Fans of Super Mario play with them. Doctors study them. Chefs all over the world cook with them. They seem overnight, disappear just as fast and leave no trace of their visit. Students of the world are called mycologists and now, the fungus is being viewed as a possible treatment for cancer, PTSD-post-traumatic stress disorder and some psychological disorders.
Mushrooms, sometimes called toadstools, are fleshy bodies of fungus that grow above ground on soil or on a food source. They are separated from the plant world in a kingdom all their very own called Myceteae because they cannot contain chlorophyll like green plants.
Without the procedure of photosynthesis, some mushrooms obtain nutrients by wearing down organic matter or by feeding from higher plants. They’re called decomposers. Another sector attacks living plants to kill and consume them and they are called parasites. Edible and poisonous varieties are mycorrhizal and are located on or near roots of trees such as oaks, pines and firs.
For humans, mushrooms may do among three things-nourish, heal or poison. Few are benign. The three most popular edible versions of the’meat of the vegetable world’would be the oyster, morel and chanterelles.
They are used extensively in cuisine from China, Korea, Japan and India. In fact, China is the world’s largest producer cultivating over half of all mushrooms consumed worldwide psilocybin capsules. Most of the edible variety inside our supermarkets have already been grown commercially on farms and include shiitake, portobello and enoki.
Eastern medicine, especially traditional Chinese practices, has used mushrooms for centuries. In the U.S., studies were conducted in early’60s for possible methods to modulate the immunity system and to inhibit tumor growth with extracts found in cancer research.
Mushrooms were also used ritually by the natives of Mesoamerica for a large number of years. Called the’flesh of the gods’by Aztecs, mushrooms were widely consumed in religious ceremonies by cultures through the entire Americas. Cave paintings in Spain and Algeria depict ritualized ingestion dating back as far as 9000 years. Questioned by Christian authorities on both parties of the Atlantic, psilocybin use was suppressed until Western psychiatry rediscovered it after World War II.
A 1957 article in Life Magazine titled “Seeking the Magic Mushroom” spurred the interest of America. The next year, a Swiss scientist named Albert Hofman, identified psilocybin and psilocin since the active compounds in the’magic’mushrooms. This prompted the creation of the Harvard Psilocybin Project led by American psychologist Timothy Leary at Harvard University to study the effects of the compound on humans.
In the quarter century that followed, 40,000 patients were given psilocybin and other hallucinogens such as LSD and mescaline. More than 1,000 research papers were produced. Once the us government took notice of the growing subculture open to adopting the employment, regulations were enacted.
The Nixon Administration began regulations, including the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. What the law states created five schedules of increasing severity under which drugs were to be classified. Psilocybin was place in the most restrictive schedule I alongside marijuana and MDMA. Each was defined as having a “high prospect of abuse, no currently acceptable medical use and deficiencies in accepted safety.”
This ended the investigation for almost 25 years until recently when studies exposed for potential used in working with or resolving PTSD-post-traumatic stress disorder alongside anxiety issues. At the time of June 2014, whole mushrooms or extracts have already been studied in 32 human clinical trials registered with the U.S. National Institutes of Health for their potential effects on a number of diseases and conditions. Some maladies being addressed include cancer, glaucoma, immune functions and inflammatory bowel disease.
The controversial section of research is the utilization of psilocybin, a naturally occurring chemical using mushrooms. Its ability to simply help people suffering from psychological disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD and anxiety continue to be being explored. Psilocybin has been shown to be effective in treating addiction to alcohol and cigarettes in certain studies.