We’re sure you have heard of magic mushrooms as a possible way to treat mental illness, and of course, you might be curious about how they might help with anxiety and depression. They are known to induce hallucinations and other changes in how people see things. So, wouldn’t that mean that they’re more likely to make you feel worse than to make you feel better?
Some people do experience anxiety and paranoia when they take mushrooms. Still, more and more research shows that psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound in mushrooms, may help reduce anxiety and depression for a long time.
Psilocybin is similar to serotonin in some ways. Serotonin is a chemical messenger that helps keep your mood in check. Serotonin levels that are too low or out of whack can cause anxiety and depression. But mushrooms work on the serotoninergic system in your body, so they could help you get back to a normal level of serotonin.
Magic mushrooms, also referred to as functional mushrooms, can play a big role in soothing your anxiety. Find out how and then get to know which mushrooms are ideal for this purpose. But first, let’s start with getting to know what psilocybin is.
What Is Psilocybin?
Psilocybin is a drug that is found naturally in some kinds of mushrooms that grow all over the world, including in the Pacific Northwest. At higher doses, it is a hallucinogen, which means that it makes people see and hear things that aren’t there. Taking psilocybin can also make a person lose track of time and change how they see the world.
People who take psilocybin are said to have profound, life-changing experiences and realizations, but that doesn’t mean that taking the substance always makes someone feel good. It can also be scary, uncomfortable, or very emotional.
Since the 1950s and 1960s, American scientists have been studying magic mushrooms. Some Indigenous cultures may have used psilocybin much longer ago, but maybe not as long ago as most people think.
Can Psilocybin Treat Depression and Anxiety?
Psilocybin might help people with anxiety or depression that doesn’t respond to treatment. The plan is to use it along with other treatments, not as a treatment on its own. In the past, psilocybin has been studied for its capacity to assist people with terminal illnesses to feel less fear and anxiety. Recently, however, researchers have been looking into how it could help people with anxiety, depression, or emotional trauma.
The drug can be used to speed up the healing process – a single dose of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy can be the same as many sessions of psychotherapy alone, and this session can conjure intense things and lead to deep insights for people. The key to how well psilocybin works is when it is used with other treatments.
Read here if you’re curious about the psychedelic experience produced by mushrooms.
Best Mushrooms to Alleviate Anxiety
These are the top mushroom varieties that can help stabilize one’s anxiety levels:
Reishi (genus Ganoderma) has a good name in many Asian cultures that go back thousands of years. Ganoderma lucidum, also known as lingzhi, is the most common type of Reishi that you can find today. Reishi mushrooms are used by people who practice traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to restore the body’s vital energy (or Qi), soothe the mind, and lessen coughing and chest pain.
TCM doctors call reishi “the mushroom of immortality” because of the benefits it brings to one’s health.
Research shows that some of the chemicals in Reishi may help protect the brain. In one study, scientists looked into whether or not Reishi could help mice feel less anxious. When mice were given reishi extracts, they were able to stay in the elevated plus maze for much longer (EPM). EPM is a common way to measure how stressed-out rodents are.
The mushroom also helps in supporting deeper restful sleep. As we know, sleep and anxiety can make the other worse. When you feel anxious all the time, it can be hard to fall asleep. But not getting enough sleep can also make you feel things like anxiety. The Reishi mushroom might make it easier for you to fall asleep and help you gain more sleep hours.
Lion’s Mane The name “Hericium erinaceus” for the Lion’s Mane mushroom comes from the two compounds that have been studied the most: “hericenones” and “erinacines.” Studies show that the chemicals in Lion’s Mane mushrooms may enhance brain health and brain performance, keeping it functioning well and protecting against the normal loss of brain function that comes with getting older.
Doctors call Lion’s Mane the brain and nervous system mushroom because of this – serotonin and dopamine, which are called “happy hormones,” are important for many things, including your mood and your appetite. In general, researchers think that anxiety and other mood disorders are linked to low levels of serotonin and dopamine.
A study from 2018 looked at what Lion’s Mane did to mice that were stressed out. When stressed more than once, the mice that weren’t given Lion’s Mane had much less dopamine and serotonin in their bodies. When Lion’s Mane medicinal mushroom was given, the opposite happened.
The study’s researchers also found that inflammation was better in the mice that were given Lion’s Mane.
