Psilocybin is known for captivating its imbiber with a novel pattern of thought and a state emotional surrender. These mystical experiences can be powerful enough to affect one's perception and leave an imprint on their outlook that can last from days to weeks to even months. People have also reported experiencing a powerful alleviation of psychiatric ailments such as depression, anxiety, OCD, and ADHD. The testimonies alone show that psilocybin has true therapeutic value in the psychiatric field. What is it that happens to the mind in order to instill it with the improved outlook and mental clarity?
Researchers at the Psychiatric University Hospital of Zurich have looked into psilocybin's effect on the amygdala, a key component of the brain's ability to process emotions. The amygdala, located at the beginning of the brain stem, can often become overactive leading one into constant depressive thinking, distraction, anxiety and so on. “Elevated activity of the amygdala in response to stimuli leads to the neurons strengthening negative signals and weakening the processing of positive ones. This mechanism plays an important role in the development of depression and anxiety disorders.” - UZH Research
The 'goal' of pharmaceutical anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications is to inhibit brain activity that leads to negativity and fear. Unfortunately, these medications really only serve as a band-aid and sadly, can even amplify the problem if someone is to become dependent and then abstain. They can negatively impact serotonin, a natural neurotransmitter that contributes to happiness and well being. On the other hand, researchers recognize now that the compound psilocybin is effective in temporarily decreasing activity in the amygdala, allowing it an opportunity to recover from an over active state while promoting the health of serotonin transmitters. “Psilocybin positively influences mood in healthy individuals. In the brain, this substance stimulates specific docking sites for the messenger serotonin. The scientists therefore assumed that psilocybin exerts its mood-brightening effect via a change in the serotonin system in the limbic brain regions.” - UZH Research
Now, researchers are continuing to orchestrate new investigative studies to further our understanding about the relationship between psilocybin and mental illness. Knowing that over activity of the amygdala leads to depressive thinking and that psilocybin has the capacity to correct this problem, researchers believe that the compound will one day be prized for its medicinal capabilities. The fact that some one can feel relief from such terrible burdens with one session of psilocybin therapy rather than daily intake of medications is groundbreaking in and of itself. The study of history has revealed that psilocybin, among other plant medicines, have been utilized by indigenous cultures all around the world, and now western medicine is finally beginning to acknowledge the truth of these medicines and their many applications. The potential of these primordial substances that modern society has been neglecting may be the key to the understanding and the treatment of certain mental illnesses, reopening the door to a long forgotten form of healing.
Ingrasci, Rick, M.D. "Psilocybin Inhibits the Processing of Negative Emotions in the Brain." Quantum Linux. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2015.
Rainer Kraehenmann, Katrin H. Preller, Milan Scheidegger, Thomas Pokorny, Oliver G. Bosch, Erich Seifritz, Franz X. Vollenweider. "Psilocybin-Induced Decrease in Amygdala Reactivity Correlates with Enhanced Positive Mood in Healthy Volunteers." Biological Psychiatry, 2014