Study reveals secret behind mushrooms

The history of the use of so-called magic mushroom as a hallucinogen is believed to be as old as human society. The most common magic mushroom is Psilocybe semilanceata and it is often eaten raw or is dried out and stored. The dried mushrooms are used to make tea by steeping in hot water.

It is well known that Psilocybin, the main active ingredient in magic mushrooms, is responsible for the hallucinogenic effects. But not until now have researchers found out the secret to its mental magic.

British psychiatrist Professor David Nutt and colleagues have now determined how Psilocybin, the chemical component in the magic mushroom, acts on brain, by imaging the brain changes from the conscious to the psychedelic (hallucinogenic) state in two groups of 15 healthy adults who received intravenous injections of Psilocybin using complementary fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging ) techniques. The findings were published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to the researchers, in the study volunteers who had been injected with a moderate dose of Psilocybin, there was a decrease in oxygenation and blood flow in medial prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate cortex, the two areas of the brain implicated in self-awareness and self-related processing.

The reduced activity in medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex due to reduced oxygenation and blood flow induced by Psilocybin, might be the reason for the profound effects on consciousness, according to the researchers.


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