Diary - Exploring the Psychedelic Shift: Psilocybin Legalization and the Complex Inner World Continue to article
The New York Times reported this year , that as of January 1st, Oregon made history by becoming the pioneer state in the U.S. to legalize the recreational use of psilocybin, a natural psychedelic substance found in psilocybe cubensis mushrooms. This unique compound has displayed substantial potential in alleviating conditions like severe depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and end-of-life anxiety in individuals facing terminal illness, as well as other mental health disorders.
I promise I’ll figure out how to link these two, seemingly unrelated, opening paragraphs. I sometimes wonder, since my own thoughts take up so much of my bandwidth, am I the most important person in the world, to myself? Do I just have a significant ego? But, don’t take on my own stuff. It’s mine. Look, what about you? Have you ever considered where those intrusive thoughts and emotions come from? Does it matter?
How about psilocybin? Why was it made illegal in the first place? Does it matter? Go on a trip ;) This Wikipedia article has the latest legal status of psilocybin around the world. Legal in Brazil! … funny, that somehow never made it into their tourism marketing. Anyway, let’s not get distracted. Why was psilocybin made illegal? I’ve done a bit of reading into it and found that the cautionary tales online speak of the potential for a ‘bad trip.’ How I receive that is that mushrooms can reveal what’s under the hood, mentally, and take you there.
That doesn’t sound so bad. I often find myself going to extreme lengths just to avoid what I’m thinking. My favorite distraction at the moment? Roll-up cigarettes. And there are so many. Spend the morning feeling sorry for yourself in bed. Argue with your partner? Eat sugar? What is your favorite distraction at the moment? We all do it, don’t we? Avoid truly looking at ourselves in the mirror … avoid looking under the hood, mentally.
The point is - the mind is a complex place. And if you read or listen to David Goggins (highly recommended), he’ll tell you that most people never truly learn to harness the power of their minds. They just get swept away in the chaos of it all. Check out his book, ‘Can’t Hurt me’ (Link:) for a riveting and practical journey into strengthening the mind.
It feels like we need to know what we’re dealing with here - so - where does psilocybin actually fit in? Thinking of psilocybin as a tool. What will you use it for? Will you create? Heal? Fight? Focus? What is it actually doing? The National Institute of Health (link: here) reports psilocybin’s use in religious and healing rituals as far back as the Aztecs - that’s 600 years or so back. ScienceDirect takes us 3500+ years back to the Mixtec Culture, this time again, religious use. There is a popular image of Vikings ingesting magic mushrooms before going into battle but little direct evidence survives and that feels like a bit of a rabbit hole. So let’s bring the curiosity back to the present. I want to know what happens in the brain when we use this tool?
Imperial College of London has a center for psychedelic research and two recent studies involving brain scans of more than 60 people “reveal that people who responded to psilocybin-assisted therapy showed increased brain connectivity, not just during their treatment, but up to three weeks afterwards. This ‘opening up’ effect was associated with self-reported improvements in their depression.” “More specifically, they found an increase in communication between those brain regions that are more segregated in depressed patients.”
Okay … I can sit with that. Feeling depressed? Psilocybin is a potential route to explore.
Out of interest, depression shows up as a shrinkage of several brain regions. And the reported cause? That old devil, ‘cortisol,’ aka the ‘stress hormone.’
I guess it can be easy to think of brain health as purely ‘emotional’ and not as a physical ailment. After reading into it, there is a growing view that, just like a twisted ankle or bruised muscle, brain stuff can be pretty physical and pretty real.
And the final part of the science stuff in this article. One point I don’t want to miss is that you can apparently take ‘too much’ of psilocybe cubensis mushrooms. So if you are self-dosing off your own volition, please study this table outlining dosage from the National Library of Medicine (link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_status_of_psilocybin_mushrooms). And please, keep safe, be sure to speak with a medical professional and get formal input and a treatment plan.
Pause for a moment of self-awareness. Noting the direction of this article. I seem to be crafting a narrative that the inner world of our thoughts and feelings and the outer, physical world, are more connected than we would realize. Mushrooms are themselves very connected, so it’s a good metaphor. Did you know that mushrooms connect through thread-like filaments called hyphae, and form massive networks called mycelium that can extend for hundreds if not thousands of miles through soil, if undisturbed? Fun fact anyway.
And back to the inner world. We’re all on a journey of some kind. I know I am. Depending on where you are, you may want to be more successful at work or have better relationships. You may want more status or more money or more experiences. You may want to feel safe. And what’s stopping you? Well, something is, right? Mentally it can be a total conundrum. Something seemingly out of reach can feel like it’s blocking you. Something you have to figure out. Something you have to look at. Something you have to experience. Something standing in your way. How does that land? Do you relate? Don’t leave me hanging. Go on, get vulnerable.
Am I saying that mushrooms are the cure? No, certainly not. Let’s take stock. What are the facts? In several moments in history, psilocybin has been used in religious ceremonies. For many years, they were considered illegal, globally, and we are, at present, observing a global psychedelic shift where they are being looked at for their potential impact on mental health.
As for my inner world? I am dealing with a busy mind today. Pointing the finger at people I love, when I should in fact be pointing the finger at myself.
Yeah, I’m all about alternative medicine, and I get really excited about seeing the world looking in these places. And it’s purely my opinion that exploring mental health through the lens of what grows in the ground seems calmer.
So if you’re on a journey, looking for an answer, you may need tools. Sorry, I don’t have the answer for you, you’re going to have to go and find it for yourself. And that’s also part of the pleasure. I’m grateful for where this article has gone. It explores a perspective on the world opening up to psilocybin, recreationally, scientifically, and medically. It dives into the complex mind, emotionally, and philosophically. And it looks at connection But remember, nothing will be solved by reading this article. For that you have to get out there and get your hands dirty, so to speak. You have to explore your own inner world. Thankfully, the path is lit and you’re not alone. I’m actively looking. And there are many like us. See you in the psychedelic shift.