The Telluride Mushroom Festival is amazing. Mushrooms are a universal solvent. They regrow brain cells, they expand consciousness, they give you more energy, less cancer, less inflammation, less anxiety, less stress, more connection, more empathy, more fun in the kitchen, more fun in the garden, more fun in the sun, more fun indoors, will replace packaging material and give us a garbage free world, will provide materials to build future houses with, will be biodegradable, will heal the planet, will replace antibiotics. Being at the Telluride Mushroom Festival one is more likely to ponder, what can mushrooms not do?
One of the more fascinating lectures of day one of the mushroom festival was titled the neurogenic properties of mushrooms by Michelle Moss. She is the founder of a non-profit company called Impact Network that does research with psilocybin mushrooms (magic mushrooms). Since she is the founder of a non-profit she doesn’t have to follow or pay allegiance to the status quo medical industry’s rules of recommending medicines for people based on the government’s scheduling of drugs. Psilocybin and magic mushrooms are currently a schedule one drug which means they have no medicinal value and are extremely addicting and are bad bad bad!
Statistics state that one in five Americans uses or has used a psychedelic. Are 20% of us just acting morally wrong and being a drain on society, or has our medical industry and criminal justice system gone far astray in actually ‘protecting and properly medicating’ people? The talk by Michelle Moss focused on studies relating psilocybin (magic mushrooms) on adult neurogenesis. Psilocybin is the ingredient in mushrooms that makes them ‘magic’ and adult neurogenesis is the adult brain actually being capable of creating new neurons after the age of 25. After the age of 25 your brain does not produce the same connections and neurons anymore as a growing, pre-25 brain does. After this age, our brains slowly start to go into a sort of lull and most of us lose brain cells while others desperately try and recapture that ‘loving feeling’ or the ‘excitement’ or the ‘stimulation’ that we felt we perhaps had regarding life and learning and certain things as such when we were younger. As the years pass we can easily continue to grow more unimpressed with life. We wonder why things aren’t the same anymore. Why has life sold us out? Perhaps we feel we know how life works and we know the answers to all things. How boring, how dull. This is exactly the opposite of how we could be feeling. As a result, we often are more unwilling to go outside of our comfort zones. These aren’t just random feelings, these are truths all of us will experience and it’s actually proven that your brains start this aging process and we now need to do more to keep our brains lively, healthy, and functioning at full capacity. My god, my brain is melting, MELTING! Will it start sliding out of my ears?! What can I do oh holy Pastarfarian Flying Spaghetti Monster God? How have I offended thee?
There are definitely some ‘big duhs’ that have been found to boost adult neurogenesis. Exercise, social interaction, sex, novel environments, sunlight, eating a balanced nutritious diet not full of inflammatory foods, sleep, etc. What harms adult neurogenesis? Stress, depression, anxiety, Chemotherapy, sleep deprivation, alcohol, nicotine, high animal fat diets, aging, disease, inflammation. It’s a double whammy either way you look at it. If you partake in activities that harm adult neurogenesis then you end up depleted, and more likely susceptible to stress, anxiety, depression, mental health issues overall. If you partake in activities that boost it then you are less likely to end up dealing as intensely with these things.
The main region of the brain that creates new neurons and a positive environment for adult neurogenesis to flourish is the hippocampus. Newly published studies are claiming that psilocybin/magic mushrooms, cannabis, lsd, dmt, and mescaline boost adult neurogenesis while heroine, morphine, amphetamines, cocaine, alcohol, nicotine all reduce it. Specifically, for this talk, the ingredient in magic mushrooms, psilocybin, was shown to lead to growth in brain cells. Mice and rats were experimented on and brain functioning and processing and growth was compared with mice and rats with those who were not given psilocybin. For all levels of doses being micro, low, medium, and high the brain capacity of mice improved more with mice who were giving psilocybin. They learned tasks quicker, they didn’t succumb to fear or harmful situations as easily, and they displayed more energy. And what’s even more striking is that the mice and rats who were given micro to low doses had the most brain growth and positive effects than even the mice given medium to high doses.
Psilocybin creates adult neurogenesis by acting on serotonin receptors in the brain. Magic mushrooms also have endocannabinoids in them but no receptor for them (specifically the truffles which are basically the mycelium roots of mushrooms). Their intention is for them to be eaten by animals that spread their spores. Animals that have endocannabinoid receptors (humans) eat them and melanin is produced which has a calming, relaxing affect. We have a natural symbiotic relationship to eat magic mushrooms as we spread their spores and consequently help our brains grow more neurons and feel more relaxed. Win win much?
These are just the newest studies among many that show the positive health benefits of psychedelics and especially psilocybin in magic mushrooms. What is our government doing for us again? Outlawing chemicals and medicines that actually make our brain grow? We have all been labeled as criminals in our current society by striving to use medicines and substances that really do create health in us. We are forced into an environment where we are guilty until proven innocent while so many other drugs are legal that lead to such nasty consequences. Most legal prescription drugs have the kinds of side effects that we commonly falsely associate with illegal drugs. We have been duped to buy into an industry that harms us while outlawed to participate in substances that actually promote real healing. Striving for legal or recreational status on drugs and the ‘War on Drugs’ overall has turned us all into criminals. How long will the government stand behind policies and medicines that actually make us more sick while outlawing ones that create mindfulness and health? The American dream marches on.