Magic mushrooms are also known as shrooms. They are wild or cultivated mushrooms found all over the world. They look like dried mushrooms with long slender stems that are whitish-grey and have dark brown caps. Shrooms are a polyphyletic group of fungi that contains Psilocybin, which is a natural psychoactive and hallucinogenic compound that can be used in the treatment of depression. Some communities even have a long history of associating shrooms with spiritual insights and self-discovery. They are also used in many religious ceremonies and as a rite of passage
They can be eaten, brewed for drinking, mixed with food, and even smoked. Researchers claim that it has many medical benefits, like using it to manage alcohol addiction. However, despite all the benefits associated with the consumption of shrooms, avid users also face several physical and mental side effects. Some of these side effects are hallucinations, anxiety, severe nausea, depersonalization, and paranoia. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and demerits of shrooms using Psilocybin as an explanatory term.
Pros of Shrooms
1. Helps to treat depression: Some patients are resistant to depression treatment and therapy. Efforts to include various medications, talk therapies, and lifestyle changes usually fail to work hence the need for other alternative treatment options. Research shows that patients with resistant treatment of depression respond well to Psilocybin found in shrooms. This treatment is equitable to electroconvulsive therapy.
- Patients under Psilocybin always report lasting and fulfilling relief after a short time of being on the medicine. In contrast, many depressed people will need to continuously take antidepressants and attend therapy to achieve this level of relief.
- It is safe and fast-acting if administered correctly and carefully to depression patients. Reports have shown that improvement can be seen in a week after consuming the medicine. This, in particular, is relieving to patients who experience suicidal thoughts as the same fast results cannot be realized with antidepressants.
- Patients with depression find it easier to connect with their emotions while on Psilocybin, unlike antidepressants that tend to leave you feeling numb, experiencing high and low moods.
2. Manage addictions: According to a 2008 investigation at the John Hopkins University, psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was discovered to help overcome nicotine addiction. Psilocybin is also said to treat alternative addictions to habit-forming drugs like cocaine and alcohol.
3. Treats Cancer-related psychological stress: A cancer diagnosis always leaves patients facing existential stress and death anxiety. It is mostly worse in patients with an advanced life-threatening diagnosis. According to a trial at John Hopkins in 2016, Psilocybin has been known to reduce these depressive thoughts and give such patients a relatively ordinary and healthy life.
4. Beneficial shifts to personality: Humans are born having different personalities with a need to grow and experience life. We also face emotional challenges when some experiences hurt us. For example heartbreaks, constant failure in life end up destroying openness to future experience. At times this becomes preferable protection and coping mechanism. It is not the case when it becomes an everyday comfort such that we limit ourselves to new opportunities and experiences.
According to 2011 research, Psilocybin is known to treat and cure such limitations by making human brains open, flexible, and receptive to new ideas and thought patterns, hence increasing imagination and creativity.
5. Used to treat obesity and eating disorders
According to a press release, psilocybin use will result in an overall weight loss in individuals as food cravings and compulsive overeating will be curbed. It will aid an individual to make better food choices that will improve the quality of diet. In the long run, it may lead to a person having better metabolism, better dietary control, and weight loss.
Research shows that Psilocybin may also be able to treat anorexia by facilitating the mind into a blank state. Resetting the brain will enable anorexic people to develop a new mindset that would prompt them to eat.
Cons of shrooms
1. Adverse side effects: Just like any hallucinogenic compound, shrooms have very adverse physical and mental side effects when consumed. There is a threat that mental and emotional problems will be triggered leading to accidents.
Researchers have warned against people using shrooms as an option to self-medicate without the help of a mental health practitioner. This is because it has the potential to cause permanent psychological problems. These include:
- Confusion– this is whereby there is a distorted sense of time, place, and reality.
- Terrifying or disturbing hallucinations that are both visual and auditory.
- Paranoia– users of shrooms have reported experiences of unease and fear that cause doubt to the authenticity and reality of things that would be considered normal.
- Depersonalization– this is a sense of not being in control of your body, more like an outside observer.
- Nausea– lack of informed knowledge of mushrooms may lead to people consuming decayed shrooms that may cause severe vomiting.
- De-realization– it happens when nothing seems real due to an altered reality.
- Distressing thoughts
- Muscle weaknesses
- Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and temperatures
- Mental illnesses– when shrooms are consumed by people who experience panic disorders and other mental disorders it alleviates their symptoms, for example, erratic and dangerous behavioral patterns.
2. Limited options: As earlier stated, shrooms are all over the globe. However, this does not mean that they have unlimited options. Some countries like the U.S and Canada deem magic mushrooms to be illegal. Such regulations have limited treatment opportunities.
3. Legal risks: Countries that have considered magic mushrooms illegal pose the risk of severe legal actions taken towards people who use them to treat depression. Fear of unknown ramifications has forced people with health disorders not to seek magic mushroom treatment options.
4. It is still an ongoing study and research: Despite its promising potential benefits, experts admit to needing more time to access the possible drawbacks of magic mushrooms and how to tackle them. Research is still ongoing on the side effects of Psilocybin.
With no realistic timeline to achieve this, it is still a dilemma whether it will ever be approved by the FDA and become a reality.