Magic mushrooms, a special kind of mushroom that contains the hallucinogen psilocybin have long been part of pop culture, part of drug culture, and now are also becoming part of medical culture. Just ask Douglas K. Gordon, CEO of Silo Wellness, who makes understanding mushrooms his business. Says Gordon, “Psychedelics have been used for thousands of years in various cultures around the world and are recognized for their powerful healing and transformative powers. These natural remedies hold the invaluable promise of reversing decades of ineffective and varying results from a host of pharmaceutical drugs.”
Continues Gordon, “The research currently being conducted to better understand how various psychedelics work is quite instructive and revealing and we are seeing it in real time in the retreat setting. I am excited about the possibility that psychedelics will offer a convergence of science and nature to help so many grappling with the challenges of mental in the appreciation not only of their effectiveness but also their importance in helping to offer a solution that will allow so many to live more fulsome and expansive lives.”
Our knowledge about the psilocybe mushrooms is expected to increase with events such as Oregon becoming the first to permit supervised use statewide of this substance (think legal shrooms with supervision) in a law passed in 2020 (via Oregon Live). Until studies increase, however, here’s what we know now.
Psilocybin may help support mental health
Gordon explains that, “Scientists, doctors and researchers have been evaluating psilocybin’s potential to treat mental illness for decades — yet most agree that larger and longer clinical trials are necessary to determine the compound’s performance when compared to prescription SSRIs.” For those who need a refresher, SSRIs are the abbreviation for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors which include drugs like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft (via Mayo Clinic). Studies are pursing the idea that “magic mushrooms” may help improve depression, among other mental health ailments.
Explains Gordon, “…researchers at the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London, which compared the effects of two guided psychedelic therapy sessions to a six-week course of escitalopram, a leading antidepressant in the SSRI class more commonly known as Lexapro. The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that reductions in depression occurred more quickly and at more magnitude in the psilocybin group.” More specifically, the study concludes that psilocybin may well have antidepressant properties, but whether it can replace SSRI’s is yet to be determined (via New England Journal of Medicine).
It’s clear that while much remains unknown, there are many believers in the power of the mushrooms for health. Says Gordon, “…facilitators and clinicians know from observational data and what indigenous practitioners have known for millennia.”
How do people take magic mushrooms medicinally?
The way people take mushrooms in the movies in not how a doctor or scientist would advise you to take therapeutic psilocybin. Instead, a clinician would recommend what is called microdosing. Explains Gordon, “Microdosing is most commonly referred to as the practice of taking extremely small doses of a psychotropic drug at a sub-perceptual level. The benefits of microdosing at this level may include being able to witness a given drug’s effects at a cellular and physiological level, while minimizing its full psychological effects and any undesirable side effects associated with use.” In summary, you’ll feel something, but you’ll probably maintain a firm grasp on reality.
Describing his own recommendations Gordon shares that a microdose is typically, ” …0.1 grams of dried biomass. This often leaves the person reporting feeling a slight body hum and a feeling of greater focus or creativity.” And while these smaller doses have been studied, it is always recommended to try this or any other untested treatment through medical supervision. Explains Gordon, “Dosage, set and setting are everything. Working with an experienced retreat facilitator or clinical practitioner can mitigate against the risks of taking too much and going too deep, or too little and getting paranoid or uncomfortable. “
Our understanding and acceptance continue to expand
Gordon and his team emphasize that psilocybin treatments should be an individual decision between a patient and their medical provider. Says Gordon, “Each human has their own unique body chemistry and medical history, so the most important aspect of harm reduction is to speak with a medical professional before consuming psilocybin or at the least work with an experienced host that has proper screening protocols in place.” He adds that some people should not take psilocybin, but also to trust in facts and not fear the stigma.
Believing that mainstream acceptance may be just around the corner Gordon further explains, “With the right education, continued research and responsible use we believe that psychedelics will continue to be readily embraced for the enormous potential they hold for treating mental health. In many ways, given the tremendous investments in research and the magnitude of the early indications from that research, psychedelics have tremendous potential and we are seeing those in action as we currently offer these compounds in a retreat setting in Jamaica and Oregon.”
Emphasizing that this if the real deal, Gordon shares some parting thoughts, “It’s not theoretical. We are living it while helping people right now. We believe that through our partnership with the Bob Marley estate in creating the first global mushroom brand that we have a tremendous opportunity to broaden acceptance and support the normalization of mushrooms and psychedelics.”
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