In my previous article, I covered different types of fungi and gave brief descriptions on their uses. In this article, I want to dive deeper and explore John Hopkins psilocybin research; what the current findings may imply for the future of mental health – PTSD, Anxiety, Addiction, Depression and possibly much more. Psilocybin belongs to the genus Psilocybe. It is a gilled mushroom, growing worldwide, in the family Hymenogastraceae. Most or nearly all species contain the psychedelic compounds Psilocybin, psilocin and baeocystin (http://Wikipedia). According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 17 million people in the U.S. and 300 million people worldwide have experienced major depression (http://hopkinsmedicine.org). *DISCLAIMER – PSILOCYBIN IS STILL ILLEGAL IN MOST STATES AND I DO NOT RECOMMEND TAKING IT, OR ANY PSYCHEDELIC SUBSTANCE. THIS IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.
In a study of 24 people with long-term documented depression (approximately two years prior to enrolling in the study), the results look promising. Researchers report two doses of the psychedelic substance psilocybin, given with supportive psychotherapy, produced rapid and large reductions in depressive symptoms, with most participants showing improvement, and half of study participants achieving remission through the four-week follow-up period (http://hopkinsmedicine.org).
All participants were given the GRID-Hamilton Depression Rating Scale – a standard depression assessment tool – upon enrollment, and at one and four weeks following completion of their treatment. On the scale, a score of 24 or more indicates severe depression, 17-23 moderate depression, 8-16 mild depression, and 7 or less no depression. At enrollment, the average score was 23, but one week and four weeks after treatment, they had an average depression score of 8. After treatment, most participants showed a substantial decrease in their symptoms, and almost half were in remission from depression at the follow-up. Participants in the delayed group didn’t show decreases in their symptoms before receiving the psilocybin treatment.
Of the group of 24 participants, 67% showed a more than 50% reduction in depression symptoms at one-week follow-up. Overall, four weeks post-treatment, 54% were considered in remission — meaning they no longer qualified as depressed (http://hopkinsmedicine.org).
Researchers will follow the participants for a year after the study to see how long the antidepressant effects of psilocybin treatment lasts and will report their findings in a later publication.
As you can probably gather from the study findings, the research is looking promising and is now being studied, is becoming more accepted and more mainstream. I will link some videos and sources at the end of this article. I personally feel this is wonderful research, but in no way do I advocate for the recreational use of psychedelic substances. In the study I cited above, participants were tapered off of antidepressants before beginning the study, and they were in a controlled, supervised environment. To be used in a therapeutic way, controlled dosage and supervision by a trained professional are absolutely necessary. When using any kind of psychedelic there are always risks involved, as with any treatment. Participants may experience fear, anxiety, and panic, and without someone there to help them through the experience, assuring them they are ok, it could potentially turn a life changing experience into a nightmare and leave them more damaged than before the therapy. As said by one of the greatest philosophers of our time: “With great power comes great responsibility!” – Uncle Ben (Spider-Man). All joking aside, this is a very true statement, especially in the world of psychedelic therapy.
Although the research is promising and profound changes are taking place for many participants, not everyone is comfortable with it, which is totally understandable. Along with this research there is a lot of research going into micro-dosing psychedelics. A micro-dose is a sub-perceptual dose of a psychedelic, typically taken regularly (4-5 days a week); meaning the user takes such a small amount of the substance they cannot perceive a difference in their state of consciousness. Using the micro-dosing method, researchers are finding benefits similar to those of taking a couple larger doses, the trade off being that micro-dosing works gradually over time as compared to the larger dose “trips” having almost immediate effects. In my opinion, this is a wonderful option for those who may not be comfortable taking a larger dose and taking a “trip”; this is a much more subtle approach.
If you have read my previous article, “Magnificent Mushrooms,” you know I am a huge fan of Paul Stamets and his work with fungi in general. Although the method I am going to touch on has not been clinically tested, it is Paul’s method of micro-dosing and “stacking” it with other mushrooms to create a powerful brain boosting cocktail. Paul uses a method called the stack method. In the stack method, Paul combines a psilocybin micro-dose with a regular dose of lion’s mane mushroom (non-psychoactive/edible/gourmet) and niacin. Paul believes the combination can cause neurogenesis and possibly reverse the aging process of the brain; a study performed on rats suggests this. The implications are very exciting and are looking promising! I in no way encourage or advocate the methods and treatments mentioned above. I do, however, encourage the reader to do his/her own research and educate themselves on this subject if this is something they are interested in. While this is not a widely accepted method of therapy yet, there is a good chance this will be in the future and it is a great natural alternative to SSRI’s – Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (antidepressants).
I hope you enjoyed this article or at least found it interesting. There is so much more information on this subject and many more studies going on. If this does interest you, check out the links below for more information; and as always, I encourage you to search Google and YouTube. There are many wonderful talks, videos and documentaries available on both. There are also many sources that are not credible, so please seek information from credible sources (i.e.-Universities, Organizations, Researchers, etc.)
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope it inspires you in one way or another to open your mind to the possibilities of nature’s healing abilities.
Facilities Lead & Horticulturist
The Science of Psilocybin and its use to relieve suffering – TEDMED YouTube Channel
Paul Stamets – Psilocybin Mushroom Medicines: A Paradigm Shift in Global Consciousness – Bioneers YouTube Channel
If you are looking for a no holds barred interview and are not easily offended, I recommend checking Paul Stamets out on the Joe Rogan podcast. You will get three hours of Paul and he dives deep into the subject.