Do You Need A Drug Class If You Take Mushrooms?

by: Mike Miller

I can guaranty you have not too much hubbub about the positive effects of eating “magic mushrooms.  These of course are nasty-tasting pieces of mushroom that provide hallucinogenic effects.  Only Tim O’Leary would say something positive about these guys, right?

In new research that will almost certainly create controversy, scientists working with the hallucinogen psilocybin -- the active ingredient found in "magic mushrooms" -- have found that a single dose of the drug prompted an enduring but positive personality change in almost 60 percent of patients.

Specifically, tests involving a small group of patients in a strictly controlled and monitored clinical setting revealed that, more often than not, one round of psilocybin exposure successfully boosted an individual's sense of "openness." What's more, the apparent shift in what is deemed to be a key aspect of personality did not dissipate after exposure, lasting at least a year and sometimes longer.

This finding is really quite fascinating because personality is considered a stable characteristic of the psychology of people. It's been thought to be relatively immutable, and stable across the lifespan.

Remarkably, this study shows that psilocybin actually changes one domain of personality that is strongly related to traits such as imagination, feeling, abstract ideas and aesthetics, and is considered a core construct underlying creativity in general.

Could it be possible there are therapeutic uses? One study is whether the hallucinogen might be useful in helping cancer patients cope with the depression and anxiety that often accompany the disease, and whether it might help smokers quit the habit.

Not all the sessions involved psilocybin. In fact, the hallucinogen was administered only once, at a dose described as "moderate to high," and the volunteers were never told which session actually entailed drug exposure.

A minimum break of three weeks was allotted between sessions.

During each session, participants were asked to lay down while wearing both eye masks and headphones (with music piped in) to screen out their external environment and focus on their interior experience. Neither the participants nor the session monitors knew which session involved psilocybin use.

The results: repeated personality and so-called "states of consciousness" testing revealed that some critical aspects of the participants' personalities remained unchanged. In the key domains of neuroticism, extroversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness, psilocybin appeared to register little to no impact.

The exception: "openness." Not only did openness increase significantly in response to high doses of the hallucinogen, it also remained at an elevated level throughout a 14-

But, of course, as interesting as the implications for future therapies from this might be, the message should be that people should not try this at home or in any kind of uncontrolled environment it is preliminary research that needs to be replicated. And replicated in a carefully controlled treatment environment.

Best guess: say no to all drugs.