Shrooms. If you’ve taken them, you’ve probably wondered how they are able to have such a potent and profound effect on your mind. Throughout history many have assumed that shrooms possess an element to them that is spiritual. But modern science has revealed clues into the way magic mushrooms work, and the word ‘clues’ is intentionally used because science still has a lot to learn about how magic mushrooms affect the brain and how they work to alter mood and perception. This article is a brief of what science has to tell us about how shrooms interact with our brain to create their powerful effect.
Magic mushrooms are known for their ability to alter moods, perception and behavior. This is commonly referred to as tripping. The types of mushrooms that have this effect belong to the genus Psilocybe. These mushrooms are also very capable of inducing hallucinations, some of which have been described as being even more intense than reality. Psilocybe mushrooms are able to cause hallucinations due to the presence of the psychotropic tryptamines psilocybin and psilocin, although some species also contain other, weaker psychotropic compounds like baeocystin or norbaeocystin.
An individual mushroom may have 0.1 to 1.3 percent psilocybin.
Here’s What Shrooms Do to Your Body and Brain
Tripping on magic mushrooms has the effect of freeing the mind and opening it up to new ways of thinking and perceiving things, in fact it helps different parts of the brain interact with each other differently. This is one of the reasons scientists are seriously considering magic mushrooms as a possible alternative to modern medicine for people who suffer from mental health problems. It is possible that psilocybin could help provide long term solutions to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
Shrooms Can Improve Your Mood.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, magic mushrooms can lead to feelings of relaxation that are similar to the effects of low doses of marijuana.
Experts believe shrooms produce their effects by acting on neural highways in the brain that use the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Magic mushrooms have a powerful effect on the brain’s prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that regulates abstract thinking, thought analysis, and plays a key role in mood and perception.
They can also make you hallucinate.
Many people who take shrooms have reported experiences where their perception was altered in strange ways such seeing sounds or hearing colours. This effect results from the way psilocybin affects communication across brain networks.
Mushrooms trigger stronger activity across several regions of the brain that rarely or never engage with each other.
Magic mushrooms can change brain activity patterns. They can cause activity in some parts of the brain to become more pronounced while muting some areas. This effect also touches the part of our brain involved in maintaining our sense of self. The connections between brain circuits in the sense-of -self region is very pronounced in depressed people. Magic mushrooms can ease these connections and create new ones, having the effect of significantly reducing the brain’s proclivity to think depressive thoughts.
And your sense of time might be distorted.
It is common for people to perceive time more slowly when they are on psychedelic mushrooms. This also has to do with shrooms increasing or decreasing activity in different parts of the brain.
Chemists categorize psilocybin as a tryptamine compound though anthropologists classify it as an entheogen. Entheogens are a group of substances that facilitate mystical or spiritual experiences. Psilocybin is actually a prodrug; this means it is not the actual compound that makes us trip. What happens is that when someone consumes psilocybin, the acids in their stomachs convert it into another chemical called psilocin. Psilocin changes signalling in our nerve and brain cells which in turn triggers a psychedelic experience. A psilocybin trip will typically last from four to 12 hours, although this largely depends on the dose and the tolerance of the individual who takes it.
Scientists have gotten some clues to how psilocybin works to trigger hallucinations, periods of deep introspection, and profound leaps of logic. The way this occurs is that psilocybin converts to psilocin in the stomach. Psilocin then enters the bloodstream where it binds to serotonin receptors, which are primarily located in the digestive system.
Serotonin transmits signals through our nervous system. And it shares a similar chemical structure with psilocybin. Serotonin is responsible for regulating our hunger, sleep cycles, feelings of happiness and well-being, reward reinforcement, memory, body temperature, sexual desire, and our visual perceptions. Psilocin binds and partially activates the same receptors that serotonin does, which has the effect of causing dopamine to flood our system.
Although the psilocin trip doesn’t last very long, research suggests that the compound’s physical effects on our brain could last for a very long time, even up to five years from just a single dose.
How psilocin physically changes our brains is still unknown. The psilocin trip creates new neural connections in the brain. What happens is that parts of the brain that don’t usually communicate with one another start communicating at an abnormal rate. After the effects of the shrooms wears off, these new connections mostly go away, but some of those connections remain in place, possibly forever.
People who suffer from mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, or bulimia suffer because of miscommunication in their brains. If the government loosens their grip on magic mushrooms, a lot of studies can be carried out to discover effective ways in which magic mushrooms can be applied as a potential cure for these disorders. There is still tons of research that needs to be done because truth be told, not much is known about magic mushrooms beyond what has been written in this article. This substance interacts with the brain in strange and powerful ways, learning how to map, manipulate and mimic its effects could open up possibilities we can’t even dream of.
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