Psilocybin is a well-known, naturally occurring psychedelic substance found in mushrooms that are commonly referred to as magic mushrooms. This substance has a wide range of psychoactive properties, which makes it among the most popular recreational drugs around the world.
Continue reading this article to learn about its health effects.
- Health Benefits of Psilocybin
- Negative Effects of Psilocybin
Psilocybin (chemically known as 4-phosphorryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine) and its active metabolite Psilocin are the classical psychedelic compounds that belong to the group of hallucinogenic tryptamines. Psilocybin is found in mushrooms species including Psilocybe, Conocybe, and Paneolus, which are widely distributed around the world (R).
Initially, Psilocybin containing mushrooms were meant to use for psychotherapeutic reasons. However, due to the increased popularity for recreational purposes among the general population, its medical use was banned in 1970 (R).
After 30 years of suspension, the use of Psilocybin was again allowed for research purposes. Currently, there is an uncertainty about the legal status of Psilocybin. In some countries (like USA and UK), there is a certain level of the prohibition on the use of Psilocybin, while in other countries (like Australia and most of the Europe) it is completely illegal (R).
Psilocybin can usually be ingested either in raw form, with beverages, or intravenous injections.
Following oral consumption, Psilocybin rapidly metabolizes in the liver and converts into its active form Psilocin, which enters into the blood circulation system and reaches the brain (R).
Once in the brain, it binds to neurochemical receptors called serotonin receptors. These receptors usually found in the brain regions housed by neurons which, upon excitation, cause an increase in the activity of the brain areas implicated in memory, behavior, emotions, and mood (R).
However, new research has revealed that Psilocin mediates its effects mainly by causing a decreased blood flow (up to 20%) to specific regions in the brain. The brain regions monitor empathy, emotion, personality expression, consciousness, and social behavior (R).
Health Benefits of Psilocybin
1) Psilocybin Helps Treat Mood Disorder
A moderate dose of Psilocybin can markedly reduce depressive symptoms in men and women with major depression (R).
In another study, it significantly improved mood and reduced anxiety in patients with advanced-stage cancer (R).
In healthy volunteers, Psilocybin enhances mood by decreasing the reactivity of amygdala, a region in the brain mainly involved in positive mood processing (R).
2) Psilocybin Improves Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental illness characterized by repetitive obsessions and compulsions (R).
A moderate dose of Psilocybin in people with OCD helps relieve symptoms of OCD (R).
It also reduces symptoms linked to OCD in mice (R).
3) Psilocybin May Help Treat Substance Abuse Disorder
Psilocybin is a new therapeutic option for treating substance abuse disorder i.e., drug addiction and alcohol (R).
Current research data on smoking indicates the drug to be effective in combating smoking. In tobacco smokers, this substance may have remarkable effects on smoking cessation without causing side effects (R).
Similarly, it may also be useful in treating alcohol dependence (R).
Negative Effects of Psilocybin
1) Psilocybin Causes Mental Problems
Dysphoria is the predominant clinical feature among Psilocybin users (R).
This condition is usually accompanied by anxiety, agitation, and panic reactions (R).
Exposure to this substance also causes perceptual distortion, where one’s ability to sense time, place, and recognition of things are severely deteriorated (R).
Exposure to Psilocybin can also cause paranoia (the feeling of intense fears and anxiety). A survey conducted on Psilocybin users also indicated that it is strongly associated with high rate of paranoia (R).
In one clinical study on humans, it induced Schizophrenic like symptoms in healthy individuals (R).
In addition to the above-mentioned short-term negative effects, the persistent use of Psilocybin can also cause long-term complications such as impairment in brain function, flashbacks, and increased delusion (R).
2) Psilocybin Causes Vision Problems
This substance may also cause impairment in one’s visual awareness and lead to binocular rivalry. It is a condition where a person is unable to recognize different images simultaneously presented to each eye (R, R).
Short-term Adverse Effects on the Body
A study has shown that intravenous injection of Psilocybin extracts can cause a number of medical emergency situations such as nausea/vomiting, severe myalgia (muscles pain), hyperpyrexia (a fever with extreme increase in body temperature), hypoxemia (oxygen deficiency in the blood) , mydriasis (excessive and prolonged dilation of the pupil of the eye) and, mild methemoglobinemia (increase quantities of hemoglobin in the blood) (R, R).
In some cases, it may also cause abnormal changes in the blood pressure (R).
Furthermore, it is a causative agent of kidney damage (R).
- Psilocybin is used for centuries for religious and healing purposes (R).
- Scientists first isolated it from a mushroom species known as Psilocybe Mexicana in 1958 and subsequently synthesized in 1959 (R).
- In tobacco smokers, moderate (20 mg/70 kg) and high (30 mg/70 kg) doses of Psilocybin may have remarkable effects on smoking cessation without causing side effects (R).
- The use of Psilocybin is strongly associated with dysphoria (R).
- These effects usually appear in 20-30 min and reach to a peak level in 60 min, which last for 1-2 hours (R).
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