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Potential Effects of Mushrooms on the Brain

A logo from Clinical Cognitive Training an Oregon Psilocybin and Psychedelic Training ProgramA logo from Clinical Cognitive Training an Oregon Psilocybin and Psychedelic Training ProgramA logo from Clinical Cognitive Training an Oregon Psilocybin and Psychedelic Training Program
September 26, 2023
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Will you hallucinate? Will you get sick? What about a so-called “bad trip?” What are the effects of psychedelic mushrooms on the brain and are they different for everyone?

Magic mushroom first-timers have concerns and questions. That’s expected. You want to know what the exact effects of mushrooms on the brain are and what you can expect when you take them.

While the effects vary from person to person, there are ways to create a safe and supportive environment throughout your mushroom journey.

In this exploration of all things mushroom-related, we delve deeper into the effects of mushrooms on the brain while shedding light on the science behind these experiences.

How Do Mushrooms Affect the Brain?

When ingested, psilocybin (magic mushrooms) transforms in the body, leading to alterations in perception, mood, and cognition. These experiences challenge our understanding of consciousness and often encompass: 

Psilocybin interacts with the brain's chemistry, particularly with serotonin receptors, to induce these effects. 

The quantity of mushrooms consumed, combined with past experiences and expectations, will ultimately impact the overall effects of mushrooms on the brain.

The emerging field of psychedelic-assisted therapy is gaining popularity as researchers discover the potential power of these mushrooms for healing — from anxiety and depression, PTSD, substance use disorder, and more.

If you’re interested in learning how you can assist people through their mushroom journey, contact Clinical Cognitive Training today. Our course prepares you with the skills and knowledge needed to become a certified psilocybin facilitator in Oregon. 

How Quickly Do Mushrooms Affect the Brain?

The speed at which mushrooms affect the brain may vary depending on several factors, including the method of consumption and individual differences. 

Here's a general timeline of how quickly mushrooms typically affect the brain:

  • Onset: The onset of psychedelic effects from mushrooms usually begins within 20 minutes to 2 hours after ingestion. This wide range is based on factors such as: 
    • The individual's metabolism
    • The specific species of mushroom; and 
    • Whether they were consumed on an empty or full stomach
  • Peak effects: The peak of the psychedelic experience typically occurs about 1 to 2 hours after onset. During the peak, the effects on perception, mood, and cognition may be heightened.

Method of Consumption 

The method of consumption also plays a role in how quickly mushrooms affect the brain:

  • Oral ingestion: Consuming mushrooms orally is the most common method. The effects typically take longer to kick in because the body must digest the mushrooms and then convert psilocybin into its active form, psilocin. This process can take some time, which is why onset may be delayed.
  • Tea or powder: Some people make mushroom tea or grind mushrooms into a powder to accelerate onset. With this method, effects are often felt within 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Inhalation or intravenous: Inhaling or injecting mushroom compounds can produce rapid and intense effects, and is usually felt within seconds to minutes. However, these methods are not recommended due to increased risks and potential harm.

Some people may feel the effects relatively quickly, while others may experience a slower escalation to the peak effects. The dosage of mushrooms and the presence of other substances, like drugs or alcohol, may also influence the timeline.

How Long Do Mushrooms Affect the Brain?

The effects of mushrooms on the brain can vary widely and depend on factors such as dosage, method of ingestion, and individual metabolism.

As a general guideline, the primary effects of mushrooms may last anywhere from 4 to 8 hours. After the peak effects have worn off, most people will experience a period of an “afterglow” or lingering altered state of consciousness. This phase may last several hours and may be more positive and introspective for some people. 

3 Potential Positive Effects of Mushrooms on the Brain

We know that the effects of mushrooms on the brain will vary from person to person and depend on various factors, such as dosage, method of consumption, metabolism, and more. But it’s important to highlight the potential positive effects, such as:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • A sense of peacefulness
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Enhanced mood
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved well-being

People interested in exploring the potential positive effects of mushrooms should do so cautiously, ideally in a controlled and supportive environment, and consider consulting with professionals experienced in psychedelic therapy when seeking therapeutic benefits.

#1: May Stimulate Creativity

Mushrooms have been reported by some people to stimulate creativity and enhance the creative thought process during a psychedelic experience. 

While the effects of mushrooms on the brain’s creative center will vary between people, they may have the ability to influence creativity in the following ways:

  • Enhanced pattern recognition 
  • Altered perception
  • Increased openness
  • Deep introspection
  • Flow states
  • Enhanced imagination

#2: May Increase Serotonin Levels

Mushrooms interact with serotonin receptors, particularly the 5-HT2A subtype, in the brain rather than directly increasing serotonin levels. 

Here's how this interaction occurs:

Psilocybin to psilocin conversion: When ingested, the body metabolizes psilocybin into its active form, psilocin. Psilocin is structurally similar to serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation, among other functions.

Serotonin receptor activation: Psilocin binds to the receptors, leading to a stimulation of the receptor sites. This interaction is thought to be responsible for the psychedelic effects of psilocybin-containing mushrooms.

Altered brain activity: The activation of 5-HT2A receptors by psilocin results in altered brain activity. This may lead to changes in perception, mood, cognition, and sensory experiences. 

The interaction between psilocin and serotonin receptors may be a key factor in the unique and often unpredictable effects of psilocybin-containing mushrooms on consciousness and perception.

#3: May Reduce Negative Moods 

  • Psilocybin experiences may enhance the experience of positive emotions like joy, love, and empathy. Some people report feeling more connected to their surroundings and loved ones, which may improve overall mood and emotional resilience.
  • Some studies suggest that psilocybin may be effective in reducing symptoms of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. It's thought that the ability of psilocybin to induce positive changes in mood during the experience may have therapeutic potential.

What Are the Potential Side Effects of Mushrooms on the Brain?

The potential negative side effects of consuming mushrooms may go beyond just having a “bad trip”. Some mushrooms can be toxic and have adverse effects on the brain and the entire body, such as:

Not everyone is a candidate for therapeutic psilocybin treatment. It won’t work on people currently taking SSRIs as the brain is already flooded with serotonin. People with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or a family history of psychosis should not take part in psilocybin treatments.

Exercise caution when consuming mushrooms and consider working with a professional psilocybin facilitator for the best results.

Are Mushrooms Good for Your Mental Health?

Some studies have shown that psilocybin, the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms, may have positive effects on mental health. 

Research suggests that it may be beneficial for conditions such as: 

  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and 
  • Substance use disorders 

Some people report deep and lasting experiences of personal insight, increased feelings of interconnectedness, and reduced symptoms of mental health issues after controlled and guided psilocybin sessions.

Clinical Cognitive Training Can Help You Build an Effective Path To Using Mushrooms Safely

Whether you’re looking to explore the potential effects of mushrooms for yourself or you wish to assist others in their psilocybin journey, Clinical Cognitive Training in Portland, Oregon, can help.

Our program is designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge to become a certified psilocybin facilitator in Oregon.

We are focused on graduating ethical and caring professional facilitators who can effectively support clients with their goals, whether it’s healing from trauma, relief from mood disorders, or spiritual exploration.

Or maybe you’re interested in journeying into the potentially therapeutic benefits of mushrooms and want to ensure you have the knowledge to do so safely. Our training programs will equip you with the necessary information and skills to safely consume mushrooms.

For more information, or to register for one of our flexible programs, visit our website today.

The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.