Psychedelic mushrooms can be found worldwide, they contain hallucinogenic active ingredients, particularly psilocybin, a powerful hallucinogen with various other properties. Apart from blazing lights, and hallucinations - people who use the substance usually experience a very spiritual side of their self.
Researchers around the world are exploring the drug’s transformative power to help people quit smoking; lower violent crime; treat depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder; and trigger lasting spiritual epiphanies in people, especially when they meditate, or take part in other spiritual activities.
But like any other drug, mushrooms have been researched very lightly and there is no particular research that stands out. Regardless, the few studies that have been done in the field do show us how the substance reacts in our bodies and brains. According to research, here is how it affects us:
1. It Can Relax Your Anxiety
In a New York University study looking at how the drug might affect cancer patients with severe anxiety, researchers observed the effects of psilocybin on volunteers who received either a dose of psilocybin in pill form or a placebo.
Nick Fernandez, a 2014 participant, says his trip took him on an emotional journey that helped him see "a force greater than [himself]", he told Aeon Magazine.
"Something inside me snapped," and I "realise[d] all my anxieties, defences, and insecurities weren't something to worry about." NYU psychotherapist Jeffrey Guss told the New Yorker that many participants experienced a similar result, and added that, "We consider that to be part of the healing process."
In many of the case reports from the NYU study, participants reported experiencing intense anxiety and discomfort - ranging from a few minutes to a few hours - during their trip. It was only afterwards that some said they began to feel a sense of relief, and even this experience may vary significantly for each person.
2. Its Effects Are Permanent
There have been a number of studies conducted in the United States in which participants took psilocybin in several doses, several times, on several different occasions, and researchers measured their personalities with questionnaires over a course of months after a significant dose.
The results were something they had never seen before. It seems as if personality - particularly openness to new experiences, changes with psilocybin use, and the effects are very long-lasting, persisting for at least 14 months after a single dose and in larger doses, possibly for life.
Most of these changes and permanent effects were proven to be positive like - better attitudes, open-mindedness and spiritual realization.
3. It Causes Psychedelic Dreams
Psilocybin does something that other drugs don’t to produce its unique effects in its users. It causes the brain to dream while we're awake. From fMRI scans of people under the influence of psilocybin, blood flow suggests an increase in activity in the hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex, portions of the brain that deal with emotions and were some of the first to evolve.
These two sections of the brain not only light up, but they are also believed to work better in conjunction with one another. The bottom line is that this pattern of activity in people high on psilocybin resembles that of someone asleep and dreaming.
4. It Causes Hallucinations
Though this is the most common effect of psychedelic drugs, magic mushrooms produce stronger, more long-lasting hallucinations. While it’s not entirely known exactly how psilocybin produces the strong hallucinatory effects that it’s famous for around the world, it is presumed that psilocybin sends the nervous system into overdrive, rewiring all of its connections and making different parts of the brain and nervous system communicate with one another in different ways.
This causes heightened sensory experiences, vivid hallucinations, such as walls melting, colours being lights, objects in the real world mutating, and other severe distortions of reality.
Particularly with psilocybin, users report synesthesia, which is where the neuropathways of the senses cross and go haywire, and people end up tasting colours, smelling numbers, and so forth. You experience from one sense organ something another sense organ is supposed to.
5. It Creates More Brain Activity
Plotted data charts show that the brain’s networks light up almost twice as much as normal, forming new connections as cells communicate with one another at an insane rate.
It’s as if under the effect of psilocybin, the brain learns how to communicate with itself better. This is confirmed in the experiences of users worldwide, as many feel like they’re in touch with a reality far different, deeper, and more meaningful than the one we inhabit in our normal, sober, waking lives.
A lot of research still awaits in the field and a lot more discoveries can be made. But with the current research, magic mushrooms seem to have very intense effects on our brain and body.