A study shows hallucinogenic mushrooms might actually affect people in a positive way. The hallucinogen, psilocybin, which is the active ingredient in the drug commonly referred to as “shrooms,” was the main focus of a study conducted last year looking at the measurable changes in the personalities of users. Many other studies of this compound have also discovered additional illnesses that magic mushrooms have been found to treat.
60 percent of participants in a 51-person study, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins, demonstrated lasting personality change for at least a year. The measurable change was in “openness” which includes traits like imagination, aesthetic appeal, various feelings and emotions, abstract ideas, and general broad-mindedness. These characteristic changes were measured on a scientifically validated personality inventory typically used when observing adults over many years. The researchers say that personality does not normally change significantly after the age of 30, suggesting a positive and significant effect in psilocybin users.
Roland R. Griffiths, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, says openness usually decreases as people get older. A shift to a more conservative lifestyle is common among people in the United States as they age.
The same method of personality measures seen in recent studies have been commonly used by psychologists investigating the makeup of human personalities and sub-types. These scales include “neuroticism,” “extroversion,” “agreeableness,” and “conscientiousness.” In this study, only openness was observed to have changed.
Griffiths says he believes the ingredient, psilocybin, has beneficial therapeutic uses in medicine. He is just one of many other researchers who support the finding that the ingredient in magic mushrooms can be used to treat illnesses on a therapeutic and effective level.
In 2013, Catlow BJ, Song S. and others discovered that psilocybin helped mice overcome a conditioned fear response. Their primary objective was to discover the extent to which this chemical modulates neurogenesis, thereby affecting acquisition and extinction of hippocampal-dependent learning. The researchers also discovered that this ingredient has the potential for much more than curing a stress-related condition. They believe their findings should influence future researchers who are interested in finding better treatments for their patients.
A study by the University of South Florida not long ago discovered the benefits magic mushrooms provide in repairing brain cells after traumatic injury. In this study, people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were indicated as a population that could benefit from the hallucinogenic compound. This study confirms previous research conducted by the Imperial College London, which determined psilocybin to effectively stimulate brain cell growth and erase frightening memories.
Reportedly, five percent of Americans, or 13 million people, suffer from PTSD, according to the PTSD Alliance. It is often associated with combat veterans. PTSD is claimed to occur twice as much in women due to domestic violence cases, rape cases, and reports of abuse.
Previous studies have shown evidence in support of psilocybin used to treat PTSD with minimal risk of adverse reactions. Psilocybin, in low dose, reportedly does not produce consciousness-altering effects. This drug, however, is currently listed as a dangerous Schedule 1 substance with “no medical benefits.”
Not only do many researchers claim psilocybin to be a safer alternative to pharmaceutical drugs, but some claim it has the potential of saving lives. One statistic reads that 18 United States veterans commit suicide every day. If better treatments were available to veterans and others suffering from stress-related disorders, life to them might then be worth living. Several researchers have found magic mushrooms to provide physicians a new and safer alternative to treating illnesses.
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By Lindsey Alexander
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