The magic of mushrooms

by DGO Staff

A complete guide to psilocybin mushrooms, which are now decriminalized in Colorado

SPECIAL TO DGO

Gather ‘round, Colorado friends. In celebration of Colorado’s recent vote in favor of the decriminalization of psilocybin, it’s time to take a trip down the psychedelic rabbit hole — and it’s filled with magic mushrooms!

That’s right, folks. Today, we’re talking about psilocybin — the psychoactive compound found in certain types of mushrooms that can make you see things that aren’t really there and make you feel things you never thought possible.

Given that magic mushrooms have been criminalized for decades, the idea of ingesting psilocybin for fun (or for therapeutic reasons) is a relatively new concept for a lot of people — which is why we think it’s important to put together this primer. If we’re going to have decriminalized mushrooms in Colorado, we think it’s important to get too deep into the trippy details so you know exactly what you’re getting into, should you choose to partake of the umami goods.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into the world of magic mushrooms and discover the different types, their effects, and what happens when you take them. Hold on tight, it’s going to be a wild ride!

The trippy details of de-criminalization

As with cannabis, psilocybin is currently federally classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, which means it’s considered to have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use.
But when a city or state — ahem, COLORADO, ahem — decriminalizes psilocybin, it’s no longer considered a criminal offense at the state level. It’s like getting a parking ticket instead of may face a fine for possessing it, or you may be stuck with some other low-level penalty, like community service, but you won’t sit yer high ass in a holding cell, and that’s beautiful.

In other words, decriminalization doesn’t technically legalize mushrooms, but it removes criminal penalties for possession and use of psilocybin.

And, what’s more is that in many cases, decriminalization is the first step toward legalization. First comes decrim, then comes marriage (of a legal status for the substance.) Whether or not that will happen in good old Colorado remains to be seen.

But even if it doesn’t lead to legal shrooms, it’s worth noting that with every state or city that decriminalizes mushrooms, it becomes more likely that attitudes toward psychedelic substances will change on a wider basis — which would allow for more research on the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin with-out the fear of criminal prosecution.

And, in addition to Colorado, there are numerous cities and states that have decriminalized the possession and use of psilocybin. Just like we saw with can-nabis, with every state or city that decriminalizes mushrooms, it likely that attitudes toward psychedelic substances will change on a wider basis — which would allow for more research on the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin without the fear of criminal prosecution.

The (basic) lowdown on magic mushrooms

Magic mushrooms, also known as psilocybin mushrooms, are a type of mushroom that contain the psychoactive compound psilocybin. When consumed, psilocybin is converted into psilocin, which acts on serotonin receptors in the brain to produce changes in perception, mood, and cognitive processes. This can result in a range of effects, including changes in perception, mood, and cognitive processes.

While a hallucinogenic effect is most common, the effects of tripping on psilocybin mushrooms can vary depending on the dose, your mindset, and the environment in which the mushrooms are consumed.

The effects of ingesting psilocybin can include visual and auditory hallucinations, which can include seeing patterns and colors that are not actually present, and you may also experience changes in your perception of time and space. Some people also report experiencing spiritual or mystical effects — or an awakening and a sense that they’ve met God or their maker. Magic mushrooms can also lead you to experience heightened emotions, a sense of euphoria or well-being, and a feeling of connection to the natural world.

Some of the most common effects of magic mushrooms include:

– Visual and auditory hallucinations: People may see, hear, or feel things that are not actually present. These hallucinations can be vivid and realistic.
– Euphoria: Many people report feeling happy, content, and euphoric while under the influence of magic mushrooms.
– Distorted sense of time: Time may seem to slow down or speed up, and it can be difficult to keep track of how much time has passed.
– Changes in perception of the environment: Colors may appear more vibrant, and objects may appear to be moving or changing in size.
– Spiritual or mystical experiences: Some people report feeling a sense of transcendence or spiritual connection while under the influence of magic mushrooms.

The experience can be positive, profound, and life-changing but also can be challenging, uncomfortable, and confusing (but we’ll get to that bad trip part in a bit. Hold your honchos.). Some people may even experience anxiety, paranoia, or other negative effects.

Many, many, mucho types of mushrooms

There are many different species of mushrooms that contain psilocybin, the psychoactive compound that produces the effects associated with “magic mushrooms.” Some of the most well-known and widely used species include:

– Psilocybe cubensis, also known as “Penis Envy”: This is one of the most commonly cultivated and consumed species of magic mushrooms. It is found in tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, as well as some parts of Asia and Australia.

– Psilocybe semilanceata, also known as “Liberty Caps”: This species is found in many parts of Europe, as well as some parts of North America. It is known for its small, conical cap and slender stem.

– Psilocybe mexicana, also known as, well, “Mexican Mushrooms”: This species is native to Mexico and Central America and is one of the oldest known species of psilocybin-containing mushrooms. It is often consumed in the form of a traditional Mexican drink called “teonanácatl.”

There are tons of other types, too — just like there are numerous strains of cannabis. And, the effects of magic mushrooms can vary depending on the species and the dosage. Generally speaking, though, the active compounds and effects are similar across different species — and you’ll likely experience at least some hallucinogenic effects from any type of magic mushroom you take.

