Research suggests that magic mushrooms containing the hallucinogenic compound psilocybin can ease the pain of social exclusion.
Hallucinogenic drugs can do wonders for people who feel dejected and desolate. This class of drugs can alter perceptions and thoughts in order to bring out positive feelings and emotions. New research suggests that psilocybin, a hallucinogenic compound found in ‘magic mushrooms’, can ease the pain of rejection or being left out socially.
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To find out how psilocybin affects the brain’s chemistry and thinking processes, researchers from Univesity Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich carried out a small scale research in which they recruited 21 healthy individuals and gave them the small doses of the psychedelic compound extracted from certain types of mushrooms. Then, all the participants were allowed to play an online game that is designed to induce feelings of social rejection or being ignored. They also had their brains scanned while they were playing the game.
Participants reported better feeling and mood after taking psilocybin than after they got placebo or dummy pill. Brain scans also showed less activity in the regions of brain associated with social pain after taking psilocybin compared to placebo.
People with psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress often face rejection and criticism from people with whom they interact, which in turn, aggravates their mental illness, negatively influence their treatment and slows down their recovery.
The new findings can help scientists understand what exactly a person feels when he is rejected and what type of changes occur in the mind as a response. This could help develop new and better ways to deal with those negative feelings.
“Social ties are crucial for physical and mental health. However, psychiatric patients frequently encounter social rejection. Moreover, an increased reactivity to social exclusion influences the development, progression, and treatment of various psychiatric disorders…These findings may be relevant to the normalization of negative social interaction processing in psychiatric disorders characterized by increased rejection sensitivity.” Study reads.
Psilocybin compound is found in roughly 200 varieties of mushrooms and they are collectively known as psychedelic or magic mushrooms. People have been using mushroom species containing psilocybin for centuries mostly during religious rituals.