Magic Mushrooms Are Filling the Gaps in Mental Healthcare: Here’s Why

Magic Mushrooms Healthcare - GCI Content Hub - Global Cannabis Intelligence

GCI caught up with Chris Claussen, wellness company Leiio’s Chief Innovation Officer, to investigate the untapped benefits of psychedelic mushrooms in mental healthcare. Claussen explores this natural medicine as a tool to promote brain health, microdosing as a method of administration and why psilocybin — the active ingredient in ‘magic mushrooms’ — is breaking through the limits of modern medicine.

Psychedelic mushrooms are an ancient medicinal plant that has been used for mental health and wellbeing since time immemorial. They have an “unbelievable potential to improve your brain as you age,” beams Claussen, who started using psychedelic mushrooms to combat the “cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s” that he bore witness to in his family. As well as enhancing brain health and performance, Claussen sees the myriad effects this powerful fungi has on the mind, including its ability to treat depression and anxiety.

“Making better decisions, having better relationships and better at work.”

Leiio’s CIO Chris Claussen on the benefits of microdosing psychedelic mushrooms.

What is microdosing?

Microdosing is the practice of administering very small amounts of a substance in order to benefit from its physiological action while minimizing undesirable side effects. A microdosing routine is Claussen’s choice method for administration of psychedelic mushrooms, who found himself “making better decisions, having better relationships and better at work.” According to Claussen, other benefits of microdosing include increased creativity and focus, as well as treating depression and anxiety, and even acting as an alternative to antidepressants.

Claussen emphasizes the importance of appropriate dosing and including small breaks in your microdosing regime in order to fully benefit from its effects. This is because “the benefits of microdosing happen over weeks and months of doing a proper protocol.” Further, if overused, the brain quickly builds a tolerance to psilocybin which hampers its effects, meaning it is “not one of those drugs that can be abused.”

Interested in microdosing? “Mushrooms are very very safe,” Claussen assures GCI. Nevertheless, he emphasizes the importance of microdosing psilocybin responsibly in the context of thorough, independent research and professional medical guidance. Claussen explains that SSRIs inhibit the effects of psilocybin on the serotonin receptors, so patients will have to come off SSRI medication to benefit from microdosing. Therefore it is important to notify your doctor so that you have support.

Moreover, the nature of psilocybin means that microdosing is an involved process where the patient must be actively engaged in their own betterment and self-improvement. Because psilocybin draws attention to pain in order to bring about resolution, microdosing can also amplify negative moods. If patients are not in a good place, Claussen recommends seeking counselling and medical advice in order to reach a state where the patient is ready to microdose.

“The microdose regime doesn’t necessarily block what’s going wrong, it starts to open up those neural pathways so that you can work through those problems that you’re having.” Leiio’s CIO Chris Claussen

Psychedelic Mushrooms — an alternative to antidepressants?

‘Magic mushrooms’ improve brain performance and mental wellbeing by increasing neuroplasticity and neurogenesis in the brain’s Default Mode Network (DMN). This means that microdosing psychedelics can introduce new ways of thinking and replace old ways of thinking, as well as strengthening neural connections. Further, because psilocybin targets the serotonin system, consumption leads to enhanced empathy and happiness. These effects empower individuals to “take on the challenges of life, overcome them and be a better person,” beams Claussen.

Herein lies the crucial difference from the ways in which antidepressants treat depression and anxiety. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) — the most widely prescribed type of antidepressants — work by targeting the serotonin system to reduce pain, whereas mushrooms improve mental health by stimulating the formation of new neural connections which help you work through pain. “The microdose regime doesn’t necessarily block what’s going wrong, it starts to open up those neural pathways so that you can work through those problems that you’re having,” explains Claussen.

The way in which SSRIs are designed to treat anxiety and depression by managing pain and discomfort emulates the wider reactive trends in modern medicine, which strives to tackle symptoms (such as pain) without necessarily addressing their root cause. However, studies showing the limited efficacy of these medications in cases of treatment-resistant anxiety and depression indicate a problem for which psilocybin could be the solution.

The modern mental health crisis means ‘magic mushrooms’ have huge relevance in our society right now. Claussen believes that the psychedelic renaissance we are experiencing will lead to the normalisation of practices like microdosing. By addressing the source of pain and empowering individuals to process and overcome it in new ways, psychedelics like psilocybin offer a timely, functional and preventative approach to mental health.

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