When we think of psilocybin mushrooms we typically associate them with tie-dye, free-spirited hippies, or ancient Shamans hid in a cave searching for spiritual enlightenment.
For hundreds, if not thousands of years, psychedelic drugs have been used socially, religiously, and medicinally throughout many cultures and countries. Shamans, Native American’, Druids, and even various psychologists in the 1960’s have stated time and time again how useful they are in treating various cognitive issues, and recently it seems as though this mindset is making a comeback in modern medicine.
Recent research from the University of South Florida has shown that the active component within the mushrooms has the ability to produce new brain cells, which would mean they could have the potential to provide treatment for mental illness as well as improve cognitive function.
The study, which was published in Experimental Brain Research, states that psilocybin binds to specific receptors found in the brain which promotes healing and growth. Studies with mice found that psilocybin repairs damaged brain cells which could cure or at least relieve PTSD and depression.
Dr. Juan R Sanchez-Ramos tested the full effects of psilocybin by training mice to fear electric shocks when they heard a noise associated with the shock. This trauma associated with a trigger effect is similar to what happens in the brain of a person when they have endured a traumatic event. Then, they gave the mice psilocybin, which stopped the reaction to the trigger of fear much faster than those that had not been treated with the compound.
“The proposition that psilocybin impacts cognition and stimulates hippocampal neurogenesis is based on extensive evidence that serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT) acting on specific 5-HT receptor sub-types (most likely the 5-HT2A receptor) is involved in the regulation of neurogenesis in the hippocampus,” says Dr. Sanchez-Ramos according to NaturalNews. “The in vitro and in vivo animal data is compelling enough to explore whether psilocybin will enhance neurogenesis and result in measurable improvements in learning.”
Studies have also been conducted with psilocybin and depression patients, and the results are mind blowing. As a “nootropic” agent, psilocybin contains many functions that can work to produce improvement for overall hippocampus health. The hippocampus is the area of our brain which is responsible for learning, and also converts short-term memories into long-term memories. Since the psilocybin works to create new brain cells in this region it provides our brain with the ability to improve our overall mental sharpness and also holds the potential for increasing our overall mental health.
Currently, research and studies concerning psychedelic mushrooms and their benefits to mental health are limited. Over the years, at least since the war on drugs began, mushrooms have been demonized as merely hallucinogenic ways for grungy teens to get high, however, the ancient medicinal studies on mushrooms along with new studies of their medicinal use should bring to light that these little toadstools are much more than that. Hopefully with time, and further research and awareness, our government will one day change the schedule 1 classification of substances such as cannabis and psilocybin due to the fact that their healing potential far exceeds that of any chemical currently available on the market.