Psilocybin has been around for thousands of years. Their historic presence is unquestionable but their scientific value isn’t. At least, it wasn’t until researchers decided to study these mushrooms for potential therapeutic benefits.
After seeing the rising phenomenon of Silicon Valley rich-enthusiasts consuming “cognitive enhancers” in the form of hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and psilocybin, things were clear. There are other powerful psychodelics like ayahuasca medicine from the Amazon jungle and salvia divinorum (yerba de la pastora), we wrote about before.
We needed more studies on these mushrooms. And more studies we received. For starters, the anecdotic evidence was there all along. One Dennis van der Meijden consumes 0.1-0.4 grams a microdose every three days. He says it “sharpens all the senses as if the frequencies of all of your atoms and energy field are raised a little bit and are being slightly more conscious.”
There are many more such testimonies about the benefits of magic mushrooms spread around the internet. People are consuming them for various reasons. Either they’re trying to self-medicate for anxiety or depression, or they want to increase their productivity and creativity.
However, are these benefits real or just placebo-based illusions? Let’s take a look at how psilocybin acts on your brain!
Convergent and divergent thinking
A study performed in 2018 by a team of researchers in the Netherlands discovered that psilocybin didn’t cause any changes in the abstract thinking, problem-solving, or rational thinking abilities of participants. Instead, the participants scored higher on their creativity tests that looked at their divergent and convergent thinking.
Divergent thinking is mental flexibility, simply put. It refers to the ability of the individual to diverge his focus and thought patterns into multiple directions to seek various answers to a single question.
Convergent thinking is the exact opposite – a form of razor-sharp focus and mental discipline to help you narrow down the ideal answer to a single problem. This is also tied to abstract thinking.
How does psilocybin achieve these effects? Biochemistry, that’s how. Psilocybin naturally interacts with receptors for the serotonin neurotransmitters in your brain. One area that is filled with these receptors in your cerebral cortex. The cortex contains these receptors in areas known to be responsible for introspection, imagination, and reflection.
The experiment looked at 38 participants who consumed a microdose of 0.37 grams of dried mushrooms. After approximately 90 minutes, they completed a series of tests meant to analyze their creative problem-solving skills and fluid intelligence levels. While the test subjects performed similarly on the fluid intelligence tests both before and after microdosing, they scored higher on the others test post-microdosing.
The researchers correlated this with an increase in the convergent thinking form of creativity. However, they also claimed that these results could originate from the participants’ expectations and not the psilocybin itself. That’s why they recommended that more studies are made to confirm or negate this.
Is psilocybin microdosing good for anything else?
At the very least, we’re beginning to understand how psilocybin works on the human brain. Microdosing these magic shrooms has become the favorite past-time of many success-driven young people. They are looking for brain pills to improve their performance and get to the top of the food chain faster than everyone else.
However, psilocybin microdoses provide other benefits that have nothing to do with performance. Instead, we’re talking about therapeutic uses like the effects it has on treatment-resistant depression. Other studies have talked about psilocybin’s effects on countering anxiety and even cluster headaches.
Clearly, these magic shrooms have many more uses than it is conveniently known. Unfortunately, the scientific evidence is very sparse when compared to the overwhelming anecdotic evidence coming from people all around the world.
A couple of studies also raise a series of interesting question marks related to the long-term side effects of microdosing psilocybin. Some of them claim that extended exposure to the drug, albeit in sub-perceptual quantities, can restructure your brain patterns and even cause permanent damage. The damage most likely refers to long-term changes in the brain’s internal structure or reactions to outward stimuli.
Check out more about the legal safety on our article: Will Magic Mushrooms (Psilocybin) Show Up on a Hair Follicle Drug Test?