Psychedelic Journey Through Time: The history of magic mushrooms
Magic mushrooms, scientifically known as psilocybin mushrooms have a fascinating history. As the name itself implies, those mushrooms have some psychoactive and psychedelic properties. Particularly two of their compounds, named psilocybin and psilocin are responsible for those actions and they can induce hallucinations and a sense of extreme euphoria. Various clinical studies have also, explored possible healing properties of magic mushrooms and there are nowadays, significant proofs that justify the use of psilocybin mushrooms for the treatment of various conditions, including depression and anxiety.
Evidence Shows Prehistoric Use of Mushrooms
It may seem quite difficult to determine the exact time of appearance of magic mushrooms in the world, but we now have some evidence that proves the usage of those natural products by indigenous tribes from all over the world thousands of years ago. In fact, the very first evidence of people using magic mushrooms goes as far back as 9000-10000 B.C. Several stone paintings in North Africa and Australia depict the use of those mushrooms from indigenous populations. Moreover, various rock paintings in Spain dated 6000 years back, suggest that a type of psilocybin mushroom named Psilocybe Hispanic was used in the country for religious rituals at that time. There is also, evidence that magic mushrooms were used in Europe by prehistoric people around 4000 B.C. It is possible that the use of psilocybin mushrooms between several prehistoric cultures dated even earlier, but we still not have evidence to prove that.
Mushroom Use by Native American cultures
The use of magic mushrooms was quite popular in various parts of Central and South America. Statues, paintings, sculptures, manuscripts, and various religious symbols prove that this type of mushrooms was an important part of the everyday life of Native American tribes, like the Aztecs and the Maya. Those tribes used magic mushrooms in religious and spiritual ceremonies, and they considered them as a gift from gods to enable humans to communicate with them. Native Americans consumed magic mushrooms to produce visions, induce a trance and explore their inner self. Several other tribes, that have their origins in Central America, like the Nahua, Zapatec, and Mixtec also, used mushrooms as part of their cultural lives. Generally, native tribes used mushrooms for various purposes, including healing and divination.
Magic Mushrooms Become Popular in our days
The western civilized world got introduced to the consumption of magic mushrooms in the late 1950s. Two ethnobotanists named Reko and Schultes discovered the use of magic mushrooms by local people in Mexico and they published some interesting findings in 1939. Based on their discoveries, two other men named Wasson and Heim traveled to America, in order to discover more about those mushrooms and their properties. Their attempts were really successful and they managed to extract the two main psychedelic compounds that are contained in those mushrooms, named psilocybin and psilocin. After that, they published their discoveries in the ”Life” Maganize. That was the beginning of a new era for the use of magic mushrooms in the Western world.
Once the public became aware of the mushroom’s psychedelic properties, they started to consume this type of food regularly, starting with the contemporary Hippie culture. Nowadays, magic mushrooms are classified as a Class 1 drug, belonging in the same category as heroin. Despite this fact, however, magic mushrooms continue to get the attention of researchers, thanks to their variety of health benefits, including their ability to help in the treatment of health issues, like depression and opioid addiction. In September 2019, researchers from the John Hopkins University created a special center with the goal to evaluate psilocybin, contained in sufficient quantities in those mushrooms as a possible treatment for various health conditions, including Lyme disease, alcohol dependency, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Unlocking the way magic mushrooms interact with our brain and physical health is something many researchers from all over the world try to achieve, nowadays. In every case, the history of magic mushrooms is really long and fascinating. The fact that a lot of different ancient civilizations discovered some of the properties of those natural products and used them in their favor proves that there is definitely more to know in the future about their possible health benefits.