We all know not to risk it, but have you ever wondered what it would be like to try magic mushrooms? Well, despite they themselves not becoming legal anytime soon, they may hold the key to unlocking the brains of those suffering with mental health problems.
Magic mushrooms, or Shrooms, are well known for their psychedelic properties and ability to generate mind-blowing hallucinations in the consumer. There are over 180 species of these mushrooms and they’ve often been used for over 7000 years in ancient spiritual rituals as well as to medicate a variety of disorders.
These mushrooms, for anyone who isn’t aware, are illegal in most countries however the chemical they produce (Psilocybin) isn’t always. It is this chemical that causes the hallucinogenic effect and puts the user into a dream-like state, somewhere between sleep and consciousness.
Researchers at Imperial College, London, have tested the effects of using the chemical from the Shrooms to treat mental health problems such as depression, particularly in individuals who don’t respond well to the usual treatment methods.
The trial they conducted, whilst small, showed promising effects on depressed individuals. Many found that they ceased to be depressed and all individuals felt their mood change in a positive way.
It turns out that the chemical influences two areas of the brain. It decreased the activity of the area of the brain responsible for fear and anxiety, such that these emotions reduced. Additionally, it stabilised a collection of different brain regions known as the ‘Default – mode network’.
Both of these effects contributed to breaking the cycles of depression and many of the participants felt as though they had been ‘rebooted’ and given a new lease of life.
Robin Carhart–Harris, a researcher in this study, explained that the brain was essentially clamped – like a crashed computer – and the chemical acted like a factory reset for it; causing the individual to feel more upbeat.
Whilst, self-medicating with magic mushrooms is a big no, the brains of those suffering with mental health problems could soon be rebooted. Hopefully these small fungi’s can aid scientists in solving the problem of mental health in the not so distant future.