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Magic Mushrooms and Mental Health | ZoomBag Magic Mushroom Grow Kit Canada

ZoomBag Magic Mushroom Grow Kit Canada

Answered on this page:

  • How do magic mushrooms work?

  • Do magic mushrooms help with mental health?

  • Can magic mushrooms help with anxiety?

  • Can magic mushrooms be used to treat depression?

  • Can magic mushrooms help treat addiction?

  • Can magic mushrooms help me quit smoking or drinking?

  • Do magic mushrooms help with cluster headaches?

  • Are magic mushrooms addictive?

New research is revealing that magic mushrooms could play a role in the future of mental health treatment for Canadians.

After decades of little or no investigation into the clinical potential of mushrooms, scientists are conducting exploratory research into magic mushrooms as mental health therapy, targeting common conditions like depression, anxiety, and addiction.

Some of these studies were so compelling that Health Canada recently granted 24 special medical exemptions allowing Canadians to receive psilocybin therapy.

If you’re excited to learn more about the potential of magic mushrooms as a treatment for some of the most common mental health issues, we’ve got you covered. We’ve created this guide to bring you the most up-to-date information on what we’re learning about magic mushrooms and mental health.

We’ll start with a basic overview of magic mushrooms, explaining what they are and how they work. Then, we’ll talk about some of the latest research we’ve uncovered on the treatment potential of magic mushrooms for depression, anxiety, addiction, and more. We’ll also share what we’ve learned about whether mushrooms are addictive or safe to use.

<Hey Reader! Just want to remind you that we’re not your doctor, we’re not diagnosing you, and we’re not prescribing your magic mushrooms. This article is for educational purposes and should not be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned about your mental health, please talk to your doctor.>

Let’s get started!

What are Magic Mushrooms?

Magic mushrooms are a family of naturally-occurring psychedelic mushrooms. There are over 180 different known varieties of magic mushrooms, with names such as:

  • Psilocybe cubensis – the easiest magic mushroom to cultivate indoors, there are now 60+ different strains of P. cubensis.

  • Psilocybe semilanceata – also known as Liberty caps, they grow commonly all over the world.

  • Psilocybe azurescens – also known as flying saucers, blue runners, blue angels, or azzies.

  • Psilocybe tampanensis – they produce yellow-brown, psilocybin-containing truffles.

  • Psilocybe cyanescens – also known as wavy caps, they grow in Central Europe and the Pacific Northwest.

  • Psilocybe mexicana – the species of magic mushrooms used ceremoniously by the Aztec people and called “Teonanacatl”, meaning “flesh of the gods”.

Magic mushrooms contain a chemical compound known as psilocybin that gives them their hallucinogenic properties. In clinical research, psilocybin is extracted from magic mushrooms before being administered to patients. This allows researchers to carefully control the dosages of psilocybin received by patients in the study.

Magic mushrooms grow naturally on all six continents, but little was known about them before the 1960s when Westerners first experienced magic mushroom ceremonies while visiting Mexico. Consuming magic mushrooms is known to produce effects that include hallucinations, dilated pupils, relaxed muscles, altered experiences of time and space, altered perceptions of tactile stimulation and sensory perception, and reduced concentration.

How Do Magic Mushrooms Work?

Like we just mentioned, the medicinal or “active” ingredient in magic mushrooms is a compound called psilocybin.

Psilocybin is also known as 4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine. It is classified as an indole-alkylamine in the tryptamine family. Other drugs in this family include lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and N,N-dimethyltryptamine, the dream-inducing compound known as DMT or the “spirit molecule”.

On a physiological level, psilocybin in the brain interacts with the serotonin system. It has a high affinity to bind with specific types of serotonin receptors in several areas of the brain, including the thalamus and the cerebral cortex. The thalamus is involved in the regulation of consciousness and alertness, as well as relaying sensory and motor signals, while the cerebral cortex acts as the main site of neural integration and plays a role in sensory, visual, and motor processing.

Some researchers believe that interactions with serotonin receptors in areas of the brain responsible for visual processing are the physiological cause of hallucinations when taking psilocybin, and there’s a growing body of evidence that these same interactions could provide relief for individuals with mental health issues.

Let’s now take a closer look at the connection between magic mushrooms and mental health.

Magic Mushrooms and Mental Health

The connection between magic mushrooms and mental health is an emerging area of science. We’ve seen a few promising studies so far, but there’s a lot more work to be done before we can fully understand the impact of magic mushrooms on mental health.

Below, we’re going to explore and highlight the most significant investigations that have taken place so far into the clinical potential of magic mushrooms for treating anxiety, depression, addiction, cluster headaches, and epilepsy. We’ll give a brief overview of each illness, then highlight the latest research into how magic mushrooms and psilocybin can help.

