Magic mushrooms, otherwise known as shrooms, or the psilocybin mushroom groups, were discovered in more than 200 varieties all over the world. These days, they are mostly known as a recreational drug that is used in inducing a sense of euphoria and hallucinations. However, the ancient origin of these 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 Shrooms
Even though it is difficult to determine the exact time when it all began, pieces of evidence are available in the form of stone paintings discovered that the Saharan aboriginal tribes in North Africa may have enjoyed using magic mushrooms in the 9000 B.C.
In Spain, some rock paintings which were made around 6000 years ago also suggest that mushrooms were used in some religious rituals nearby Villar del Humo. All of 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 can 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 which were 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 psilocybin mushrooms were being used by Mexican local doctors. 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.
It was after they bravely published their findings that the use of the term magic mushrooms has become a cultural standard. When the 1960s came, shrooms have already turned into a counterculture symbol, which has become used widely 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 an inspiration to Albert Hoffman to work on the synthesizing of LSD, which is 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 in the following years, we will still be able to expect more of these clinical studies being introduced to us.
Modern Reputation of Shrooms
In our modern days, these magic mushrooms are now receiving broader acceptance and acknowledgment in pop culture. Some people are embracing 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, it was in the 1970s when a ban was imposed on psilocybin except for those that are used in medical research. In October of 2018, the FDA permitted Compass Pathways to research the mushrooms, particularly looking into its capacity to offer treatment for depression.
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 the evaluation of 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 the way the compounds and substances found in them interact with our bodies and brains. Perhaps the result of their studies will further unlock the understanding of perception in our brain in methods we may not necessarily understand for now.
Indeed, magic mushrooms have been considered as among the oldest types of 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 that they were 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 also feature some medicinal properties too.