Medicinal Magic: Can mushrooms cure depression?

For years the UK government has ensured that magic mushrooms are illegal, telling us they cause damage. So much damage, in fact, that they are categorised as Class A along with heroin and crack cocaine. But independent research shows us that there are a lot of potential benefits to these natural fungi…

By Katerina Flynn: @katerinaflynn1 | Illustration: Jasmine Issaka @jasminissaka (Facebook and Instagram),

Dr James Fadiman is an American psychologist and writer,  best known for his intensive work in the field of psychedelic research, and formally introducing the word ‘microdosing’ into the psychedelic lexicon. Microdosing means taking ‘one-tenth’ the trip dose of a psychedelic drug, not enough to cause hallucinations, but enough to sharpen the mind and help ease the burdens of those afflicted with mental health issues.

A psilocybin mushroom is one of a polyphyletic group of fungi that contain any of various psychedelic compounds. With a large stigma attached to this fungi, of trips as vivid and intense as Alice in Wonderland and as dangerous as thinking you can fly, many people still today cannot comprehend the thought that these mushrooms can have life altering positive effects.

Psilocybin microdosers (including hundreds of Reddit users who recorded their experiences) report that the mushrooms can increase creativity, calm anxiety, decrease the need for caffeine, and reduce the effects of depression. While research into this field is minimal, it is a step in the right direction.

Mushrooms can increase creativity, calm anxiety, decrease the need for caffeine, and reduce the effects of depression

Scientists in the Netherlands have in recent years conducted studies on the effects of microdosing, reporting increased productivity and creativity in their test subjects. Their research was so compelling, in fact, that the government have actually decriminalised the drug.

Here in the UK, however, mushrooms remain labelled as one of the most dangerous drugs, with a hefty prison sentence of fourteen years just for carrying it. Given all the side effects of anti-depression pills and the increased difficulty of managing mental health issues in today’s society, surely looking at an alternative treatment would be more beneficial to those who have tried the mainstream options?

With so many life enhancing qualities, why is this fungi still illegal? Is it because of the stigma, or is the reason that the pharmaceutical companies fear that if our country looks deeper at natural remedies they will no longer want chemical medicines?

Whatever the reason, the fact is that all we have ever been told about this drug going back to the 1950’s is not the whole truth. Given that the UK government has now legalised the use of medicinal marijuana, is it possible that in the not so distant future they could agree that positives of mushrooms far outweigh the ‘negatives’?


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