5 Potential Health Benefits of Magic Mushrooms
Magic mushrooms are slowly shedding off the party-drug image they gained in the 70s, and if available research is anything to go by, they may even have a role to play in physical and mental health. But what are the alleged magic mushrooms’ health benefits – and what does the research say about them?
Anyone who’s tried shrooms can tell you the experience is “life-changing”. But before you dismiss their claims as the ramblings of a hallucinating mind: studies show there may be some truth to this, and an expanding group of researchers is determined to get to the bottom of the benefits of p. cubensis.
Before we proceed, note that the FDA hasn’t approved the use of magic mushrooms, psilocybin, or psilocin for medical purposes, and they still remain Schedule I controlled substances in the United States. This means they are illegal to possess or use unless you are in the few jurisdictions that have decriminalized psilocybin.
Although the Schedule I classification means that magic mushrooms have a high potential for abuse, new research and clinical trials are already underway to prove magic mushrooms’ health benefits. The FDA has already granted psilocybin “breakthrough therapy” status severally in the last two years, a classification that fast tracks the development and review processes of new drugs with therapeutic potential.
But what are these magic mushroom health benefits that psilocybin and psilocin are being studied for? Here’s what available research tells us about the health benefits of psilocybe mushrooms. Read on!
Benefits Of Psilocybe Mushrooms
According to the available research and user-reported studies, magic mushrooms may have some health benefits. Here are the top 5 ways magic mushrooms may help improve your health.
1. Magic Mushrooms May Help Fight Depression
Improving depression is one of the most studied magic mushrooms’ health benefits. In one 2022 study, researchers investigated the efficacy and safety of psilocybin-assisted treatment for depression and observed the results over 12 months.
In the study, 27 participants with moderate to severe depression received two doses of psilocybin and supportive psychotherapy. Out of the 24 participants who completed the psilocybin sessions, the researchers found that the treatment reduced depression and kept it low throughout the 12-month observation period.
While this is great news, more research on the link between psilocybin and depression is still needed before it can be approved. As of now, self-medication is not recommended as there’s still a lot that we don’t know about magic mushroom health benefits and the risks involved.
2. May Help Treat Headaches
A 2017 study on psychoactive substances used as a last resort found that psilocybin, among other psychedelics, may help manage treatment-resistant cluster headaches and migraines. According to studies, cluster headaches are some of the most intensely painful human conditions.
So the news of magic mushrooms’ potential health benefits may be good news for the roughly 39 million people in the United States who suffer migraines.
However, more research on psilocybin’s effects on headaches is required, especially as other studies have suggested that it may cause delayed, transient headaches after administration. So yeah, you might want to hold off on using magic mushrooms for this.
3. Magic Mushrooms May Help Relieve Anxiety
Psilocybin, the main active compound in magic mushrooms, has been widely studied for its potential to relieve anxiety. One 2016 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology examined the effects of psilocybin on depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.
The randomized, double-blind trial used a very low placebo-like dose vs. a high dose of psilocybin in 51 cancer patients and observed the effects over six months. The researchers observed that the group that received a higher dose had a significant decrease in death anxiety and depression.
The study also observed increases in quality of life, life meaning, and optimism in the group that received the larger dose. The improvements were sustained throughout the study, with over 80% of the participants continuing to show clinically significant improvements in anxiety and depressed mood.
These results have been corroborated in other studies suggesting the potential of magic mushrooms’ health benefits for anxiety.
4. They Have The Potential To Treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Several studies have suggested the potential of psilocybin in managing post-traumatic disorder (PTSD). One pre-clinical study by the University of South Florida found that low doses of psilocybin stimulate the growth of brain cells in the hippocampus, which is the brain’s center for emotion and memory.
The study found that psilocybin helped mice overcome conditioned fear better than a placebo. The researchers hypothesized that the compound may have the same effects in humans and may help break the traumatic cycle that occurs in patients with PTSD.
While no study to date has examined psilocybin or psilocybin-assisted therapy as a treatment for PTSD, a study on traumatized AIDS survivors found that psilocybin-assisted therapy reduced PTSD-related symptoms. Several clinical trials on psilocybin benefits for PTSD are underway.
5. May Help With Smoking Cessation And Other Addictions
A study from Johns Hopkins University found that psilocybin in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) outperformed commonly used medications and CBT alone in 6-month smoking abstinence rates. At the 12-month follow-up, the researchers found that 67% of the participants were smoking abstinent.
Another 2015 study found that psilocybin-assisted treatment significantly increased alcohol abstinence, with the gains maintained over time. While this is all good news, more research is still needed to prove it may help reduce cravings and how it may improve other forms of substance misuse.
What The Future Holds for Magic Mushroom Health Benefits
Researchers around the globe are still studying the benefits of psilocybe mushrooms, and with the FDA fast-tracking the development and review process of psilocybin-assisted therapy through its Breakthrough Therapy designation, there’s hope that it may be approved in the near future as a treatment as a clinical treatment for some conditions.
But as of today, no magic mushroom or psilocybin product has been approved despite the growing mountain of evidence on its potential benefits.
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