Psilocybin, the "magic" in mushrooms

Found in the so-called "Magic Mushrooms," psilocybin is a compound that has become very popular over the years. Famous for its psychoactive effects, users have defined the use of it as dreaming or becoming aware of other realities, using a lexicon linked to mysticism.

Also, Magic Mushrooms have been associated with helping to relieve symptoms of anxiety, stress, and even depression, though more research is needed to reach conclusive results.

What is psilocybin?

Psilocybin is a compound that profoundly affects the brain's overall functioning upon entering the nervous system. Specifically, an alkaloid, which is famous for its psychoactive effect.

The brain is, in part, made up of neurons, which communicate with each other by exchanging a series of chemicals called neurotransmitters. According to the amount and timing, a neuron receives different neurotransmitters that determine its activation pattern.

Psilocybin causes one of these neurotransmitters, serotonin, to have more intense effects. The Magic Mushroom compound prompts neuronal receptors to trigger activation that shouldn't occur when serotonin is present in natural amounts.

That's when hallucinations appear since the brain perceives serotonin in a disorderly manner, disrupting its typical chemical balance.

The effects of Magic Mushrooms

The main effects of psilocybin and mushrooms begin between 15 and 50 minutes after orally consuming the substance (although it also depends on digestion) and can last up to 8 hours. Although some of these effects may seem negative, their experience is highly subjective for the user, and are relatively harmless in low doses.

Altered perception of time

Studies suggest that among the expected effects of this psychoactive substance is the altered perception of time. For some users, minutes can become hours or be reduced to mere seconds. It can even create moments of confusion by giving the impression that one has entered a time loop.

Neural connectivity expanding

Mushrooms cause parts of the brain that are generally not directly connected to start exchanging signals more frequently. This effect provokes a total change in the perception of the environment.

It is quite similar to what happens in people with synesthesia, a phenomenon whereby sensory perceptions mix, making, for example, certain sounds to be perceived as colors when listening to them.

Hallucinations

It is the most known characteristic of psilocybin and the Magic Mushrooms that contain it, categorizing them as a psychoactive drug. These hallucinations can be visual, auditory, or tactile and are often described as transcendent experiences.

Its long-term effects: personality changes

There is evidence that the consumption of psilocybin is capable of producing permanent changes in the user's mental processes, specifically, personality changes. These changes are usually linked to curiosity about the new, motivated by experiences related to hallucinations.

Do mushrooms have therapeutic potential?

Research is currently exploring the therapeutic potential of psilocybin and other substances such as LSD. However, due to their recent nature, there are still no definitive conclusions, though results indicate possible effectiveness for alleviating stress and anxiety symptoms.

Psilocybin has become of interest to researchers for this potential. Current studies compare the compound with traditional antidepressants, and, as Johns Hopkins reports, upcoming research will look into its effectiveness for opioid addiction, Alzheimer's disease, and other ailments.

Is psilocybin legal?

Right now, psilocybin is considered a Schedule I drug under the DEA's Controlled Substances Act. However, the States of Oregon and Washington passed legislation in the 2020 November elections that legalized the consumption of Magic Mushrooms for people over the age of 21, effectively decriminalizing it. This measure also looks forward to promoting its usage clinically, although the substance is not fully available to doctors and scientists. Whether legalization will make it easier for researchers to study psilocybin remains to be seen.