what is Psilocybin

Psilocybin

Usage, Treatment, and Future Perspectives

Psilocybin Mushrooms

Psilocybin fungi, commonly known as Magic Mushrooms, belong to a group of fungi that contain the compound psilocybin and are also known as hallucinogenic mushrooms. These mushrooms have a long history of human use and hold cultural and spiritual significance in various societies around the world. Understanding the historical importance and cultural use of magic mushrooms provides valuable groundwork for comprehending their enduring effects.

History of Magic Mushrooms

Magic mushrooms has a fascinating history that spans thousands of years and various cultures around the world. Archaeological evidence supports the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms by indigenous cultures in regions such as South America, Central America, and Africa for religious and healing purposes. These cultures incorporated magic mushrooms into their rituals and ceremonies, often considering them as sacred and imbued with spiritual significance.

Magic mushrooms are renowned for their ability to induce altered states of consciousness, which can lead to profound experiential insights. Those who consume magic mushrooms often report a range of effects, including feelings of interconnectedness, spiritual insight, increased empathy, and a sense of transcendence. These experiences are highly subjective and can vary between individuals.

The cultural significance of magic mushrooms lies in their potential to facilitate personal growth, self-reflection, enhanced creativity, and the exploration of the human mind. Many individuals seek out these experiences as a means of expanding their understanding of themselves and the world around them.

With the growing awareness and expanding research on magic mushrooms, there is an increasing interest in exploring their therapeutic potentials. Studies have shown promising results in using psilocybin, the psychoactive compound found in magic mushrooms, to treat conditions such as depression, anxiety, addiction, and end-of-life distress. Ongoing research aims to further investigate the therapeutic effects of magic mushrooms and their potentials applications in mental health care.

Types of Magic Mushrooms

Magic mushrooms (psilocybin) encompass various species, all of which contain different amounts of the compound psilocybin. One of the most common and well-known species of magic mushrooms is Psilocybin Cubensis. Common subspecies of Psilocybe Cubensis include:

  1. B+: This subspecies is recognized for its large size and high potency.
  2. Ecuador: This type of magic mushroom is historically associated with the mountainous regions of Ecuador.
  3. Hawaiian: Also known as Psilocybe Cubensis Hawaiian, this variety has gained significant popularity.
  4. Golden Teacher: This subspecies exhibits a high capacity for inducing hallucinations.
Psilocybe Cubensis

Psilocybe Cubensis

Psilocybe Cubensis is characterized by its light to dark brown cap and slim stem. It can be found in various regions worldwide and is renowned for its high psilocybin content.

Psilocybe Azurescens

Psilocybe Azurescens

Psilocybe azurescens is native to the Pacific Northwest region of the United States and is characterized by its strong psilocybin content, large caramel-colored caps, and growth in coastal grassy slopes and wood chips.

Psilocybe Semilanceata

Psilocybe Semilanceata

Psilocybe semilanceata, also known as "Liberty Cap," is identified by its small conical cap and tall, thin stem. It is typically found in grassy areas, especially in Europe and North America.

Psilocybe Baeocystis

Psilocybe Baeocystis

Psilocybe baeocystis is commonly known as "Bottle Cap" and is distinguished by its distinct caps and bulbous-shaped stems. It can be found in various habitats, including wood chips, grassy areas, and forests.

Psilocybe Cyanescens

Psilocybe Cyanescens

Psilocybe cyanescens, also referred to as "Wavy Caps," is recognized for its wavy caps, caramel color, and thick stems. It is predominantly found in wood chips, mulched gardens, and grassy areas.

Psilocybe Mexicana

Psilocybe Mexicana

Psilocybe mexicana has small, light-colored caps and slender stems and is known for its role in ancient rituals. It is considered one of the earliest recognized sources of psilocybin.

