Psilocybin is the natural, nontoxic, non-addictive active compound in magic mushrooms and magic truffles. Recently, in a study conducted by Imperial College London, which assessed the safety of the twenty most widely consumed psychoactive substances, researchers found psilocybin to be the safest substance. They found psilocybin to be 12 times safer than alcohol and more than four times less harmful than tobacco. Psilocybin therapy has a good chance of breaking into the mainstream as more people realize how safe it is.
While a psilocybin journey can be challenging and intense, it can be one of the safest ways to heal traumas. Respectful intentions, careful preparation, a proper setting, and the presence of mature facilitators can help increase the probability of having a positive experience.
In the United States, FDA-approved clinical trials with psilocybin have yet to produce a single significantly adverse outcome. Evidence-based science and pioneering researchers are debunking the myths leading to the stigma around psilocybin. People from all over the world are doing their own research and seeking Psilocybin Therapy.
For millennia, shamans and healers around the world have used psilocybin mushrooms to help channel mystical experiences. In fact, the Aztecs and Mazatecs referred to psilocybe mushrooms as “the flesh of the gods,” “divine mushrooms,” “wonderous mushrooms,” and “genius mushrooms.” Even after Catholic missionaries slaughtered many of the indigenous people for their use of psilocybe mushrooms in the 1500’s, the use of mushrooms has persisted in South and Central American culture.
After Life Magazine published Gordon Wasson’s famous “Seeking the Magic Mushroom” article in 1957 - which detailed his visits to and experiences with the Mexican mushroom shaman Maria Sabina - Albert Hoffman identified and isolated psilocybin and psilocin from these mushrooms. A wave of enthusiastic researchers then started experimenting with the medicine. These researchers emphasized the benefits of structured as opposed to recreational use. In the decade before 1965, more than 1,000 scientific articles were published on the potential benefits of psychedelics for healing addictions and trauma.
However, largely because of the clear thinking and personal freedom psychedelic use can engender, the US government banned psychedelic use and research in the late 60’s. Research started picking up again in the 90’s and has been gaining momentum ever since. Fast forward to now, and there have been several promising studies coming from Johns Hopkins, NYU, UCLA, Imperial College of London, Harvard, and many other notable universities around the world. It seems science is slowly catching up to what mushroom shamans have been shouting from rooftops for many years: psilocybin has the potential to heal traumas more effectively than almost any other medicine.
The statistics regarding global mental health can be overwhelming. Over 300 million people in the world suffer from depression, according to the World Health Organization. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In the US, 1 in 6 Americans take some type of psychiatric drug, mostly antidepressants. Ironically, it’s been shown that these drugs don’t work for up to half of those who take them. Pharmaceutical companies didn’t create these drugs to heal people.
Psilocybin Therapy is different. By quieting the brain’s Default Mode Network, psilocybin increases neuroplasticity and allows different regions in the brain to interact and communicate in novel ways. It reduces the control of the ruminating egoic mind, which constantly thinks of the past and the future. It allows repressed and suppressed emotions to arise to the conscious mind. By allowing these sometimes difficult, scary, and unpleasant emotions to express themselves unfiltered, we face aspects of ourselves from which we’ve been hiding or running. By seeing our scariest emotions dissipate, we naturally experience more courage, joy, gratitude, love and peace.
Imperial College London and Johns Hopkins have both published studies, which have shown how psilocybin has the potential to alleviate even the most severe cases of depression, in one or two doses.
These results have been so promising that, in late 2018, the FDA granted psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression “breakthrough therapy” status.
In 2012, University of New Mexico conducted a small but successful study with psilocybin for alcoholism in which participants demonstrated significant improvements in life satisfaction and alcohol use after just two sessions. NYU is currently conducting a larger follow-up trial.
Psilocybin seems to connect those who abuse alcohol with what Alcoholics Anonymous calls a “higher power.” Bill Wilson, the founder of AA, was a vocal proponent of using psychedelics to stimulate the recovery process. Psychedelics like psilocybin have the potential to serve the 17 million people in the United States affected by alcoholism, and help prevent some of the world’s three million annual deaths resulting from alcohol abuse.
In a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins on psilocybin-facilitated smoking addiction treatment, 80% of heavy smokers treated with two or three doses of psilocybin remained cigarette-free after six months. In comparison, the best nicotine treatments available on the market today have success rates of around 20%.
In follow-up interviews conducted about two and a half years after the initial journeys, “participants reported the psilocybin sessions led to psychological insights, experiences of interconnectedness, feelings of awe and curiosity and reduced withdrawal symptoms, all of which helped them successfully quit smoking,” a Johns Hopkins researcher said. 60% had effectively quit their smoking habit. If psilocybin can help alleviate powerful cigarette addictions, it most certainly has the potential to aid people who are suffering from other addictions as well.
People facing terminal illnesses should be free to choose medicines that resonate with their spirits and can help them come to terms and feel at peace with the body’s demise, regardless of their legality.
