Psilocybin: The Science behind a Magical Molecule

Excellent summary of some of the recent scientific research on the main constituent of psychedelic fungi via The Nexian:

Liberty CapsPsilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in many species of mushrooms. In this form it has a long history of use by humanity in the context of healing and divination, and it is still employed in this manner today by indigenous groups such as the Mazatec. Since the 1960’s awareness of psilocybin and the fungi within which it resides has spread into the Western world. Following the legal clamp down that resulted from widespread use of this and other psychedelics like LSD and mescaline at this time, scientific research into this compound and other psychedelics all but drew to a halt. In the last few years regulatory red tape has been loosening to some degree, and scientists have began studying psilocybin for a number of reasons. It appears that psilocybin is a highly multifaceted compound and has the capacity to act as a profound tool in the study of the brain and consciousness, as well as act as a treatment for a variety of psychological conditions.

Psilocybin is a compound of very low physical toxicity, but it can exert very powerful psychological effects, and the correct set and setting are of key importance when the drug is administered to reduce the chances of adverse reactions and to maximize potential benefits. On ingestion, psilocybin is dephosphorylated into the pharmacologically active molecule psilocin which closely resembles a key neurotransmitter serotonin in structure, and because of this it has a high affinity for 5-HT2A and 5-HT1serotonin receptors where it mimics the effect of this neurotransmitter. The psychedelic effects of psilocybin can be prevented by the chemical ketanserin, which acts as a 5-HT2A receptor antagonist, blocking psilocybin’s access to the receptor sites and preventing it from exerting an effect (Vollenweider et al. 1999). These receptors are located at varying densities in many parts of the brain, and play important roles in mood and motivation regulation, among other things. At medium doses psilocybin has also been found to increase an increase in cerebral metabolic rate of glucose, particularly in the frontomedial and frontolateral cortex (24.3%), anterior cingulate (24.9%) and temporomedial cortex (25.3%) brain regions (Vollenweider et al. 1997).

Recent technological developments such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) are allowing researchers to examine the brain less invasively and with greater precision than ever before. Brain imaging studies of healthy volunteers under psilocybin have found that brain activity was reduced in the default-mode network via a reduction in blood flow, and hub regions such as the thalamus and anterior and posterior cingulate cortex were affected. This in turn has downstream effects on consciousness, leading to a more unconstrained, expansive and free flowing state when compared to cognition in a sober state (Carhart-Harris et al. 2012). An overactive default mode network is associated with depressive states and obsessive rumination, so a reduction in activity of this network may have important implications for the treatment of depression. A reduction of activity in the default-mode network is also linked to experiences of ego dissolution commonly associated with psilocybin. This network is linked to our personality and sense of self, with the latter being experienced as less solid under psilocybin, and there is a sense of novelty, with people commonly describing experiencing the world akin to new, as through child like eyes. Activity in the medial prefrontal cortex was consistently decreased by psilocybin, which is of interest as this area has been observed to be hyperactive in people experiencing major depressive episodes. Mindfulness meditation has also been found to reduce activity in these same brain regions.

Read the rest on The Nexian

10 Comments on "Psilocybin: The Science behind a Magical Molecule"

  1. trompe l'oeil | Nov 24, 2014 at 3:46 pm |

    Vapor sublimated powder may be a more economical and reasonable means of experiencing the benefits in a shorter duration. Experiments with low heat have proven that results are not placebo due to controlled variables. I’m telling you for a friend. Not suggesting, because I’m not a doctor, I just play one on the internet.

    • Everyone seems to say different things in regards to vaping psilocin or psilocybin, so it would be interesting to so some solid confirmations of this. But if a shorter duration is what you want, you might as well just smoke some DMT since the two are extremely similar.

      Some of the upsides of mushrooms compared to a smoked DMT experience (which I think is also extremely useful by the way) are precisely because of their longer length and slower unfolding, which give more room for self reflection and assimilation. You can get years of psychotherapy in there. You can with DMT to at times, but sometimes that is a foot note when alien octopi are probing the inner vistas of your consciousness with 5-D instruments for 5 minutes.

      • trompe l'oeil | Nov 24, 2014 at 5:04 pm |

        Trust me, I’m familiar with what you speak of, I of course meaning… a friend.

        As for sublimated psilocybin, when coupled with some cannabis, has peculiar effects on consciousness, that can induce transcendent states of meditative ‘samadhi’ that are quickly felt and experienced, persist for between 10 to 45 minutes, and then subside into normality soon afterwords with a nice afterglow and some CEV’s and the occasional open eyed visuals.

        DreaMTime is a bit different, it’s far more, shall I say, meaning a friend says, instantaneously rapturous, comparatively to powdered fungus. I feel both serve distinct purposes individually, and have beneficial effects in particular ways.

        I’m not talking about, I mean…. My friend is not talking about setting it on fire, more a temperature of around 130 degrees to 180 degrees. not too much to destroy the active components. It’s worth a try, in all honesty.

        • thisbliss | Nov 24, 2014 at 5:39 pm |

          Can u describe your friends procedure for vaping this as I too have a friend who has a surplus of said substance to experiment with. Being a man on the go there are times he would prefer the businessmans lunch approach. Thanky

          • trompe l'oeil | Nov 24, 2014 at 6:08 pm |

            I’d hate to incriminate my friend on the outernet. Depends on your apparatus, 50/50 blend of herbal smoking mixture and powdered time traveling fungalamalgam. No temperature warmer than 93 Celsius, if it is hotter than that, be gentle for Christ sake.

          • thisbliss | Nov 25, 2014 at 2:47 pm |

            I understand. My friend said to pass on his thanks to yours. He will enjoy experimenting with this.

          • trompe l'oeil | Nov 25, 2014 at 3:26 pm |

            Let me know if it works, my friend is curious and is trying to get as many perspectives as humanly possible, for scientific purposes.

          • thisbliss | Nov 25, 2014 at 4:49 pm |

            Of course. Before running this by him though I am curious if it will work at that temp. I mean I understand why it must be kept down but will much vape be given off? Im imagining apparatus consisting of near boiling water with a thermometer to allow for feedback. Then submerging some kind of glass test tube containing whatever takes your fancy.

          • trompe l'oeil | Nov 25, 2014 at 5:55 pm |

            Utilizing a vaporizer with a digital temperature would be the most effective means of performing the experiment. Between 250 and 300 Fahrenheit would be the higher end of the temperature spectrum. My friend said to be careful.

  2. Steven Fay | Nov 26, 2014 at 4:38 pm |

    Making Tea with the mushrooms is the best way . Boil mushrooms in a small pan, pour through a sieve , pour into a cup with a tea bag in it and add milk, simple ,unless you are American then you wont be able to figure this out.

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