The Psilocybe Cubensis has a rather plain exterior which belies its storied past. This particular fungi contains the hallucinogenic compounds psilocybin and psilocybin and come in over 100 varieties. With a reputation for opening the mind to intense “spiritual” experiences that can seemingly erase the emotion of fear, psilocybin has garnered more than just lukewarm interest among scientists, government intelligence, and the average fan of intense, psychedelic experiences.
Psilocybin is an organism from the same family as yeast and molds. It reproduces by releasing spores which are then carried by the wind. Since Psilocybin often grows in the ground areas of woodlands where the wind is not an option, nature has made accommodation to resolve the hindrance. Certain varieties create their own form of wind This is done by using intensified water evaporation and the cool breeze emitted by that evaporation to lift and carry the spores.
Psilocybin: A History of Psychedelic Experiences
Psilocybin boasts a long and colorful history. Some evidence discovered in Saharan stone paintings indicates that ancients may have used psychedelic mushrooms as far back as 9000 BC. Through the ages, ancient people used magic mushrooms to enhance their religious rituals. Some speculate that ancient druids were among those who incorporated magic mushrooms in their ceremonies.
In the Americas, evidence left behind by ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations shows psilocybin played an important role in their religious ceremonies, too. Pre Colombian tribes used psilocybin to induce a trance-like state during ceremonial rituals. The hallucinations experienced by participants were considered spiritual experiences. Archaeological evidence dates this use back at least 2000 years.
As for the west, the first evidence of psilocybin use was witnessed in the latter half of the 20th century when mycologist, Gordon Wasson led an expedition to a Mexican tribe in the late 1950s and first observed psilocybin. The Swiss chemist, Dr. Albert Hoffman and Professor Roger Heim of the Paris museum of natural history dedicated themselves to investigating the chemical properties of the fungus. During this time, the CIA became interested in the possibility of using psychedelics in warfare.
But, it was when Counter-Culture Guru, Dr. Timothy Leary took notice that Psilocybin, aka as “Magic Mushrooms”, aka as “shrooms” began to gain recreational use popularity in the west. Dr. Leary conducted experiments with the Harvard Psilocybin Project in the early 1960s. Along with Dr. Richard Albert, Dr. Leary explored the benefits of psychedelic substances for expanding consciousness and sought to discover their various uses. Dr. Leary believed psychedelics would profoundly impact mankind. However, growing concern about the impact of psychedelics in the late 1960s and early 1970s and continued negative press about their use brought a change in tolerance for the substances which became illegal during that period.
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This Is Your Brain On Psilocybin
Psilocybin essentially hacks the brain by controlling its responses. It disrupts the brain’s communication system and interferes with its serotonin levels. When it’s learned serotonin affects the body’s muscular control, sexual actions, moods, and sensory perceptions, it’s easy to understand how profound these changes can be. Changes in the body’s communication systems accelerate the back and forth interaction between different regions of the body. Psilocybin mimics serotonin and can intercept and bind its receptors. By doing so, it controls and alters the user’s mood
Physical Symptoms Associated With Psilocybin
Although the physiological side effects of psilocybin aren’t profound, some do exist. Users may experience an increased release of hormones including cortisol, adrenocorticotropic, and prolactin and experience a spike in blood pressure Under most circumstances, the increases are temporary and dissipate quickly. Typical physical side effects users of psilocybin have experienced include:
- Tremors and profuse sweating
- Dilated pupils and blurred vision
- Issues with coordination
- Nausea or a loss of appetite
Psychological Symptoms Associated With Psilocybin Use
Psilocybin interacts directly with the brain and can create chemical imbalances which can cause certain psychological side effects. There can be changes in mood and sensory perception with Psilocybin use. Experiencing a bad or traumatic trip sometimes brings on feelings of depression or anxiety. Other symptoms experienced under the influence of psilocybin include:
- Feelings of distortion
- Mercurial mood shifts
Treating Addiction With Psilocybin
Psilocybin has shown promise as a treatment for alcohol addiction. Study results show a reduction in alcohol consumption in participants who completed trials. However, these findings are preliminary and will require more study before they are implemented. The idea of using psilocybin for the treatment of addictions, mental health issues, and other problems got its genesis with pioneer, Dr. Albert Hoffman. The reason this treatment may have proven effective in some studies is that psilocybin slows activity in parts of the brain that control addictions, mental illnesses, and certain deep-seated habits and behaviors. By increasing stimulation of serotonin receptors, psilocybin and other psychedelics decrease activity in other parts of the brain. This is pronounced in the Default Mode Network, an area of the brain that controls cravings. As activity in the DMN slows, people break free from addictive neurological holds.
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Drug Abuse & Addiction of Psychedelics
No studies have produced evidence that individuals can become addicted to the substance of psilocybin itself. But, some individuals may become addicted to the experiences psychedelics like psilocybin provide them resulting in unhappiness and depression when the chance to partake of the substances and engage in these experiences are absent or taken away. Tolerance for the substance and desire for its intense experiences and chronic use of psilocybin can result in an addictive experience.
Psilocybin is relatively easy to obtain and there are instructions available for people who choose to grow their own supply. This easy availability
can lead to abuse of the substance. Fortunately, due to a large amount of psilocybin required to overdose, the risk is low. This is not to say there are no dangers associated with the abuse of psilocybin. Due to the substance’s capacity to alter the personality and its propensity to remain in the system for an extended period, individuals sometimes develop flashbacks to bad or traumatic trips they experienced in the past. If an individual has underlying psychological issues, use of psilocybin can result in psychosis. Mind-altering experiences which take a user completely outside of their normal perceptions of reality may encourage using hallucinogens to escape symptoms of mental illness. This may lead to further abuse of the substance and risks to the stability of their mental condition.
One Trip Can Have Life Changing Consequences
Unlike most narcotics which provide a brief escape that dissipates with the high itself, a psychedelic drug can have lasting effects. Study results show that even one trip can change a user’s personality. These changes may manifest in different forms. It could bring a profound change in openness and self-awareness. In some cases, these changes could be of therapeutic significance.
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