There are many possible long-term effects of magic mushrooms. Shrooms can be used to treat depression and even addiction! With the help of a psychiatrist and some shrooms, the long term effects of psychedelic use can be incredibly positive!
How do shrooms work?
Psilocybin isn’t the one that causes hallucinations in humans. The body strips off a phosphate molecule from the psilocybin to form a different molecule called psilocin. Psilocin is actually what sends people on a trip because it binds to one of the same receptors as serotonin, which is the molecule involved in things from sleep and blood pressure to mood regulation and depression. The receptor is 5HT2A which is also targeted by other psychedelic drugs like LSD, MDMA, and mescaline.
Scientists think that psilocybin causes hallucinations by strengthening the connections between brain networks, even for areas that weren’t strongly connected before taking psilocybin. In mice, for example, psilocybin may actually be creating entirely new connections. In people, psilocybin increases the strength of the connections responsible for how you sense the world, while also decreasing the connections responsible for how we understand signals from our environment.
Can shrooms help with depression?
Policy changes in the last 10 to 15 years have led researchers to finally start studying not just the basic effects of psilocybin, but also the possible therapeutic benefits. These studies typically involve giving one or two moderate to high doses of psilocybin in the presence of at least one psychiatrist. The idea is for the patient to have a good trip experience where the lines between themselves and the world around them break down. This lets them feel connected with the world.
One of the areas of therapeutic interest is for people with treatment resistant depression, which is when the depression does not respond to or keeps coming back after use of antidepressants. This type of depression occurs in about 10 to 30% of people with depression. In one early study, researchers treated participants with treatment resistant depression, and about two thirds of them responded to psilocybin one week after treatment, and 60% still showed improved depression scores three months later.
Can shrooms help someone on antidepressants?
Only a few studies have been done so far, but they seem to suggest that psilocybin can improve depression scores pretty dramatically, and that there are pretty large improvements when compared to a placebo and compared to traditional antidepressants, which require a daily dose. Hallucinogens can show months of benefit after just one!
Can shroom therapy help with addiction?
It also seems like when it’s combined with therapy, psilocybin can be pretty good at helping treat addiction too. Researchers have looked at alcohol and cigarette addiction also. In a study of people with alcohol dependence, participants drank less frequently and had fewer heavy drinking days for up to two months after getting psilocybin treatment, which is less compared to just doing traditional therapy once a week.
For smoking cessation, one study showed that 80% of participants were smoke free after six months and 60% were still smoke free up to 57 months later, after just two or three doses of psilocybin. That’s almost five years!
Is it possible to get long term benefits from shrooms through microdosing?
One big question for future psychedelic research is whether it’s possible to get the benefits without actually tripping. Scientists are currently researching micro dosing, which involves regularly taking super small doses of psychedelics small enough not to trip, but enough to feel a positive mood boost. Researchers have been exploring the possibility of a non-hallucinogenic psilocybin-like molecule that also binds with the 5HT2A receptor that might give the antidepressant benefits without the high.
Should I trip hard if I use shrooms therapeutically?
There’s some evidence that people with more intense tripping experiences have better therapeutic responses. But you should always listen to your doctor when taking shrooms therapeutically. Getting the benefits without the trip would be great, because while psilocybin is non addictive and really difficult to overdose on, there can still be side effects like paranoia and anxiety while tripping. Importantly, the clinical trials of psilocybin that have been done involve having a therapist present for the entire trip and then more therapy in the days that follow.
Are the long term effects of shrooms positive or negative?
There are many possible long term effects from shrooms, and the research suggests that it is possible for the effects to be entirely positive! Even if you do not do shrooms therapeutically, or if you choose to try to have meaningful tripping experiences at home without a doctor present, it is still possible to obtain some of the positive benefits outlined above.