Alternative plant and Fungi medicine – the magic of mushrooms

alternative plant and fungi medicine

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The Magic of Mushrooms 

Alternative plant and fungi medicine

This topic has been getting a lot of attention at the moment. There are some interesting documentaries and research on the effects and benefits of alternative therapies.

These include

  • Plant based like ibogaine which might help heroin detox. 
  • Ayahuasca which releases dmt to mimic the birth and death experience for therapeutic benefits.
  • Other alternative therapies include mdma and ketamine where researchers are using pharmaceutical drugs previously thought of as party drugs in a therapeutic setting to aid anxiety, depression, ptsd etc.
  • And then the most popular which is mushroom therapy.

We will be looking into this today. Unfortunately we can only focus on one at a time as there’s so much content. If you enjoy this topic we can visit some of the others another time.

What is mushroom therapy?

Magic mushrooms, and the psychoactive compound in them, psilocybin, activate specific serotonin receptors in the brain, causing changes in mood, thoughts, feeling, or behavior. Incredibly, there are more than 100 varieties of psychedelic mushrooms growing wild on every continent except Antarctica. When these mushrooms are consumed by humans, the liver converts psilocybin into the psychoactive molecule psilocin.

Some popular species

“Golden Teacher,” is the most common. Other popular magic mushrooms include “Liberty caps” (Psilocybe semilanceata), “Wavy caps” (Psilocybe cyanescens), and “Flying Saucers” (Psilocybe azurescens). 

Appearance

Most psilocybin mushrooms tend to have light-brown to gold-colored caps with slender stems. Shroom hunters can pick out magic mushrooms by their trademark feature of blue bruising: Stems turn a blue shade when picked, a giveaway that psychoactive molecules lie within. 

Besides growing in the wild, psilocybin can also be formulated synthetically. The compound was first isolated from Central American mushrooms (Psilocybe mexicana) by renowned Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann in 1957, who earlier synthesized LSD.

What is psilocybin?

Psilocybin is one of the major chemical compounds found in psychedelic mushrooms. It’s what’s known as a prodrug, meaning it needs to be metabolized by the body to become pharmacologically active. After oral consumption, psilocybin is rapidly converted into psilocin, a psychoactive compound. While psilocybin receives most of the credit for its mood and perception-altering properties, psilocin is most likely the molecule that delivers the psychoactive effects.

How do they work?

Psilocybin is not the active drug in magic mushrooms. It is what’s known as a prodrug: A biologically inactive compound that can be metabolized by the body to produce an active drug. If you consume magic mushrooms, psilocybin is metabolized into psilocin. Psilocin is the active compound that causes psychedelic effects. These effects come from psilocin’s resemblance to a neurotransmitter in the brain, serotonin.

Like cannabis plants, the chemical content of magic mushrooms varies. Two randomly selected Psilocybe mushrooms, even from the same species and harvest, can have different psilocybin levels. Lab testing is the only way to know precisely how potent a given mushroom is. Most magic mushrooms people encounter have not been lab tested due to the absence of a legal, regulated environment for doing so. However, there is some published data on the psilocybin content of common Psilocybe mushroom species and we can use this to inform dosing guidelines. 

Published research on the psilocybin content of Psilocybe mushrooms has shown they can contain roughly 0.5 – 1.0% total psilocin, averaging around 0.7% by weight; 0.7% total psilocin equates to about 1% psilocybin.

But remember: Psilocybin content varies a lot from sample to sample within the same species. It also varies between species.

Dosing

Low dose – Amount: 1 gram

One gram of magic mushrooms is commonly considered a low dose that still produces noticeable effects. These usually aren’t full-blown psychedelic effects with overt visuals or a break from consensus reality; you’re more likely to report euphoria and an enhancement of the senses, such as seeing more vibrant colors. 

Medium dose – Amount: 1.75 grams

You will likely experience some psychedelic effects, including open- and closed-eye visuals, synesthesia (blending of the senses), and a heavier euphoria. However, you may not experience a complete dissolution of your normal sense of self, or the truly mind-blowing effects people report from higher doses. 

High dose – Amount: 3.5 grams 

Ready or not, you’re going to have a full-blown psychedelic experience that will include heavy perceptual and cognitive distortions. You may or may not be able to hold a conversation or accurately perceive your surroundings, especially at the peaks, which often come in waves.

