[3-(2-Dimethylaminoethyl)-1H-indol-4-yl] dihydrogen phosphate – C12H17N2O4P
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound and is the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, which gives it its psychedelic effects. So far over 200 species of mushrooms have been found that contain psilocybin or its derivative psilocin. Magic mushrooms are amongst the most popular recreational psychedelics in the west, however, its use extends back thousands of years, where it was used in spiritual and religious ceremonies by ancient civilizations dating back to ancient Egypt.
Psilocybin mushrooms have been used in therapeutic settings to treat a variety of ailments and disorders including cluster headaches, obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety, depression, and addiction.
After the blanket ban on psychedelics back in the 1960’s all psychedelic research came to a halt. Only in recent years have we began to see a surge in the number of scientists showing an interest in these substances. The findings from the research carried out in recent years is very positive and promising, although most of the research is done based on higher doses of these substances and not microdosing itself, though this is changing rapidly with more scientists showing an interest in recent times.
In a controlled clinical study, Psilocybin was found to clear “resistant depression” after just 2 sessions with a psychedelic therapist. This study was conducted using 12 participants over a 3 week period, where 5 were found to be clear of their symptoms 3 months later.
Two studies in 2016 — one with 29 participants, the other with 51 — investigated the effects of therapeutically-administered psilocybin on cancer patients, giving them the drug in a controlled environment. The studies, which were released simultaneously in The Journal of Psychopharmacology, showed about 80% of participants reported a “clinically significant” reduction in anxiety and depression months after just a single dose.
A UK-led study in which the brains of 20 participants while on LSD were scanned gave some insight into why your post-LSD brain might be happier, showing “reduced blood flow” within “some important brain networks, such as the neuronal networks that normally fire together when the brain is at rest.”
While psilocybin mushrooms have been decriminalized in two North American cities (see “Legality” for details) they are currently illegal and categorized as a Schedule I controlled substance in the U.S and many other western countries including the UK. Recently, however, the FDA and DEA have allowed a number of small, highly controlled human studies on their potential for use in medical and psychiatric settings.
Recent research has found that the effects of psilocybin are due to the brain becoming “hyperconnected”, allowing for increased communication between different regions of the brain. It is hoped that this ability can be manipulated in order to manufacture drugs to treat neurological conditions. The paper was published in an open-access format in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface with Giovanni Petri of Italy’s ISI Foundation serving as lead author.
The chemical works by binding the same receptors in the brain as the neurotransmitter serotonin. This allows the drug to alter the mood. While many people have a happy, meaningful experience, some can have a “bad trip” and experience extreme paranoia Prior studies have found that getting high on psilocybin doesn’t just create a colourful, psychedelic experience for a couple of hours; it can cause neurological changes that last over a year. These changes resulted in a personality that was more open to the creative arts and became happier, even 14 months after receiving the psilocybin.
Though previous research surmised that psilocybin decreased brain activity, the current study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to see what was really going on. The study used 15 participants with prior positive experiences with hallucinogens to avoid a bad trip inside the enclosed machine. Some of the participants received psilocybin, while the other half received a saline placebo.
Simplified illustration of the connections tracked while receiving the placebo (a) and the psilocybin (b). Image credit: Petri et al., 2014: http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/11/101/20140873/F6.expansion.html
If you are trying Psilocybin for the first time it is important to both check your substance purity and also the dosage you are going to take. Start with a low or even microdose and work your way up once you get your feet wet. Never jump right into a high dose without preparation and prior experience, always have a trip sitter or someone you trust close by.
You can find Psilocybin in many different forms, from tinctures, chocolate bars, dried mushrooms, powder, capsules and also fresh fruits. Below are some examples.