The active ingredient in magic mushrooms is psilocybin, which can reset some of the neural pathways in the brain linked with depression. Subjects in a study on treating depression with psilocybin reported feeling "reset" or "rebooted" after taking the drug, while MRIs revealed reduced blood flow in the areas of the brain thought to be responsible for fear and stress. The effects seemed to last, too -- researchers saw continuing benefits up to five weeks after treatment.
That on its own is worth pursuing, but psilocybin can also help cancer patients or others in palliative care. It should not surprise you to learn that people who know they're going to die don't always feel too great about that, and can potentially spend their last days in a cloud of depression. Using psilocybin not only helps these patients come to terms with what's happening to them, but also gives them the mental clarity to bond with their loved ones, finish their bucket lists, or possibly just execute that flawless revenge they've been meaning to get around to. Here's a story about a woman diagnosed with colon cancer and given mere months to live who came out of the ensuing depression, repaired her relationships, and hiked the Grand Canyon for a spell before ultimately dying at home, surrounded by loved ones. And all thanks to the same thing you and your stoner friends use to pretend to be Gummi Bears down at the KOA.
Want A Better Depression Treatment? Try LSD
LSD used to be legal back in the bad old days, when people went around lickin' stuff for fun and profit. See, back in the '50s and '60s, researchers were beginning to uncover LSD's potential for treating depression and addiction, so it seemed like a useful thing. Then the great drug crackdown came, and LSD was relegated to stoners who were bad at finding mushrooms.
The old research was never completely shut down, though. It's just that after LSD became illegal, any scientist wanting to work with it had to jump through endless hoops to do so. So what should have taken years instead took decades, but it still got done. One study used MRIs to scan people who were scientifically tripping balls and found that while LSD was inhibiting synapses in certain parts of the brain, it was also causing connectivity between other areas that don't normally talk to each other.
Imperial College LondonPictured: the galaxy brain meme, but, like, real.
Another recent study supported this, suggesting that LSD induces a sort of "mental looseness" -- an ability to make connections that the human mind normally doesn't. Subjects also reported a heightened sense of curiosity and psychological well-being. Taken to an extreme, this kind of "mental loosening" could lead to psychosis, but with mild doses, that doesn't appear to be a risk. Two weeks after dosing, subjects showed no particular signs of delusion.
Given the potential benefits and controllable (usually wholly absent) side effects, this feels like research well worth pursuing. Let's have more therapeutic methods that involve licking.
Oh, they inject it intravenously now? What a waste.
You're still totally welcome to adopt your own wacky waving inflatable arms guy.
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