Every so often, I come across a news headline saying that magic mushrooms may have more benefit than science originally thought. Apparently, this is shocking news…unless, of course, you’ve tried mushrooms before.
I truly believe there is a misconception about psycedelic drugs that needs to be clarified. Taking them is frequently referred to as “expanding your mind”, which is accurate as far as the experience goes but physically, these drugs do quite the opposite. Psilocybin, the active ingredient in mushrooms, for example, actually supresses brain activity. Essentially, you forget about the day-to-day stuff and all those little things that can get you down disappear for awhile. Your understanding of time and space is somewhat altered but your memories and visual experiences are heightened. While the experience in and of itself is amazing, you’re really spending several hours being as unproductive as possible. Which, in my mind, is a healthy behavior to participate in every now and again, particularly in a world that seems to move at the speed of light and everything passes you by.
For those of you wondering what the benefits are (other than a totally fun afternoon!) let me point out a few: relieves stress, anxiety, and pain, promotes positive changes in attitude, behavior, and mood, increased sense of life-satisfaction (ongoing months after taking psilocybin), increases creativity, and offers a sense of spiritualism in some users. Also, it’s non-addictive.
The negative effects that I’m familiar with are: bad taste and the possibility of a “bad trip” (which is most commonly experienced when one takes mushrooms with alcohol [a depressant, mind you], creating a more frightening [or depressing] occurence than usual).
The thing about mushrooms is that you have about a 99% chance of really enjoying yourself and feeling happier the next day than you have in the past without the need to take more. Not to mention, you’ll remember what happened and there are no empty calories involved. If only alcohol could make these same promises. Sadly though, alcohol which is addictive, dangerous, and unhealthy is the legal substance while this naturally-growing miracle is outlawed. Sounds logical. Now to go burn off the 700-some-odd calories worth of hard cider I drank yesterday.