A major area of psychedelic research is its potential clinical applications in psychiatry. In particular, a major area of study has concentrated on the potential therapeutic effects of shrooms, acid, and MDMA for treating post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Memory plays a central role in the psychedelic experience,” begins a 2020 Psychopharmacology review. “The ability for psychedelics to provoke vivid memories has been considered important to their clinical efficacy.”
Throughout their review, the researchers found that psychedelics enhance autobiographical memory recall, which has therapeutic potential for overcoming traumatic experiences. However, psychedelics also have a dose-dependent effect of impairing memory task performance.
Mushrooms: everybody’s favorite quirk of nature. From the psychedelic genus psilocybe and the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis that “mind control” ants, to the mushrooms that clean up oil spills and the mushrooms that may serve as planetary habitats, researchers have found yet another use for fungi: radiation protection.
“The greatest hazard for humans on deep-space exploration missions is radiation,” says a preliminary report in the bioRxiv journal. “Certain fungi thrive in high-radiation environments on Earth, such as the contamination radius of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant… These organisms appear to perform radiosynthesis, using pigments known as melanin to convert gamma radiation into chemical energy. It is hypothesized that these organisms can be employed as a radiation shield to protect other lifeforms.”
Radiosynthesis runs parallel to photosynthesis — but instead of eating sunlight (UV radiation), these shrooms are eating gamma radiation. And it’s all possible through melanin, the same pigment that determines hair and skin color.
“Serotonin” (5-HT) is more than just a buzzword tossed around by Gen Z and Millennials when something benign boosts their mood.
The beloved hormone has an array of functions throughout the body, with seven types of receptors nestled in your brain and peripheral organs. Each of these receptors has subtypes with labels A through D, as well.
But there’s one serotonin receptor that’s often shrouded in mystery and intrigue — the 5-HT2A receptor. This is the serotonin receptor infamous for its role in the psychedelic experience.
But there’s hardly any discussion of its functions beyond its role in tripping your face off and how that’s tied to your mental health.
Amidst the buzz and bumble between your college campuses and local town halls, the murmur of four seemingly-alien words grows louder and louder.
“Entheogenic plants and fungi. Entheogenic plants and fungi. Entheogenic plants and fungi.” The phrase has a magical, mystical intrigue — and rightfully so.
Entheogenic plants and fungi refer to naturally-occurring psychedelic plants, such as psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, and the peyote, iboga, and San Pedro cactus.
These species have been almost-globally outlawed since the United Nation’s Convention on Psychotropics in 1971. Until recently, the only countries where psychedelics remained legal or decriminalized were countries where they held historic and cultural importance.
It only takes a few milligrams of a naturally occurring compound – or even a just few micrograms on a sliver of paper – to open your mind to a vibrant swirl of creativity and long-lasting personality changes.
While psychedelics have shown efficacy in treating various mental health conditions including anxiety, treatment-resistant depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, they also carry the potential to help researchers further understand the interplay between various brain networks, says a 2018 Medical Hypothesis study.
By now, it’s no secret the brain and gut are in constant communication – and yet, there’s still an air of mystery shrowding the gut-brain axis.
So far, we know serotonin is central to gut-brain signaling. In fact, 90 percent of serotonin is synthesized in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, according to a 2016 Nutrients journal review.
Psychedelics, including psilocybin (a.k.a ‘shrooms’), LSD (a.k.a. ‘acid’), and DMT are serotonergic drugs that bind to the 5-HT2A receptor, says a 2018 World Psychiatric article. This is central to triggering the “psychedelic experience.”
Although research on psychedelics in mood, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders has been and currently is being heavily investigated, with a particular focus on serotonin, the impact of psychedelics on gut health remains largely untapped and under-researched.