For hundreds of years, people have consumed hallucinogenic mushrooms, saying the experience is deeply spiritual, expands their minds and profoundly alters their perspective about life. Heady claims, to say the least. But there's new scientific evidence backing them up.
Roland Griffiths, a psychopharmacologist at Johns Hopkins, led a team of researchers who conducted a careful study in which they gave 36 volunteers psylocybin, the hallucinogenic substance in "magic mushrooms." Two months after participating in the research in 2006, two-thirds of the subjects described the experience as mystical. In fact, one third said it was the single most spiritually significant event of their lives, and another third put it in the top five.
Now, in their first follow-up aimed at determining whether those feelings were fleeting or long-lived, Griffiths and his colleagues report in the Journal of Psychopharmacology that after 14 months the same proportion of the subjects continued to say the experience increased their sense of well-being and satisfaction with their lives. There were also indications that the experience had prompted more positive behavior, such as being more sensitive, helping others and expressing positive emotions.
None of the participants said they were worse off after the experience or reported any lasting negative effects.
The researchers say the findings give credence to the claims of people who use the mushrooms, and that the substance may help people make positive changes in their lives. But the researchers caution their findings are no license to start using the drug casually or for recreational purposes. Some participants in the study did report feeling anxious, fearful and paranoid at times during the experiment even though it was very carefully designed and controlled.
The middle-aged subjects were all healthy, well-educated with no history of mental health problems. They were given psilocybin or Ritalin without knowing which they were getting before two, eight-hour sessions. A trained professional monitored them closely in a room outfitted to look like a "comfortable, slightly upscale living room" with soft music and lighting.
The researchers also published a paper with detailed suggestions for how to conduct similar studies in the future. Griffiths and his colleagues are already planning to test psilocybin on patients suffering from advanced cancer-related anxiety or depression and drug dependence.
Posted by: TPS Reports | July 3, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Sterling Park | July 3, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: mobedda | July 3, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: bcareful | July 3, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: anon | July 3, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: anonymous | July 3, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: jim | July 3, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Yo'Mama | July 3, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: peev | July 3, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: david johnson | July 4, 2008 4:36 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: johnypaycut | July 7, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.