Psychedelics have been around for quite some time now. For some of you, you might already be aware that people have been experimenting, using, and discovering different psychedelic substances for thousands of years.
What might come as a surprise is that the research revolving around psychedelics has been around for a pretty long time now as well.
In the medical field, psychedelics have been used to treat some physical and mental ailments. For example, LSD, commonly known as acid, has been used to treat pain, anxiety, and depression.
The use of cannabis and other opioids also showed benefits in treating pain, especially in terminal illnesses. Even the use of MDMA, also known as ecstasy, was seen to benefit certain mental conditions.
With the continuous progression of research and science, psychedelics are getting recognized for the health benefits they can provide. One such psychedelic that shows promise would be psilocybin found in magic mushrooms. Specifically, there have been studies that have shown that mushrooms and PTSD might be a good pair.
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a psychiatric condition present in people who have either witnessed or experienced a traumatic event. Initially, this was thought to be a condition exclusive only to soldiers who have fought in wars.
However, research later discovered that even regular people could have PTSD. For example, events such as car accidents, natural disasters, and experiences of abuse can also be causes of PTSD in people.
People with PTSD have powerful and unsettling thoughts and feelings about their traumatic experience long after it has happened. So much so that they may experience flashbacks or dreams about the event.
This can affect them in several ways, including making them feel sad, afraid, or angry about the incident. As a result, this could make them become detached. Sometimes, one’s PTSD can cause one to avoid circumstances or people that remind them of the traumatic experience.
Doing so can help them avoid any negative or intrusive feelings, sensations, or memories regarding their trauma.
How Is This Treated?
For the longest time, the mainstay treatment for PTSD has revolved around two methods: psychotherapy and medication. The goal of psychotherapy is to address the thinking of a person with PTSD.
As PTSD can affect a person’s thinking, such as making them feel at fault or negatively altering their cognition, psychotherapy seeks to look at these dysfunctional “mechanisms” in the person’s mind.
The therapist then works on it with the patient, helping them correct these dysfunctions. The result is a patient who can better deal with their trauma and learn how to go about their lives moving forward.
In terms of pharmacological therapy, PTSD is treated mainly through antidepressants. This type of medication targets the part of the brain associated with memory and aims to mitigate the stress these traumatic memories cause.
In addition, these antidepressants focus a lot on keeping increased serotonin levels as much as possible. By doing so, one’s mood can be stabilized and help promote feelings of well-being and happiness.
Unfortunately, not all those with PTSD have much success with either of these treatments. It is because of this that people have started exploring alternatives to treating this psychiatric disorder.
Can psychedelics be used to treat PTSD?
In the search for alternatives, psychoactive drugs for PTSD have shown some potential in successful treatments. Out of the many psychedelic substances out there, MDMA and Psilocybin showed some benefit in treating PTSD.
MDMA is popularly used as a party drug, elevating serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the body. These cause feelings of intense joy and make the user feel more open and emotionally warm towards others.
Because of these effects, studies observed that it allowed a person with PTSD to become more open towards their situation, especially during psychotherapy. In turn, it made it easier for the psychotherapist to work with those with PTSD, making their efforts in therapy more successful.
Psilocybin, on the other hand, showed promise in a completely different way.
Psilocybin Therapy for PTSD?
A study found that using magic mushrooms promoted neurogenesis in the brain’s areas responsible for memories and emotions. While this was a study done in mice, it showed that the ability of psilocybin to repair this part of the brain resulted in better responses and adaptation to fear.
These findings showed some potential in magic mushrooms to halt the effect of trauma on those with PTSD.
Another study, done by a psychiatrist in NYU, was done on patients who had advanced cancers. At the end of the study, the patients improved their quality of life after treatment with psilocybin. Things such as having the drive to participate in activities, increased energy, and improved interpersonal relationships were some of the noted outcomes.
Since these patients experienced all kinds of distress and anxiety, the results concluded that this could also help with the similar effects PTSD has on people.
While more studies still need to be done to help find more conclusive results, the use of psilocybin does show potential. Despite this, some people still choose to take psilocybin as an experimental and alternative treatment for their PTSD.
Can I Use Them For PTSD Treatment?
While trials and studies are going on regarding mushrooms and PTSD, you must remember that psilocybin isn’t strictly legal in the United States. Because of this, its use is heavily regulated. But, aside from it being illegal, there is also another good reason for this.
Remember that psilocybin is a hallucinogen. Using hallucinogenic mushrooms for PTSD isn’t the easiest thing to do. When people use psilocybin, the potential for a “bad trip” is always there. If this were to happen to someone with PTSD, it could only make their trauma worse for them. This could then have detrimental effects on their cognition as well as their quality of life.
There are indeed benefits for the use of mushroom therapy for PTSD, such as being able to help lessen anxiety and even depression. But things such as the safe amount to use and the proper way of using these psychedelics are still unknown.
No knowledge of the correct dosage of shrooms may pose risks and must be done in a safe and controlled environment. Since medicine champions treatment with a lot of good with as little harm as possible, studies still need to be done to precisely achieve this.
Until the science and research on this get better and more refined, the use of psilocybin to help treat PTSD and other illnesses should be done in a closely monitored, controlled environment. That way, the safety of the patient is ensured. After all, you’d want to help make a person’s PTSD more manageable and not worse.