New Research on Psilocybin and Its Benefits
New Research on Psilocybin and Its Benefits BY MARCO – GreenCamp
Much like the carefully orchestrated de-legalization of cannabis during the 1930’s, there was a powerful decades-long misleading campaign against psilocybin mushrooms which caused a deep-rooted fear and a subsequent public rejection of this substance.
Just as cannabis is now finally seeing an increase in public trust, several studies have been published which show extremely promising results for the use of psilocybin mushrooms in patients who suffer from anxiety and depression, or are battling addiction, and for patients who are terminally ill, helping them to alleviate their fear of death.
Psilocybin can also be exceedingly helpful for individuals who don’t have full blown depression or anxiety. The pace and structure of modern life is creating symptoms of these disorders in practically everyone, and the number of people afflicted is constantly on the rise.
Psilocybin mushrooms are currently scheduled as a Class III narcotic in Canada. What’s important to consider when we look at “hard drugs” is the level of human tampering with the substances.
Cocaine is made from the coca plant (approximately 1% of street cocaine is pure plant material), and heroin is derived from the poppy plant, but both of these natural substances undergo a series of production techniques which include adding numerous harmful chemicals, thus producing a very harmful and highly addictive narcotic.
On the other hand, substances like cannabis and mushrooms require absolutely no human alterations to have effect and they are typically used in their natural plant form.
In the same way that the THC cannabinoid in cannabis is responsible for the psychoactive effects we experience with pot (as well as being responsible for a lot of its medicinal benefits), psilocybin mushrooms have their own compound, called psilocybin.
In the following section we will acquaint ourselves with psilocybin mushrooms a bit better, before moving on to the studies which demonstrate their extensive therapeutic potential.
What are psilocybin mushrooms?
Mushrooms are a part of the fungi kingdom, distinctly different from animals and plants. They are characterized by their flesh-like body which consists of the stem, the cap, and the gills that are located on the underside of the cap, where the mushroom creates microscopic spores that are its asexual reproductive units.
We don’t want to get too technical regarding mushrooms in general, so we’ll concentrate on the psilocybin variety from now on.
History of use
There are several prehistoric rock art drawings which show (quite probably) the importance of psychoactive psilocybin mushrooms to the artists that drew them.
Terence McKenna, who was a famed psychonaut, author, and an avid advocate for the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic substances, studied the artwork and culture of Tassili n’Ajjer.
The rock paintings from the Neolithic era depict domesticated cattle, and McKenna concluded that psilocybin mushrooms would have grown from the dung of the animals, which is a very common occurrence.
The psychoactivity of the mushrooms would have heavily influenced and further developed the spiritual and religious systems of the Tassili n’Ajjer people, and without the domestication of cattle that would not have happened.
The “Bee-Shaman” from Tassili n’Ajjer, with mushrooms in his hands
In South America, numerous indigenous cultures use psilocybin for spiritual, religious and divination practices. This was of course halted when once the Spanish conquistadors established their rule on the continent, but in remote areas these practices endured uninterrupted.
The Aztecs word for one of the Psilocybe species was teōnanācatl, which translates to divine mushroom. The Catholic missionaries believed that the mushrooms were a means to communicate with demons and devils and forced the change from teōnanācatl to the sacrament of Eucharist.
Other religious and divinatory tools like peyote and ayahuasca were also strictly forbidden, but fortunately because of the vast rainforest and the generally rough terrain, these practices persisted.
Psilocybin mushrooms in modern times
In 1953, a New York banker by the name of Gordon Wasson first sat in a “mushroom velada”, a carefully planned psychoactive ritual, in Oaxaca Mexico.
It was led by Maria Sabina, who was a Mazatec curandera (a natural healer).
He returned for the velada in 1954 and 1955, and two years later, his articleon the experiences and the importance of psilocybin mushrooms was published in Life Magazine, which was the first ever large-scale media coverage of their existence and effects.
Source: Psychedelic Library
In 1958, psilocybin was isolated by none other than Albert Hofmann, who also unintentionally discovered the semi-synthetic lysergic acid diethylamide (or LSD) in 1938.
Two years later, Sandoz Pharmaceutical (now a subsidiary of Novartis), a Swiss Pharma giant where Hofmann worked, started to produce pure psilocybin.