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Psychological and Spiritual Benefits of Psilocybin

By Wes Annac, Editor, Culture of Awareness & Openhearted Rebel

I wrote the following for the 227th issue of the Weekly Awareness Guide, a written document distributed weekly via email that I offer for $11.11 a month.

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Psilocybin, the natural hallucinogenic compound found in various species of psilocybin mushrooms, has been found to treat depression, anxiety, and other serious mental illnesses.

As we’ll learn, extensive research into its benefits was lost by the 70s due to its classification as an illegal drug. Research on the benefits of LSD and other psychedelics was lost for the same reason. Despite this, credible modern-day researchers are providing solid evidence that psilocybin is a beneficial compound that can help treat mental illness.

“Remarkable” Effect on Depression

Justin Gardner at The Free Thought Project writes that William Richards at John Hopkins University, who’s been dosing study participants with psilocybin for 15 years for research purposes, published his first study in 2006 that displayed the compound’s therapeutic benefits. This paved the way for more wide-ranging research, such as the studies we’ll learn about below. (1)

Justin writes that the results of the first two major clinical trials on psilocybin were published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology on December 1st. Along with William Richards’ research, these results displayed the compound’s “remarkable” effect on depression and, more specifically, end-of-life stress. (1)

The authors of the first study reported that psilocybin can lead to remarkable long-term improvements in anxiety and depression. It can also decrease cancer-related “demoralization” and “hopelessness”, improve spiritual wellbeing, and increase one’s quality of life. By the study’s 6.5-month follow-up, the compound was associated with anxiolytic and anti-depressant effects; around 60-80% of participants displayed significant reductions in depression and anxiety. (2)

Sustained Benefits, No Adverse Effects

The authors stated the compound was also found to provide “sustained benefits in existential distress and quality of life”. The “mystical experience” induced by psilocybin is believed to mediate its therapeutic effect on anxiety and depression, and overall, the participants’ attitude toward death had improved by the study’s end. (2)

The second study’s authors concluded that a “single dose” of psilocybin significantly decreased depressed or anxious moods, increased quality of life, and decreased death-related anxiety in patients with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis. These effects endured for at least 6 months. (2)

Justin writes that there were no serious adverse effects from the study, but less than 18% of participants experienced nausea, headaches, and other symptoms that didn’t require medical treatment. (1)

Both studies present clear evidence that psilocybin can help with depression and anxiety. It makes you wonder why this compound isn’t already being used for this purpose. We don’t really need more research, as it’s already clear what this compound can do. The next step is to start using it.

Psilocybin and Reincarceration

Research shows past psychedelic use, which includes the use of psilocybin, can be a factor in whether a prisoner stays out of jail after release.

Cassius Kamarampi at Era of Wisdom writes that Researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Alabama conducted a study at the Birmingham School of Public Health, which focused on psychedelics as a treatment for domestic violence tendencies; particularly in people who’d been to prison. Its participants were prisoners who have and haven’t taken psychedelics. (3)

Cassius writes that the study examined men ages 17-40 in the criminal justice system and followed a total of 302 men. Many who reported taking psychedelics in the past didn’t end up in jail again, whereas some who reported never using them were reincarcerated after release. (3)

A university press release stated that 27% out of the 56% of participants who’ve used psychedelics went back to jail, whereas 42% of those who never used them were arrested again within seven years of their release. (3)

It also stated that “thousands of studies” from the 1950s to early 1970s proved hallucinogens have medicinal uses. Research was suspended, however, when LSD and other psychedelics were classified Schedule 1. Many studies have been forgotten in the decades since. (3)

Spiritual Benefits

So far, we’ve learned about the psychological benefits of conscious or monitored psilocybin use. Now, let’s learn what it can do for the soul.

Psilocybin has long been associated with a profound sense of spiritual awakening; in some cases, even in people who don’t believe in God and have no way to explain the love and expansiveness they feel in a psilocybin-induced state. It transcends anything they know or can put into words, and it can leave them with a lasting yet indefinable sense of connection with the Source of life.

Maia Szalavitz writes that research from the John Hopkins School of Medicine found that psilocybin can have “lasting medical and spiritual benefits”. During the study, Hopkins scientists successfully induced transcendental experiences in volunteers. This provided long-term psychological growth and helped them find peace with no adverse health effects. (4)

Maia writes that Roland Griffiths, professor of behavioral biology at Hopkins and lead author of the study, reports that he found the “sweet spot” where psilocybin’s positive effects can be optimized and the “disruptive” fear and anxiety that sometimes accompany the experience can be avoided. (4)

The study, Maia writes, was comprised of 18 healthy adults at an average age of 46. They participated in five 8 hour “drug sessions” in which some were given psilocybin and others a placebo. All participants were college graduates, 78% of them participated in religious activities, and they were all interested in spirituality. (4)

Two years after the study ended, Maia writes, 94% of participants who received psilocybin reported it was one of their most meaningful experiences. For 39%, it was their single most meaningful. Friends, family, and colleagues of participants given psilocybin also reported that it made them calmer, kinder, and happier overall. (4)

Here to Help

This study gives us a sense of the long-term spiritual benefits psilocybin can provide. It turns out spiritual psychedelic users were right all along: this and other natural compounds can assist the expansion of consciousness while providing an overwhelming feeling of love and healing.

Psilocybin offers an effective solution for depression, an enhanced sense of wellbeing, and for some, spiritual awakening. It only takes an open mind to see that, like THC, CBD, and other medicinal compounds, nature put it here to help.

Sources:

  1. Justin Gardner, “First Major Clinical Trials Show Magic Mushrooms Heal Mental Illness like a ‘Surgical Intervention’”, The Free Thought Project, December 4, 2016 – http://thefreethoughtproject.com/first-major-clinical-trials-show-psilocybin-heals-mental-illness/
  2. “Rapid and sustained symptom reduction following psilocybin treatment for anxiety and depression in patients with life-threatening cancer: a randomized controlled trial”, Journal of Psychopharmacologyhttp://jop.sagepub.com/content/30/12/1165.full
  3. Cassius Kamarampi, “Study: LSD and Psilocybin Mushrooms Treat Roots of Criminality, the Rise of Entheogens”, Era of Wisdom, February 29, 2016 – http://www.eraofwisdom.org/study-lsd-and-psilocybin-mushrooms-treat-roots-of-criminality-the-rise-of-entheogens/
  4. Maia Szalavitz, “‘Magic Mushrooms’ Can Improve Psychological Health Long Term”, Time, June 16, 2011 – http://healthland.time.com/2011/06/16/magic-mushrooms-can-improve-psychological-health-long-term/

Featured image credit: legionofshroom.blogspot.com

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About the author: 

wesannacI’m a twenty-something writer & blogger with an interest in spirituality, revolution, music and the transformative creative force known as love. I run The Culture of Awareness, a daily news blog dedicated to raising social and spiritual awareness and supporting the evolution of the planet.

I also have a personal blog, Openhearted Rebel, in which I share writings related to spiritual philosophy, creativity, heart consciousness and revolution (among other topics).

I write from the heart and try to share informative and enlightening reading material with the rest of the conscious community. When I’m not writing or exploring nature, I’m usually making music.

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