Man and Psychedelics

The first in our series about man’s fascination with psychedelics. Is there a potential for drugs like these to be used for treatment?

In the previous article about mushrooms we took a look at the ritual use of hallucinogens from ancient cultures to the hippy movement of the 1960’s and 70’s.  During the “civil rights era,”  in places like Haight Ashbury, California, many men and women casually took mushrooms.  To some, this drug might have seemed to be  nothing more than a fun three to five hour trip with friends .  Popular California locations were usually somewhere in nature… like on the beach, somewhere out in the Anza Borrego Desert, near east San Diego County, or maybe in the Big Sur National Forest.

“It was all about getting high, seeing colors and expanding your perception of reality…and all the while getting a little closer to a sense or understanding of God than before you ever tried them (mushrooms),” said grandmother and retired nurse Julia Scanlon, in a recent interview at the Wyndham Assisted Living Community in Arroyo Grande, California.

“It’s like everyone was a family, and we were always permanently camping it seemed, swimming in rivers, cooking and eating together, there was a real sense of community.”

Mushrooms are considered by some to be merely

  • trippy
  • disgusting
  • scary
  • hallucinogenic
  • stomach pain inducing
  • visual euphoria enhancing mind melting medecine

But lately, psilocybin mushrooms are now starting to look more and more appetizing to the medical community as their therapeutic values come to light. Scientists at the John Hopkins School of Medicine have been taking a serious look at the effects of psilocybin (the chemical found in many psychedelic mushrooms). Psilocybin gives the user a sense of euphoria that is

  • dream-like
  • hallucinogenic
  • mystical

and lasts roughly 3 to 5 hours (depending on the potency of the mushrooms). Mushrooms can be eaten or drank by brewing them like you would a simple tea. Recommended dosage for a first timer on mushrooms would be two to three caps and two stems, wait an hour, then proceed with more caps and stems if needed…only a tiny bit more at a time. Researchers at Johns Hopkins say they have found the perfect dosage to produce ground breaking emotional, mystical and spiritual experiences that “offer long-lasting life-changing benefits” with little to no negative reactions.

An article in the New York Times recently spoke of a doctor who had been suffering from depression, who decided to take part in the Johns Hopkins experiment on psilocybin mushrooms. “After taking the hallucinogen, Dr. Martin put on an eye mask and headphones, and lay on the couch listening to classical music as he contemplated the universe. All of a sudden everything familiar started evaporating.” It is this feeling of the familiar evaporating, breaking down the walls of patterns in the mind or subconscious that Dr. Martin credits with helping him overcome his own depression, “profoundly transforming his relationship with his daughter and friends.” He put it up there with one of the most profound event of his life.

Stay tuned for part three where we interview more people who have benefited from this radical type of psilocybin therapy.

In this article I will interview several people who suffer from depression and who have used psilocybin mushrooms in particular to try and give you their perspective as to why they recommend this radical, “somewhat new-again” form of therapy verses the traditional methods.

A source I interviewed, who wishes to remain anonymous, who has also suffered from long term depression, for a period of well over 18 years, recently experimented with psilocybin mushrooms, and with great results. After reading a few articles online about psilocybin mushrooms and their positive effects on depression, “Subject A” said she decided to give it try.  The more commonly accepted mood enhancing drugs like antidepressants that she had been prescribed for her depression and the counseling sessions that she could hardly afford with her low income status weren’t working for her.

“Subject A” took the mushrooms in a safe setting (inside her apartment with her cat).  She made a ginger, honey, and lemon tea and said that within 45 minutes she felt “as if a veil of sadness had been lifted from her mind.” A feeling of something similar to a cascading wash of chemicals raining down in her brain seemed to give her many different viewpoints, or perspectives on dealing with the psychological issues that had repeatedly been a source of pain and stagnation for her.

Subject A said the walls seemed to dissolve around her and “the patterns in my life that were keeping me from exploring roads to true happiness seemed to reveal themselves before my eyes and then dissolved, giving way to a new, more positive outlook and direction in my life that I could have never before seen.”

Therapists, pharmaceutical drugs, and counseling were what seemed to be the “long route” and in 4 hours Subject A said the mushrooms were “Like a bullet train to the real cause of my unhappiness and depression, and the destination it took me too gave me new insights on why I was the way I am and what I should do about it differently.”   Wow.

Another anonymous subject, “Subject B,” had been suffering from clinical depression and took psilocybin mushrooms during a severe bout of depression his first year at college.   Later, when he went to see his therapist after the incident, the therapist was amazed at the changes she saw in her patient. The patient told his therapist he “firmly believed the mushrooms saved his life.

Psilocybin is a “serotonin agonist” and experimental subjects reported that the “trip” taken on these mushrooms resulted in very positive, long term changes in mood. The positive results came even after one or two sessions 2 months apart from each other. Scientists are examining psilocybin mushrooms now more than ever. Using “rigorous protocols and safeguards” scientists have gained public acceptance and permission to re-engage in studies of the drug’s potential for “illuminating the nature of consciousness.”