As with most psychedelic drugs, the some of the psychedelic mushrooms effects can be dangerous. Several varieties of mushrooms contain psilocybin. Psilocybin is the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms. The psilocybin gives the mushrooms the effects that many people want for both religious and recreation purposes. To understand when psychedelic mushrooms are dangerous, you first have to understand their history and their positive, neutral, and negative effects as well as how they affect people long term.
History of psychedelic mushrooms
Although there is no official record of when the use of psychedelic mushrooms began, there are cave paintings depicting natives eating mushrooms and exploring their minds. Some scientists believe that these mushrooms were a part of ancient human evolutionary advances. These mushrooms are a part of many cultures throughout the world. With the advent of Christianity, the use of these mushrooms died out in western society but not in many native cultures. It was not until the 1950s that they regained popularity in the west.
In the 1950s, researchers tested these mushrooms for their antidepressant and mood-altering qualities until the government banned them with the Controlled Substances Act, in the 1970s. Now there is a renewed interest in the psychiatric possibilities of psychedelic mushrooms.
Positive effects of psychedelic mushrooms
Many cultures still use psychedelic mushrooms as a way to expand consciousness, commune with spirits, and generally improve certain symptoms of mental illness. It is the effect on mental illness that makes scientists want to further the research of their predecessors. Some of the positive effects of psychedelic mushrooms are:
- both negative and positive mood changes,
- an almost childlike sense of wonder or awe in the surroundings or each other,
- time distortions,
- relief of cluster migraines,
- enhanced creativity and insight into the mind, nature, and the universe,
- possible spiritual revelations (reported by users),
Researchers are starting to study the uses of psychedelic mushrooms again. Since research began again, it has shown that these mushrooms have a positive effect on anxiety and depression in some people. An article called, “The Trip Treatment,” published by the New Yorker Magazine, stated that new studies into psilocybin show promise in treating social and illness related anxiety.
Neutral effects of psychedelic mushrooms
The neutral effects of psychedelic mushrooms are effects that are consider can be positive, negative or neither. These effects are
- differing intense sensations, such as emotions, buzzing or vibrating,
- awareness of past memories,
- awareness of emotions and emotional state,
- visual hallucinations,
- dilation of pupils, and
- synesthesia or the confusion of the senses.
Some people report these effects as positive and some report them as negative. In reality, they are neither. They are just added effects of the drug. Most people do not consider these effects enough reason to seek treatment.
Negative effects of psychedelic mushrooms
Like any drug, there are negative or adverse effects. Many of these effects are not enough to make people stop taking psychedelic mushrooms but are merely bothersome. Overdose on psychedelic mushrooms is extremely rare since it takes such a large amount to be toxic. One of the real dangers in using these mushrooms is picking them. If the user hand gathers them, there is a good chance they will pick the wrong type of mushrooms and many mushrooms kill.
There are both common and rare negative effects of psilocybin. The common effects are:
- nausea sometimes leading to vomiting,
- headache especially the day after ingestion,
- dizziness and mild confusion,
- blood pressure and heart rate increase,
- inattention and attention disruption, and
- mild anxiety when taken in low doses.
The rare side effects of psychedelic mushrooms are relatively rare and usually present when people take the mushrooms in large doses. The rare side effects are:
- intense fear, anxiety, and paranoia increasing with the dosage of psilocybin,
- exacerbation and appearance of latent mental issues,
- hostility, and
- lightheadedness possibly leading to loss of consciousness.
Most of the negative side effects of psilocybin are very rare. They can be extreme in the cases where a latent psychosis exists. Unfortunately, there is no way to know whether mental illness is present but latent until it presents itself. Many researchers feel that the benefits outweigh the negative effect of psilocybin.
Long term effects of psychedelic mushrooms
In a study by Johns Hopkins, high doses of psilocybin made people more open and broad minded. Over half of the study group experienced changes that lasted a year or more. The changes seem to be both long term and positive.
One of the most dangerous long term effects of psychedelic mushrooms starts with a psychotic experience or a “bad trip.” There is no way to know if the psychosis generated from the trip is latent mental illness or if it is brought on by the use of the mushrooms. Other longer term effects are:
- negative changes in mental or emotional state,
- permanent flashbacks or reoccurring hallucinations from the trip,
- attempts to do something impossible while on the drug leading to physical injury or legal difficulties, and
- positive and negative changes in personality, and
- long term open mindedness and willing to accept new ideas.
Many of the long term effects of psychedelic mushrooms are still being studied. So far, researchers see more positive than negative long term changes.
The question are psychedelic mushrooms dangerous is difficult to answer in a straightforward manner. Most prescription and illicit drugs come with dangerous side effects. Often it is weighing the dangers against the benefits that make a person choose to take specific drugs. Studies are currently being conducted by major medical research facilities to assess the benefit and dangers of these mushrooms. Until they find a conclusive answer, it is wise to stay away from illegal drugs of any sort. The legal consequences of taking psychedelic mushrooms may be very dangerous.