Psilocybin and Magic Mushrooms: Next Health & Legalization Trend After Cannabis?

Psilocybin, the substance found in 200+ species of magic mushrooms, may be the next health and legalization trend after cannabis. Magic mushrooms have been used in many cultures all over the world for therapeutic and spiritual purposes. Many scientific studies and clinical trials have found positive evidence of their benefits to the human body, especially in the area of mental health. With the state of Oregon and the city of Denver (Colorado) about to vote on legalizing magic mushrooms later this year, will psilocybin become the next trend after cannabis?

Current Legal Status of Psilocybin in the USA

Like cannabis (marijuana), MDMA (Ecstasy or Molly), peyote and heroin, psilocybin is classified as a Schedule I drug. The definition of this category is substances with no medical use and the high potential for abuse. Possession of psilocybin mushrooms is a felony. Given the incredible benefits which magic mushrooms containing psilocybin offer mankind, this kind of classification is clearly ignorant, heavy-handed and contradictory. How can such benign substances as magic mushrooms be on the same level as the highly addictive, artificially manufactured and deadly heroin?

What the Science Says About Psilocybin

It turns out magic mushrooms are already being closely studied all over the world by many different scientists. So far, the science shows psilocybin bestows many health benefits. In a nutshell, scientific studies including pre-clinical and clinical trials show that psilocybin helps beat depression, anxiety, addiction and even cancer. On a higher level, it helps increase joy, peace and altruism. However, looking closely at the results provides even more insight.

Psilocybin for Autism, Asperger’s, ASD, Depression, Anxiety and PTSD

Autism rates are skyrocketing across the US, with many suspecting vaccines (thimerosal/mercury) and GMOs (glyphosate) as possible causes. Whatever the cause, it’s a serious neurological disorder. Asperger’s used to be considered its own disorder but was recently reorganized to come under the ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and is now considered a mild form of autism. Asperger’s is characterized by a rigidity of thought and routine, and by a lack of empathy and social/emotional awareness. Interestingly enough, this is exactly what psilocybin can heal according to a recent January 2019 study, which found that psilocybin increased flexibility, creativity and empathy. Here’s what the author of the study Natasha Mason said:

“Examples of processes that have been found to be decreased in these pathologies include creative, flexible thinking and empathy. Specifically, individuals are characterized by repetitive and rigid patterns of negative and compulsive thoughts, as well as reduced empathic abilities. Thus we wanted to assess whether psilocybin enhanced these processes, and if so, how long effects lasted …We found that psilocybin, when taken in a naturalistic setting, increased aspects of creativity and empathy the morning after, and 7 days after use. Furthermore, psilocybin also enhanced subjective well-being. Interestingly, changes in well-being correlated with changes in empathy after psilocybin use.”

This also has implications for other mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and PTSD, as the study notes in its Introduction:

“Both creative, flexible thinking and empathy deficits have been found in stress-related psychopathologies like depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Breaking Down the Ego and “Default Mode Network”

If you want to learn more about psilocybin and what science is beginning to show about its benefits and effects, check out the work of Michael Pollan, author of How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence. He discusses how psychedelics, contrary to a common misconception, actually make you more sane than crazy. This is because substances like psilocybin decrease the activity of a brain network called the default mode network, which is in charge of perception of self. Psilocybin halts the functioning of this network, thus allowing a space for new neural connections – a re-wiring of the brain.

Psilocybin: Naturally in Sync with Our Biology

Another person to check out is Dr. Roland Griffiths, Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at Johns Hopkins University. He has some online videos such as this one where he shows that psilocybin helps people release fear, old patterns and negative beliefs. On a higher level, it helps increase joy, peace and altruism. Studies have also found that it can engender mystical-type experiences in people which are identical to those that occur naturally, suggesting psilocybin is naturally in sync with our biology.

