How Psilocybin Helps Relieve Anxiety

mushrooms psilocybin

Psilocybin mushrooms have been used for hundreds of years in spiritual practices by various Indigenous peoples.

These magic mushrooms have slowly found their way to the Western world, where both scientists and recreational drug users alike have studied their beneficial effects.

The euphoric and calming effects of certain types of magic mushrooms have led some practitioners to believe that a measured dose of psilocybin may aid in anxiety relief.

Why Are More People Exploring the Wonders of Psilocybin?

The Global Drug Survey 2019 found that out of 11,000 respondents, only 0.4% ever needed emergency medical treatment after taking magic mushrooms. The results deemed magic mushrooms as the safest of all recreational drugs.

Encouraging results such as these further draw average people to seek information and advice on the effects of psilocybin. These curious people wish to learn about the drug for both recreational and medicinal purposes.

If you would like to find out more about what magic mushrooms are and what they can do for you, read our Ultimate Guide to Magic Mushrooms.

As more research is conducted into both the positive and negative effects of shrooms, more people are beginning to experiment and draw conclusions surrounding the drug’s use.

Does Psilocybin Actually Work?

use and bad trip
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Microdosing psilocybin is becoming increasingly popular as increased information on magic mushroom benefits is widely spread. People have begun to microdose dried mushrooms to better their mental wellbeing and improve their overall mental health.

Due to this increase in use, scientists are conducting studies, like the work of Kraehenmann et al, to properly measure the effects of psilocybin on those with mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.

These studies have been conducted with the aim of discovering whether psilocybin aids in the treatment of these illnesses.

So far, the studies on the effects of psilocybin and how it might help to relieve anxiety show promising results. However, more wide-scale studies are still needed to legitimate and legalize the drug’s medicinal use.

What is Anxiety?

According to Healthline, anxiety is a response to fear or apprehension; it is your body’s reaction to stress.

If you experience these feelings long term and they interfere with how you live your daily life, this may indicate that you have an anxiety disorder.

There are multiple types of anxiety disorders:

Type of anxiety disorder Common side effects
Panic disorder
  • Frequent and recurring panic attacks
  • Attacks can occur unexpectedly
  • An afflicted person may live in fear of the next panic attack
Social anxiety
  • Fear of social situations and socially interactive experiences
  • A person may feel they are being judged or stared at in social situations
  • An irrational, often intense fear of something
  • Fear can be towards an object, activity, or situation
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • An obsessive repeated behavior towards a certain activity
  • Usually caused by recurring irrational thoughts
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • A panic disorder stemming from a specific traumatic event in a person’s life

Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses worldwide. In 2013, it was reported that around 3 million people over the age of 18 suffered from an anxiety disorder in Canada.

The prevalence of anxiety means that there are various medicines and practices available to help treat the disorder.

It’s easy to believe that the negative effects of anxiety might cause you to have a bad trip on magic mushrooms. Some adverse effects of shrooms include:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Forgetfulness
  • Becoming easily distracted

These effects are, understandably, not harmonious with anxious feelings. Studies, such as that conducted by Daniel and Haberman, have shown that these adverse effects can be muted by taking psilocybin in small amounts.

Instead, the study suggests that psilocybin’s positive effects are heightened to effectively combat anxiety.

Common Side Effects of Psilocybin

The most common positive side effects of psilocybin are:

  • Euphoric feelings
  • Mixed senses (such as “hearing” colors or “seeing” sounds)
  • Spiritual experiences (such as a heightened connectedness to nature)
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Changes in sense of time (moving slower or faster)

Generally, these positive side effects leave users of magic mushrooms feeling elated and relaxed. These kinds of feelings are diametrically opposed to anxious feelings; feeling tense, worried, and fearful.

Consequently, it’s easy to assume that the use of psilocybin in the treatment of anxiety disorders is effective.

However, the more potent effects of magic mushrooms, such as the hallucinogenic effects often produced, are not suitable for medicinal use.

Consuming magic mushrooms in recreational doses is not a realistic way to relieve daily feelings of anxiety. Taking larger doses of psilocybin when feeling anxious could bring on a bad trip.

To prevent the stronger effects of shrooms, anxiety sufferers have taken to “microdosing”.

What Is Microdosing?

