Sometimes dismissed with a “pull yourself together,” in reality depression is as real a condition as any biochemical disorder from diabetes to Gaucher disease .Serotonin is a hormone which interacts with receptors in the brain. There are 15 known receptors, with 5-HT1A and 5-HT1B being the most extensively studied (5-HT stands for 5-hydroxytryptamine – the chemical name for serotonin). Serotonin receptors are proteins which when bound to serotonin, mediate the release of a range of neurotransmitters such as dopamine (amongst others). Serotonin is transported across the brain and its concentration partly depends on re-uptake by nerve cells. Inhibiting re-uptake by a SSRI results in higher concentrations of serotonin outside the cells and hence, so the theory goes, there’s more available to bind onto the 5-HT receptors.

The serotonin hypothesis of depression is controversial because the biochemistry of serotonin interactions is complex and not fully understood. There may also be genetic aspects, particularly in sub-types of proteins involved in serotonin transport (known in genetic-pharmacology jargon as polymorphisms).

Interestedly, psilocybin also acts on 5-HT receptors, 5-HT2A in particular. To be more precise, psilocybin contains a phosphate group on its molecular structure, making it pharmacologically inactive. The phosphate group is removed either by stomach acid or in the bloodstream to form psilocin which is the active substance. It crosses into the brain and reacts with a variety of receptors, including the 5-HTs. It leads to complex reactions in cellular signalling, resulting in cascade effects which ultimately cause alterations to sensory perception.Low or imbalanced levels of serotonin can lead to anxiety and depression. But mushrooms act on your body’s serotoninergic system, so they could help restore the balance of serotonin in your body.

Microdosing

The practice of microdosing, or taking a small dose of psychedelics every few days, appears to be enjoying some rising popularity.You might assume such a small dose probably wouldn’t have much effect, but that’s actually the idea behind microdosing.

So, what exactly are those benefits?

Existing research on microdosing primarily focuses on self-reported use and benefits, though an upcoming clinical trial may add new insight.

microdosing benefits include:

  • Better focus
  • Higher levels of creativity
  • Relief from depression
  • More energy
  • Less anxiety in social situations
  • Emotional openness
  • Help quitting coffee, pharmaceutical drugs, or other substances
  • Relief from menstrual pain
  • Heightened spiritual awareness

What about ‘macrodosing‘?

Research increasingly suggests that a larger dose of mushrooms may have some major benefits when it comes to treating anxiety.

This recent exploration of mushrooms for mental health dates to a small 2016 exploring the benefits of psilocybin for easing feelings of anxiety and depression in people diagnosed with cancer. After a single dose of psilocybin, study participants saw marked improvements in:

  • Mental health symptoms like anxiety and depression
  • Feelings of hopelessness and existential distress
  • Spiritual well-being
  • Quality of life.

A psychedelic experience is like a journey through your mind. Much like an actual vacation, it can restore a sense of wonder and appreciation for life.For a few hours, it allows us to break out of the mold and proves to us that in fact, it’s all still there: The boundless creativity that we had as kids, the sense of rapture, of infinite potential – and love.

This experience is liberating and to many people, the memory is a source of sheer joy that sticks with them for years to come, if not a lifetime. It does not just reveal to an individual their true nature, but also points out exactly what mental blockade kept them from feeling whole.A psychedelic journey is therefore often accompanied by intense emotions that can be experienced, lived through and made peace with in just a few hours time.That is in essence the meaning of the word psychedelic, from greek “psyche” = soul, “delos” = revealing. A psychedelic substance is one that reveals the soul to the user and makes it clear beyond the shadow of a doubt, that there’s more to them.

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