Wincing, I flash back to early 1970 when I attended a Led Zeppelin concert at Boston Garden higher than a hippie in a hot air balloon on magic mushrooms and Boones Farm. As strobe lights bedecked the stage and Jimmy Paige began “Whole Lotta Love”, I leapt in exuberance nearly plunging off the balcony. Splat! If not for the quick grasp of my lucid companion, I would have taken the stairway to heaven express.
A foolish use of psilocybin mushrooms, but my frontal lobes were infantile. But I confess, innocently dabbling in psychedelics opened doors to my mind that some might suggest should have remained shut, but I digress.
Flash forward: John Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, Hopkins’s scientists have discovered psilocybin found in psychedelic mushrooms, has vast benefits for treating trauma, PTSD, anxiety, depression, addiction (smoking, alcohol, opiate drugs of abuse), OPD, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders, clinical depression and can heighten brain function.
Despite ongoing research into its therapeutic and medical benefits, psilocybin has been listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act since 1970, which includes heroin, crack cocaine, and meth, however, the times they are a changin’ as cannabis, psilocybin, ayahuasca and MDMA are currently recognized as beneficial when used in supervised setting under the watchful eye of experienced, legally approved medical authorities.
Decades researching plant food as medicine taught me many psychoactive plant medicines and treatments, stigmatized as dangerous, evil tools of Satan, and illegal, are rising to new research laboratories, suggesting there just might be something to earth’s psychoactive plant medicines. “Psychiatrists, scientists, and mental health professionals considered psychedelics like psilocybin to be promising treatments as an aid to therapy for a broad range of psychiatric diagnoses, “according to drugpolisy.org
New research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, reports “In an ongoing search for new ways to tackle depression, researchers have compared psilocybin, the active compound of magic mushrooms, against a well-established antidepressant in a small phase II trial” Promisingly, the results show psilocybin was at least as effective as the common antidepressant when used alongside psychological therapy. It's still early research, but previous studies suggested psilocybin doesn't produce nearly as many side effects as antidepressants and its effects are almost immediate.”
John Hopkins Center, researchers focus on how psychedelics affect behavior, mood, cognition, brain function, and biological markers of health. “Upcoming studies will determine the effectiveness of psilocybin as a new therapy for opioid addiction, Alzheimer's disease, PTSD, post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, anorexia nervosa and alcohol use in people with major depression.” Nonetheless it’s still considered an illegal class 1 drug and can result in significant jail time.
From a New York Times op ed, titled, Can Magic Mushrooms Heal Us? “A very promising mental health experiment is taking shape in Oregon which is about to become the first state in America to try to build a support infrastructure through which psychedelic mushrooms can be woven into everyday life. This framework is different from what we’ve seen before: not legalization, not medicalization, but therapeutic use, in licensed facilities, under the guidance of professionals trained to guide psychedelic experiences.” Newsweek magazine reports, “Denver, Colorado passed a ballot measure decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms, more commonly known as magic mushrooms: "the adult possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms" would become the city's lowest law enforcement priority, further prohibiting the city from spending resources on penalizing shroom use. The city council of Oakland, California passed a similar resolution.” Newsweek Magazine quotes The Washingtonian reports Magic Mushrooms and Ayahuasca were decriminalized in DC as of 2021.
The NIH quotes Johns Hopkins Study of psilocybin in cancer patients: “A study showed psilocybin produced substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer, and that mystical-type experiences on session days mediated the effect of psilocybin dose on therapeutic outcomes. Participants, staff, and community observers rated participant moods, attitudes, and behaviors throughout the study. High-dose psilocybin produced large decreases in clinician-and self-rated measures of depressed mood and anxiety, along with increases in quality of life, life meaning, and optimism, and decreases in death anxiety. At 6-month follow-up, these changes were sustained, with about 80% of participants continuing to show clinically significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety.”
Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes reported, “More than half of patients with terminal cancer reported decreases in depressed mood and anxiety after taking psilocybin, and two-thirds said they believed taking the drug in the clinical setting was one of the most meaningful experiences of their lives. For some, it was on par with the birth of their children.” Newscientist.com reports, “About one-third of volunteers in the carefully controlled new study had a “complete” mystical experience after taking psilocybin, with half of them describing their encounter as the single most spiritually significant experience in their lifetimes.”
If done legally under supervision in the proper setting, not the purple haze of a cacophonous concert, perhaps it’s time to explore becoming inward traveling psychonauts seeking healing, enhanced creativity, and even spiritual expansion through a naturally occurring edible plant. The philosopher and teacher Rudolf Steiner once said, "For every human illness, somewhere in the world there exists a plant which is the cure.”