The Beneficial Effects That Magic Mushrooms Have Had On The Brain For Millenia
Modern medicine has given mankind some incredible gifts. Vaccines, penicillin, and thousands of medications and treatments have all improved our quality of life and saved millions of lives in countless ways.
However, there are some things that are beneficial for our health and minds that have been around at least as long as recorded history. Magic mushrooms, for instance, have been providing many medicinal and wellness benefits over thousands of years, and may even have played a major role in our evolution to becoming Homo Erectus. The biggest benefits of using magic mushrooms tend to do with our brains. The active ingredient in the fungus, psilocybin, offers a psychedelic experience, but it also provides benefits on top of those euphoric feelings. Here are some ways that psilocybin and magic mushrooms have been affecting our brains since the dawn of our species.
Prehistoric Brain Evolution
A study from 2019 found that algae is descended from fungi, and may even have been present in certain fungi 500 million years ago. Fungi is able to grow in almost any climate, so it most likely would have been plentiful and a major food source for the homo Erectus brain 2 million years ago. At that time, the size of the brain expanded to over two times in size up until approximately 700,000 years ago. Many researchers have put forth the hypothesis that eating psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, would have improved their cognitive abilities. It would have allowed them to hunt more effectively and create things, such as a fire. Their brains were expanded by the mushrooms in a figurative sense, which caused their brains to literally expand as they gained new insights and knowledge.
While their brains were expanding, ancient people also learned that mushrooms could be used medicinally. Tribal societies are well-known to have used magic mushrooms for spiritual ceremonies and for healing. For some, it had a strong connection to their religion and faith and was used to heal their souls. This is probably because of the strong psychedelic experiences users can have when consuming magic mushrooms. They probably felt like reality was shifting and unknowable. While it’s impossible to know how exactly ancient societies used magic mushrooms, we can make some guesses based on how we can use them today.
Remember, ancient societies didn’t have ibuprofen or acetaminophen. However, they still had pain. One of the ways they may have tried to relieve that pain could have been through the ingestion of psilocybin from magic mushrooms. A growing amount of research is showing that psychedelics, including psilocybin, are able to affect the pain signals being sent from the brain. This can alleviate pain. Another ancient pain-relief strategy is meditation and mindfulness. This is the process of reordering thoughts and entering a state of focus that can reduce pain. Magic mushrooms can duplicate that state of mindfulness, thereby also reducing pain. Now, magic mushrooms are becoming a common treatment for chronic pain and phantom limb pain, as more jurisdictions legalize their use.
Stress has never been more damaging to the human condition than it is now. There is so much going on in our lives, and so much to experience. We have phones, tablets, and laptops that connect us to the rest of the world around the clock. It’s increasingly difficult to unplug, which means that it’s increasingly difficult to put aside the things that stress us out.
While ancient people may not have been as stressed as we are today, there’s a good chance that they would have also gotten the benefit of stress-reduction from psilocybin. Magic mushrooms have been shown to reduce stress by working to calm the brain and lessen the symptoms that a stressed-out person might be experiencing.
Anxiety, much like stress, is something that seems to be on the rise in modern society. With so many demands for our attention and so much access to information, people can get overwhelmed and anxious. Anxiety can cause a lot of issues for a sufferer. These can include physical symptoms like nausea, headaches, increased heart rate, and insomnia.
It can also cause problems as well. People with anxiety might avoid certain social situations out of fear, or they know that a situation will cause them anxiety and embarrassment. Psilocybin helps to ease anxious feelings by helping the body produce endorphins. Endorphins control positive feelings. That euphoric feeling you get after exercising? That’s from endorphins, and you can get a magnified sensation of that from consuming magic mushrooms.
You’re probably well aware of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. It comes with memory loss, confusion, difficulty with reading and writing, and many other cognitive-related issues. It can be devastating for families to watch their loved ones suffer and eventually pass on from this terrible affliction.
There may be hope, however. Researchers are looking into the effectiveness of psilocybin as a weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s. It’s early in the fight, and there is still a lot of work to be done, however. The theory is that psilocybin helps create neuroplasticity in the brain. This will help the brain make synaptic connections related to cognitive functions. This can help improve confusion and memory loss and make learning easier. As it stands, psilocybin may be effective as an early intervention for Alzheimer’s.
When looking at all of the evidence, magic mushrooms truly are amazing fungi. No matter what the needs are of mankind, psilocybin has been able to help with some of the many challenges we’ve faced.
From helping to develop the earliest human brains, to healing modern brains damaged by disease, magic mushrooms have been a medicinal substance for as long as we’ve been evolving.
They are obviously no substitute for modern medicine, however with very little in the way of side effects, trying magic mushrooms for a brain health issue you are having may be a life-changing decision. Don’t continue to suffer if you don’t have to. There’s nothing to lose by giving it a try.