Humanity has come a long way in destigmatizing mental health issues and discovering better treatments. Some scientists and therapists have recently started looking into using psilocybin for depression and anxiety.
Is the science reputable, and can psychedelics truly help treat specific symptoms? The jury is still out, but newer research results indicate the potential for the long-term health benefits of mushrooms. They could assist in improving neuroplasticity and some psychiatric disorders.
Psilocybin and related hallucinogens are illegal in most places, so the spores are typically only available for microscopy and taxonomy purposes. However, some areas have decriminalized mushrooms, while others have started allowing medicinal use.
Several countries worldwide teeter on the edge of legalizing mushrooms as they’ve done with cannabis. If it happens, knowledge is vital in ensuring safe consumption. Keep reading to learn about the potential benefits of using psilocybin for depression and what microdosing entails.
Table of Contents
A Time Trip Into Magic Mushroom History
The use of natural psychedelics goes back thousands of years. They were prevalent in Central America and among the Aztec and Mayan tribes. Indigenous Siberians, Greeks, and Egyptians also consumed them for religious and spiritual purposes.
Mushrooms are one of the most versatile fungi, growing in the most obscure places. From moss to rotting wood and cattle manure, they naturally spring up in many different areas. Most species thrive in hot, humid conditions, but some flourish where there’s dew and cold air.
Due to being so adaptable, they possibly existed before the first humans. The Mayan and Aztec people were among the first to record their use of magic mushrooms. They referred to the fungi as “teonanacatl,” which translated to “flesh of the gods” in their native language.
They might have used psilocybin for depression. The advanced therapy and medication we have today weren’t available back then, so discovering naturally healing plants was a big deal.
The Mayans and Aztecs held mushrooms in such high regard that they believed they were gifts from the gods to their ancestors. They painted rocks depicting the power of psilocybin shrooms and used them primarily in religious ceremonies to communicate with deities.
For centuries after ancient civilizations discovered them, the use of psilocybin spread around the world. As more people discovered its benefits, it became something of a wonder plant, not unlike cannabis.
As the magical fungus gained popularity, it also attracted skepticism from scientists and lawmakers. Humanity didn’t understand much about it, and as more people used it, concerns arose surrounding potential side effects and abuse.
Brief History of Psilocybin Laws
Flash forward to the war on drugs in the 1960s and 1970s, when the first psychedelic prohibitions took place. 1968 saw a mass outlawing of magic mushrooms, and in 1970, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) made them illegal.
Although they aren’t considered addictive, many psychological experts were concerned about their intense effects. They worried that people using psilocybin for depression might develop unhealthy usage patterns.
There was also apprehension regarding “bad trips,” where some users experienced uncomfortable side effects. These adverse reactions included dizziness, impaired concentration, lack of coordination, nausea, paranoia, and disturbing hallucinations.
Some medical experts worry about underage use of the compound while the brain is still developing. For this reason, proponents of legalization advise that only people aged 21 and over should be allowed to use it.
They also advise those prone to psychosis, suicidal thoughts, or self-harm should avoid psilocybin altogether. Although the benefits outweigh the risks, these concerns are part of the reason for the prolonged ban on the substance.
They suggest that even those wanting to use psilocybin for depression should take the necessary precautions. These include not consuming it without supervision and not doing it if there are any underlying suicidal thoughts or pre-existing psychosis.
A safe and controlled environment is vital. The possibility of treatment centers offering guided psychedelic sessions may become a reality soon.
Although many experienced positive effects, the adverse reactions were enough to raise concern. The CSA decided to ban the use of psychedelics worldwide when they started scheduling and prohibiting various other “narcotics.”
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), it “has a high potential for abuse, and no currently accepted medical use in treatment. There’s a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.” It classified psilocybin as a Schedule I substance.
Since the ban, many advocates of psilocybin for depression and other mental ailments have raised their voices in support. More scientists have extensively researched the compound’s properties and possible advantages in recent years, hoping for legislative changes.
Even with the concerns over adverse side effects, there were more positive responses from those who supported its benefits. As more supporting research emerged, signs pointed toward a possible reversal of the 1960s and 1970s prohibitions.