Further Evidence of Psilocybin’s Potential as a Healing Agent

Lastly, take a look at the studies reported here and here on Waking Times. The latter showed that psilocybin strongly helped patients with depression:

“Amazingly, after the participants were given two doses of psilocybin (10 mg and 25 mg), with the second dose a week after the first – their brains showed pronounced, decreased blood flow to the areas of the brain implicated in depression. Researchers also found increased stability on parts of the brain related to depression – and these effects lasted up to five weeks.

The team described the immediate results of patients’ symptoms disappearing after the initial trip as an “afterglow” and a “disintegration” – with the compound also reintegrating brain networks afterward. The afterglow included marked improvements in mood and stress relief. Patients used a lot of computer metaphors to describe how their brains felt afterward – defragged, rebooted, and reset.”

Final Thoughts: Psilocybin is a Gift of Nature which will Hopefully Soon be Widely Legalized

Psilocybin has a long history of use across the world, especially among South American tribes (like the Aztecs, whose word for it was teonanacatl, which translates to “divine mushroom”). There are several prehistoric rock art drawings depicting psilocybin mushrooms, such as the one in Spain, near Villar del Humo, approximately 6,000 years old, another in Tassili n’Ajjer (a national park in the Sahara Desert, Algeria) which is around 7,000-9,000 years old, and the one pictured above from Guatemala. My prediction and hope is that it will become the next health and legalization trend after cannabis, which, for the USA, also started in Denver, Colorado. We shall see.

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Makia Freeman is the editor of alternative media / independent news site The Freedom Articles and senior researcher at ToolsForFreedom.com, writing on many aspects of truth and freedom, from exposing aspects of the worldwide conspiracy to suggesting solutions for how humanity can create a new system of peace and abundance. Makia is on Steemit and FB.  (Click to Source)

Sources:

*https://psi-2020.org/

*https://ballotpedia.org/Denver,Colorado,_Psilocybin_Mushroom_Initiative(May_2019)

*https://www.psypost.org/2019/03/a-single-dose-of-psilocybin-enhances-creative-thinking-and-empathy-up-to-seven-days-after-use-study-finds-53283

*https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02791072.2019.1580804

*https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bu3q3GMHfE

*https://www.wakingtimes.com/2012/11/01/psilocybin-and-the-ego-centric-brain/

*https://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/10/16/psilocybin-appears-reset-brain-activity-depressed-patients-stunning-results/

 

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The New Science of Psychedelics: A Tool for Changing Our Minds

 

As our prosperity rises, our mental health is on the decline—and fast. Rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, addiction, and other psychological disorders have skyrocketed in recent years, and nobody knows what to do about it.

Enter psychedelics: LSD, magic mushrooms, mescaline, ayahuasca—drugs you’d expect to find at a rave or a music festival, not in your psychologist’s office. But that may be about to change, as research in psychedelics increasingly shows their potential for treating psychological conditions.

Previously known as a food and nutrition expert thanks to books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, author Michael Pollan switched tracks a bit for his latest project. His newest book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, published last year, has been an integral part of de-stigmatizing the psychedelics conversation.

In a fascinating talk with The 4-Hour Workweek author Tim Ferris at South By Southwest earlier this month, Pollan shared insights from his research and his personal experiences.

Some History

The word ‘psychedelics’ was coined in 1957 by English psychiatrist Humphry Osmond. It combines the words for mind (psyche) and manifest (delic, from the Greek dēlos). “It’s vague in a way, but it’s suggesting that these drugs bring the mind into kind of an observable space,” Pollan said. “I tried in my book to rescue the word from all the encrustation of 60s Day-Glo acid rock and see if we could reclaim it, because it means the right thing.”

It was their association with 60s counterculture, Pollan explained, that ultimately caused psychedelics’ decline as a scientific tool. By the time the public first heard about the drugs in the 60s, researchers in Europe and the US had already been studying them for 15 years, and using them to treat conditions like addiction and depression, with positive results. “The standards for scientific drug research then were different,” Pollan said. “The double-blind placebo controlled trial didn’t exist until 1962.”