No two trips are exactly alike, but you’re pretty much guaranteed to look back on this as a stand-out experience of your life. It is not advisable to take a high dose unless you have a safe, supervised setting to take them in.

Ultra-high dose – Amount: 5 grams

At this dose, there’s not much you can do but lay down somewhere comfortable and let the experience wash over you. “You” won’t really be there once it hits. It will most likely be overwhelming, perhaps bizarre, and indescribable. Taking a dose this large is rare. Few people, even experienced psychonauts, ever take this much. It is not advisable to take even close to this dose without significant experience and an ultra-safe, comfortable setting. 

Microdosing psilocybin 

Microdosing is the practice of ingesting small amounts of a psychoactive substance—enough to get some kind of perceived benefit, but not enough to become intoxicated or feel the psychoactive effects of a full dose. 

Microdosing psychedelics has become a popular new wellness trend. You can allegedly get various mental health benefits such as enhanced mood and creativity. Everyone from health-conscious young professionals to high-powered tech executives have credited this as a powerful brain hack: a cognitive boost with no obvious side effects.

Psychedelics have long been associated with creativity. This has led to the alluring idea of microdosing: What if you can get the benefits of enhanced neural plasticity without the ego-dissolving hallucinatory experience? Just pop a magic mushroom gummy and watch your spirits lift. 

There’s big commercial interest here. Microdosing more cleanly fits the standard pharmaceutical treatment template in psychiatry: diagnose the patient’s issue, prescribe a non-ego-dissolving drug, add talk therapy as needed. Repeat.

Evidence for the benefits of microdosing psychedelics?

Almost all evidence for the benefits of psychedelic microdosing in humans is anecdotal. The few human studies out there rely on self-reported data, which is hard to draw reliable conclusions from, especially when you’re measuring something subjective. People are prone to expectancy effects—they are biased to report what they expect to experience, especially when they really want a particular outcome. This is why double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are the gold standard.

How does psilocybin make you feel?

Shrooms are known for their profound effects on consciousness and perception. Taking a moderate dose, the experience usually lasts between 4-6 six hours, with the peak occurring 2-3 hours after consumption. Taking a larger dose will increase the length and intensity of the trip. Psilocybin can invoke a wildly diverse range of responses in consumers. Those who trip on shrooms commonly report changes in perception and time, including dream-like feelings, illusions, hallucinations, and synesthesia, or a mixing of the senses, such as sounds triggering color and other visuals.

Consumers often report altered sensory experiences such as flowing patterns or fractal images, a sense of time being drawn out, and personal insights that feel deeply meaningful. These trips can be extremely positive experiences but can also be frightening and disorientating. 

Are they legal?

While psilocybin is still classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, federal attitudes appear to be changing. But it is still Illegal in most places. Some countries give leeway to traditional medicine and allow it under that legal banner.

What the research is saying

In 2019, the FDA classified psilocybin therapy as a breakthrough therapy for two clinical trials investigating the effects of it on severe depression and major depressive disorder. Pharmacologically, evidence suggests that psilocybin has a very low toxicity and is well-tolerated, though more up-to-date research is needed. 

Imperial college of London

Found psilocybin helped connect the regions of the brain that are most segregated in people with depression. Paving the way to test the condition differently to traditional pharmaceutical approaches. Can improve this communication in the brain for up to 3 weeks. The result was a liberating effect not seen with traditional antidepressants like lexapro. 

Gauging by this fast-tracking research, psilocybin looks set to play a role in shaking up and transforming the mental health landscape in the years to come.

How are they similar to cannabis?

  • They also have strains or species with different characteristics and effects.
  • It seems they may also contain multiple compounds working together in the entourage effect.
  • Also hard to dose as % may change a lot with each batch even within the same species.
  • Also collateral damage in the war on drugs and may very well offer great medical and scientific benefits.

 

Some great documentaries on Netflix

  • How to change your mind – a deep dive into different psychedelics
  • Have a good trip – adventures in psychedelics
  • Fantastic fungi – look into the magical world of fungi and my other as a whole. See how plants use fungi to communicate with each other.

 

Message from the team

We are not likely to stock these soon. Our focus for now is cannabis, and we are looking forward to the legal framework being cleared up for this sector to grow. We would rather be a master in this trade and not dabble in other areas for now.

 

Read more here

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