Moral Low Ground


Johns Hopkins Medical School: ‘Magic’ Mushrooms are Good for You

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found out what any gristly old hippie or Burning Man veteran could tell you: that taken in the right doses, psilocybin– the active ingredient in ‘magic’ mushrooms– is good for you. Really good for you. So good that the experience will probably rank as one of the most spiritually significant of your life. Not only that, but the drug, when taken in the proper quantity, also creates positive changes in attitude, mood, life satisfaction and behavior that continue for more than a year after ingestion.

According to Raw Story, the Johns Hopkins researchers have determined exactly what that right amount is.

Their findings were published in this week’s edition of the peer-reviewed journal Psychopharmacology.

Said Roland Griffiths, Ph.D, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins and lead scientist in the study:

“In cultures before ours, the spiritual guide or healer had to discern how much of what type of mushroom to use for what purposes, because the strength of psychoactive mushrooms varies from species to species and even from specimen to specimen.”

“In our laboratory, weʼre working with the pure chemical psilocybin, which we can measure out precisely. We wanted to take a methodical look at how its effects change with dosage. We seem to have found levels of the substance and particular conditions for its use that give a high probability of a profound and beneficial experience, a low enough probability of psychological struggle, and very little risk of any actual harm.”

According the the researchers, 17 out of the study’s 18 test subjects, ages 29-62,  said their psychedelic mushroom trip was one of the top five or the most spiritually significant events of their lives after a 14-month follow-up. Fifteen out of 18 also said their behavior and mood had improved.

“I feel that I relate better in my marriage,” said one participant. “There is more empathy – a greater understanding of people and understanding their difficulties and less judgment.”

Of course, taking too much psilocybin is a recipe for psychological disaster. Nearly a third of those who were given higher doses of the drug experienced intense fear or delusions. Even so, psilocybin poses almost no physical health risks to healthy adults. A 2004 study published in Psychopharmacology found “no cause for concern that [psilocybin] is hazardous with respect to somatic health.” “Typically, the experiences after [medium and high doses] were rated positive, with retrospective statements ranging from ‘pleasurable’ to ‘ineffably beautiful.'”

Effin’ right!

Even Dr. Jerome Jaffe, the very first White House “Drug Czar” under President Nixon, sees potential psychotherapeutic value in ‘magic’ mushrooms. “The Hopkins psilocybin studies clearly demonstrate that this route to the mystical is not to be walked alone,” he told Raw Story. “But they have also demonstrated significant and lasting benefits.”

“That raises two questions,” he continued. “Could psilocybin-occasioned experiences prove therapeutically useful, for example in dealing with the psychological distress experienced by some terminal patients? And should properly-informed citizens, not in distress, be allowed to receive psilocybin for its possible spiritual benefits, as we now allow them to pursue other possibly risky activities such as cosmetic surgery and mountain-climbing?”

The answer, we believe, is yes. Raw Story points to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry this January that determined psilocybin is psychologically beneficial to patients suffering from advanced cancer and anxiety as proof that ‘magic’ mushrooms, when taken properly and in the right dosage, really do have significant health benefits.

Additionally, MSNBC reports that psilocybin could help treat various psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety and even addiction.

2008 CNN report on Johns Hopkins mushroom tests:

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