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Mushrooms

History, Therapeutic Use, How To's & CUltivation

Indigenous history & traditional uses of psilocybin

The oldest evidence of the ritualistic consumption of Psilocybe species is in Mesoamerica and is recorded in the Codex “Yuta Tnoho” or “Vindobonensis Mexicanus I”. This codex, belonging to the Mixtec culture, was painted in the early 1500s CE and depicts a sacred ceremony where diverse Mixtec deities consume sacred mushrooms prior to the first dawn. While ancient use outside of Mesoamerica has been speculated, and objects such as the “mushroom stones” in Guatemala may also suggest a long history of use, these paintings constitute unequivocal evidence of the importance of entheogenic fungi including Psilocybe species in the Mesoamerican worldview prior to the arrival of the Spanish. Despite the prohibition of hallucinogenic mushroom consumption by the Spanish inquisition, the use of Psilocybe species continues to this day in Mexican ethnic groups such as the Chatins, Chinantecs, Matlazincs, Mazatecs, Mixes, Nahuatls, Purepechs, Totonacs, and Zapotecs. Fifty-seven hallucinogenic Psilocybe species have been described in Mexico ; from these, 35 species and 9 varieties have been reported to be used by ethnic groups and mestizos mainly in central and southern Mexico. According to modern species concepts, these 44 taxa correspond to 14 currently valid species.

For many indigenous people of Mexico, these mushrooms are part of a sacred and ancient tradition. Curandera María Sabina was the first person to enable observation of ritualistic fungal practices by western scientists, specifically Gordon Wassson, despite hundreds of years of colonial efforts to eradicate these practices. Although María Sabina conditioned her knowledge sharing with an anonymity clause, Wasson published her actual identity in other works without Maria Sabinas permission and completely against her wishes. Subsequently, up until her death in 1985 at the age of 91, María Sabina was inundated with requests from foreigners to partake in the mushroom ceremonies “out of curiosity” or to “find God,” and observed that before Wasson the mushrooms had only been used to treat the sick .

Contemporary syncretic rituals and ceremonies combining Mesoamerican and Catholic elements are based in Psilocybe species consumption and used to treat both spiritual and physical illness. Psilocybe mushrooms induce hallucinations and synesthesia resulting in a trance-like experience that is thought to allow dissociation of the soul from the body. As a result, bodily ailment diagnoses, introspection, self-healing, and revelation of lost persons’ locations can be facilitated by traditional doctors or shamans. While practices vary between indigenous groups, in general ceremonies are always done with care at night in a quiet place guided by an elder or shaman, no meals, alcohol, medicine or drugs are taken in advance, and travel is discouraged for a week after. In addition to these metaphysical applications, Psilocybe mushrooms are traditionally used by indigenous communities to treat anxiety, rheumatism, and as analgesics to relieve toothaches and stomach pain.

Given the ethnic groups that use Psilocybe mushrooms, their geographic spread, and their applications, the most culturally important hallucinogenic species of Psilocybe are Psilocybe aztecorum, Psilocybe caerulescens, Psilocybe cubensis, Psilocybe mexicana, and Psilocybe zapotecorum. In addition, endemic species from Mexico with locally restricted use include Psilocybe candidipes, Psilocybe cordispora, Psilocybe fagicola, Psilocybehoogshagenii, Psilocybe muliercula, Psilocybe sanctorum, and Psilocybe subcubensis. These genetic resources, their traditional uses and surrounding culture constitute a biocultural heritage of Mexican indigenous groups protected by the Nagoya Protocol. The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization is a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity to which Mexico is signatory. Consequently, and to avoid international prosecution, careful consideration including national origin evaluation should be used to identify strains for commercial development.

Psilocybin usage differs by region and includes a long history of whole mushroom consumption in Mesoamerica as detailed above. There has been a more recent history of mushroom and sclerotia (‘truffels’) consumption in Jamaica (Lowe et al., 2021) and the Netherlands. The consumption of ‘truffles’ from Psilocybe mexicana and Psilocybe tampanensis, species originally described in peer-reviewed literature from Oaxaca, Mexico and Florida, USA, surged in popularity following the 2008 ban of fresh mushroom sales in the Netherlands. Preliminary evidence indicates that the majority of cultivated psilocybin-producing fungi are Psilocybe cubensis isolates, though substantial morphological variety between cultures exists, as demonstrated in a recent analysis of 76 separate P. cubensis strains.

Therapeutic psilocybin usage

Indigenous practices have pioneered and established the notion of individual and group psilocybin therapies. Various Mesoamerican cultures, in particularly the Mazatec people, have employed ritualistic elements and guidance facilitated by curandero(a)s to prepare individuals for the sacrament of taking psilocybin mushrooms. These rituals were and are undertaken to provide new perspectives on mental and emotional health, conflicts, and to resolve social dysfunction, trials, and tribulations. To provide a positive experience, a mainstay practice for generations of indigenous people has been to place emphasis on competent, experienced, and genuine guides. These guides can ensure that environmental and personal factors, or what is currently described as set and setting, are favorably aligned.

