The Magical Mushroom That Created The Mushroom Boom

Magic mushrooms are fungi that contain hallucinogenic substances like psilocybin and psilocin. Consuming these mushrooms can result in hallucinations, altered perceptions, anxiety, fear, nausea, muscle twitches, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure. Some individuals may also experience negative experiences known as "bad trips" or "flashbacks" after taking magic mushrooms.

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The magical mushroom that created the mushroom Boom

There is a growing curiosity about the potential medical benefits of magic mushrooms and psilocybin, a key component found in magic mushrooms. Although clinical trials with psilocybin have demonstrated encouraging outcomes, there are currently no authorized therapeutic products containing psilocybin available in Canada or other countries. Clinical trials are considered the most suitable and efficient method to progress research involving unapproved substances like psilocybin, all while ensuring the well-being and safety of patients.

About magic mushrooms

Magic mushrooms have a long history of use spanning thousands of years, with more than 200 species known. Due to the similar appearance of many species, distinguishing between them can be challenging, leading to the risk of accidentally consuming toxic mushrooms instead of magic ones.

The active components found in magic mushrooms are known as psilocybin and psilocin. These substances are classified as psychoactive and are regulated internationally by the United Nations Drug Control Conventions and in Canada by the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). In Canada, any activities involving magic mushrooms, psilocybin, and psilocin, such as sale, possession, and production, are considered illegal unless authorized by Health Canada through licensing, exemptions, or regulations. These substances are also governed by the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) like other drugs. Psilocybin and psilocin are hallucinogenic substances that create effects similar to LSD. Users of magic mushrooms typically experience hallucinations and a changed state of consciousness, with effects kicking in within 15-45 minutes and lasting for about four to six hours.

The impact of magic mushrooms can differ from individual to individual when ingested. Furthermore, the potency of these mushrooms can vary significantly, with one mushroom containing different levels of active components compared to another. As a result, the effects experienced from consuming magic mushrooms can be influenced by the dosage and specific type of mushroom consumed.

Illegally sold magic mushrooms can be found as dried whole mushrooms or in powder form. They can be consumed in various ways, such as eating them raw or cooked, brewing them into tea, ingesting them in capsule form, or snorting the powder.

It is strongly advised against injecting magic mushrooms intravenously as there have been documented cases in the literature of severe consequences such as septic shock and organ failure resulting from this method of administration.

Psilocybin and psilocin are illicitly manufactured and distributed in the form of powder, tablets, or capsules. These illegally produced drugs are not subject to testing and could potentially contain harmful additives.

Immediate impacts of magic mushrooms

Using magic mushrooms can lead to short-term mental and physical effects.

Psychological effects

Magic mushrooms can lead to increased emotions and heightened senses, resulting in feelings of happiness and creativity. Individuals may laugh frequently, experience mental clarity, and have a heightened sense of emotional well-being.

Magic mushrooms can also induce hallucinations and impact individuals by distorting their perception of reality, blending their senses, and changing their perception of time.

Negative psychological impacts of consuming magic mushrooms may include alterations in mood, feeling light-headed, experiencing anxiety and panic attacks, feeling confused or disoriented, and having feelings of fear or paranoia.

Physical effects

Consuming magic mushrooms may result in facial numbness, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, dry mouth leading to potential nausea and vomiting, muscle weakness, twitching or convulsions, heightened reflexes, sweating, increased body temperature followed by chills, shivering, and loss of bladder control.

Long-term effects of magic mushrooms

At present, there is a lack of research examining the potential long-term impacts of frequent use of magic mushrooms.

Risks associated with using magic mushrooms

  • A “bad trip” can happen, especially with high doses, and may involve scary experiences like paranoia, blurred boundaries, and a distorted self-perception. Poor decision-making during these episodes can result in risky behavior, potentially causing serious injuries or fatalities.
  • Short-term effects like elevated blood pressure and heart rate could pose a potential risk for individuals with heart conditions.
  • At times, individuals may encounter frequent or highly intense psychedelic episodes that could trigger sudden “flashbacks”, where they relive a past experience.
  • Combining magic mushrooms with substances like cannabis, amphetamines, alcohol, etc., increases the likelihood of experiencing severe side effects and negative outcomes.

Substance use disorders and withdrawal

There is limited proof that individuals can develop a physical or psychological reliance on magic mushrooms. Nonetheless, it is feasible to develop a tolerance to the drug’s effects through consistent use. This tolerance can build up over multiple days of ongoing consumption, leading to a point where even large doses of the drug no longer result in the desired outcome.

Obtaining Psilocybin for Therapeutic Use

Health Canada acknowledges that there are situations where it may be suitable to access unapproved medications. Individuals with mental health conditions should consult their healthcare provider about potential treatment options. In certain cases, under the guidance of a licensed healthcare professional, individuals may be able to legally obtain psilocybin through one of three avenues: clinical trials, the Special Access Program, or individual exemptions under subsection 56(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Clinical trials and Health Canada’s Special Access Program are available regulatory pathways for obtaining a legal source of psilocybin. It is recommended to explore these options rather than seeking an individual exemption under the CDSA, unless it can be proven that accessing psilocybin through these established legal channels is not feasible or appropriate. Both clinical trials and the Special Access Program include measures to safeguard patient health and safety, maintain drug quality, and ensure proper administration and oversight by qualified professionals.

The Special Access Program and exemptions from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act are not intended to promote the premature use of unapproved drugs or to bypass the standard drug review and approval procedures.

Potential Therapeutic Uses of Psilocybin

Currently, there are no officially approved therapeutic products containing psilocybin in Canada or any other country. This means that Health Canada has not evaluated the safety, effectiveness, or quality of products with psilocybin, as they have not undergone the necessary scientific review process to be legally sold. Ongoing research is exploring the potential of psilocybin in treating mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and substance abuse. While some initial clinical trials have shown promise, the available evidence is limited. Health Canada recommends that individuals seeking help for these disorders consult with their healthcare provider to discuss available treatment options.

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