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Magic Mushrooms: Scientists Warn Against Psilocybin Use

Update Date: Jan 03, 2017 09:20 AM EST

Psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, have gained immense popularity over the past years because of its psychedelic effects to the brain, triggering a relaxing effect for people with anxiety and depression. However, Johns Hopkins scientists urged caution around the use of psilocybin.

In a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, the researchers conducted a survey of nearly 2,000 people who said they encountered a past negative experience when taking psilocybin-containing "magic mushrooms". In fact, more than 10 percent believed their worst "bad trip" could put themselves or other at risk for physical harm.

Another 2.5 percent of the respondents said that behaved aggressively after taking magic mushrooms while 2.7 percent had to seek medical help. The researchers, however, warned that the survey they conducted dud not apply to all psilocybin use because the questionnaire used wasn't designed to study the "good trip" experiences.

Positive Experiences Too

According to PsychCentral, despite the risk of psilocybin use, most of them still reported the experience to be "worthwhile" and "meaningful". About half of the positive responses by users of magic mushrooms claimed that it was one of the top most valuable experiences in their life.

"Considering both the negative effects and the positive outcomes that respondents sometimes reported, the survey results confirm our view that neither users nor researchers can be cavalier about the risks associated with psilocybin," Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., an author of the study, said in a press release by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

What Are Magic Mushrooms And Psilocybin?

The U.S. Department of Justice reports that psilocybin is a hallucinogenic substance obtained from magic mushrooms which are indigenous to tropical and subtropical regions of Mexico, South America and the United States.

Though many studies have shown that psilocybin could be used to treat anxiety and depression, the use of this substance is associated with negative psychological and physical consequences. The physical effects of magic mushrooms usually take place within 20 minutes of ingestion. These could last for about 6 hours and include muscle weakness, drowsiness, lack of coordination, nausea and vomiting.

On the other hand, psychological effects of magic mushrooms include hallucinations and an inability to discern reality from fantasy. In large doses, however, panic and psychosis may occur.

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