There have been many studies over the years supporting the benefit of psilocybin, the psychoactive chemical occurring naturally in some mushrooms.The most authoritative study yet was published this week by a team from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, according to GOOD:
A team from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine recently published results from a roughly year-long experiment. The researchers worked with 18 volunteers who were given pure psilocybin to measure how it affected people and how different dosages changed the experience. The subjects were screened for psychological health and given the drug in a pleasant environment, after preparatory guidance. They even had a soundtrack consisting of “classical and world music chosen to complement the arc of the psilocybin action, from onset, through the peak of the effects, and subsiding back to baseline.”
The results? At high dosages people occasionally experienced fear, anxiety, or delusions. But the negative effects of those “bad trips” were easily mitigated by the reassuring researchers and didn’t outlast the session. At more moderate doses, the results were almost unambiguously positive. Moreover, people didn’t just appreciate the experience as fun; they found it spiritually meaningful, with lasting benefits.
Reading the volunteers’ first-hand reports of how the experiences affected them is a testament to their value. “More and more, sensuality and compassion and gratitude continue to unfold around me.” “I try to judge less and forgive more.” “I feel that I relate better in my marriage. There is more empathy.” “I need less food to make me full. My alcohol use has diminished dramatically.”
Should we all rush out to buy shrooms? No, first because they’re schedule 1 controlled substances on par with heroin. Second because most people can’t recreate the safe psilocybin and environment used in the experiment.
As GOOD’s Andrew Price points out, however, psychiatrists and authorities need to take a closer look.
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