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The Science of Psilocybin

Psilocybin is a psychedelic compound that occurs naturally in up to 200 different species of mushrooms belonging to the genus Psilocybe. It has been used for thousands of years in spiritual rituals and medicinal use. Psilocybin is converted within the body to Psilocin. Psilocin acts to stimulate the 5-HT2A receptor which can mimic the effects of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that carries signals between neurons. Serotonin is often called the body’s natural “feel good” chemical. It helps regulate and balance our mood. Lack of serotonin in the body can cause depression and mood imbalances. Research has shown that Psilocybin increases serotonin levels in the body which help treat depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and addictions. Psilocybin has no established toxicity in humans and is easily metabolized and excreted in the urine.

Psilocybin has the ability to change the Neuroplasticity of the brain. Neuroplasticity is the ability of neurons to change their characteristics which affects emotions, behaviors, experiences, and thoughts.

Science has shown neuroplasticity improvements:

  • Changes in the number of connections neurons make to other neurons

  • Growing or shrinking of individual neurons

  • Changes in location of neuron connections

  • Production of new neurons called Neurogenesis

  • Changes in the strength of the connections also known as synaptic plasticity

  • Changes in the response to neuron signals

Psilocybin has also been shown to have the power to “reset” the Default Mode Network which is the control structures of our brain. It is often over reactive among people suffering from mental illness, depression, and anxiety. Research has shown that psilocybin can shut down the DMN and ‘reset” it into a more healthy and balanced configuration.


Why is this so significant?

Neuroplasticity is a very controlled process in the brain and your brain cells can be fixed and unable to make any drastic changes by the time you are an adult. Research has shown that psychedelics can boost and change the neuroplasticity of the brain which can change their structures. The brain response is breaking out of old habits and forming new healthier patterns of behavior.

Psychoactive effects of psilocybin are due to the binding of the 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C serotonin receptor subtypes. They act as a high infinity partial agonist. This agonism at the receptor sites are mostly directed and responsible for the psychoactive changes in perceptions, behavior changes, rigid thinking, unhealthy repression, and visual patterns. Psilocybin acts to mimic the serotonin receptors and changing the neuroplasticity of the brain.