The indigenous knowledge that psilocybin experiences have high therapeutic potential has been mirrored in recent, western, medicalized psilocybin clinical trials, which have confirmed the importance of preparation, set and setting. In addition, the benefits of group-based therapies and having a guiding therapist performing a curandero(a)-like role have been quantified.

There are currently over 60 ongoing psilocybin clinical trials overseen by the United States National Institute of Health. Given that many psilocybin clinical trials are in early phases, explicit long-term medical effectiveness in treating mental health conditions are yet to be determined in the western framework. Even so, preliminary data suggest psilocybin therapies are effective in treating depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, smoking cessation, and alcoholism. In addition, a clinically meaningful change was seen in psilocybin-assisted group therapy for demoralization in older long term AIDS survivors.

Major Depressive Disorder symptoms decreased following psilocybin administration coupled with psychological support in a phase 2 controlled trial that compared psilocybin with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) escitalopram utilizing the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology–Self-Report. This group found that the primary outcome, defined as mean change from baseline QIDS-SR-16 score did not significantly differ between groups, and that psilocybin therapies had similar effectiveness in lowering MDD symptoms. A second study found that MDD symptoms decreased following psilocybin and supportive psychotherapy as measured by GRID-Hamilton Depression Rating Scale scores in a randomized clinical trial. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder symptoms also were seen to decrease following psilocybin assisted therapies measured by the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale in a modified double-blind dose escalation study. Cancer-related depression and anxiety symptoms decreased after psilocybin assisted therapy as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory metrics in a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Further, decreases in psychological distress and anxiety about cancer related death post psilocybin assisted therapy were observed in a randomized, double-blind, cross-over trial.

Results of psilocybin ingestion outside of clinical trials have also been described throughout the literature. These include increased connection to nature, enhanced creativity and greater enjoyment of music. Psilocybin ingestion increased positive mood, attenuated recognition of negative facial expressions, increased goal-directed behavior toward positive cues, and facilitated positive emotional effects in a randomized double-blind study. In an additional study psilocybin consumption induced decreases in amygdala activity correlated with positive mood.

The effects of psilocybin consumption has also been found to alter temporal processing, and brain region connectivity via blood flow patterns.. Psilocybin has been found to alter activation of different areas of the brain when participants were asked to recall memories, and to be associated with decreases in cerebral blood flow and blood oxygen level dependent signaling. This led authors to suggest psychoactive effects may be due to decreased activity and connectivity of some brain regions. Cerebral blood flow also showed post-treatment decrease in the temporal cortex including the amygdala in patients with treatment -resistant depression, which was correlated with reduced depressive symptoms. Further studies showed that plasma psilocybin level is correlated with functional connectivity reflected in network integrity and network segregation. An association between “ego-dissolution” and decreased interhemispheric communication has also been reported. It has been postulated that neuroplasticity may be responsible for psilocybin's therapeutic effects.

Potential risks of psilocybin usage


While potential benefits of psilocybin are striking, adverse physiological and psychological reactions to consuming psilocybin mushrooms have been documented and reviewed. In a recent large scale clinical trial of 233 patients, 179 reported headache, nausea, fatigue, or insomnia, and concerningly 12 patients showed suicidal behavior, intentional self-injury, and suicidal ideation. Other studies have reported potential risks of ingesting psilocybin containing-mushrooms to include short lived panic, anxiety, and paranoia, hypertension, tachycardia, hyperreflexia, mydriasis, paresthesia, and feelings of depersonalization, renal and gastrointestinal complications, and hallucinatory sensations (Satora et al., 2005). In clinical settings, safety guidelines have been instated to manage adverse reactions (Johnson et al., 2008). It is unclear to what extent side effects reported when mushrooms were consumed are due to the presence of other co-occurring compounds. For example, phenylethylamine, which is associated with tachycardia, nausea, and anxiety, has been reported in Psilocybe semilanceata. The presence of other bioactive compounds including psilocybin biosynthetic pathway intermediates may also be associated with some of these effects. 

Via Science Direct: Diversity, biology, and history of psilocybin-containing fungi: Suggestions for research and technological development

How to Microdose Daily

10mg - 60 mg, on a scale it looks like 0.010g - 0.060g

Start with 20mg. Don’t take more than 60mg per serving, and if you’re at that level, try to do 20mg in the morning, 20mg in the afternoon & 20mg in the evening. Yes, you can do this everyday. No, you aren’t supposed to feel it, less is the goal. 

 

If you get sleepy, take less, if you get down to 10mg and still feel sleepy, do it in the evenings. This is something to keep in mind especially if you are Neurodivergent. Your tolerance to other medications may not translate to microdosing psilocybin, I have seen high tolerance individuals on multiple medications only able to tolerate 10mg. Your enteric system is a control panel to your nervous system and plant medicine is the maintenance team turning off the alarm system, this helps you listen to and feel your body's signals that were previously drowned out by the alarms. Your appetite will be one of the first signals to balance, keep a granola bar on hand in case you feel nauseous, other digestive rumbling may occur, and it's supposed to.

