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December 2021

New Monograph: What is Psilocybin?

Along with other psychedelics such as ayahuasca and iboga, psilocybin is an increasingly hot topic. It’s found in various “magic mushroom” species, typically in the Psilocybe genus. So what’s all the hype?

Psilocybin isn’t new. It has a long history of use in religious and spiritual rituals. Like other psychedelics, much of the buzz around psilocybin relates to its potential benefits for certain mental health conditions, like depression, addictions, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research is ongoing, but some early evidence suggests that taking psilocybin, usually together with psychotherapy, reduces symptoms of depression in some people for up to 6 months. There’s also some early research showing it might help with alcohol use disorder.

But is it safe? The answer to that question depends on how it is used. Single doses taken under medical supervision seem to cause manageable side effects, such as confusion, hallucinations, nausea, paranoia and anxiety. But it's important to note that studies evaluating the benefits of psilocybin were conducted in very controlled environments under medical supervision. These controlled environments included many safety measures and were also favorable to creating a positive emotional state. Despite being classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, most research shows that the risk for abuse with psilocybin is low. Withdrawal symptoms and physical dependence don’t appear to be a major concern. But it’s not clear if taking psilocybin in an uncontrolled environment or on multiple occasions is safe or will offer the same benefits.

There’s also a lot of buzz about using psilocybin in micro doses. If patients ask you about this, explain that there’s still a lot we don’t know. It’s not clear which micro dosing regimen might offer benefits or what the potential side effects might be.

Check out our new monograph to learn more.

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The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2021 Natural Medicines Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. Natural Medicines is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.