Source: Pixabay by rtdisoho

Microdosing is fairly self-explanatory: It is the taking of a very small dose of psilocybin in the form of dried mushrooms.

Microdosing has seen a rise in popularity among those who wish to use magic mushrooms to alleviate anxiety and depression. Taking a small dose of psilocybin elevates the drug taker’s mood without causing stronger effects such as hallucinations.

The typical recommended amount to microdose is a tenth of a recreational dose of dried mushrooms. This amount can be taken several times a week.

James Fadiman, PhD, advises in The Psychedelic’s Explorer’s Guide that when microdosing, individuals take one day on and two days off, to ensure the effects don’t become too potent.

The amount of the drug taken can be tweaked depending on the individual user’s experience. A typical amount of magic mushroom to microdose is between 0.1 and 0.4 grams.

Scientific Studies on Using Psilocybin to Treat Anxiety

Now for the proof…

Of all the studies we found, 100% of them concluded that the use of psilocybin in the treatment of anxiety has shown positive results and long term solutions.

It is therefore highly likely that certain types of magic mushrooms, when taken in small “microdoses,” can act as an aid in the treatment of anxiety and other mood disorders, such as depression.

Scientific Study
Key Findings
Could Psilocybin Help to Relieve Anxiety?
Potential Therapeutic Effects of Psilocybin – Johnson and Griffiths
  • Tested the effect of psilocybin as a drug in treatment-resistant major depression
  • Depressive symptoms were significantly reduced after 1 week and 3 months post-treatment
  • The same pattern was found for anxiety symptoms
Psilocybin Induced Decrease in Amygdala Reactivity Correlates with Enhanced Positive Mood in Healthy Volunteers – Kraehenmann et al
  • Taking psilocybin as an anxiety drug increased reports of positive mood, but did not increase anxiety
  • “Psilocybin has the potential to normalize limbic hyperactivity in persons with depressed mood state”
Clinical Potential of Psilocybin as a Treatment for Mental Health Conditions – Daniel and Haberman
  • Used a relatively low dose of psilocybin
  • The study found that mood improved for 2 weeks after treatment and reached statistical significance on the Beck Depression Inventory at the 6-month point
  • Study supports further research on whether psilocybin could be used as a drug for the management of anxiety disorders
Rapid and Sustained Symptom Reduction Following Psilocybin Treatment for Anxiety and Depression in Patients with Life-Threatening Cancer – Ross et al
  • Study mapped the anxiety experienced in terminal cancer patients
  • Found that a single dosing of psilocybin as a drug, in conjunction with psychotherapy, effectively treated “existential malaise” brought on by the recognition of one’s impending death

So Why Is Psilocybin Not a Mainstream Anxiety Treatment?

psilocybin can cause a lack of coordination
Source: Freepik by jcomp

There still needs to be a further study on the effects and effectiveness of psilocybin use. Future studies must aim for wider testing and larger control groups.

Magic mushrooms are still an illegal substance in the majority of countries worldwide. The consumption of magic mushrooms is still deemed as drug use, whether this is taken recreationally or medicinally.

More research needs to be conducted to definitively prove that psilocybin is an effective treatment of anxiety and the stigma surrounding the drug needs to be removed.

Only then can we bring this supposedly effective and potentially revolutionary treatment into the mainstream.

Food for Thought…

If you are curious or tempted to try microdosing shrooms for the treatment and relief of anxiety, the information laid out above is definitely something to consider.

We would recommend doing your own further research, too.

The psilocybin compound found in certain types of mushrooms has been shown to work just as well in relieving anxiety as any anxiety drug.

Microdosing shrooms can be extremely helpful in aiding those who suffer from anxiety to cope with daily life.

Before taking any drug, including psilocybin, it is advised that you consult a professional. Getting therapy as an outlet to treat mental illness is always the first recommended step.

It’s important to not source and dry your own magic mushrooms from the wild. A psilocybin mushroom may look similar to a poisonous mushroom. Try foraging with a professional or buying dried mushrooms online.

To find out more information on what magic mushrooms look like, read our handy guide on the types of magic mushrooms.

If you want the answers to general queries about magic mushrooms, please take a look at our FAQs.


Featured Image: Pxhere by NX300

One comment

  1. John Mark Robertson

    Thanks for that information. Very encouraging, which I definitely need at the moment.

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