Street Names for Hallucinogenic Mushrooms

Hallucinogenic mushrooms are commonly referred to as “magic mushrooms” or simply “shrooms.” Other colloquial terms for mushrooms include:

  1. Silly Putty
  2. Sacred Mushroom
  3. Simple Simon

Chemical Properties of Psilocybin Mushrooms

Psilocybin mushrooms harbor a range of chemical compounds, with the key and noteworthy compound being psilocybin. Psilocybin falls under the category of tryptamines and lacks psychoactive effects in isolation. Nonetheless, when metabolized within the body, it undergoes a process called dephosphorylation, transforming into psilocin. Structurally akin to serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation, perception, and cognition, psilocin predominantly interacts with serotonin receptors in the brain, particularly the 5-HT2A receptor. This interaction gives rise to modified states of consciousness and perception.

Mechanism of Action of Psilocybin

Psilocybin primarily acts as an agonist on serotonin receptors 5-HT2A and 5-HT1A. When administered in very low doses, psilocybin induces sedation, while moderate doses lead to manageable alterations in wakefulness. At higher doses, psilocybin exhibits psychedelic properties, resulting in temporary shifts in consciousness similar to other hallucinogenic substances like mescaline, LSD, and DMT. Notably, higher doses of psilocybin can amplify emotional responses, enhance introspective abilities, evoke spontaneous and childlike thinking, and facilitate vivid recollection of memories infused with strong emotions.

Neuroimaging studies utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and electroencephalography (EEG) have shed light on how psilocybin modulates brain activity and connectivity. The serotonin receptor, which is distributed across various brain regions, represents a primary neural target for psilocybin. Activation of serotonin receptors by psilocybin heightens neural excitability and modifies information processing. Furthermore, psilocybin exhibits the potential to enhance neuroplasticity, which refers to the brain’s capacity to reorganize and establish new synaptic connections. Psilocybin promotes the generation of new neurons, particularly in the hippocampus—an area associated with learning, memory, and emotion regulation. This neurobiological effect contributes to the antidepressant and anxiolytic properties attributed to psilocybin.

Administration of psilocybin has been found to decrease activity in the amygdala, a key region involved in fear processing and emotional responses. This reduction in amygdala activity can be beneficial in alleviating anxiety and fear-related reactions.

Therapeutic Applications of Psilocybin

Numerous clinical experiments and studies have compellingly demonstrated the therapeutic potential of psilocybin in the realm of mental health disorders. Magic mushrooms and psilocybin have been explored as treatment options for various conditions, including alcohol, cocaine, tobacco, and nicotine addiction, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), advanced-stage cancer-related anxiety, anxiety associated with adaptation disorder, cancer-related depression, treatment-resistant depression, major depression, cluster headaches, intractable phantom pain, incompatible self-injury, borderline personality disorder (BPD), narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Emerging evidence indicates that psilocybin therapy has the potential to introduce a new paradigm in the field of mental health treatment by facilitating transformative experiences that can lead to long-term improvements in psychological factors and overall quality of life. Notably, the enduring effects of psilocybin therapy are particularly noteworthy, achieved within a dosage range of 25-30 milligrams of psilocybin.

In a significant development, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration granted approval in 2023 for the prescription of psilocybin in the treatment of PTSD and treatment-resistant depression. This recognition highlights the growing acceptance of psilocybin as a therapeutic tool for mental health conditions.

Effects of Psilocybin After Consumption

Feelings of peace and happiness
Deep sense of tranquility, Sustained feelings of contentment and joy, Increased introspection, self-evaluation, and comprehensive self-understanding, Heightened self-awareness and increased insight, Enhanced ability to appreciate what brings happiness, Sense of purposefulness, Increased trust in personal emotions and experiences, Awareness of emotions and thoughts and improved ability to express thoughts and feelings to others, Feeling of self-appreciation
Physical and Mental Effects
Improved mental well-being, Increased patience, Reduction in depressive thoughts, Boost in energy, Decreased anxiety, Persistent reduction in psychological disturbances (anxiety, worry, and grief), Positive and healthy behavioral changes
Altered perception of life
Increased connection with people and the surrounding environment, Cultivation of love and appreciation, Reduction in excessive concern regarding issues
Profound spiritual experience
Enhanced connection and spirituality with the divine, Mystical and transcendent experience similar to deep meditation

