all your senses, such as altering a person’s thinking, sense of time and emotions  . Some of the common psychedelics are Acid or LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), Dimethyltryptamine or DMT, and Ecstasy or MDMA.
Psychedelics In Science And Medicine
Psychedelics are not for everyone and certainly not for your everyday use. Apart from the number of risks such as addiction and drug abuse associated with hallucinogens, research and renewed investigations are taking place on the use of psychedelic substances for treating illnesses such as addiction, depression , anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)  .
The emerging paradigm is said to be ‘resetting’ the way the world looks at psychedelics and its possible benefits for mental health, while at the same time stressing on the difference between medical and casual use of psychedelics. Now that you have an idea about psychedelics and its possible role in benefitting the medical world let’s explore the world of magic mushrooms or shrooms.
What Are Magic Mushrooms?
Psilocybin, the active ingredient found in magic mushrooms, is a powerful psychedelic and is 100 times less potent than LSD  . While the world is slowly but effectively opening its arms to marijuana, psilocybin lacks the same degree of cultural impact. However, several studies strongly point out that psilocybin has a number of potential medical benefits.
Various traces prove the use of magic mushrooms at an early age. Many tribes have used magic mushrooms in 9000 BC, evident from a prehistoric rock art near Villar del Humo in Spain. Magic mushrooms are found all over the world, and almost every culture has a historic, sacred relationship with these hallucinogens   . So, do these nature’s drugs really have any health benefits?
What Are The Health Benefits Of Magic Mushrooms?
Studies on the benefits of magic mushroom on your health primarily focus on using psilocybin mushrooms to treat a wide range of psychiatric and behavioural disorders such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, quitting nicotine, alcoholism, other drug addictions, cluster headaches  . Let’s take a look at the health benefits of magic mushrooms,
(1) Depression : According to a 2019 study, psilocybin has been proven to impact individuals suffering from depression positively  . Reports also suggest that psilocybin therapy was approved for the treatment of depression, and the studies are in their phase III trial as of early 2021  .
(2) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) : Some studies have pointed out that magic mushrooms have been beneficial for managing PTSD, where it showed that several returning Iraq soldiers used the mushrooms upon returning to help cope with severe PTSD  .
(3) Addictions : According to some studies, if you struggle with a form of addiction , psilocybin mushrooms may be able to help  . While it may sound redundant, it is scientifically accurate. It has been found that these shrooms can improve the process of quitting smoking cigarettes. More studies are being done on its effectiveness on alcohol and cocaine dependency as well.
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(4) Brain cell growth : According to a study, the psilocybin present in mushrooms may help in the growth of new brain cells by promoting the growth of neurons  .
What Are The Downsides Of Magic Mushrooms?
One common misconception regarding the use of psilocybin mushrooms for treating mental conditions is that the user must endure a psychedelic trip to receive the benefits  . But micro-dosing (use in extremely small quantities) can increase neuron activity without bringing on an intense psychedelic experience.
Some of the common side effects of magic mushrooms are as follows:
- Drowsiness and dizziness
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of coordination
- Severe hallucinations
- Unusual body sensations
On A Final Note…
The article does not promote the recreational use of psychedelics and other illegal drugs. The article is solely developed for informational purposes.
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