Magic mushrooms contain a compound (aka psilocybin) that can have a hallucinogenic effect. In addition to getting you high, psilocybin might also have benefits for your mental and physical health. However, more research is needed.
Shrooms. Mushies. Caps. The fungus that makes you humongous. We’re talkin’ about magic mushrooms, man.
These hallucinogenic fungi are known for their ability to make you trip bawlz. But did you know they might pack some sweet health benefits, too? Here’s the psychedelic scoop.
Magic mushrooms aren’t just about hallucinations (though those can sometimes be pretty great). Here are five ways magic mushrooms might help your health.
In a 2022 study, researchers analyzed the effects of psilocybin — the psychedelic compound found in shrooms — in 27 folks with a long history of depression. Participants were given two doses of psilocybin every 2 weeks between August 2017 and April 2019.
Researchers found that the participants’ depression levels remained low 1-, 3-, 6- and 12-months after the treatment. While this is dope news, researchers noted that more research is needed to explore the link between psilocybin and depression. Specifically, we still need to know if treatments can last longer than 12 months.
2. Might help stave off substance misuse
Researchers are currently trying to figure out if psilocybin can help peeps cease smoking, drinking, or misusing drugs.
In one small study, researchers analyzed the use of psilocybin as a way to treat alcohol dependence. They found that psilocybin helped decrease drinking and alcohol cravings.
In a small pilot study, researchers found that psilocybin significantly improved the odds of smokers abstaining after a 12-month period.
There’s also some anecdotal chatter that psilocybin can help treat other forms of substance misuse. But we still need a whole lotta research to show if it can actually help reduce cravings and drug use.
However, a small study indicates that psilocybin can actually cause headaches. Researchers noted that the severity of the headaches depended on the dosage, but that the symptoms weren’t disabling or severe.
So yeah, the jury’s still out on this one.
4. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
In an animal study, researchers found that low doses of psilocybin helped condition the fear response in mice. This might mean that magic mushrooms can help treat PTSD and related conditions. But we def need more research on humans to explore this link.
Additionally, studies show that the psychological effects of psilocybin can be unpredictable. This also makes it tough to say if magic mushrooms are 10/10 effective way to treat PTSD.
While we need more research, there’s a possibility psilocybin can help relieve anxiety.
In a 2016 study, 51 cancer patients with life-threatening diagnoses were given either a very low dose or a high dose of psilocybin. The high-dose group had a bigger increase in life meaning, optimism, and quality of life. They also had a decrease in death anxiety compared to the low-dose group.
Here’s a breakdown of the common effects of magic mushrooms.
- Increased energy. Boundless good vibes.
- Feelings of euphoria. An overwhelming feeling of well-being and contentment.
- Distortion of reality. A new perception of the existing world. A peek behind the curtain.
- Altered perception of space and time. Time and space become distorted. Close distances can feel like miles away.
- Feelings of extreme excitement. Everything is new and wonderful. Time to explore that creepy cupboard under the sink!
- A sense of oneness or unity with the universe. This kind of spiritual experience is kind of the platonic ideal of tripping. You feel at one with every other living being.
- Visual and auditory hallucinations. Things become unnaturally small or large or they bend and ripple. Sounds become distorted and music becomes unbearably beautiful. This is still the only conceivable explanation of why people ever listened to “The Grateful Dead.”
The hallucinogenic effects of shrooms usually work about 30 minutes after you eat them. Most trips last about 4 to 6 hours, but it’s also possible for the effects to last longer. It tends to depend on how much you take, the shroom’s potency, and your general tolerance level.
BTW, while you’re under the influence, you might experience physical symptoms like:
Shroomies can give you a case of the doomies. One of the most common side effects of magic mushrooms is a bad trip. This can trigger anxiety, stress, scary hallucinations, or panic.
Bad trips aren’t the only potential pitfall. Other risks of magic mushrooms include:
- Food poisoning. It’s super-duper difficult to tell poisonous and nonpoisonous mushrooms apart. That’s why it’s never a good idea to pick your own shrooms unless you really know what you’re doing.
- Triggering mental and emotional problems. This is an iffy one. More research is needed but there’s anecdotal evidence that hallucinogens can trigger or exacerbate preexisting mental health conditions.
- Accidents. Because walking down a flight of stairs that are rapidly turning into M.C. Escher painting is harder than it looks.
- Mixing. Combining magic mushrooms with booze or other drugs can up your chances of an adverse reaction.
P.S. None of these studies examined the social or recreational use of shrooms. Psilocybin was obtained from a regulated source in these studies which ensured quality and safety. Additionally, it was administered to participants who were then closely monitored.
The FDA hasn’t approved the use of psilocybin. As of now, it remains a Schedule I substance and is illegal to use in the United States.
Magic mushrooms are, well, magical. Research shows that psilocybin can have a positive effect on your mental health. There’s also a chance shrooms can help treat PTSD, headaches, and substance misuse disorders. But we need more studies to know for sure.
Mushies can be hella fun. But it’s 10/10 important you know the risks and your limits. Don’t do shrooms alone and only take them if you know they’re not going to make you sick.
Also, be sure to take them in a safe and comfortable environment. Always establish a safety plan ahead of time and make sure someone in your group stays sober. Bad trips are not fun. Trust us.