A Brief History of Psilocybin

 

       Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in certain types of fungi. It has been used for recreational, spiritual, and therapeutic purposes for centuries. Before ingesting psilocybin, it is essential to create the proper set and setting. The proper set and setting begins by surrounding yourself in a safe and secure environment with a sober, supportive, and trusted attendant.

       Psilocybin has been used around the world throughout history. Researchers have discovered cave drawings in Spain that are over 3,000 years old where humans drew mushrooms containing psilocybin. Psilocybin research began in the 1960's at Harvard University. Timothy Leary and his colleagues conducted experiments where participants ingested psilocybin to further understand what happens during a psychedelic experience. The studies were very extensive, including 167 graduate students over an 8 month period. There were also two control groups, one that ingested psilocybin mushrooms and another that received vitamin B instead of psilocybin. The study was designed to measure personality changes after ingestion, but it quickly evolved when the researchers discovered how profoundly positive the experiences could be if they created a healthy set and setting around their participants. These discoveries in research lead to what is now widely known as the "Good Friday Experiment," conducted by psychiatrist Dr. Walter Pahnke in 1962. This experiment documented mystical experiences occurring to participants who ingested psilocybin during Good Friday services at Marsh Chapel on Boston University's campus.

       Another significant study was done by Roland Griffiths and colleagues in 2006. This time they found that even after just one or two sessions, psilocybin can produce profound spiritual experiences causing people to re-evaluate negative behavior patterns, contemplate the biggest questions of existence, or simply feel a deeper connection with community and family.

Since then, there have been many studies looking for ways to treat depression, anxiety, chronic pain, drug addiction, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other conditions. Psychedelic studies have shown extremely promising results. Researchers involved in the studies anticipate U.S FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) approved medications containing psilocybin by the year 2023.


Effects of Psilocybin

       Participants commonly report a wide range of effects following ingestion of psilocybin mushrooms. Commonly reported aspects of a psilocybin experience include a feeling of pure love and unity, a new found sense of hope for the future, seeing past memories deeply embedded in your DNA, understanding consciousness continues after death, a newfound appreciation for all life, a deeper connection with family, friends, and community, experiencing the interconnection of all things, feeling at peace with oneself, living without fear or anxiety, knowing you are loved unconditionally, understanding all things happen for a reason, and feeling a sense of wonder at the beauty and goodness in the world.

Psilocybin is absorbed through the digestive system. Much of it gets absorbed into the body via the small intestine. Once absorbed into the bloodstream, the psilocybin is transported to all parts of the body.

       Psilocybin molecules are incredibly tiny, allowing them to easily pass through the blood-brain barrier. When psilocybin makes its way to your brain, it binds with serotonin receptors that are almost exclusively found in regions of the brain responsible for managing cognition, behavior, muscle control, and sensory perception. Binding with these receptors is what causes the visual and mental changes many people report experiencing when they take psilocybin.

Psilocybin affects everyone in a different way. Some people may experience no perceivable effect, while others begin having visuals within minutes.

       There are three phases to the experiences caused by psilocybin ingestion:   The first phase will usually last for around 30-40 minutes after ingestion, during this time you might experience some slight anxiety/nervousness along with physical effects like pupil dilation, nausea or vomiting (although this doesn't happen to everyone), increased body temperature and increased heart rate. The second phase usually lasts for around 4-6 hours after ingestion, during this time you might experience some mild tracers (movement trails), vivid colors and more pronounced mental/visual effects that might include seeing geometric patterns or halos of light around objects. Sometimes sounds can be heard but not seen, and sometimes objects look like they're breathing or pulsing. At the peak of this first "trip" your mind and body will feel as though you're one unified whole experiencing something significantly greater than yourself – a sense of pure love and unity with everything you see, hear, touch, taste and smell; among other things. Some people may even begin to feel like their senses are somehow connected with nature (seeing animals in your surroundings, hearing colors).

       The third and final phase will usually last around 4-6 hours after ingestion, during this time you will begin to feel like you're returning to normal. This is the time when people may become uncomfortable with where they are because their mind/body has begun assimilating back into reality; anxiety may kick in for some people at this point. The experience is over by the end of this third stage but residual effects from it can last up to 24 hours afterwards. 

       On a psychological level, you may lose sense of self and ego. A powerful component of psychedelic experiences is a feeling of unity with everything you see, hear, touch and feel. The sense of being a separate "self" is either diminished or completely lost. You might have a difficult time remembering who you are or what your life was like before the experience because so much of your attention is devoted to simply being in the experience itself.   Your ability to think rationally diminishes significantly as well – making it more difficult for you to produce rational/logical explanations for some of the things that happen around you during the trip. This can be especially true if your mind latches onto scary thoughts about dying or losing control. 

       Psilocybin does not make everyone experience all three phases of its effects; timing, dosage and the person's own psychology are some of the factors that determine what these effects will be. The intensity of your first trip is likely to influence how you relate to psilocybin during future experiences. It is not a good idea to take too large of a dose during your first experience for this reason. 

       Some people never develop a tolerance for psilocybin while others might become desensitized to it's effects through tolerance. Although the psychological effects of psilocybin are fairly consistent between users, the physical effects can be quite different for each person. You may feel cold or hot while taking it. You might feel slightly nauseous when the drug begins to take effect, but this typically subsides. Some people report feeling relaxed or happy, others may feel agitated at times during their experience.


Dosage

       There is not a direct correlation between dosage and intensity of experience; small doses can produce very strong effects that last longer than larger ones, while larger doses are not necessarily more intense at all. 

The recommended "macrodose" for psilocybin mushrooms is 3-7 grams of dried psilocybin mushroom. This should be taken on an empty stomach for maximum absorption. The experience will usually last around 6 hours, depending on your metabolism.

       A dose of 2-3 grams is a good starting point for experimenting with the drug's effects without having an overly intense experience. 1-2g is generally considered a small dose. A dose smaller than 0.5g is unlikely to produce immediately obvious effects and may be classified as a "microdose". It is not advisable to take more than 4-6 grams of psilocybin mushrooms for your first experience. Too large of a dose may produce an intense unpleasant experience.