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How are psychedelics used in therapy?

Mushroom in green forest. Mushroom in rain forest. Mushroom bright. Psychedelic mushroom.

You have probably heard people talking a lot more about psychedelics and how they are using them for depression, anxiety, and PTSD. You have probably also heard about micro-dosing, but is it safe? Is it something you can try? Is there any research behind the treatments? I’m here to break it down to what we know based on research, and how they are being used in therapy to help with certain mental illnesses. There’re many different psychedelic drugs out in this world, but the one that has been most studied has been LSD and Psilocybin. I’m going to focus on psilocybin in this article, but you can check out the Netflix documentary “How to Change your mind” where they go into depth on many different types of psychedelics, on episode 2 they talk about psilocybin. So, what's psilocybin? Psilocybin, also known as “magic mushroom”, is a hallucinating substance found in different species of mushrooms1. The most common mushroom species used are Psilocybe cubensis, Psilocybe semilanceata, Psilocybe cyanescens, and Psilocybe azurescens2. Is psilocybin safe? Psilocybin is a substance that's still being studied, and while research shows that in low dosages it's safe to consume, it does have side effects that could be negative, especially if taken in high doses. The side effect include nausea, vomiting, and/or loss of coordination, and in higher doses: dissociation, panic attacks, paranoia, and/or temporary psychosis. It's also not recommended to forage for these mushrooms in the wild as there are mushrooms that look similar and are poisonous. The side effects sound scary; why would anyone try this? The drug is being tested in clinical trials and has been shown to have a positive effect on patients suffering from depression, anxiety, and even PTSD when taken in specific dosages3. A study showed that when comparing the symptoms of people with depression that took psilocybin versus people with depression that didn't take the drug, the ones that took psilocybin experienced symptom improvement twofold4. Another study compared the drug to the SSRI antidepressant escitalopram and saw that the people who took two doses of psilocybin saw the same benefits as taking a 6–week treatment of the SSRI antidepressant5. The research is still ongoing, and the results are very promising but much more needs to be done before it’s legal to consume. What happens when I take this? Can I legally consume it?

When taking this drug, you may have a spiritual experience that can alter positively the way that you think, you may also experience a positive mood change, and/or the feeling of euphoria. The drug has helped patients with terminal illnesses become comfortable with the idea of “what happens next” and how they interpret that. This is all done under a controlled environment and under professional supervision. It must be done with someone that fully understands the drug, and for now, it’s illegal to consume. Okay so it’s illegal *rolls eyes*, when can we try it? It's illegal for now, but because of the awareness and the push for more research, we are slowly coming to make this amazing drug legal and safe to consume. Holistic medicine has been around for years and has been using this drug for many years for a plethora of uses. Are there conspiracy theories on why it’s not legal? Of course! Big Pharma is at the top of the list for the conspiracies, and also the fact that there’re many “drugs” out there that are far more dangerous and addicting that we consume on a regular basis… but more on that later!



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