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The Science Behind Psilocybin: How Magic Mushrooms Work in the Brain

Updated: Nov 29

Several Varieties of Magic Mushrooms inside test tubes in a non descript background
The Scientific Study Of Magic Mushrooms

Scientists have been focusing on psilocybin in recent years because it has the potential to treat many mental health disorders and help us better understand the functioning of the brain. (1)A recent study found that psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms, can "open up" the brains of depressed people, even after they've only used the mushrooms for a week, and the changes seem to persist. (1)

Throughout this captivating journey, we explore more deeply these mystical fungi's profound effects on the human brain, shedding light on their deep transformative ability. The purpose of this article is to explore the science behind psilocybin and how it works in the brain for the purpose of supporting those who wish to microdose mushrooms and know the science.

Psilocybin: What is it and what does it do?

(2)In nature, psilocybin occurs in more than 200 species of basidiomycetes fungi, which are filamentous fungi. The "magic" mushrooms can be found throughout the world in different shapes and sizes.(2) In clinical settings, psilocybin is generally administered in the form of standardized dosages, which can also be synthesized.

The psychedelic Psilocybin belongs to the same class as LSD and mescaline, both of which are serotonergic psychedelics. Psilocybin can generate euphoria, a sense of detachment, changes in perception, and perceptions of spiritual experiences, depending on the individual and dosage.

Rather than psilocybin itself causing these effects, it is metabolized into psilocin upon ingestion. Cortical pyramidal cells in the brain respond to psilocin by releasing serotonin 5-HT2a receptors.

(3)An individual brain cell operates as a major computational unit that underlies all brain-related functions.". "Psychedelics help us build a picture of reality," said David Nichols, Ph.D., a professor emeritus at Purdue University School of Pharmacy and a longtime researcher.(3)

It affects cognitive function and perception through the alteration of brain metabolic activity and neuronal connectivity. It's no wonder they are nicknamed "magic mushrooms".

How Magic Mushroom Work in the Brain

Default Mode Network

The ability of psilocybin to disrupt the default mode network (DMN) is one of the most intriguing aspects of its effects on the brain. Brain regions associated with the DMN are normally active when the mind is resting and unfocused on the external environment. Ego-based thinking, self-reflection, and introspection are associated with it. A significant effect of psilocybin is observed on the DMN. You become free of the control of the DMN after ingesting psilocybin, whether in the form of magic mushrooms or magic truffles.

After taking a psychedelic substance, people can experience feelings of ego-dissolution due to rapid loss of DMN control. Psychedelics induce temporary ego-loss, which is said to be their most profound effect and also their most powerful transformative effect. Psilocybin's release of the DMN during a trip also reduces the likelihood of ruminating about the past - at least for a period of time.

As a result, psilocybin's profound healing and transformational effects may be attributed to the release and "resetting" of brain control mechanisms.

The effects of psilocybin on neuroplasticity

The impact of psilocybin on neuroplasticity is also a fascinating area of research. An individual's brain is neuroplastic in that it can undergo changes as a result of experiences, learning, and the environment. As well as contributing to the formation of mental disorders, it plays a crucial role in their treatment.

(4)Studies suggest that psilocybin may trigger an accelerated period of neuronal growth, which enhances the brain's capability for neuroplasticity. (4) Long-term potentiation (LTP) may be enhanced due to its ability to stimulate synaptic and dendritic growth. Psychedelics promote neuroplasticity by allowing individuals to explore new perspectives and break down rigid thought patterns. By confronting and reevaluating traumatic experiences or negative thought patterns, this plasticity might help people who are suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Psilocybin's Therapeutic Potential

Over the past few years, psilocybin has acquired significant attention for its therapeutic potential. (5)A small number of clinical trials have demonstrated that administering psilocybin in a therapeutic setting in a single or two doses has shown to be effective in treating major depressive disorders that are resistant to traditional antidepressants. (5)

LSD and psilocybin are two classic psychedelics that use serotonin receptors for entry into the brain. Psychological states such as happiness, satisfaction and optimism are influenced by serotonin, which helps control body functions such as sleep and sexual desire.

A low level of serotonin is often a symptom of depression or anxiety, along with anorexia, smoking addictions, and substance abuse. SSRIs, also known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, increase serotonin levels in the brain and are typically used to treat depression. Despite this, if the drugs work at all, it may take weeks for improvement to occur.

(6)When psychedelics such as psilocybin or LSD are used in the lab, scientists are able “to see the changes in brain connectivity immediately after the drugs are taken,” according to University of North Carolina pharmacologist Brian Roth.(6)

The safety profile of psilocybin appears to be the best among all psychedelic drugs. In spite of the absence of studies comparing psilocybin's efficacy with psychedelic drugs for treating depression and anxiety disorders, psilocybin alone is an effective psychedelic substance for treating depression and anxiety, according to evidence-based research.

(7)According to the 2017 Global Drug Survey, approximately 20.6% of all users worldwide, regardless of their drug of choice, selectively used magic mushrooms during that period. (7)

A controlled, supervised environment should always be used when using psilocybin therapeutically, with trained professionals guiding the process. Magic mushrooms can cause adverse psychological reactions and harm in unsupervised environments, including adverse psychological reactions.


It is estimated that the study of psilocybin and its effects on the brain will revolutionize mental health treatment in the future. Magic mushrooms are opening up a whole new frontier for psychiatry and psychology as we uncover their mysterious mechanisms in the brain. In spite of this, it's important to approach psilocybin use carefully, respectfully, and carefully consider its potential risks and benefits. Magic mushrooms were used widely in ancient times, and it appears they may be making a comeback.









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