The anti-establishment subculture embraced psychedelics. But in 1965—the year the US first deployed troops to Vietnam—the government and the media started demonizing the drugs. They were labeled as immoral, and stories abounded about people having bad trips, ending up in psych wards, or staring at the sun until they went blind (the first two did happen, but the last was made up).

“Nixon regarded LSD as one of the reasons that boys weren’t willing to go fight in Vietnam,” Pollan said. For most of history, he explained, young men sent to war to defend their country just went—they didn’t ask questions. But suddenly, young American men were asking questions—big ones, like “Is this a just war?” and “Is this something I want to fight for?”

“LSD encourages people to question all sorts of frameworks in their lives, and may have contributed to that,” Pollan said. “It was a very threatening drug.” At least, Nixon thought so, and as a result he started his war on drugs. Psychedelics research gradually ground to a halt, and the drugs stopped being taken seriously as having any medical potential.

Until now, that is.

Changing Our Minds

Pollan shared that what really got him interested in psychedelics was hearing about their effects on people who’d been diagnosed with terminal cancer. “They were paralyzed by fear of death, and they had these transformative experiences that in many cases completely removed their fear. It was the most astonishing thing,” he said.

The drugs have shown promise for alleviating a host of other disorders, including anxiety, depression, and addiction. Psilocybin is being used (“with striking success,” as Pollan put it) in a study of smokers at Johns Hopkins and a study of alcoholics at NYU, and has potential to treat eating disorders as well.

If it seems surprising that one type of drug could treat so many different disorders, consider their common link: they all involve repetitive loops and destructive narratives. The part of the brain where this takes place—called the default mode network—is the part of the brain psychedelics affect, in the sense that the drugs quiet the network, thereby giving users a chance to escape destructive patterns of thought.

The default mode network is a group of structures in the brain that connect the cortex to the areas involved in memory, emotion, and other inwardly-focused thinking, like self-reflection. The default mode network is least active when you’re focused on a task, and most active when you’re at rest without any external stimuli—which is when you start to daydream, remember things about the past, imagine things about the future, and simulate or replay your interactions with other people.

“When they image the brains of people on psychedelics they expected to see a lot of activity, but they were surprised to see that the default mode network was suppressed, with less blood flow and less energy going to it,” Pollan said. “If the ego has an address in the brain it’s somewhere in this network. And this is the region that gets quiet.”

Though we do know this much, we don’t know a lot more, about either how psychedelics work or how the brain works. “Our understanding of the brain is really primitive,” Pollan said. “We know psychedelic drugs bind serotonin to a receptor, then there’s a cascade of effects leading to synesthesia.” What takes place during that cascade, though? No idea.

There may be modes of communication going on in the brain that we don’t even know about yet; Pollan cited a 2018 study where a hippocampus—the brain region associated with memory—was sliced in half, and neurons on either side could still interact without direct contact.

“It’s really important to be humble in anything we say about the brain,” Pollan said.

Keeping Them Changed

If what takes place during psychedelic use is a temporary rewiring of the brain—the compounds are out of the brain within four to eight hours—why is it that using the drugs has an enduring effect on so many people?

“It’s not a purely psychopharmacological effect that they’re having, it really is the experience,” Pollan said. “It’s kind of like a reverse trauma. Many people who undergo this treatment say it’s one of the two or three biggest experiences of their lives.”

The most positive and lasting effect of psychedelics, he explained, is the experience of ego dissolution. It’s our egos—our sense of ourselves—that write and enforce destructive narratives. “The ego builds walls. It isolates us from other people, it isolates us from nature, it’s defensive,” Pollan said. “And when you bring down those walls in the psyche, there’s less of a distinction between you and that other, whether that be other people in your life or the natural world or the universe. There’s this incredible flow, and powerful feelings of love and re-connection.”

Though the experience may last just a few hours, people often feel that the insight or epiphany they have isn’t just a subjective opinion or idea, but a deeper revealed truth; the mind can be reset in a way that would take years of sessions with conventional therapists or psychiatrists. Just as a single trauma can put your mind on a new path, perhaps permanently, a single mystical experience may be able to do the same.

