More on psilocybin
Apparently research on psilocybin is underway, as reported in Science News:
The comfortably furnished room in a corner of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore seems an unlikely setting for spiritual transcendence. Yet one after another, volunteers last year entered the living room–like space, reclined on the couch, swallowed a pill, and opened themselves to a profound mystical journey lasting several hours. For many of them, the mundane certainty of being a skin-bounded person with an individual existence melted away. In its place arose a sense of merging with an ultimate reality where all things exist in a sacred, unified realm. Participants felt intense joy, peacefulness, and love during these experiences. At times, though, some became fearful, dreading unseen dangers.
The pills that enabled these mystical excursions contained psilocybin, the active ingredient in so-called magic mushrooms that some societies have used for centuries in religious ceremonies. Psilocybin boosts transmission of the brain chemical serotonin, much as LSD and some other hallucinogenic drugs do.
Johns Hopkins psychopharmacologist Roland R. Griffiths and his colleagues have taken psilocybin out of its traditional context and far from the black-light milieu of its hippie-era heyday. Griffiths’ team is investigating the drug’s reputed mind-expanding effects in a rigorous, scientific way with ordinary people.
In the group’s recent test, psilocybin frequently sparked temporary mystical makeovers in volunteers who didn’t know what kind of pill they were taking. What’s more, some of these participants reported long-lasting positive effects of their experiences.
Of course, the Feds have a more jaundiced view:
Not everyone finds Griffiths’ study enlightening, however. The new data simply confirm the longstanding knowledge that psychedelic substances disturb perception, cause disorientation, and sometimes instigate fear and paranoia, remarks David Murray, special assistant to the current director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Clinical benefits of psilocybin have yet to be demonstrated, he asserts.
“Psilocybin might grow hair on bald men—we just don’t know,” Murray says with a chuckle.