Over 60% of volunteers in a rigorous trial funded by the American government said that one magic mushroom session gave them a full mystical experience and several months of happiness. Magic mushrooms are also known as psychedelic mushrooms. The researchers, from John Hopkins University, Baltimore, wanted to find out what the neurological mechanisms and effects of psilocybin were. They were exploring psilocybin as a possible therapeutic compound. Psilocybin is the hallucinogenic agent found in magic mushrooms.

The research was funded by the U.S. National Institute of Drug Abuse and the Council on Spiritual Practices.

Trials have rarely been carried out on psilocybin. Mainly because magic mushrooms have been viewed as products used by people who take illegal narcotics for recreational use.

Lead researcher, Prof. Roland Griffiths, said “More than 60 percent of the volunteers reported effects of their psilocybin session that met the criteria for a full mystical experience as measured by well-established psychological scales.?

Most of the volunteers described their experience of taking the mushrooms as one of the most meaningful and spiritually significant of their lives.

There were 36 volunteers, all of them college educated, averaging 46 years of age. The trial was randomized and double-blinded. None of them had a history of drug abuse or mental illness. Most of them claim they became better people after the experience. Relatives and friends said they noticed that many of the participants were happier and kinder for several weeks.

No brain damage or negative long-term side effects were detected among any of the volunteers. You can read about this study in the journal Psychopharmacology, 11 July issue.

On being asked whether these mushrooms may get us any nearer to God, Griffiths said “We know that there were brain changes that corresponded to a primary mystical experience. But that finding, as precise as it may get, will in no way inform us about the metaphysical question of the existence of a higher power.”

It is important to bear in mind that the volunteers were supervised at all times, they were in a controlled environment and had people at hand to help them in case they experienced a ?bad trip’.

?Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance?
R. R. Griffiths, Contact Information, W. A. Richards, U. McCann and R. Jesse
Publisher: Springer Berlin / Heidelberg
ISSN: 0033-3158 (Paper) 1432-2072 (Online)
DOI: 10.1007/s00213-006-0457-5

Link to Abstract

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today