Magic mushrooms are becoming more and more popular in Canada, especially after cannabis was legalised in 2018. Lots of people want to try these psilocybin mushrooms, but they’re not widely accessible to the public.
Shrooms are a Schedule 3 substance in all provinces in Canada. Other drugs like LSD, DMT, and peyote also fall under Schedule 3. Many experts think that it’s not necessary to criminalise these substances.
Despite their dubious legal status, magic mushrooms can make a huge difference in peoples’ lives. Microdosing has been shown to improve focus, mood, productivity, and general mental health. Taking larger doses might also be helpful for patients who are dealing with drug addiction and depression.
Scientists are starting to conduct research about the positive effects of magic mushrooms. Here are some studies that show that psilocybin mushrooms could have positive effects for medical patients, and even the Canadian population in general.
New Canadian Research Grant Approved
In July 2022, the Canadian government authorised the first use of magic mushrooms for scientific research ever in the country. Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) will study whether psilocybin mushrooms can help patients with depression.
Researchers will study 60 adults who have been dealing with depression for at least three years. All participants haven’t responded to alternative treatments like antidepressants or therapy.
One third of subjects will receive a full dose of psilocybin. Another will get psilocybin with a blocker to prevent any psychedelic effects. The last will be given a placebo and the blocker.
In addition to the substances, all participants will go through 12 hours of psychotherapy. This will allow them to process their trips and talk about how they felt about the experience. In the future, it’s possible that this therapy will be phased out of the treatment process as we learn more about magic mushrooms.
The study will be funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Researchers, the first time that government money has been used to study psilocybin in Canada.
Past Research on Magic Mushrooms
There’s evidence that humans have used psilocybin mushrooms for medicine and religious rituals for over 10,000 years. However, magic mushrooms are now a scheduled drug in most parts of the world, including Canada, so no one has done much modern scientific research.
However, we’ve still learned a great deal about magic shrooms that point to them being helpful for our minds and bodies.
Psilocybin and Depression
A small study from John Hopkins has shown strong benefits for patients with depression, exactly what the new Canadian study is looking for.
In the research, 24 patients with major depressive disorder went on two five-hour psilocybin trips that were monitored by scientists. After one week, 67% of participants showed more than a 50% reduction in their symptoms, and 71% experienced this reduction after a four-week follow up.
In total, after four weeks of treatment, 54% of subjects no longer qualified as having major depression, and either felt no symptoms or only minor symptoms. This is a significant finding that hasn’t been achieved with any prescription meds. However, remember that this is a small study, so more research needs to be done.
Magic Mushrooms and Addiction
It may seem strange that psilocybin mushrooms can help with addiction treatment, but there’s more and more evidence that they might be a great tool to help addicts kick the habit.
A large eight-month study shows the potential of shrooms to help alcoholics quit drinking. In the study, 93 people ages 25-65 were given either two psilocybin doses or two placebo pills. Subjects also went to 12 psychotherapy sessions. At the beginning of the study, all volunteers were averaging seven alcoholic drinks a day.
Eight months after the mushroom doses, 80% of subjects had drastically reduced their drinking, compared to 50% of the placebo group. At the end of the trial, half of the volunteers who took shrooms had quit drinking altogether.
Magic mushrooms might also help smokers quit. One study found that 80% of subjects who received psilocybin doses quit smoking after six months. That greatly exceeds the 35% success rate of varenicline, the most effective smoking cessation drug on the market.
Other Effects of Shrooms
There are very few studies on microdosing, but enthusiasts hope that its benefits will be mainstream soon.
A recent survey showed that microdosers reported that shrooms positively affected their mood, creativity, focus, energy, and self-efficacy. The number one effect was improvement of mental health symptoms.
Scientists also want to study psilocybin mushrooms’ ability to help patients with conditions like:
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Fear from terminal cancer
This evidence definitely shows how important it is to study magic mushrooms. Luckily, there’s hope on the horizon that science is moving forward.
In 2020, Health Canada granted permission for 16 health professionals to use magic mushrooms themselves to learn more about them, hopefully developing new therapies in the future. Shrooms were given to nurses, doctors, therapists, and social workers, providing a diverse array of perspectives.
More objective science needs to be done. While self-reported studies of people who microdose or take larger doses of mushrooms are helpful, the drug won’t be made legal until there’s hard science surrounding it.
Scientists are hopeful that the government will provide more authorisations for the use of magic mushrooms in studies in the future. It would also be very helpful for experts to receive more direct funding for their work in this field.
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