In 2019, the approval of Ordinance 301 in Denver, Colorado, marked the first US city to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms. Other areas like Oakland and Santa Cruz in California followed suit in the following months. Several places worldwide are planning to do the same.
Another landmark achievement occurred in 2020. Oregon became the first state to start building a framework to legalize psilocybin for guided therapeutic use. Regulations still exist, but the plan is for licenses to begin rolling out in 2023.
These measures, if successful, will allow people aged 21 and older to access psilocybin therapy services. Oregon needs to finalize details by the end of 2022, but the move indicates a massive jump toward psychedelic freedom.
What does this mean for those wanting to use psilocybin for depression? It may allow more people to use it lawfully for various health advantages. Let’s review the potential benefits and applications of the magical compound.
Potential Benefits and Uses of Psilocybin
There’s a reason indigenous tribes used magic mushrooms in their spiritual journeys. The naturally occurring fungi possess psychedelic properties that “open the mind” and elevate moods. People who have used psilocybin report the following potential effects:
- Altered moods, including increased happiness and euphoria
- Heightened sensory perception
- Increased appetite
- Improved libido
- Visual and auditory distortion
- Hallucinations at higher doses
More scientific evidence is emerging on the benefits of mushrooms. A 2022 review indicates that psychedelics, including psilocybin, might improve neuroplasticity, which could boost cognitive function and synaptic connections in the brain.
Some doctors and physicians, including those who want to operate in Oregon psychedelic centers, see the potential. In addition to using psilocybin for depression, they indicate that they could use the compound to treat the following:
- Addiction, including alcoholism
- Smoking cessation
- Psychological distress, including cancer-related psychiatric disorders
- Eating disorders, including anorexia
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Evidence for these treatments is limited, but some medical professionals worldwide are hopeful about it. Many concerns still exist, but guided sessions might do well in eliminating these fears.
More clinical trials and studies may result in more conclusive research, potentially opening doors for psilocybin-assisted therapy.
Can Microdosing Help Treat Anxiety and Depression?
Microdosing involves consuming small amounts of psilocybin over time. People who have done so report that they experience the benefits of the compound without intense effects. In lower doses, there aren’t supposed to be any distortions or hallucinatory sensations.
Medical professionals don’t condone the illegal personal use of psilocybin for depression, but some treatment centers may allow it. Under guided sessions, anecdotal evidence suggests that microdosing may help treat mental health disorders and improve general well-being.
In a controlled environment, using low-dose magic mushrooms might reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and related psychiatric disorders.
Consuming them in small increments might prevent uncomfortable side effects experienced in higher doses, like headaches, nausea, and paranoia. Under therapeutic guidance, a microdose is equivalent to about 1–3mg per 154 pounds of body weight.
A 2020 clinical trial showed positive results during psilocybin-assisted therapy. The outcome suggests psilocybin might help with depression in people with major depressive disorder. It may inspire more studies worldwide that could further prove the benefits of the compound.
Regulated, legal therapy sessions like these may become accessible for more citizens if Oregon is successful with its psilocybin licenses. Although lawmakers will heavily monitor the outcomes and could redact their decision, it potentially opens doors for other countries to follow suit.
The future is exciting.
Could Psilocybin Be the New Mental Health Wonder Treatment?
Today, the mention of psychedelics still stirs up controversy and conflicting opinions, albeit much less than even 5 years ago. Concerns surrounding potential side effects mean that many countries and jurisdictions want to keep them illegal. As scientists conduct more positive research, the laws might change.
Could psilocybin for depression and anxiety soon become more acceptable and freely available? Only time will tell, but for now, education is vital. Many proponents suggest that learning about the correct uses, dosages, and optimal conditions is necessary for safe consumption.
Our blog provides further informative resources that shed new light on the subject.
All of the content and images on our site are for informational reference only. The cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms is federally illegal in the United States. We do not promote the cultivation of psilocybin “magic” mushrooms under any circumstances. Do not contact us asking for advice related to this subject. Any products found on this site are for microscopy and taxonomy purposes only. None of the psilocybin mushroom spores we offer are for consumption or cultivation. We do not sell any products containing psilocybin.