Psilocybin Mushrooms: Uses, Effects And Risks

What Are Psilocybin Mushrooms

Psilocybin or “magic mushrooms” are naturally occurring and are consumed for their hallucinogenic effects. They belong to a group of drugs known as psychedelics, which trigger changes in perception, mood and thought. The key ingredient in magic mushrooms is psilocybin. When psilocybin is taken, it’s converted in the body to psilocin, which is the chemical with the psychoactive properties.

How Does Psilocybin Work In The Human Body

Psilocybin works by activating serotonin receptors, most often in the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain affects mood, cognition, and perception. Hallucinogens also work in other regions of the brain that regulate arousal and panic responses. Psilocybin does not always cause active visual or auditory hallucinations. Instead, it distorts how some people that use the drug perceive objects and people already in their environment.

The quantity of the drug a person consumes, their past experiences, and their expectations of how the experience will take shape can all impact the effects of psilocybin. The hallucinogenic effects of psilocybin usually occur within 30 minutes after a person ingests it and last 4–6 hours. In some individuals, changes in sensory perception and thought patterns can last for several days.

Uses Of Psilocybin Mushrooms

A recent article from the Independent demonstrates that Small doses of magic mushrooms could help treat mental health conditions like PTSD, according to a new study. Experts at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London found that small amounts of psilocybin does not have short of long-term negative side effects in healthy people.

Psilocybin Effects

Psilocybin is a psychedelic drug produced by hundreds of species of magic mushroom. In the body, psilocybin is converted into a slightly different molecule, psilocin, which acts on serotonin receptors in the brain. 

Psychedelic trips are highly variable and difficult to describe, but typical features include distorted perception or hallucinations, an altered sense of space and time and a loss of the normal boundaries of personhood, often accompanied by euphoria. Despite its powerful effects on the mind, psilocybin has almost no physical toxicity in the body and is unlikely to cause harm or addiction.Psilocybin is being investigated as a possible treatment for mental illness, including anxiety related to advanced cancer and depression. Small studies suggest that a single dose of psilocybin can lead to long-term reductions in depression symptoms, perhaps by interrupting patterns of negative thoughts and allowing the brain to remove the shackles of anxiety and distraction. Other aspects of research has shown that psilocybin, alongside some verbal therapies can help with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

Psilocybin Risks

Magic mushrooms contain a compound called psilocybin that, when ingested, becomes psilocin. This chemical activates serotonin receptors in your brain, triggering vivid hallucinations, a sense of euphoria, and changes in your perception of space and time.

Because they can be found growing in the wild, magic mushrooms are sometimes thought of as a safe alternative to harder drugs. There are, however, still potential risks associated with tripping on these psychedelic fungi.

The most commonly reported negative side effect of taking magic mushrooms is having a bad trip. This might involve unpleasant physical symptoms such as nausea, chills, vomiting, or headaches. The user might also experience negative psychological effects such as paranoia, anxiety, or even extreme terror.

The Legality Of Psilocybin Mushrooms In The UK

In 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave psilocybin a “Breakthrough Therapy” designation, indicating that the therapy is considered highly promising and will receive support from the FDA to accelerate the approval process.

Psilocybin is illegal in most of the world, but in 2020 Oregon became the first state to legalise its use in therapy. Denver voted to stop law enforcement agencies from targeting psilocybin users in 2019, effectively decriminalising it. Psychedelic truffles containing psilocybin can be bought legally in the Netherlands too, demonstrating that the world is slowly opening up to its potential benefits.In the UK, Psilocybin is currently included in Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, along with drugs like ecstasy and LSD. This means it cannot be lawfully possessed or prescribed and a Home Office licence is needed for use in research. However, there has been recent campaigning that want it to be moved to Schedule 2 with restrictions to prevent inappropriate prescribing to facilitate medical and scientific research.

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