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Psilocybin Therapy for Mental Health

Psilocybin Therapy for Mental Health
May 9, 2021 Hailey Blanc

Psilocybin Therapy for Mental Health

Is psychedelic therapy the future of mental health treatment? 

This is a question that a lot of people who are into psilocybin mushrooms are faced with. This is not far-fetched from reality, though, as anyone who has experienced taking magic mushrooms knows that there are certain mental health benefits that can be derived from this substance. 

The secret to that is psilocybin, which is a chemical compound found in mushrooms. Its medicinal and spiritual benefits have been used since ancient times. What is most exciting about mushroom therapy is that it has unlocked new opportunities on how they can be used, apart from treating simple conditions like headaches or stress. 

Specifically, health experts are now looking at psilocybin treatment for mental health as an effective approach. Over recent years, studies on psychedelic mushrooms have shown promising results and significant therapeutic potential for a variety of psychiatric conditions. The medicalization of psychedelic mushrooms will carve a new path towards the use of these shrooms in terms of fostering mental health and well-being.

How Does Psychedelic Therapy Work?

There are several suggested methods on how to implement psychedelic therapy in a medical setting. In a nutshell, this therapeutic approach relies on the pharmacological effects of magic mushrooms through a chemical compound known as psilocybin. This is also coupled with psychological support in order to enhance those mental health benefits.

There are numerous studies that have been performed that puts the focus on magic mushrooms and psilocybin as a safe yet effective treatment for patients dealing with a variety of mental illness such as the following: 

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Addiction
  • PTSD
  • Mental Instability

The philosophy behind this method of treatment approach is that your past and current life experiences impact your psychological, emotional, and mental state. Therefore, if you’ve had any significant negative experiences such as loss, trauma, or discrimination, then these will accumulate and impact your perception of who you are, as well as the rest of the world. These can also be a burden psychologically to a point that it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to navigate your emotions. Your perceptions lead to harmful habitual cycles that make you suffer even more. 

With the use of psilocybin-assisted therapy, it aims to not only address the symptoms but also help you break out of the debilitating cycle of emotions and trauma. 

Psilocybin Treatment for Mental Health

A group of researchers at John Hopkins University conducted a randomized clinical trial using synthetic psilocybin as a treatment for major depressive disorder. This clinical study reaped promising benefits as 71% of the participants reported a “clinically significant response” to psilocybin. In addition, 54% of them had qualified for what is considered as “remission of depression”. 

Results from clinical studies such as this are one of many reasons why psilocybin treatment for mental health is showing plenty of improvements. While the FDA might not fully consider psychedelic therapy as “accepted [for] medical use”, there are now various cities all over the world that have broadened the legal settings in which the use of psychedelic mushrooms for mental health therapy is allowed.

In addition, the same group of researchers from John Hopkins University was able to conclude that psilocybin is different from other drugs commonly used for psychotherapy. They pointed out that the effects of psilocybin on patients dealing with depression and other mental health issues experienced more enduring belief changes and benefits, rather than a one-time effect following the session.

Here are some insights into how mushroom therapy is developing in terms of the treatment of common mental health issues.

Depression and PTSD

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions affecting people from all walks of life. It is often triggered by social factors or a chemical imbalance in the brain. Whatever the reason might be, psychedelic mushrooms might hold the solution. 

This Berkeley Foundation study is considered a landmark one because it is the first to provide clinical evidence that psilocybin can play a role in the treatment of depression. In particular, they were able to demonstrate that the chemical compound psilocybin is able to ‘rest’ the circuits in the brain that is causing depression and its symptoms. In particular, it targets the brain region responsible for processing stress and fear. Psilocybin enhances the response of that particular brain region when it comes to a negative stimulus, particularly dampening negative emotional response. 

This same effect is also the reason why mushroom therapy is also recommended for treatment of PTSD – or the type of depression associated with certain traumatic events in one’s life. By resetting the brain, it helps to overcome the depressive feelings associated with certain triggers. 

Anxiety

For a long time, psilocybin has been recommended for terminally ill cancer patients. The effects of psilocybin helped to alleviate anxiety that is associated with their condition, especially following a treatment. Hence, it comes as no surprise that it is being looked at as a potential treatment approach against anxiety. 

Research studies that support treatment of anxiety with psychedelic mushrooms detailed that the human brain has levels of neuroplasticity that adapt and change according to various experiences in life. By altering that part of the brain, you can also eliminate potential triggers of negative emotions and thoughts.

Emotional Stability

The processing of emotions is closely linked to the structures in the brain known as the limbic system. Patients who suffer from emotional instability can largely benefit from psilocybin present in magic mushrooms because it targets the amygdala, which is the central region in the brain responsible for processing emotions like anxiety and fear. 

If this region of the brain is imbalanced, it can result in the development of anxiety and emotional instability. But with psilocybin providing mood-enhancing benefits to this part of the brain, it can also help a patient better regulate their emotions. It is directly linked to heightened mood and emotional stability.

Addiction

While there is a lingering fear within the medical community about the potential for abuse by consuming psychedelic mushrooms, there is also another promising aspect to it: a potential cure for addiction. 

The idea of using mushroom therapy against addiction is backed by strong research findings. In a study conducted by University of Alabama-Birmingham, those who’ve undergone psilocybin treatment experienced up to 80% abstinence rate for up to 6 months after ongoing such treatment. This is impressive given the 15-30% abstinence rate experienced by patients undergoing current treatment methods for addiction. 

Psychedelic therapy is still a long ways off from being the go-to treatment option for those suffering from mental health problems. However, seeing the growing body of research studies is promising; mental health experts look at it as a viable option so they are willing to spend time and resources to evaluate its effectiveness. 

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