However, some species may have different levels of active compounds, resulting in different potencies, and some species may have other psychoactive compounds, leading to different effects. That’s why it is always recommended to know what species you are consuming, whether it’s the (very famous) Penis Envy, Golden Teacher, or some other type, and to start with low dosages if it’s your first time.

Research on the benefits of psilocybin

Psilocybin has been the subject of a growing amount of research in recent years, and for good reason: Scientists have found that it may have therapeutic potential for a variety of conditions.

However, it’s worth noting that due to the Schedule 1 status of psilocybin, most of the studies done so far have been small, and more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits and risks of the compound.

Some of the areas where psilocybin research has shown the most promise include:

– Depression: Several small studies have found that psilocybin may be effective in treating depression, particularly in patients who have not responded to other treatments.

– Anxiety and PTSD: Psilocybin has also been studied as a treatment for anxiety and PTSD, and some research suggests that it may be effective in reducing symptoms of these conditions.

– Addiction: Psilocybin has also been studied as a treatment for addiction, particularly addiction to tobacco and alcohol. Some early studies suggest that psilocybin may help to reduce cravings and improve outcomes for people trying to quit.

– Cluster headaches and migraines: Psilocybin may also be useful in treating headaches, particularly cluster headaches and migraines, which are extremely painful and difficult-to-treat headaches.

– End-of-life anxiety: Some studies have found that psilocybin may be useful in reducing end-of-life anxiety in people with terminal illnesses, by providing a sense of peace and acceptance.

Psilocybin has also been shown to have positive effects on creativity, emotional well-being, and spiritual experiences. (If you need proof, all you have to do is ask anyone who’s microdosed a mushroom or 60 in the past. They’ll tell you ALL about it.)

 

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Additionally, researchers have found that psilocybin can change the way the brain processes information and that it can lead to increased neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to change and adapt in response to new experiences. However, more research is needed to fully understand the potential therapeutic benefits and risks of psilocybin and to determine the best ways to use it in therapeutic settings.

How does psilocybin help treat PTSD in particular?

In particular, there is emerging and promising evidence that psilocybin may be an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One recent study showed that a single dose of psilocybin in combination with psychotherapy reduced symptoms of PTSD in military veterans, firefighters, and police officers with treatment-resistant PTSD.

Researchers believe that psilocybin may be effective in treating PTSD because it can alter how the brain processes and organizes memories. Trauma memories in PTSD are thought to be stored in a highly emotional and non-integrated way, which makes it difficult for patients to process and come to terms with the trauma. Psilocybin may work by disrupting this emotional hold on the traumatic memories and allowing patients to process them in a new way, which can lead to a reduction in symptoms.

Plus, the fact that psilocybin can also promote neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to change and adapt in response to new experiences, may also help with the rewiring of the brain that has been altered by traumatic events.

More research is needed to fully understand the potential, of course, but with the looser restrictions on research into psilocybin, it’s entirely plausible to think that science could prove these theories correct in the (somewhat) near future.

Will psilocybin be legalized federally in the future?

While there’s a solid chance that psilocybin will be legalized in certain states in the near future, it’s difficult to predict whether or not psilocybin will be legalized federally in the future. The legal status of psilocybin is a complex issue and, much like cannabis in its early days, it varies from state to state. Currently, psilocybin is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, which means that it is considered to have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use.

However, there are signs that it’s possible. While magic mushrooms are part of the Schedule drug category, the FDA has, perhaps surprisingly, granted “breakthrough therapy” status to psilocybin-assisted therapy for treatment-resistant depression, which could accelerate the development and review of psilocybin as a treatment.

And, as more research is conducted on the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin, there may be increased pressure to reclassify it as a controlled substance with accepted medical use, which could lead to legalization or decriminalization at the federal level. However, it’s also possible that the legal status of psilocybin will remain unchanged for the foreseeable future.

A warning: Beware the bad mushroom trip

While magic mushrooms are now decriminalized in Colorado, the legal ramifications aren’t the only thing that psilocybin users need to be aware of.

A bad mushroom trip, also known as a “bad trip,” can also happen on occasion, and can result in a range of negative psychological effects, such as feelings of anxiety, paranoia, fear, and confusion.
During a bad trip, a person may experience intense, disturbing thoughts, feelings, and hallucinations. These can include feelings of impending doom, loss of control, and a sense of disconnection from reality.

Physical symptoms can also occur during a bad trip, such as increased heart rate, sweating, and nausea. The intensity and duration of a bad trip can vary, but they can last several hours.

Bad trips are often triggered by taking high doses of mushrooms, or by taking them in an unsafe or unfamiliar environment. Factors such as a person’s mental state, their past experiences, and their surroundings can also contribute to the likelihood of having a bad trip.

DGO February 2023 Page 16 Image 0001A person experiencing a bad trip should be reassured and helped to feel safe. They should be guided to a calm and comfortable place, and be surrounded by trusted and familiar people. Distracting them with music or other activities can also help.

 

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