CBD oil has been making waves in the natural health industry for some years. It can help with addiction, epilepsy, seizures, depression, relieve pain, and is even good for your skin!
But did you know that shrooms , or mushrooms containing psilocybin, have many of the same properties, and when used alone, or even combined with CBD, there are an amazing amount of health benefits. So much so that many health experts are calling shrooms the “new CBD”, because they are showing a lot of promise for helping people overcome hard-to-treat (or treatment-resistant) and life-disrupting conditions like addiction and major depression.
Do magic mushrooms have health benefits?
Psilocybin, the primary hallucinogenic compound in magic mushrooms is a psychedelic drug that’s been used for more than 10,000 years in various spiritual and medical rituals.
Experiences can vary, but people report altered perceptions of time and space, feelings of euphoria, and a contemplative, dream-like state. Researchers often measure what they call the “mystical experience” according to a scale like the Hood Mysticism Scale, which quantifies a sense of unity, sacredness, positive mood, the transcendence of time/space, and more.
The research shows that the more intense your mystical experiences, the more likely you’re going to experience positive benefits from the experience.
But shrooms offer more than just a mystical experience
There is ongoing research looking at the potential of psilocybin to treat various mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and problematic substance use.
Like CBD mushrooms can also help with stress and anxiety, improve sleep, and calm inflamation.
1. Shrooms offer immune support
Beta-glucans are found in all medicinal mushrooms. They stimulate the immune system to fight off infections, as well as to find and destroy damaged or cancerous cells.
2. Shrooms are adaptogens
Adaptogens are any plant that calms the stress levels in the body. Licorice is one, and ashwaganda is quite well known.
3. Psilocybin can help with Focus & Brain Power
While too many magic mushrooms can make focus and brain power impossible, micro dosing can actually help the brain relax and focus better. There is promising research on its ability to reduce symptoms in those with dementia and to speed recovery from nervous system injuries.
Researchers are also looking at psilocybin for anorexia, Alzheimer’s (related to both depression and cognitive decline), post-traumatic stress disorder, demoralization syndrome (suffering characterized by feelings of hopelessness and loss of purpose/meaning in life) experienced by long-term HIV survivors, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. “We don’t have the answers yet, but I would say they’re good bets,” says Johnson.
4. Psilocyben can help with depression and anxiety
Researchers suspect that the drug is augmenting the process of how people change their behavior by increasing their sense of openness.
In conditions like depression, addiction, or anxiety, people are stuck in a very narrow mental and behavioral pattern that’s hard to break. There are so many self-reinforcing properties—more negative thinking leads to less social interaction and then more focus on the addictive substance—and it’s that ‘stuckness’ that really seems to be affected by psychedelic experiences.
Psilocybin seems to empower a mental flexibility that, when paired with therapy and the right life skills, allows people to jump outside their patterns and establish healthier new ones.
One small recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that patients with major depressive disorder experienced significant improvement after being treated with psilocybin in combination with psychotherapy, and more than half were in remission four weeks afterward.
5. Like CBD, Psylocybin can help with addiction
What’s most interesting about psilocybin is its ability to address a few different types of conditions. “The most promising potential is for addiction—smoking, alcoholism, cocaine,” says Matthew W. Johnson, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and associate director of the Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research.
His ongoing pilot study on nicotine addiction has found that 80% of participants who underwent psilocybin therapy quit smoking, and 60% of them were still abstinent 16 months later—impressive compared to the 35% success rate of varenicline, the most effective of other smoking cessation therapies.
“The idea that something could be efficacious for multiple substances is, itself, very atypical and exciting,” says Johnson. “There’s a very good case that psilocybin can treat the psychology of addiction, not just alleviate the withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings.”
Are there risks to taking magic mushrooms?
Because psilocybin can exacerbate or trigger the onset of underlying psychotic conditions, people with a personal or family history of conditions like schizophrenia are at high risk of long-lasting harm and should steer clear of psilocybin.
If not used in a controlled environment with a mental health professional present, psilocybin is a powerful tool that, if used in a dangerous way, could harm the person or the people around them. Finally, chronic use of psilocybin does come with cardiovascular risks. It binds to HT2B receptors, which can cause dangerous changes in the structure and shape of heart valves. (Fen-phen—another drug that binds to HT2B receptors—was pulled from the market due to risk of valvular heart disease, one cause of heart failure.)
Experts believe this likely isn’t an issue when you’re taking the drug once or a few times for therapeutic effect.
As with everything dose is key. Always start with small amounts and work your way to the perfect amount.