“The mind has certain moments where right angle turns happen, and perhaps it can happen in a positive way as well as a negative way,” Pollan said.

Moving Forward

The psychedelics renaissance is coming at a time when new tools for mental health are sorely needed.

Other branches of medicine—cardiology, oncology, infectious disease—have made huge strides in the last 50 years, both in reducing suffering and prolonging life. But mental healthcare has essentially been at a standstill since the introduction of the antidepressants known as SSRIs in the 1980s.

To go from their current classification as Schedule 1 drugs—high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use—to getting approved as a medicine, psychedelics need to go through the standard three-phase FDA approval process: first an open-label, no-placebo pilot study, followed by a placebo-controlled trial, then a larger placebo-controlled trial.

Pollan believes MDMA and psilocybin could be approved within five years; the FDA has granted breakthrough therapy status to both, which means they actively help researchers design trials that will move the drugs to approval. MDMA is already in Phase 3 trials.

The biggest bottleneck is funding. The studies are expensive and controversial, and the National Institute of Mental Health has a minuscule budget compared to that of the National Institute of Health. Thus far, psychedelics research has been privately funded.

“It’s not a right-left issue, especially when it comes to treating soldiers with PTSD,” Pollan said. But there is the issue of how to incorporate the drugs into mental healthcare as we currently practice it. The pharmaceutical industry isn’t interested in a drug people only need to take once; likewise, the therapy business model depends on people coming back every week for years. Even if this shifted, therapists would need extensive training before being able to administer psychedelics.

“I think we’ll figure it out, but it’s a whole new structure, a whole new paradigm, and that may take a little while,” Pollan said. After all his research, though, he for one is highly optimistic.

“One of the things that excites me most about psychedelics is that yes, there’s a treatment here—but they’re also very interesting probes to understand the mind,” he said.

“[Psychiatrist] Stanislav Grof wrote that psychedelics would be for the study of the mind what the telescope was for astronomy or the microscope for biology. Now that is an audacious claim—but I no longer think it’s crazy.” (Click to Source)

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Religious leaders get high on magic mushrooms ingredient – for science

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore enlists priests, rabbis and a Buddhist to test the effects of psychedelic drugs on religious experience

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A Catholic priest, a Rabbi and a Buddhist walk into a bar and order some magic mushrooms. It may sound like the first line of a bad joke, but this scenario is playing out in one of the first scientific investigations into the effects of psychedelic drugs on religious experience – albeit in a laboratory rather than a bar.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have enlisted two dozen religious leaders from a wide range of denominations, to participate in a study in which they will be given two powerful doses of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms.

Dr William Richards, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland who is involved in the work, said: “With psilocybin these profound mystical experiences are quite common. It seemed like a no-brainer that they might be of interest, if not valuable, to clergy.”

The experiment, which is currently under way, aims to assess whether a transcendental experience makes the leaders more effective and confident in their work and how it alters their religious thinking.

Despite most organised religions frowning on the use of illicit substances, Catholic, Orthodox and Presbyterian priests, a Zen Buddhist and several rabbis were recruited. The team has yet to persuade a Muslim imam or Hindu priest to take part, but “just about all the other bases are covered,” according to Richards.

After preliminary screening, including medical and psychological tests, the participants have been given two powerful doses of psilocybin in two sessions, one month apart.

The sessions will be conducted in a living room-like setting at New York University and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore with two “guides” present. The participants will be given the drug and then spend time lying on a couch, wearing eyeshades and listening to religious music on headphones to augment their inward spiritual journey.

“Their instruction is to go within and collect experiences,” Richards said, after presenting his work at the Breaking Convention conference in London this month. “So far everyone incredibly values their experience. No one has been confused or upset or regrets doing it.”

A full analysis of the outcomes will take place after a one-year follow-up with the participants, whose identities are being kept anonymous. “It is too early to talk about results, but generally people seem to be getting a deeper appreciation of their own religious heritage,” he said. “The dead dogma comes alive for them in a meaningful way. They discover they really believe this stuff they’re talking about.” (Click to Site)