Washington: Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have probed the “sacred mushroom” chemical that is capable of yielding positive, life-changing experiences.
At the same time, they also examined its minimal chance of transient negative reactions in screened volunteers under supportive, carefully monitored conditions.
The findings shed scientific light on psilocybin, a substance found in certain psychoactive mushrooms and used for centuries in various cultures for divinatory, healing, and religious purposes.
The dose-effect findings will help pave the way for research into possible therapeutic uses of psilocybin.
The research examines the outcomes of psilocybin sessions in combination with various spiritual practices such as meditation, awareness training, and dialogue with other study participants.
In its completed and current studies combined, the Hopkins research team has given more than 210 psilocybin sessions to more than 100 volunteers. Nearly all volunteers have reported that their psilocybin sessions have lead to significant and lasting increases in well-being.
The behavior changes most frequently cited were improved relationships with family and others, increased physical and psychological self-care, and increased devotion to spiritual practice.
Mary Cosimano, M.S.W., a lead monitor for the study in the Johns Hopkins Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, noted, “It’s an incredible privilege to be able to witness and support our participants before, during, and after their psilocybin sessions. In a single day, deep emotions and insights often arise, and sometimes profound peace, clarity, and compassion. More than a few of our participants were able to turn such an experience into real improvements in their ongoing lives.”
The study is detailed online in the journal Psychopharmacology.