Long-Term Mental Effects of Psilocybin

  1. Positive changes in personality and increased prosocial behavior
  2. Improved connections with others and the surrounding environment
  3. Reduction in violent and criminal behavior
  4. Decreased suicidal thoughts
  5. Decreased self-centered and self-centeredness attitudes
  6. Improved social relationships
  7. Substantial improvement in depression and anxiety
  8. Ability to reconsider perspectives on life and relationships with others

Mean Half-life of Psilocybin

The short-term effects of psilocybin mushrooms typically dissipate within 6 to 12 hours. However, individuals may experience long-term and enduring changes in mood, personality, and personal life long after drug consumption. The average half-life of psilocybin ranges from one to two hours, and it generally takes five to six half-lives for the substance to be eliminated from the body’s system.

Half-Life of Psilocybin Elimination Constant (Kc) Absorption Constant (Ka) Administration Route
135-163 minutes 1. 0.307 1. 1.307 Oral Administration (PO)

Physical Effects of Magic Mushroom Consumption

The physical effects of magic mushroom consumption include dilated pupils, drowsiness, headache, stomach discomfort, muscle spasms, increased heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature, impaired balance, muscle weakness, nausea, and tremors.

Psychological Effects of Magic Mushroom Consumption

The psychological effects of magic mushroom consumption include distorted perception of time, space, and reality, euphoria, hallucinations (visual or auditory),  introspective (spiritual) experiences, panic reactions (fear), and difficulty in thinking and focusing.

Drug Interactions with Psilocybin

Psilocybin may interact with specific medications such as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), leading to side effects or dangerous serotonin syndrome. Prior consultation with a healthcare specialist is crucial before combining psilocybin with other drugs.

Psilocybin Consumption Considerations

  1. Environment and Mindset: Creating a safe and supportive environment and approaching psilocybin consumption with a positive mindset is essential to maximize safety and minimize unwanted effects of psilocybin. These factors can impact the overall quality of the individual’s experience with psilocybin.
  2. Dosage: Proper dosage control is crucial for therapeutic purposes. Psilocybin is typically prescribed in two doses of 25-30 milligrams, with a three-month interval and six-month monitoring.
  3. Screening and Preparation: Screening individuals for contraindications, appropriate psychological screening, and readiness for the psilocybin experience are important considerations.

Factors Affecting the Therapeutic and Clinical Outcome of Psilocybin

Non-Drug Factors
Age, body weight, muscle mass, genetics, drug resistance, drug interactions, gender, recreational drug use and experience, past experiences with drug use, environment (conditions under which the drug is used), experimental setting, social interaction, cultural influences, medical history.
Mindset
1. Patient's attitude and expectations (psychological flexibility and outlook), Treatment assumptions
Administration Conditions
Use of music, Use of religious and spiritual imagery, Interaction with nature and the presence of a therapeutic space or environment
Mental Support
Discussion and Conclusion

Psilocybin, known for its therapeutic properties, has garnered significant attention in recent years as a potential treatment for psychiatric disorders. Extensive research has been conducted, confirming the therapeutic effects of this compound in various areas, including substance use disorders (such as alcohol and tobacco), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), advanced-stage cancer-related anxiety, anxiety accompanying adjustment disorder, treatment-resistant depression, suicidal ideation and behavior, cluster headaches, chronic pain, intractable phantom limb pain, treatment-resistant anorexia, borderline personality disorder (BPD), narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), neurotic overeating, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease. The use of psilocybin in treatment offers newfound hope for individuals grappling with mental health disorders.