Magic Mushrooms and Anxiety

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety can be simply described as a feeling of fear or apprehension that may or may not have an environmental trigger. Symptoms of anxiety may include:

  • Increased heart rate

  • Rapid breathing

  • Generalized feelings of fear and worry

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dizziness or feeling faint

  • Restlessness

Anxiety is part of how humans respond to stressful situations, acting as a precursor to the “fight, flight, or freeze” response to environmental dangers or threats. When we experience life events that make us fearful or nervous, we may experience temporary anxiety.

An anxiety disorder occurs when feelings of anxiety begin to emerge at inappropriate times, and when those feelings are so severe and intense that they interfere with an individual’s daily life and activities. Anxiety disorders are the most common forms of mental disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Can Magic Mushrooms Treat Anxiety?

So far, there have been just a handful of studies done on magic mushrooms and anxiety.

The first such study was published in the Archive of General Psychiatry in 2010 by a group of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and titled “Pilot study of psilocybin treatment for anxiety in patients with advanced-stage cancer”. The research participants were a group of twelve late-stage cancer patients who had also been diagnosed with anxiety.

Researchers started by measuring the anxiety of each participant using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Then, researchers administered a dosage of psilocybin to each participant according to their body weight. The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory was administered to patients one, three, and six months after the treatment to measure any changes or improvements in mood.

Ultimately, researchers found that psilocybin treatment resulted in a significant mood improvement and decreased anxiety at both one month and three months after treatment. The effect seemed to drop off by the six-month follow-up, indicating that additional rounds of psilocybin therapy would be needed to sustain the positive effects.

The original pilot study on psilocybin and anxiety was replicated in 2016 by Roland R Griffiths and a group of hallucinogen researchers from Johns Hopkins University. The new study was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology with the title “Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial”.

This time, research participants included 51 late-stage cancer patients that were also diagnosed with either depression or anxiety. Participants received two psilocybin therapy sessions with two different dosages – a high dose and a low dose. Patients were evaluated after each session and 6 months after the end of the treatments to assess the benefits. Researchers also rigorously documented the behaviour and mood of patients during the treatment.

Research participants reported significant positive mood changes after participating in the psilocybin treatment and at the six-month follow-up. Overall, 82.6% of participants said that the treatment increased their well-being or life satisfaction either “moderately” or “very much”.

Magic Mushrooms and Depression

<We’ve already written the definitive guide to magic mushrooms and depression – you should check it out! We go into even more detail exploring the many studies on magic mushrooms and depression.>

What is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that causes the affected person to experience persistent feelings of sadness, despondence, hopelessness, and/or disinterest. It is one of the most common emotional disorders, affecting more than 250 million people worldwide.

Some people may be unsure whether their emotional experiences count as depression. It is normal to feel sad, tired, or lonely sometimes in response to challenging life events. Depression becomes a disorder when those feelings persist over time, sometimes even when there’s nothing materially wrong.

Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Increased irritability or restlessness

  • Unpredictable mood swings

  • Erratic sleep patterns

  • Loss of energy or initiative

  • Shallow affect

  • Lack of productivity and low self-esteem

Researchers have identified many potential causes of depression, including early childhood trauma, structural differences in the brain, certain medical conditions, and a family history of mood disorders.

Can Magic Mushrooms Treat Depression?

In just the past five years, researchers have learned a lot about the impact that magic mushrooms can have on treating depression.

Check out our guide, Magic Mushrooms and Depression: Everything You Need to Know 2021 for a full exploration of the currently available research on magic mushrooms and depression.

Magic Mushrooms and Drug Addiction

What is Drug Addiction?

Addiction sometimes called “substance use disorder”, is a complex mental health issue that can be described as compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences. Addiction is rooted in the dysfunction of chemical systems in the brain that regulates reward, motivation, and memory.

Drug addiction is a major public health issue. Below are listed the ten types of drugs most often implicated in substance use disorders in North America:

  • Tobacco/nicotine

  • Alcohol

  • Painkillers like oxycontin, codeine, and vicodin

  • Cocaine and its variants

  • Heroin

  • Benzodiazepines like valium and xanax

  • Stimulants like methamphetamine and adderall

  • Inhalants

  • Sedatives, including sleeping pills like ambien and lunesta

  • Cannabis

Symptoms of substance use disorder may be grouped into four categories:

  1. Drug Effects – Addicts increase their tolerance to their substance of choice over time. Eventually, they require larger amounts to get the same effects. They may experience withdrawal symptoms when losing access to the drug.

  2. Impaired Control – Addicts experience cravings and strong urges to engage with their drug of choice, often resulting in failed attempts to quit.

  3. Risky Use – Addicts may take risks to acquire or use their drug of choice. They may continue to engage in risky behavior despite knowledge of the potential consequences.