Magic Mushroom: Caution Is The Word

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The history of the use of so-called magic mushroom as a hallucinogen is believed to be as old as human society. The most common magic mushroom is Psilocybe semilanceata, which is eaten raw, dried or as stewed tea.

Psilocybin, the main active ingredient in magic mushrooms, is responsible for the hallucinogenic effects. In the U.S, magic mushroom is considered a Schedule I substance, which means that it has a high potential for abuse.

In 2014, an estimated 22.9 million people in the U.S. reported lifetime use of Psilocybin, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Recent studies have documented a wide range of positive effects of Psilocybin on human brain, say easing depression or anxiety. But it is equally important to inform consumers about the risks associated with its use.

A survey, conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers, involving almost 2,000 people who had challenging experiences after consuming magic mushrooms suggests exercising caution around Psilocybin use.

According to the survey data, 39% of the respondents rated acute and enduring adverse effects of Psilocybin among the top five most challenging experiences of his/her lifetime. Eleven percent put self or others at risk of physical harm during their difficult or challenging experience (i.e., a "bad trip"). There were also three cases of attempted suicide.

But, that said the rates of adverse effects after psilocybin use have been fund to be very low relative to adverse effects associated with other psychoactive drugs, according to the survey data.

Commenting on the survey results, Roland Griffiths, a psychopharmacologist and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says, "Considering both the negative effects and the positive outcomes that respondents sometimes reported, the survey results confirm our view that neither users nor researchers can be cavalier about the risks associated with psilocybin."

The results of the survey are published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

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