How Does Mushroom Therapy Work?

Mushroom therapy is the practice of using psilocybin and psychedelic mushrooms in a psychotherapeutic context to help treat mental health disorders.

In this section, we’ll explore how mushroom therapy works as a therapeutic treatment, discussing its benefits and various therapeutic uses.

Key Takeaways

  • Mushroom therapy refers to the use of psilocybin  to treat mental health disorders
  • Psilocybin is a natural psychedelic compound that has therapeutic properties
  • This therapy may work by increasing functional connectivity in the brain 
  • Mushroom therapy is used to treat a range of mental health conditions

Understanding Psilocybin

Psilocybin is a tryptamine molecule thought to be responsible for the healing properties of mushrooms and their psychedelic effects. 

 In clinical settings, therapists currently work with a synthesized version of psilocybin rather than magic mushrooms themselves, as this helps to control the treatment dose and purity. There are many retreat centers across the globe offering therapeutic magic mushroom experiences. However, these tend to occur outside a medical framework and are more focused on personal and spiritual growth rather than specifically treating a mental health disorder.

While psilocybin therapy is still considered a relatively new field, there is growing interest in its potential as a safe and effective treatment.

The Science Behind Mushroom Therapy

When ingested, psilocybin is converted to psilocin, which interacts with serotonin receptors in the brain, specifically the 5-HT2A receptors. This interaction triggers the activation of various neural pathways, including those involved in vision, memory, and mood. 

Scientists have proposed several theories for why psilocybin helps treat mental health disorders based on available evidence. 

One theory is that psilocybin increases functional connectivity, the communication between different regions of the brain. This increased connectivity may be associated with forming new thoughts and perspectives, which helps patients overcome negative “stuck” ways of thinking.

In experiments, psilocybin also decreases activation of the amygdala, a brain region associated with emotional regulation and response to stress. By inhibiting the fear response, psilocybin may help people more easily confront and understand their trauma when working with a psychotherapist. 

Psychological Effects of Mushroom Therapy

The psychological effects of mushroom therapy can be profound and transformative. During a session, patients may experience a range of emotions, from euphoria and joy to fear and sadness. 

Many patients report feeling a greater sense of connection to themselves, others, and the world around them when on psilocybin. The increased sense of connectedness is thought to be important for its therapeutic effects, especially given the association between disconnection, loneliness, and poor psychological health. 

Mystical experiences, characterized by transcendence of self and oneness with the universe, can also occur during psilocybin and have been correlated with improved mental health outcomes. 

Challenging experiences may also occur, and side effects such as anxiety and paranoia are not uncommon in psilocybin therapy clinical trials. Working through these difficult experiences during psilocybin can be a vital process for self-growth and healing. However, in some instances, difficult experiences can lead to long-lasting psychological distress, especially if these aren’t integrated. The Challenging Psychedelic Experiences Project is a research incentive investigating long-term difficulties following psychedelic use, including participants from clinical psychedelic research trials. 

The Therapeutic Process

During a mushroom therapy session, patients may experience a range of psychological effects, including altered perception of time and space, enhanced introspection, and feelings of interconnectedness with the world around them. These experiences can offer insights into one’s mental health and provide a new lens through which to view personal challenges. Mushroom therapy has shown potential therapeutic uses for disorders such as depression, anxiety, and addiction.

Patients may experience various emotions during the session, from joy to fear to sadness. These emotions can be overwhelming, and the presence of a trained therapist can ensure a safe and supportive environment. The therapist can guide the patient through the experience, offering reassurance and helping to interpret their feelings and insights.

It’s important to note that the effects of mushroom therapy can last for several hours, and patients should plan accordingly for the duration of the session. Creating a comfortable and calming environment, with minimal distractions and a relaxing atmosphere is recommended. Patients should also come to the session with a clear intention or goal in mind, helping to focus the experience and maximize the potential therapeutic benefits.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the mushroom therapy experience can be a transformative and healing process, offering new insights into one’s mental health and providing a unique perspective on personal challenges.

It is important to note that mushroom therapy should be approached with caution and only in appropriate settings. Patients should always work with a trained professional and follow all necessary safety protocols. However, with proper preparation and follow-up care, mushroom therapy can be a powerful tool for those seeking relief from mental health disorders.


How does mushroom therapy work?

Mushroom therapy works by utilizing the therapeutic properties of mushrooms, specifically psilocybin. Psilocybin interacts with the brain to produce therapeutic effects. For instance, it may increase functional connectivity, allowing people to overcome “stuck” thinking patterns and gain new perspectives.

What are the benefits of mushroom therapy?

Mushroom therapy has been shown to have potential benefits for various mental health disorders. It can help in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and addiction. It may also provide insights, promote personal growth, and enhance overall well-being.

What are the therapeutic uses of mushrooms?

Mushrooms may have been used for healing purposes for centuries. For instance, in the Mazatec tradition, the native people of Northern Oaxaca, Mexico, use psychoactive mushrooms to gain knowledge about the roots of disease and how to treat it. Many people report spiritual and personal development benefits from using psychedelic mushrooms, and modern clinical trials are finding psilocybin can reduce symptoms of various mental health disorders. 

What is psilocybin?

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in certain species of mushrooms. It is responsible for the hallucinogenic effects and therapeutic properties of mushrooms. When consumed, psilocybin is metabolized into psilocin, which interacts with serotonin receptors in the brain.

How does psilocybin therapy work?

Psilocybin therapy works by creating an altered state of consciousness that allows individuals to explore their thoughts, emotions, and perceptions in a therapeutic setting. It can facilitate profound insights, emotional release, and a shift in perspective, potentially leading to long-lasting therapeutic benefits.

How does psilocybin therapy work?

Psilocybin therapy works by creating an altered state of consciousness that allows individuals to explore their thoughts, emotions, and perceptions in a therapeutic setting. It can facilitate profound insights, emotional release, and a shift in perspective, potentially leading to long-lasting therapeutic benefits.

What are the psychological effects of mushroom therapy?

Mushroom therapy can induce a range of psychological effects, including altered perception of reality, enhanced introspection, emotional release, and a sense of interconnectedness. These effects can vary depending on the dosage, set and setting, and individual experiences.

What can I expect during a mushroom therapy session?

During a mushroom therapy session, you can expect to be in a comfortable and supportive environment. A therapist and an assisting therapist will guide you through the experience, providing emotional support and facilitating introspection. The session may include music, art therapy, and opportunities for self-reflection.

What is the mushroom therapy experience like?

The mushroom therapy experience can vary from person to person, but it often involves a heightened sense of awareness, emotional introspection, and a shift in perspective. Some individuals may have profound insights or spiritual experiences. It is a deeply personal and transformative journey.

Why is integration and follow-up care important after a mushroom therapy session?

Integration and follow-up care are crucial after a mushroom therapy session to help incorporate the insights and experiences gained into daily life. Ongoing therapy can provide support, guidance, and help individuals navigate the integration process, ensuring long-lasting benefits from the therapy.

What are the safety considerations for mushroom therapy?

Mushroom therapy should only be undertaken with the guidance of a trained professional. Dosage, set and setting, and physical and mental health considerations should be carefully assessed. It is important to work with a professional who can provide appropriate support and ensure a safe and supportive environment for the therapy.

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