Magic mushrooms are more than just a psychedelic; psilocybin benefits can increase overall wellbeing and improve symptoms of mental health disorders.
When most people refer to mushrooms, they’re typically referring to the flavourful fungi you can find in grocery stores. There are more than 50,000 different mushrooms; a small percentage is poisonous. Many have medicinal properties, and some are magical. Ok, there’s no actual magic involved here, just science. Psilocybin is a primary compound found in these ‘magic’ mushrooms, turning them into hallucinogens. The recreational use of hallucinogens (also referred to as psychedelics) is controversial and illegal in most countries. Despite the controversy, research surrounding psilocybin benefits for mental health and wellbeing is becoming more popular.
The thought of using hallucinogens can be scary for most people, and that’s completely normal. However, Indigenous peoples have used psilocybin for religious purposes and healing since as far back as 9000 B.C. Modern age media and western culture play a huge role in promoting myths and misconceptions about drug use. In reality, you can experience psilocybin benefits without ever experiencing hallucinations.
Not your average fungi
Before we can get into the psilocybin benefits, it’s important to understand what this ‘magical’ compound is, exactly. Psilocybin is a naturally occurring hallucinogen found in mushrooms. Meaning they aren’t human-made; they grow the same as any other mushroom. Once ingested, our bodies break down the psilocybin into psilocin.
To put it as simply as possible: they affect different parts of the central nervous system and activate serotonin receptors in the brain. Serotonin is known as the ‘happy chemical’; it influences things like our mood, perception, appetite, and sleep.
The extent to which you hallucinate depends on the amount you consume and the potency of the mushroom. The mushrooms’ environment and condition grow, when and how they’re harvested, and whether you consume them dried or fresh can influence their potency.
Psilocybin mushrooms look very similar to regular mushrooms; they’re typically small, brown or tan, and have a bitter taste. They grow worldwide (except for Antarctica) but most predominantly in Europe and the Americas. Not too fast, don’t head out to your backyard and start picking and eating the first mushrooms you see, assuming that they could be psilocybin. Remember, there are over 50,000 species of mushrooms, and psilocybin mushrooms can be easily mistaken for poisonous mushrooms.
Psilocybin benefits are different for everyone and depend on factors like the quantity consumed, the intentions for using them, and past experiences.
Full-dose psilocybin benefits
A standard (known as ‘full’ or ‘macro’) dose of psilocybin is considered 2-3.5 grams. Most people call this ‘the classic psychedelic experience.’ Some research describes the psilocybin experience (or ‘trip’) as a walking dream state because it activates the same brain activity as dreaming.
What you can expect:
- Visual hallucinations
- An influx of ideas or creativity
- A sense of ‘openness’ or heightened self-awareness
- Introspective and philosophical thoughts
- Intense emotions
- Being amused or humoured by ‘boring’ things
- A distorted sense of time
- Mystical experiences
The more psilocybin that a person consumes, the stronger the effects will be. Taking more than the standard dose can cause out-of-body experiences, commonly referred to as ego death or dissolution. Ego death is perceived differently by everyone, but generally speaking, it’s known as the “complete loss of self-identity.” For some, ego dissolution is the ultimate psilocybin benefit; it can be healing, spiritual, and life-changing. However, this particular transcendental adventure isn’t recommended for those who are just starting their journey with psychedelics.
When used safely and responsibly, there are numerous benefits to using psilocybin in standard doses. It’s best always to have an objective or an intention going into a trip. Suppose someone is navigating through a tricky or confusing time in their life. In that case, the psilocybin benefits they experience may relate to obtaining a sense of clarity, understanding, self-compassion, or inner peace. By setting their intentions going into their trip, they’re more likely to reap those benefits.
Researchers find that the controlled use of psilocybin in larger doses can also help those who suffer from chronic or debilitating psychological disorders, including anxiety and depression. Often, the psilocybin benefits for mental health can manifest after just one trip. Most people will have very few full-dose magic mushroom trips in their lifetime.
Micro-dose psilocybin benefits
A widespread misconception about magic mushrooms is that you can only feel the psilocybin benefits if you hallucinate or ‘trip.’ Micro-dosing is when you take less than the standard dose (so, 0.1-1.5g); however,, some consider it to be anything less than 0.5 grams. Taking 0.5 – 1.5 grams can produce some mild visuals and alter perceptions of time and sound, but not at the same level of a full dose. The difference between micro-dosing and full-dosing is similar to that of CBD and THC; you’re able to feel the psilocybin benefits without experiencing the high or psychoactive symptoms.
Some micro-dosing benefits include:
- Clear thinking
- Motivation to change unhealthy patterns and habits
- Boost’s creativity
- Improved mood
- Reducing symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD
- Increased energy
- Feeling light-weight
- Heightened or enhanced senses
- Finding it easier to meditate or seeing more benefits from mindfulness activities
- Increased social skills
- Increase in the enjoyment and participation of physical activity
Research is still ongoing, but multiple studies have shown that micro-dosing can help treat substance abuse and addictions. A significant factor in the increase of interest surrounding micro-dosing is due to more clinical trials about psychedelic therapy for mental health disorders. More and more people who struggle with depression, anxiety, and PTSD turn to micro-dosing as an alternative to traditional medicine.
Overall, micro-dosing can promote an overall better quality of life, mental state, and spiritual wellbeing. Unlike a full-does psilocybin trip, micro-dosing can be incorporated into daily routines.
The importance of intention and how to maximize benefits
Beyond clinical trials and studies, the use of psychedelics is a sacred practice in many cultures. It’s a key component in many religious rituals and as a tool for personal spiritual development. Nonetheless, the recreational use of magic mushrooms is encouraged. Still, it’s essential to value the experience and respect the power it truly. Psilocybin benefits can be healing and therapeutic regardless of the amount taken, but having the right intentions makes a considerable difference in the overall experience.
Magic mushrooms are most beneficial when used accordingly. The key to success and maximum benefits is learning how to incorporate them into your life effectively. Define what your mind, body, and soul need the most and make informed decisions about the proper dosages and settings that will maximize your results. It’s a good idea for beginners to start by micro-dosing and then work their way up to more; you can always take more, but you can never take less.
Psilocybin is non-addictive; however, it’s imperative to approach the recreational use of magic mushrooms with caution. Taking too much psilocybin can result in some potentially uncomfortable and scary experiences for those who aren’t adequately prepared, known as a ‘bad trip.’ It can also trigger undiagnosed psychosis and schizophrenia.