 

This is an intentional practice, journaling and introspection is encouraged as it helps patients make intentional connections within our bodies and brains. Working on a project is very helpful, organizing things outside our bodies helps us organize what’s inside. As well as being connected with a therapist, medicine person or community guide. 

 

At 3 weeks of consistency, intentionally check in with yourself as well as your therapist, medicine person or community guide. If you’ve noticed improvement in your quality of life go for the whole 3 months and continue to pour into yourself, giving yourself grace and checking in with yourself and your mental health support. 

 

After 3 months you can switch to using intermittently or continue daily, plant medicine is all about finding what works for you and after 3 months of use you’ll have the confidence to make the best decision for your mind and body.

The Psychedelic Support Line
Call or text 62-FIRESIDE / 623-473-7433
Open everyday 11:00 am - 11:00 pm PT.

The Psychedelic Support Line provides emotional support during and after psychedelic experiences is staffed by rigorously trained, compassionate, supportive volunteers from diverse backgrounds who listen deeply and from a place of non-judgment. 

How to Microdose Periodically/Intermittently

100mg - 500mg, on a scale it looks like 0.100g -0.500g

When determining your dosage, it’s important that you keep in mind how your perception should and shouldn’t be affected by the medicine. A microdose should be sub-perceptual, meaning that although enhancements to mood and cognition may be observed, you should feel generally sober throughout the day. 

Your microdose should not impair your ability to tend to normal everyday tasks. The general rule of thumb is that you should start by taking 0.1 grams of the psilocybin mushrooms on day 1. If the effects are not felt as desired, increase your dosage by 0.05 grams each microdosing day until you reach your threshold.

Now, as we mentioned earlier, some people have a difficult time experiencing the effects of psychedelic substances. In some cases, it may take several weeks of microdosing to feel the effects. Picture the journey of microdosing with psilocybin as a slow peeling of an onion’s layers. 

Oftentimes, some people require more layers of our conditioned reality to be peeled in order to start perceiving life with more presence. For those who have a history with psychotropic medications, there’s a chance that your serotonin levels are depleted or hindered by the medication. 

In such a case, you may need to adjust your dosage up to 0.5 grams in order to feel the effects. Note that if you plan on tapering off of your medications, your tolerance to psychedelic substances will naturally decrease and at that point, you may begin to feel the effects from a lower dose. For more information, check out our article on the psilocybin-blunting effects of SSRIs and antidepressants. 

The Psychedelic Support Line
Call or text 62-FIRESIDE / 623-473-7433
Open everyday 11:00 am - 11:00 pm PT.

The Psychedelic Support Line provides emotional support during and after psychedelic experiences is staffed by rigorously trained, compassionate, supportive volunteers from diverse backgrounds who listen deeply and from a place of non-judgment. 

How To Macrodose

1g - 3.5g / 1000mg - 3500mg , on a scale it looks like 1.000g -3.500g

Set and setting affect how you will experience your mushroom journey. Set refers to your mindset entering into the experience, and setting refers to the physical and social environment. The term set and setting was coined by Harvard researcher Timothy Leary, the infamous Harvard professor psychonaut. His research showed that the set and setting influence the outcomes of people ingesting psychedelics.

Entering into your psychedelic experience with a positive mindset increases the likelihood of a smooth journey, while setting intentions and managing expectations also positively impacts the psychedelic experience. Asking yourself questions and challenging yourself on things you’d like to improve in your life, is a great place to start.

Your job is to ensure you are in a safe environment so you can fully surrender to the mushroom and let it show you what you need to learn in order to optimize your psychedelic mushroom experience. Practices like meditation, mindfulness, breath work, and being in nature all provide us with helpful techniques that relax the body and quiet the mind, allowing the medicine to do its work. 

For the setting, or the environment and surroundings for your journey, find a comfortable and familiar space. See that the rooms are clean and uncluttered and that you have somewhere to lie down if necessary. Some people enjoy being in nature during their trip, but this may produce anxiety for others.

Clear your schedule and, even if you have experience with psilocybin mushrooms, it’s a good idea to consider having a ‘trip sitter’ with you as you explore the mushroom consciousness. This person can be a friend, family member, or a paid professional guide or sitter to ensure you have the safest, and most beneficial experience possible. Ideally this person should have experience with the mushrooms and will be better equipped to handle things that might come up during your journey.

The Psychedelic Support Line
Call or text 62-FIRESIDE / 623-473-7433
Open everyday 11:00 am - 11:00 pm PT.

The Psychedelic Support Line provides emotional support during and after psychedelic experiences is staffed by rigorously trained, compassionate, supportive volunteers from diverse backgrounds who listen deeply and from a place of non-judgment. 

Want to Cultivate Mushrooms at Home

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