Most people in the USA do not know what psilocybin is, and it is easy to see why. Psilocybin, in a nutshell, is the molecule found in psychedelic mushrooms, a common recreational drug. As such, there are a lot of stigmas attached to the idea of using it in medical research. With the current research being done with CBD oil (an oil derived from cannabis as a powerful natural aid to fight chronic pain), many people have now realized the hidden potential that exists in certain plants. It was only a matter of time before psilocybin would be researched, and today several studies are being conducted on the benefits psilocybin have in treating mental disorders.
What is psilocybin and how can it help someone who is struggling? It is important to understand exactly what psilocybin is, how it can treat disorders, and what to expect when deciding to try micro-dosing therapy involving psilocybin.
What Is Psilocybin?
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring molecule found in some species of fungus that can cause hallucinogenic effects when consumed. These species of fungi are commonly referred to as ‘magic mushrooms’ and are sometimes used recreationally. Indigenous people have used psilocybin for hundreds of years for religious and healing rituals, so there is a long historical documented use of psilocybin socially and medically.
When scientists took a closer look and delved deeper into this particular molecule, they realized it is structurally similar to serotonin, a chemical messenger in the brain that regulates mood and how individuals view the world. Whereas large dosages of psilocybin can cause hallucinations that can potentially be negative, smaller doses, also known as micro-dosing, have shown to have positive effects on those struggling with a mental health disorder.
What Can Psilocybin Treat?
Psilocybin-assisted therapy has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a breakthrough therapy to treat depression and major depressive disorder with positive results. Current trials are underway to determine its effectiveness in treating other mental disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and substance abuse disorder. Psilocybin has been observed assisting in treating trauma-based disorders and may have uses beyond the mental health field, such as cancer research. Psilocybin may eventually bring hope to those that find current conventional medications and therapies to be unhelpful.
How Does Psilocybin Help?
Psilocybin directly affects the brain by temporarily destabilizing current neural networks. Those who are trapped in rigid thinking, such as ‘I deserve to be abused ’ or ‘It was my fault this experience happened’ will find that they are now free to think past their deeply held views. This helps a person rewrite their experience to positively affect them. Those who live with survivors’ guilt as a form of PTSD may now be able to finally believe that what happened was not their fault, which allows the healing process to continue. It may also rewire parts of the brain that are involved in psychiatric disorders by ‘resetting’ the brain and allowing it to form new, healthier connections.
What psilocybin also does is decrease part of a person’s default mode network, the brain network that allows them to think about themselves. This is often used in the form of meditation to help with sorting through memories and experiences. Those that struggle with depression usually have increased activity in this part of the brain, making it difficult to sort through experiences and feelings productively.
More research and trials are underway, but it is believed that psilocybin may be the key to helping those with severe mental disorders overcome difficult bumps in their recovery. When paired with other types of therapies, it may help those who struggle with their disorder achieve long-lasting recovery.
How Is Psilocybin Given to a Patient?
The current way to undergo psilocybin treatment is to be in a comfortable and unthreatening setting. Doctors will be present to observe and help during treatment, to offer reassurances, and to help in case of anxiety. Once the microdose is administered, usually in the form of a capsule, the patient is told to relax and look within themselves towards their experiences. It can take a few hours for the entire process to finish. It is not considered a pleasant experience, as looking within one’s own experiences can be scary, but short-lived. This is important in the process of rewriting experiences, and some feel stronger and more positive after undergoing the procedure.
Current side effects are still being researched, but so far it seems as though in small cases, the experience can be more frightening than helpful. Side effects seem to be drastically decreased in a comfortable and professional setting with doctors available, so this may be a clinic-only form of treatment and cannot be done at home.
The medical field is truly astounding, with more being discovered about the mind and how to heal it every day. Psilocybin may eventually become a regular part of treatment in the future, and can bring comfort and help to many who may need it.
Those that struggle with a mental health disorder may feel like they have exhausted all forms of help available and they are somehow beyond help.
At Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, we are always looking out for the newest medical breakthroughs in the mental health field to help those who feel they cannot be helped. You deserve the best care possible, and every day there is a new discovery that can bring peace and comfort to your life. You do not have to fear running out of options, as Acera Health offers both scientific and holistic methods of healing to suit any person’s needs.
You have the power of choice to choose what method you prefer for treatments. If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health disorder and feel like they no longer have hope for a solution, call (949)-866-3881 today to find hope again.
Melody is a highly skilled proactive clinical administrator, with more than 17 years of experience serving the community in the behavioral health field.
Her clinical management career started in 2011 as a compliance manager and program director. In 2018, she became an executive as chief clinical officer (CCO). She is a seasoned licensed marriage & family therapist.