Over the last few years, psilocybin or “magic mushrooms” have gained a lot of attention in the medical community for being able to aid in things such as the relief of depression and other mental health issues. Psilocybin has even been known to combat cluster headaches effectively and is used to help fight addiction.
So, why does it seem like psilocybin and other psychedelics get such a bad name, then? When most people think of magic mushrooms, they immediately gravitate toward thinking about things like drug addiction, bad trips, and all of the negative things associated with mushrooms.
Like other mushrooms, such as functional mushrooms and adaptogenic mushrooms, magic mushrooms can significantly improve your quality of life when used correctly. Magic mushrooms have been used for religious, medicinal, and recreational purposes since the beginning of time.
Just like the psychedelic experiences mushrooms create, their history has also been a long and winding journey! This blog will briefly examine psilocybin’s ups and downs and where mushrooms stand in our culture.
What Is Psilocybin?
Before we delve into the history of magic mushrooms, it will help to know precisely what psilocybin is and its effects. Psilocybin is the main psychoactive ingredient found in magic mushrooms. These mushrooms may also be called shrooms, psychedelic mushrooms, psychotropic mushrooms, or hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychoactive and hallucinogenic compound found in mushrooms. This ingredient is converted into another psychoactive compound called psilocin when consumed by humans.
Psilocin and psilocybin work by binding to a user’s serotonin receptors, which is what produces these mushrooms’ psychedelic experiences. Some reported effects when taking these psychedelic mushrooms are changes in mood and perception, heightened awareness, and sometimes auditory and visual hallucinations.
Suppose users do not use magic mushrooms responsibly. In that case, they can experience a “bad trip,” which is how magic mushrooms have gone from being perceived as a magical experience to being considered a schedule 1 drug with no purpose outside of recreational use.
The History Of Psilocybin: Psilocybin Through The Ages
As briefly stated, psilocybin is the primary chemical in magic mushrooms responsible for their psychedelic experience. It has been used for thousands and thousands of years for ritual, religious, medicinal, and recreational reasons.
Where It All Started: Prehistoric Psilocybin
There is a widely believed theory that magic mushrooms expedited human evolution by creating a state of hyperconnectivity between brain networks, sparking ideas such as language and religion, and enabling technological innovations. This theory is known as the “stoned ape” theory.
This theory is backed by the fact that psilocybe mushrooms are available and common on all of Earth’s continents.
Scientists and archaeologists have also discovered murals and rock paintings dating back as far as 10,000 BCE. Murals were located in Northern Australia, depicting mushrooms and psychedelic experiences, and rock paintings were found in Spain showing the same type of images.
With all of the information and images discovered from these ages, it can be argued that humans have been using psychedelic mushrooms since our brains developed and became evolutionary distinct.
Psilocybin And Ancient Cultures
Psilocybin was taking over the entire world in ancient times. The most popularly known cultures that used psilocybin for rituals and spiritual ceremonies were in Central America. The two tribes most recognized for this were the Mayans and the Aztecs. Magic mushrooms in their language were known as “flesh of the gods” and were thought to be a means to communicate with their gods. Research shows that they also used other psychedelic substances such as peyote, morning glory seeds, and peyote.
Psychedelics were widely used in ceremonies during this time in Central America until the Spanish conquered the indigenous people there and banned the use of psychedelics for ritualistic purposes.
Psychedelic mushrooms were also used in other locations at this time. One of these locations is Siberia. Tribes in Siberia were known to use a mushroom called Amanita Muscaria. They used this mushroom to push themselves physically and endure cold temperatures through its dissociative effects.
In Ancient Greece, famous figures such as Plato, Homer, and Aristotle attended ritualistic ceremonies worshiping the god Demeter. During these ceremonies, they drank a psychoactive concoction that contained psychedelic mushrooms.
Similar to the Aztecs and Mayans, in Ancient Egypt, magic mushrooms were considered “food of the gods.” They were often consumed by priests and the upper class during religious ceremonies.
Psilocybin In Western Culture: Early Psilocybin Research
It is thought that magic mushrooms were first discovered in western culture in 1799. A British family picked and ate them by mistake. This led to magic mushrooms being given the taxonomic classification of psilocybe Semilanceata in 1871.
Later, two ethnobotanists discovered that these mushrooms were being used in a therapeutic setting in Mexico and had a depressive effect on the nervous system and published their findings in 1939.
What got research going was when Gordon Wasson and his wife traveled to Central America. They traveled there to learn more about these magic mushrooms. They took magic mushrooms and were guided through their trip by local shamans. When they returned to America, they published their findings in life magazine in 1957.
Albert Hoffman, the scientist who synthesized LSD. Discovered and isolated psilocybin and psilocin from magic mushroom samples sent to him by Wasson. He then created a synthetic version Indocybin that Sandoz Pharmaceuticals sold.
The next big break for psilocybin was the infamous Harvard Psilocybin Project. This project used Pharmaceutical Grade Psilocybin to experiment with how psilocybin could solve human emotional issues. Unfortunately, the researchers handled this experiment poorly, using pressured students and prisoners to conduct their work.
The War On Drugs: A Pause On Psychedelic Research
Many people are likely familiar with the music festivals and “drugs and free love” movement of the 1960s. During this time, many people were experimenting with psychedelics.
Due to the rise in popularity of psychedelics at this time and the disillusionment with the government they were causing, psychedelics were banned in 1968. Two years later, psilocybin was labeled a schedule 1 drug along with LSD and cannabis.
Later in 1971, Nixon passed the Controlled Substances Act and launched the “war on drugs.” This ban stopped almost all research on the benefits of psilocybin and other psychedelics for humans.
Where Psilocybin And Magic Mushrooms Stand In 2022
As explained above, due to psilocybin being considered a schedule 1 drug, almost all research on it was halted for nearly thirty years. In 1977 the University Of Zurich started researching psilocybin again.
Their studies found that psilocybin increases brain activity and may also be effective at treating numerous psychological conditions and chronic pain.
In 2022 many studies are being conducted on the benefits of psilocybin to effectively aid in fighting depression and drug addiction.
Although there are many studies and benefits of psilocybin, it is still considered a schedule 1 drug in all 50 states.
Due to these promising findings, there has been a major push to decriminalize and legalize psilocybin across the country. Several states have already decriminalized psilocybin.
Magic mushroom spores are also entirely legal in all 50 states. Spores not contain psilocybin until they are fully grown. Many people purchase these spores for research purposes and taxonomy. Here at Great CBD shop, we have 8 of the most popular mushroom spores available for customers to research and enjoy!