“Psilocybin’. You may have heard about psilocybin or ‘micro-dosing’ on a Joe Rogan podcast, or heard of its popularity by biohackers in silicon valley looking for a mental edge and productivity boost. As the mental health crisis is as present as ever in today's crazy world. An all natural alternative to harsh pharmaceuticals with little to no downside sounds too good to be true. So is it snake oil? What exactly is it and how does it work?
Psilocybin and Psilocybin’s active metabolite Psilocin is the naturally occurring psychedelic compound produced by more than 200 species of mushrooms. This compound taken in small doses or “micro-doses” has shown promising results as an alternative to harsh pharmaceuticals for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, PTSD and addiction.
Psilocybin’s impact on the brain
After consuming a microdose, Psilocin (the metabolically active form of psilocybin) binds to something called the 5-HT2A serotonin receptor. The same receptor serotonin binds to. Serotonin is responsible for mood regulation, sleep, blood pressure and low serotonin responsible for depression. Psilocybin once metabolized into Psilocin which has a similar structure to Serotonin and produces a physiological effect similar to that of serotonin without ever interfering with your natural production.
Studies using neuro-imaging technology show that after a single microdose of psilocybin has been consumed, it dramatically increases communication between areas of the brain networks, even in areas that were not strongly connected before taking psilocybin. In mice, for example psilocybin may be creating entirely new connections. In people, psilocybin increases the strength of the connections responsible for how you see the world, while also decreasing the connections responsible for how we understand signals from our environment leading to an altered state of consciousness.
This in small doses can give you a different perspective and let you see things from another angle. For myself, for example, I found microdosing helped me shift my perspective and get me out of my normal thought processes and thinking habits. helping me realize that worrying about potential scenarios in my day to day life that could possibly play out as a waste of energy. It helped me let go about worrying about silly things and prioritize what was truly important.
As humans were programmed to tune a lot of things out that our brain deems as not relevant to immediate survival and psychedelics temporarily disrupt this. They let the background come forward and you notice things about your environment that otherwise would have been ignored. While research on Psilocybin has drastically improved in recent days, we are still at the forefront on understanding how this incredible compound can help those suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders or those looking for a mental boost.
The future of mushrooms is bright!