Human history is closely intertwined with fungi. Those Salem witch trials weren’t actually the work of the devil but of ergot. This wheat fungus contains chemicals that cause hallucinations, convulsions, and death. Other fungi contain psilocybin, another hallucination that people have used to go on spiritual trips and vision quests. Its effects are similar to that of LSD (synthesized from lysergic acid in ergot), mescaline, and DMT. For decades, many governments around the world have criminalized the cultivation, sale, possession, and use of these mushrooms and psilocybin. But recently, old research has been revived, and researchers are starting to see that psilocybin can be used to treat a host of mental disorders.
Banned and Revived (Sort of)
Psilocybin is a Schedule 1 substance under the UN 1972 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. This meant that research on psilocybin in the ‘50s and ‘60s were put on hold indefinitely for decades. After all, it’s difficult to do clinical research on a drug that isn’t legal for humans! In the early ‘90s, people began to petition to revive psilocybin research. Currently, the most well-known projects come out of Johns Hopkins.
How Does It Work
Psilocybin binds to serotonin receptors in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This part of the brain is responsible for logical thinking, abstraction, mood, and perception of time. The hallucinations from psilocybin are caused by increased neural connections in some parts of the brain and decreased connections in others. Scientists think that certain mental conditions are caused by connections that are too strong in certain parts of the brain. One example is depression, where the part of the brain that controls your sense of self is too connected. Psilocybin has dissociative properties and it’s most likely because it calms down this section of self-awareness.
So… What’s It Like? What Does It Treat?
Many users of psilocybin describe a new perspective of the world around them. They feel a connection to other people and the natural world. These positive experiences are what people refer to as a “good trip.” But it’s also possible to experience “bad trips.” Based on the research, psilocybin trips are largely determined by your mindset going into it, and the environment you’re in. For people with depression, anxiety, OCD, and even alcohol or tobacco dependence, psilocybin has been shown to help relieve some of the symptoms. Most of the patients use low doses of this chemical, so they’re still able to function and do everyday tasks.
Brave New World of Drugs
More and more people are turning to ancient, plant-based methods to treat all sorts of disorders and illnesses. While the research is still in its infancy, these “new” types of treatments are promising and seem to have few negative side effects. Our psilocybin necklace is a shout out to those researchers who are always looking for new and better ways to help people. Buy this piece for yourself or give it as a gift. Other people who might love to own this necklace include psychiatrists, psilocybin researchers, psilocybin users, and starry-eyed pre-med students.
written by Science with Evie