Scientists are still trying to figure out how Lion’s Mane affects the levels of serotonin and dopamine. They are probably caused by what the mushroom does to the microbiome in your gut. Dopamine and serotonin are two of the neurotransmitters that are made by the trillions of bacteria in your gut. Some research shows that they may have something to do with anxiety and depression.
A 2017 research also found that the polysaccharides in Lion’s Mane work in the intestines. Another study revealed that a protein from Lion’s Mane could help control the composition of the gut microbiome. Traditionally, Lion’s Mane has been used to treat digestive problems and problems with the organs that help digestion.
There’s also the influence that Lion’s Mane can have on mood – A mouse study from 2018 suggested that boosting hippocampal neurogenesis could make people feel better. During their tests, the mice that had been given Lion’s Mane mushroom extracts showed less anxiety and a better mood.
In another study, people who were obese or overweight were given a mixture of Lion’s Mane mushroom and mycelium to see if it made them feel better. At the close of the 8-week trial, the people in this study who were overweight and took Lion’s Mane said their mood had gotten a lot better.
Cordyceps are a group of more than 400 different kinds of mushrooms. Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris are the two most well-known species. Cordyceps mushrooms were used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to solidify the lungs and kidneys. It was also used to improve libido and sexual function.
Cordyceps may also be able to make you feel better, mood-wise. Animal and human studies so far suggest that Cordyceps may help promote a healthy response to inflammation. In theory, a healthy response to inflammation could help ease some anxiety and stress.
Cordyceps may help fight the damage that anxiety and stress do to the body’s cells. Cells that were treated with Cordyceps did better under stress, according to studies. Due to a unique compound called cordycepin, cordyceps may also help keep circadian rhythms in check.
How to Use Mushrooms for Anxiety
Functional mushrooms can help with anxiety, so it’s an excellent idea to take them for a long time. To allow a new supplement plan a chance to work, you should give it at least three months. But it’s also important to make sure that the supplements you take are of the best quality. What’s the meaning?
Make sure that the mushroom supplement you buy is made from mushrooms (fruiting body). There are a lot of helpful chemicals, like beta-glucans, in the mushroom.
Avoid products made with mycelium because this “root system” of fungi is usually grown on a grain substrate, and the grain that the mycelium doesn’t eat ends up in the finished product. So, the end product has less medicine and grain fillers that aren’t good.
Is Psilocybin Safe?
Even though more investigation needs to be done to be sure, the studies that have been conducted so far have shown that psilocybin is safe in general. Some people who take psilocybin have mild but unpleasant side effects like headaches, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, sleepiness, or reflexes that are too quick.
This is why it can be helpful to take psilocybin with the assistance of a therapist. Therapists can help people get ready for possible side effects and show them how to deal with them if they do happen.
Read here to learn more about the best way to consume magic mushrooms.
Who Shouldn’t Take Psilocybin?
Some people shouldn’t take psilocybin, though. For example, people with heart problems shouldn’t take it because it can temporarily raise their blood pressure and heart rate. Because it makes people hallucinate, it’s also not a sensible idea for people with schizophrenia, psychosis, or a family background either.
Psilocybin is a Schedule I drug, which means the DEA thinks it has a high potential for abuse. This isn’t always the case, however. One reason for this is that psilocybin may affect serotonin levels in the brain instead of dopamine levels.
Experts say that if you want to try mushrooms at home, you should work with a medical or mental health professional.
Not everyone will be able to use mushrooms. A trained therapist can always tell you more about how they might help your symptoms or how they might interact with the medicines you are already taking and make your symptoms even worse. For example, if you have schizophrenia, you might want to stay away from mushrooms and other psychedelics.
If you decide to try the mushrooms on your own, maintaining a few tips in mind can make the experience safer and more enjoyable. Also, get ready for the possibility of strong feelings.
Mushrooms can give you a sense of inner peace, euphoria, and well-being, but sometimes they can also make you feel bad. You might feel angry, scared, unsettled, or just too much.
If you face your feelings instead of trying to get rid of them, you might be able to learn more about the trip and any other problems you’re having. This is one good reason to relax with someone you know and trust on a trip. They can help you feel safe and calm, and they can encourage you to talk about how you’re feeling.
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Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and Cordyceps are the best mushrooms for anxiety that you can find in the market now.
2016 studies discovered that psilocybin could help people with breast cancer patients, among many others, feel less hopeless, anxious, and depressed quickly and significantly. A small study from 2020 found that it can also help people with major depressive disorder that doesn’t respond to treatment.