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Mushroom Magic for the Treatment of Anxiety: Truth or Myth?
In recent years, more and more people have become aware of the potential benefits of magic mushrooms in the treatment of anxiety. Research suggests that these psychedelic mushrooms can reduce the severity of symptoms and improve mental wellbeing with minimal side effects. But is there really science to back up these claims, or are they too good to be true? Let's find out.
Magic Mushrooms and the Brain
Magic mushrooms contain a substance called psilocybin. In moderate to high doses, psilocybin produces psychedelic effects such as altered sensory perception, visual distortion and heightened emotions. It also appears to exert antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects, which may persist for some time after ingestion.
Psilocybin works because it has a similar molecular structure to serotonin. This neurotransmitter plays a key role in regulating mood and the stress response. Psilocybin interacts with three types of serotonin receptors, mainly affecting 5HT2A receptors, but also affecting 5HT1A and 5HT2C receptors. It is the latter two receptor types that appear to regulate anxiety-related behaviour, which partly explains the anti-anxiety effects of psilocybin.
In addition, studies indicate that magic mushrooms may improve neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to modify neuronal structure and function.
Effects of Magic Mushrooms on Anxiety: Research
Research on psychedelics stopped in the 1970s due to their inclusion in the Controlled Substances Act. Therefore, little research exists on whether magic mushrooms can help treat depression, anxiety, migraine or other conditions.
However, the limited amount of clinical research that does exist is promising. A 2017 review for The Mental Health Clinician covering studies on psilocybin for the treatment of depression, anxiety, OCD and addiction showed mostly positive results, although the studies were small, which requires further research.
Furthermore, a 2017 article in the Harm Reduction Journal found that psychedelics can alleviate and reduce the frequency of migraines and cluster seizures. These are significant results, given that these conditions are often resistant to conventional treatments.
Can Magic Mushrooms Cure Anxiety?
In medicine, the word "cure" is dangerous. It implies the complete elimination of symptoms, and there are very few cases where this is realistic. In many cases, the best that treatment can do is to reduce the symptoms enough for the patient to lead a full life. What anxiety is also about.
Consuming psychedelics in a controlled, therapeutic environment can potentially help. However, it is important to approach the use of anti-anxiety medication and magic mushrooms at the same time with caution.
Can Magic Mushrooms Cause Anxiety?
The relationship between magic mushrooms and anxiety is complicated. Psychedelics tend to enhance the mood a person is in when they take them. Therefore, consuming magic mushrooms in a state of anxiety can potentially make the situation worse.
Although the increase in anxiety is likely to be temporary, it can make the experience unpleasant. Therefore, it is crucial to prepare well for the psychedelic experience, including creating a positive attitude before consumption.
It is also possible to minimise the risk of anxiety when consuming mushrooms by limiting the dose. A 2016 study of psilocybin in patients with cancer, anxiety and depression found that high anxiety-inducing doses occurred in 26% of participants, while low doses occurred in only 15%. Lower doses also significantly reduced the occurrence of physical and psychological discomfort.
Is Microdosing Magic Mushrooms an Effective Treatment?
For those who do not wish to experience a full psychedelic magic mushroom trip, microdosing may be a potential solution.
Microdosing involves consuming very low doses of a substance so that the psychoactive effects are barely noticeable. Although research on this is limited, anecdotal reports suggest that microdosing psilocybin may provide the following benefits:
- Increased energy and focus
- Increased creativity
- Improved interpersonal skills
- Increased spiritual awareness
- Low risk of side effects
However, it is important to note that there are currently few clinical studies to support these claims. It is also important for anyone interested in microdosing magic mushrooms to familiarise themselves with local laws and regulations, as psychedelics are still largely illegal.
How to Start Microdosing Magic Mushrooms?
For those who live in regions where microdosing magic mushrooms is allowed, the process is relatively simple.
Prepare the Mushrooms: dried magic mushrooms are the easiest to microdose. There are several ways to dry them, but the most effective is to use a drying machine. If this is not possible, spread the mushrooms out on parchment paper on a griddle and dry them in the oven. Set the oven to the lowest temperature, using a wooden spoon to keep the door open and allow air to circulate. Check the mushrooms every so often until they are crisp. This step is important as leaving moisture in the mushrooms can cause mould.
Determine the Dose: The precise amount that constitutes a microdose will vary from person to person. A good starting point is usually 0.1 grams. By comparison, the threshold for magic mushrooms is about 0.2-0.5 grams, and a moderate dose is about 1-2.5 grams. Gradually increase the dose until mild effects, such as drowsiness, appear, and then reduce the dose slightly to reach the appropriate microdose.
Prepare a Microdose: Many people prefer to use magic mushroom powder to fill empty capsules for microdosing. This method makes it easier to consume and masks the taste of the mushrooms, which can be unpleasant. However, you can also mix the powder with food or drink, preferably in the morning.
Timing: It is not recommended to microdose magic mushrooms daily. Doing this can lead to tolerance, meaning that higher and higher doses are required to get the same effects. There are different methods of scheduling microdosing. One involves taking a microdose for four days and then taking a three-day break before taking it again. Another method suggests taking a microdose on the first day, then taking a two-day break, then taking the microdose again on the fourth day.
Studying Mushrooms - Let them deal with your stress!
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Early research suggests that magic mushrooms have the potential to alleviate some symptoms of anxiety. However, we still have much to learn.
As magic mushrooms tend to amplify emotions, it is best to consume them under supervision, with professional support if necessary. This is especially important for those suffering from psychosis, schizophrenia or severe anxiety.
It is also advisable to have a psychological assessment before using magic mushrooms to treat anxiety, and it is safe and legal to continue treatment.
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