Magic mushrooms have recently shown a lot of promise as a safer, natural and effective alternative to get rid of depression
Depression can strike anyone, anytime. Of course, occasional lows are commonplace. However, chronic depression can severely impact someone’s quality of life.
Some forms of depression are difficult to treat. And unfortunately, they do not respond to the usual antidepressants and therapies.
What’s wrong with antidepressants?
Antidepressants have courted many controversies since their discovery in the 1950s. Questions have arisen about how effective antidepressants actually are for improving mental health. This has been a source of much debate among the scientific community and the public alike.
A decade-old study conducted at the National Institute of Mental Health found that antidepressants were mildly effective in only 26% of the subjects. And by the end of the year, only 6% felt cured of their depression.
The efficacy of these drugs to treat and prevent recurrence has been under the scanner for years
Documentary maker Katinka Blackford Newman recently bared her struggles with depression. Her doctor prescribed escitalopram, popularly known as Lexapro.
The medication caused severe anxiety and restlessness. These are two of the symptoms that usually lead to suicidal tendencies or violence.
In her memoir “The Pill That Steals Lives”, Newman describes how she lost control over her thoughts. She explained how she became dependent on Prozac and other antidepressants.
She finally regained her life and her mental health after discontinuing these medications.
Antidepressants have many concerning side effects, including:
- Agitation, shaking, nervousness
- Not feeling well
- Stomach pain
- Loose stools or constipation
- Dizzy spells
- Excessive sleepiness or insomnia
- Sexual dysfunction
- Palpitation or fast heart beat
- Weight gain
- Low sodium levels, also called hyponatremia
Severe hyponatremia can include loss of consciousness, seizures, breathing problems and coma. Suicidal ideations and self-harm are other serious concerns with antidepressants.
Clinical psychologist and Harvard lecturer Irving Kirsch extensively researched placebo effects and antidepressants. He claimed that antidepressants interfere with the normal functioning of the brain cells.
The drugs may actually be contributing to the mental health problems
And this is according to several medical professionals.
There are many critics and skeptics of Big Pharma. They believe a conspiracy is behind the promotion of these nearly ineffective antidepressants.
Many studies reveal that antidepressants don’t fare better than placebos. Drug companies are also not bound to disclose negative results. Kirsch explained these issues in his book “The Emperors New Drugs“.
How can magic mushrooms help?
Natural and safer alternatives are always in demand. Especially more so for chronic ailments such as depression.
Magic mushrooms or psychedelic mushrooms contain natural substances psilocin, an alkaloid, and psilocybin. The latter breaks down into psilocin during digestion, which exerts an antidepressant effect.
The use of these mushrooms dates back to prehistoric times. Carvings from the stone age era reveal their usage. There are over a hundred different species under the class of magic mushrooms. All of them contain the same compounds.
Scientists have found that magic mushrooms are:
- Nontoxic – Magic mushrooms have no known toxicity at all, to any of the organs in the body, according to experts
- Non-addictive: Magic mushrooms do not cause physical or psychological dependence and addiction
- Boosts brain activity: Unlike most drugs, magic mushrooms can have a positive impact on the brain cells.
A 2014 study done in King’s College London showed that magic mushrooms stimulate and boost the brain activity instead of suppressing it
Dr. Paul Expert believes psilocybin does the job of increasing traffic on the informational highways in the brain. Psilocybin, being a psychedelic, can drive traffic on highways in which there is not much activity.
John Hopkins School of Medicine and the Imperial College of London have also carried out studies on psilocybin.
Researchers administered the compound and obtained MRI brain scans of the subjects. They concluded that psilocybin has antidepressant effects.
In another study, subjects consumed magic mushrooms for two months. 79% reported a greater sense of well-being and feeling of satisfaction.
Psilocybin does not only produce satisfaction. It induces meaningful spiritual experiences as well, according to the study.
Magic mushrooms no doubt have better and more positive outcomes
This is especially when compared to the unpleasant side effects of antidepressants.
Most cancer patients suffer from acute or chronic depression. For at least 50%of them, it does not respond to conventional antidepressants. In fact, the depression can be so severe as to lead to suicidal ideations and hopelessness.
The NYU Langone Medical Center studied cancer patients to see if magic mushrooms could cure their depression. Dr. Stephen Ross, who was the principal investigator, said that a single dose of psilocybin immediately reduced anxiety and depression in these patients.
Psilocybin was also tested on patients who have been suffering from chronic, unresponsive depression for more than 30 years. Where conventional therapies and medications had failed, psilocybin succeeded.
A one-week and a three-month follow-up of the study participants showed all experienced a significant reduction in depression.
Not Just a Depression Treatment
There are reports that magic mushrooms are effective against cluster headaches and other neurological ailments. Although a lot more research needs to take place in this regard. But the associated health benefits of magic mushrooms are being observed.
Conditions like obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD) may also lead to clinical depression. This can affect the quality of life severely. Studies show that psilocybin caused the immediate and complete remission of OCD. The results also lasted for a long time.
Addiction and alcoholism are other conditions that respond well to magic mushrooms. Studies are underway to see how magic mushrooms can potentially curb addiction.
We may not be far from the day when magic mushrooms will gain approval for use to treat depression. Let’s hope it is soon. This way people living in the darkness of depression can begin to create magic in their lives again!