Bright colours and intense hallucinations, what are the real benefits of taking magic mushrooms?
Used for centuries, and commonly known for experiencing hallucinations, magic mushrooms are a popular recreational drug, with some benefits that have recently come to light. The key lies in the chemical psilocybin. Similar to serotonin, it offers a variety of effects on the brain, whether used recreationally or for treatment purposes.
What are the effects of taking magic mushrooms?
As with most recreational drugs, the effects of using magic mushrooms can vary depending on the mental state of the person consuming the drug. For the most part, those who use do so with the aim of creating a euphoric experience, or with the goal of achieving a spiritual awakening.
Other side effects can include rapid changes in emotions, feeling that your surroundings aren’t real or seeing colours more vividly than usual. One condition that some users experience is called Synesthesia, which causes the user to feel their senses blend and mix together.
Other effects may not be so pleasant, such as disorientation, anxiety and paranoia. Physical effects can include sweating, numbness and an increased heart rate.
The quantity consumed and the environment they consume it in can also play a major role in how their experience will feel.
The known benefits of magic mushrooms
If feeling on top of the world (as some users describe) isn’t enough, there is evidence that magic mushrooms may be effective in improving our mental health. A study conducted by King’s College London into depression found that volunteers experienced positive mood increases, with no negative effects on their cognitive and emotional functions.
A 2016 study into the effects of psilocybin found that cancer patients battling depression also experienced a decrease in anxiety and depression. This came into effect after a single dose of psilocybin was administered, alongside the use of psychotherapy. Whilst trials are still being done in this area, the outcomes for using magic mushrooms to help with mental health struggles look promising.
Another magic mushroom health benefit that has been researched into is the idea ‘ego dissolution’. By doing this, the user can feel more in touch with the world, lose his or her identity, and feel a much more profound connection to humanity and nature. Feeling a heightened sense of awareness can allow the user to eventually experience new outlooks and a change in mindset, seeing the world differently and with a more positive view.
The research conducted by psychologists at The University of Adelaide found that this in turn could prove beneficial for treating anxiety, depression and even addiction.
Addiction affects people from all walks of life. It can come in all shapes and sizes, but one known fact is that it’s hard to beat. Whilst researchers have found a plethora of ways to tackle it, studies at Johns Hopkins Center have shown that taking psilocybin pills, alongside behavioural cognitive therapy, helped as much as 80% of participants to stop smoking within the first six months, and 60% were still abstaining from the addiction two and half years later.
So, are shrooms good for you?
Whilst there has been more research conducted into the mental benefits of shrooms rather than the physical benefits, it’s safe to say that consuming the psychedelic drug could be good for some, but when taken under the right measures. If users wish to treat mental health conditions simply taking shrooms and hoping for the best, it probably isn’t going to have the desired effect.
All of the research into proving the benefits were conducted under the supervision of health experts and phycologists, and most used some form of behavioural cognitive therapy alongside the drug use.
Findings from a study at Imperial College London showed that when taking psilocybin, patterns in the users brain changed. Some parts became more pronounced, while other parts took a step back. Research like this could be key in understanding medical uses of shrooms that may treat mental health issues.
But are shrooms good for you if used recreationally? Many people who use magic mushrooms want to feel joyful, connected and enlightened. When taken in a safe environment, with trustworthy companions, the effects can make one feel open and spiritual.
However, some users have reported feeling intense hallucinations, panic and fear, when experiencing a bad trip. The after effects can take up to eight hours to wear off, but some can last for a number of days after, so this may affect the mood of the user, especially if they didn’t have a good experience.
Nutrional value – Do shrooms have protein?
There is not a lot to suggest that shrooms have any nutritional value. A cup full of ‘normal’ mushrooms will hold around 2.2 grams of protein, so they aren’t enough to make up the recommended daily amount of protein advised for adults. Psychedelic shrooms don’t differ hugely in their nutritional value, but the quantity when consuming the magical version should definitely be less than when cooking food with standard mushrooms. Whilst they are now being researched for their effects on mental health, little research has been conducted into their health and nutritional benefits.
Are Shrooms bad for you?
The long term side effects of consuming magic mushrooms are not yet known. Alongside experiencing a bad trip, users are at risk of overdosing. While an overdose may not lead to death, it can cause coordination loss, vomiting and high blood pressure, amongst other conditions. In some extreme cases, terrorizing hallucinations can cause suicidal thoughts and reckless behaviour, some of which may result in accidents occurring.
With every drug there is always the element of uncertainty, as each user responds differently, making it hard to predict who will experience a negative trip and who won’t.
That being said, there’s a huge scope for potential when researching the benefits of taking magic mushrooms. Psilocybin has shown promising results in efforts to combat many issues, and with ongoing research we may see shrooms become a part of mental health care.