In a Johns Hopkins study, a substantial majority of people suffering from cancer-related anxiety and depression experienced considerable relief for up to six months from a single large dose of psilocybin. About 70% reported the experience as one of the top five spiritually significant events in their lifetime, and about a third of the participants said it was the single most spiritually significant event in their lives.
There are brave health professionals who are taking matters into their own hands. In Canada, Dr. Bruce Tobin, a psychotherapist with 35 years of experience, is spearheading the movement to make psilocybin legally available to those facing end-of-life illnesses. St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne has reported it will administer psilocybin to 30 terminally ill patients in April 2019. Many more underground guides are serving the medicine because their love for their clients outweighs any risks they face.
If psilocybin can help these terminally ill patients have a better outlook on life, what could it do for the rest of us?
Most of humanity’s problems stem from our feeling disconnected with nature. Corporations, governments, and technology have usurped the natural authority of elders, parents and local community leaders. They’ve conditioned our children to be narcissistic materialistic consumers. Many of us, conditioned in the West, feel compelled to distract ourselves constantly from our uneasy feelings. We mistakenly think the more we fill ourselves with pleasure and pride, the less we will have to face our deepest existential questions.
Psilocybin therapy propels us into feeling a deep sense of communion with ourselves, our bodies, our minds, and all of nature. We feel connected to the infinite intelligence linking the earth’s ecosystem. We realize we are small individuals who play vital roles as a collective species.
We are nature. We’re resilient and don’t need much to survive. Psilocybin opens us up to feelings of gratitude and joy we’ve never imagined possible. The mushroom can revolutionize how society views itself and nature and it’s reaching out to human beings to help us realign with nature’s pure intelligence. More than ever, we need to start thinking and perceiving and acting in radically different ways, and magic mushrooms can be a master key to solving our ecological crisis.
Psilocybin isn’t just for those who have medical or psychiatric conditions. It’s available for the healthiest and most successful among us, who desire growth and maturation as a human being. According to the research, when conducted with proper preparation and in the right setting, psilocybin therapy is safe and enhances a general sense of well-being, openness, creativity, and spiritual connectedness. People who have experienced the joys of psilocybe mushrooms come to understand magic and miracles.
Let’s be clear: pharmaceutical companies prioritize selling pills over healing human beings. Many times, they’ve sold poisons as medicines. They’ve made billions from lying about the strength of drugs (read: Purdue Pharma and Oxycotin) and creating major drug addiction epidemics, especially in the US. The proliferation and abuse of antidepressants, antipsychotics, and painkillers have worsened rather than improved our society’s overall mental health. In the United States, drug overdoses have become the leading cause of accidental death for adults under 55, and for the first time in 100 years, US life expectancy is declining.
The War on Drugs has failed miserably. “The opioid crisis is one of the largest and most complex public health tragedies that our nation has ever faced,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote in a statement released February 26, 2019. “It remains the biggest public health crisis facing the FDA. The toll of addiction, in lost lives and broken families, touches every community in America.” Instead of focusing on the real drug dealers, police criminalized many poor blacks and Hispanics for self-medicating.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, psilocybin is natural, nontoxic, and non-addictive. Mushrooms are a democratic medicine -- they grow naturally in many environments, and if they don’t, it’s relatively easy to acquire spores or grow kits so you can grow them in your own home. Simply committing to the process of growing mushrooms seems to lift people’s mood and give them a sense of purpose, responsibility, and courage they may never have felt before. Psilocybin has been proven to have the potential to alleviate many psychosomatic illnesses, sometimes in one dose, and can help eliminate the need to ingest psychiatric medications.
In most of world, possessing and/or consuming psilocybin is illegal. Magic mushrooms or truffles are legal and sold openly in only a handful of countries, including the Netherlands, Brazil, Jamaica, and Vietnam.
In the US, psilocybin still wastes away in the DEA’s Schedule I, which supposedly includes substances that have “no therapeutic value” and a “high potential for abuse.” Magic mushrooms are lumped in with heroin.
Other substances on the list are MDMA (which has been shown to be highly effective in treating PTSD), mescaline (a compound found in certain cacti, which Native Americans have used for centuries in religious ceremonies), and LSD (which has effects comparable to psilocybin). Marijuana remains in Schedule I, even though it’s legal in some form in 33 states, and many other countries have legalized the plant to some extent.
Ironically, oxycotin and fentanyl, two of the main culprits in the US opioid crisis are listed in Schedule II. Our drug laws are a bit backwards, no?
Things are starting to change. In early May 2019, voters in Denver, CO will decide if they want to decriminalize magic mushrooms within city limits. The Psilocybin Service Initiative aims to legalize psilocybin therapy in Oregon by 2020.
Recently, Johns Hopkins researchers recommended the rescheduling of psilocybin to Schedule IV, which would define it as a drug with a “low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.” By reclassifying psilocybin, following its own guidelines, and prioritizing human health, the DEA could give researchers the necessary freedom to conduct important studies. Millions of people suffering from various mental health conditions could benefit from using magic mushrooms in a respectful way. What are we waiting for?