What is psilocybin? What Does It Do to Our Brains?
Psilocybin, the active element of “magic” or psychedelic Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms, might quickly become an FDA-approved medication. It’s currently been legalized in Denver, Colorado and efficiently decriminalized in Oakland and Santa Cruz, California. What, exactly, is this compound, and how does it modify the method we think, feel, keep in mind, and view?
Chemists categorize psilocybin as a tryptamine compound (for this reason the experience from it is called a “trip”), though anthropologists categorize it as an entheogen. According to the Global Drug Survey and the latest research study from King’s College London, psilocybin is one of the safest-– if not the best– psychedelic drug understood to mankind.
Rather, when somebody consumes psilocybin, the acids in our stomachs transform psilocybin into another chemical called psilocin. Psilocin– not psilocybin– modifies signaling in our nerve and brain cells, setting off shrooms’ psychedelic experience. This is the first major step in understanding what is psilocybin.
( And if you’re questioning why scientists and shroomers alike are constantly speaking about psilocybin and not psilocin, that’s since psilocin is extremely unstable. If someone gave you a tablet or vial of pure psilocin, light, water, oxygen, and ambient heat would deteriorate it in a matter of days, if not hours.).
How (We Think) Psilocybin and Psilocin Work together.
OK, so this is where things get a little bit technical…
Given that the US government thinks about psilocybin a Schedule I drug, research study on it has actually been incredibly limited over the previous decades. The US Government lost it on the hippy culture and essentially putting it at Schedule I, halted any and all research on the drugs. Schedule I is the most restrictive drug category in America, scheduled only for “unsafe” and “addicting” drugs that supposedly lack any accepted medical use, like heroin … and cannabis. <riiiiight!>
Throughout the years, however, researchers have gotten some hints as to how psilocybin causes hallucinations, unexpected insights, and extensive leaps of reasoning. As explained above, when someone eats some shrooms, psilocybin converts to psilocin in the stomach. Psilocin then enters the blood stream where it binds to serotonin receptors, which are mostly found in the digestive system (though some are in the back cord and brain, too).
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, indicating it sends signals through our nervous system. It’s another tryptamine, so it shares a similar chemical structure with psilocybin (and psilocin … and LSD, and DMT, as well). Serotonin is accountable for managing our hunger, sleep cycles, sensations of joy and wellness, benefit reinforcement, memory, body temperature, libido, and– apparently– our visual understandings. Psilocin binds and partly activates the exact same receptors that serotonin does, which triggers dopamine to flood our system.
And that’s about the essence of what science comprehends about psilocin’s psychoactivity. How all these neurotransmitters contribute to and influence our frame of minds is still being exercised, as psychopharmacology is one of the youngest sciences out there. So that is the big just of the physiology of what is psilocybin. This all contributes to understanding what is psilocybin.
How Does Psilocybin and Psilocin Ultimately Affect Our Brains?
The psilocin journey just lasts a couple of hours, research recommends the substance’s physical impacts on our brain might last much longer, up to 5 years from just a single dose. This research study provides some reliability to the “Stoned Ape Theory” established by late theorist and psychonaut Terrence McKenna, who thought that humans developed from easy cavern occupants to a thinking species that produced complex art, music, tools, and culture after imbibing in psychedelics like psilocybin. Nevertheless, a lot of anthropologists do not concur with McKenna’s theory and consider it pseudoscience at the moment. McKenna is the Godfather for psychedelics, and is the first pioneer to get us to think what is psilocybin, and what is does to our brains.
Now, how psilocin physically changes our brains stays a secret. But brain scan research studies from Yale University and the University of Zurich suggest that the psilocin journey produces new neural connections in the brain. Generally, parts of the brain that don’t generally communicate with one another start chatting it up non-stop, like co-workers who operate in different departments and are fulfilling each other for the first time at a company party. After the trip subsides, these brand-new connections primarily go away, but a few of those connections remain in place, possibly forever.
If people experiencing mental illness such as anxiety, ptsd, depression, or anorexia are suffering because of miscommunication in the brain, then psychedelics such as psilocybin or psilocin could improve or restore brain function in methods that present medications and surgical treatments can not. This is why psychedelic-assisted psychiatric therapy, which includes other outlawed drugs like MDMA (ecstasy or molly), LSD (acid), DMT, ayahuasca, and “toad” might change contemporary medication, along with end the stigma against these effective, potentially life-saving, and relatively non-toxic compounds. This is all very important to consider what is psilocybin.