Magic mushrooms, otherwise known as shrooms, or the psilocybin mushroom groups, were discovered in more than 200 varieties worldwide. They are mostly known as a recreational drug used to induce a sense of euphoria and hallucinations. The ancient origin of magic mushrooms can be traced back several thousands of years ago.
In this article, we will take a look at where the magic began.
Prehistoric Use of Magic Mushrooms
Even though it is difficult to determine when it all began, pieces of evidence are available in the form of stone paintings discovered that the Saharan aboriginal tribes in North Africa might have enjoyed using magic mushrooms in the 9000 B.C.
In Spain, some rock paintings made around 6000 years ago suggest that mushrooms were used in some religious rituals nearby Villar del Humo. These point to the possibility that mushrooms were used during the prehistoric cultures, though there have been no solid shreds of evidence that prove these yet.
Culture and Spiritual Connection
Cultures in Native America, including the Aztecs and Mayas, use symbols, paintings, and statues that indicate that they too consumed mushrooms, especially those with psilocybin content. These mushrooms were often used in religious rituals, as they believed that they could be used in communicating with deities. The Aztecs referred to one variety as “flesh of the gods.” Other tribes that are located in Central America also use magic mushrooms for the same reasons.
Around the latter part of the 1950s, the Western world was introduced to the power of psilocybin. It was when psilocybin and psilocin were found in mushrooms collected during an expedition of the Mazatec tribe in Mexico.
A piece was published in 1957, explaining the discovery of the mushrooms. Later on, this drug became popular, being used as a psychedelic substance. It was also associated with the Hippie culture, considering magic mushrooms to be the gateway to spirituality.
How Magic Mushrooms Embraced Popularity
Two ethnobotanists named Reko and Schultes discovered that local Mexican doctors were using psilocybin mushrooms. Even though western medicine has already proven about the depressive effect of psilocybin in the nervous system, they still decided to publish their discoveries and findings.
After two other men heard about these discoveries, they became interested in exploring more about magic mushrooms. They traveled to Central America, looking for more information regarding the effects and use of psilocybin mushrooms. They felt the amazing effects of these substances under the assistance of local shamans.
After they bravely published their findings, the use of the term magic mushrooms has become a cultural standard. When the 1960s came, shrooms have already turned into a counterculture symbol, widely used in the United Kingdom and the United States. It was proven that psilocybin mushrooms produce a powerful impact on American Culture, eventually becoming a symbol of the Hippie Culture.
In terms of medical use, the previous research and discoveries of psilocybin have served as an inspiration to Albert Hoffman to work on the synthesizing of LSD, another form of potent psychedelic that also serves as a counterculture symbol, especially in the decades 1960s and 1970s.
These days, these magic mushrooms have become researched and accepted. Regardless of being classified as a Class 1 drug, which means that they belong to the same category as Heroin, even the media has published public and mainstream journals and articles that point to the benefits of psilocybin.
This could mean that we will still expect more of these clinical studies to be introduced to us in the following years.
Modern Reputation of Shrooms
In our modern days, these magic mushrooms are now receiving broader acceptance and acknowledgment in pop culture. Some people embrace the concept of “microdosing” with the substance psilocybin, which means the consumption of small amounts of this chemical.
This means that they will not necessarily be able to experience complete trips. Rather, they will feel a boost in their creativity and mood. For some, they believe that their anxiety is lessened, thus making them better productive. Certain studies provide support to this claim.
Some scientists are working their way through different methods of research to understand the mystery behind these chemicals. However, in the 1970s, a ban was imposed on psilocybin except for those used in medical research. In October of 2018, the FDA permitted Compass Pathways to research the mushrooms, particularly looking into its capacity to offer depression treatment.
The Power of Psilocybin
These researchers are planning to combine psilocybin with intense therapy, hoping that they will be able to find better ways to fight the depression that are treatment-resistant. In September of 2019, the Johns Hopkins University introduced its Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research.
In this center, the scientists are working on evaluating psilocybin as a potential treatment for different types of conditions, including Lyme disease, opioid addiction, PTSD, alcohol and nicotine dependency, and several other medical conditions.
Other researchers all over the world are currently digging into the possibility of using psilocybin in medical applications. Their main purpose is to unlock the real magic of these mushrooms, particularly with how the compounds and substances found in them interact with our bodies and brains. Perhaps their studies’ results will further unlock the understanding of our brain’s perception in methods we may not necessarily understand for now.
Indeed, magic mushrooms have been considered among the oldest recreational drugs used by human beings. It is also amazing to note that they are still used actively down to this day. History has it mentioned in ancient manuscripts, cave paintings, and constructs, continuing to be acknowledged in modern books, movies, music, and pop culture. Some new research suggests that they may feature some medicinal properties too.