The functioning of the human brain is very complex, which implies that a wide variety of substances and chemical elements are involved. Typically, these tiny compounds work in a coordinated fashion while maintaining a certain balance in mental processes. However, there are certain substances which, when they arrive from outside the body, completely alter the functioning of neurons.
Psilocybin is one of these compounds which, entering the nervous system, profoundly affect its overall functioning. Specifically, it is famous for its psychoactive effect.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what psilocybin is, what its effects are, and why the hallucinogenic mushrooms that contain it have become popular.
What is psilocybin?
Psilocybin is an alkaloid that it is found naturally in certain types of mushrooms, Which are known to be hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Consumption of these mushrooms as a recreational drug it is due to its hallucinogenic effects, which lead many people to ingest mushrooms for the sole interest of these experiences; some users define it as dreaming or becoming aware of other realities, using a lexicon related to mysticism.
However, the effects of psilocybin do not need to be explained by mentalistic and dualistic beliefs. In fact, although it is not known exactly what happens when this substance enters the brain, whether the basic mechanisms by which it causes hallucination-based transient syndromes are known. Let’s see.
How does it act on the brain?
Part of the brain is made up of neurons, which communicate with each other exchange a series of chemicals called neurotransmitters. How much and when a neuron receives different types of neurotransmitters determines what its pattern of activation will be, which in turn will be “chain-transmitted” to other nerve cells which will eventually release neurotransmitters, and so on. after.
Psilocybin causes at least one of these neurotransmitters, serotonin, to have more intense effects on certain neurons. Suppose this psychoactive compound has a serotonin agonist effect because it causes more neural receptors to be triggered of a type of activation that should only be given when this substance is present in normal amounts.
The fact that these neurons receive timeless serotonin orders and they do not start from the balance that maintains the same organism causes hallucinations to appear.
The effects of psilocinin
The main effects of psilocybin they start 15 to 50 minutes after taking the substance by mouth (Although it also depends on the condition of the stomach), and can last up to 8 hours. They are as follows.
It changes the perception of time
There are studies which suggest that among the common effects of this psychoactive substance is the different experience of the passage of time, making it faster or slower than normal, or even that they create moments of confusion in giving the impression that a time loop has been entered.
Expands neural connectivity
Psilocybin does this parts of the brain that are not normally very connected to each other start trading signals more often. This leads to a complete change in the quality of the perception of the environment.
This is, on a large scale, something that is quite similar to what happens in people with synesthesia, a phenomenon by which sensory modalities intermingle with each other, for example, that certain sounds are perceived while evoking. the perception of a different color. for each of them.
Specifically, some of the parts of the brain in which signs of greater connectivity are observed are the hippocampus and cingulate cortex, areas related to the storage of memories belonging to declarative memory, on the one hand, and to the experimentation of emotions and the creation of plans, on the other hand.
It causes hallucinations
This is the central characteristic of psilocybin as part of psychoactive drugs. these hallucinations they can be visual, auditory, tactile and of all kinds.
Generates mystical experiences
The hallucinations that occur with psilocybin are not just “movies” that the consumer watches as a spectator. Often times the person who has eaten hallucinogenic mushrooms becomes emotionally involved in what I see, feel and touch, to the point of believing that everything is as or more real than what they experienced before taking the medicine.
this causes some hallucinations to be interpreted as divine revelations, Or ruptures in reality, through which another alternate reality emerges.
Its long-term effects: personality changes
There is evidence that the consumption of psilocybin is capable of producing permanent changes in the mental processes of the consumer. More precisely, the personality changes. Usually these changes are related to a tendency to curiosity for novelty, Probably motivated by experiences related to hallucinations.
Does it have therapeutic potential?
Research is currently being conducted to explore the potential therapeutic potential of psilocybin and other compounds of hallucinogens and drugs such as LSD. However, due to their recent nature (until recently research in this direction was not permitted in many countries), there are still no conclusive results, although there are reasons for believe that these resources they may be useful in clinical practice in the future.