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Mushrooms, Mood & Brain Clarity

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What does the psilocybin in magic mushrooms do?

The world’s largest psilocybin microdosing study was released in British Columbia in July of 2022 and was titled, “Psilocybin micro-dosers demonstrate greater observed improvements in mood and mental health at one month relative to non‑microdosing controls.”

The research shows how psilocybin microdosing is associated with general improvements in mood and mental health.  Additionally, a finding specific to individuals over the age of 55 indicated that microdosing was associated with greater improvements in psychomotor performance relative to non-micro-dosers.

Depression is among the most researched indications for psilocybin therapy.  Healthline reported last year that psilocybin therapy was given ‘breakthrough therapy’ designation (a review fast track) by the FDA for the treatment of depression.

And what does Lion’s Mane do?

A study by Professor Frédéric Meunier from the Queensland Brain Institute concluded that lion’s mane has positive neuro-regenerative affects and that the mice who took the lion’s mane did remarkably better in the maze test than the mice who weren’t taking the lion’s mane. 

In a small Japanese study, women with a variety of health complaints, including menopausal symptoms and poor sleep quality, ate cookies containing lion’s mane extracts or placebo cookies for 4 weeks. The participants who ate the extract reported lower levels of irritation and anxiety than those in the placebo group.

An older Japanese study on adults aged between 50 and 80 years with mild cognitive impairment found that daily consumption of mushroom extract for 16 weeks led to higher scores on cognitive function scales compared with a placebo group. These scores decreased again once the participants stopped taking the extract.

In summary, lion’s mane and psilocybin mushrooms both are neuro-regenerative, and therefore, help us rewire our own brains.  Both alleviate anxiety and both improve cognition and memory.

Mushrooms have been used for centuries as an integral part of traditional medicine.  The practice of producing mushroom-based supplement for health benefits is called ‘mushroom stacking’.  This is what supplement companies do, and this is what the Sisters did when they developed their mushroom coffee.  Their Super 17 mushroom coffee is stacked with all the most important mushrooms and roots that affect mood-stabilization and brain clarity.

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Nutritional Content and Safety

All mushrooms have nutritional value and serve as a rich source of fiber, antioxidants, and micronutrients (including niacin, vitamin B2 and vitamin D).  Functional mushrooms can be consumed raw or by cooking them, or via a hot morning drink, like the one offered by the Sisters. The research on PTSD and anxiety is clearly more focused on the potential of the psilocybin mushrooms, but these must be micro-dosed only and kept safely away from others.  Children and pets rarely get into mushrooms (unless you cover them with chocolate), but other adults might cook with them, not knowing they are highly psychotropic taken in amounts greater than a nibble.

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Lion’s Mane vs Magic Mushrooms

Given the caution that must be taken with psilocybin, given the fact that it is only safe in very small quantities, while freshly harvested lion’s mane is completely safe no matter the volume and is actually served as a vegan steak at the fanciest places, it made me wonder, what are the actual differences between psilocybin strains and lion’s mane?  What’s the difference, besides the fact that the latter can be consumed in large quantities safely and the former can only be safely micro-dosed?

If I lived in Iran or the Midwest of America, or some other scary place, would I risk taking an illegal substance if I can get the same healing from an unregulated, non-psychotropic mushroom?  Is Lion’s Mane to mushrooms, what CBD is to cannabis?  Is it the safer alternative that will get you to the same place, I wonder.

The obvious difference is that CBD was purposefully bred to be high in certain developed strains, where the mushrooms are God given and unaltered.  But we knew cannabis helped reverse certain cancers long before we knew how to isolate compounds.  And though must oncologists prefer their patients to have a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD, in places where it isn’t legal, CBD often gets the job done alone.

The obvious similarity is that neither CBD, nor Lion’s mane, are psychotropic.  Yet both have powerful healing properties. 

The chart below contains a rudimentary summary comparing the characteristics of mushrooms, in an attempt to answer the question.  Since I was creating the chart anyway, I added the features of Turkey Tail mushrooms as well.

Mushrooms, Mood & Brain Clarity Table

From the list above, it appears that Lion’s Mane will do everything that psilocybin does, except for the treating addictions part, and I think that is just under-studied.  It also appears that all the mushrooms will heal a wound when applied as a poultice, except for the psilocybin. Again, I would argue that using psilocybin mushrooms as a skin poultice probably just hasn’t been tested.

Skip the top three lines of the chart when considering psilocybin strains.  No one wants to consume highly psychotropic mushrooms for fiber and micro-nutrients.  The reason psilocybin is included, however, is to compare the health impact of taking it as a micro-dose, to the health benefits of lion’s mane, both known for re-wiring the brain circuitry. 

Stacking

It may be that the perfect supplement contains 1/3rd of dried powdered Golden Teacher or Blue Meanie (psilocybin strains) and 1/3rd lion’s mane and 1/3rd turkey tail. But one must ask, perfect for what?  For dealing with severe anxiety?  Or for health maintenance?  For cancer?  For PTSD?  For addiction recovery?  Regardless that the dosing must be different depending on the situation and the person, I see the obvious overlap in what Lion’s Mane has to offer and what psilocybin has to offer.  And still I wonder, could Lion’s Mane carry the load?

Ultimately, time will answer the question of whether or not Lion’s Mane does for our brains what psilocybin does, maybe slower, maybe differently, but science and experience will tell us if it has the potential to help us reach the same healing objectives.  And science will quantify, for us, the journey, the applications, the combinations to be stacked. One anonymous person on Reddit made a rather innocent, but profound, statement in regard to stacking:   ‘I mix lions mane with psilocybin when I make it into tea.  Mushrooms love one another.’

The Mental Health Care System in America has Failed Us:  No Help Is Coming.  Are Mushrooms the Answer?

It is an interesting time to be a witness to the post-apocalyptic shit show of the pharmaceutical reign and the existing lack of mental health care services.  Those that are serving the people, do it in a sub-standard way and all of that creates a natural wind behind the backs of people pushing them to manage their own mental health issues holistically. 

I attribute the pharmaceutical companies’ overreach to the reason the cannabis plant freedom era was finally ushered in.  Perhaps the mental health crisis will be the fuel to the fires of knowledge and understanding of mushroom medicine.

Sources

I did have a chat with ChatGPT, but the robot was less than helpful.  In his world (sigh) the only use for or reality applied to psilocybin mushrooms is as a macro-dose, to take a trip.  The chatbot hasn’t yet heard of micro-dosing.  The chat-bot doesn’t know you can use psychedelic drugs in a non-psychedelic way.  Someone should tell them.

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