Medicinal History of Magic Mushrooms

Medicinal History of Magic Mushrooms

For several centuries, humans have been using magic mushrooms for a variety of reasons. For one, Blue Buddha Canada’s magic mushroom strains in Alberta are effective for treating alcohol dependence and depression. However, the West was not the first to uncover its benefits.

Magic mushrooms have a long history of medicinal and rehabilitative purposes. Before we started to consume magic mushrooms in Calgary, Alberta, some historians believe the Northern Africans were the first to discover its potential health benefits. Based on rock painting interpretations, indigenous African tribes may have used magic mushrooms as far back as 9000 B.C.

In the Americas, the ancient Mayans, Mazatec, Mixtec, Nahua, Zapatec, and Aztecs have also been found to utilize magic fungi for their rituals. Mayan statues and seemingly mushroom-like representatives were exhumed in Central America. When Spanish fleets arrived, they wrote down the psychotropic substances the natives used to glorify their gods and began to introduce these elements to the New World.

By the late 1950s, the Westerners started to consider the multiple benefits of magic mushrooms. According to Harvard’s Botanical Library, R. Gordon Wasson, a mycologist, was the first scientist to look into the native magic mushroom use. He traveled to Mexico and witnessed the Mazatec ritual ceremony that involved magic fungi. In 1957, Wasson published an article about his findings. Robert Heim, his colleague, reached out to Albert Hoffman who, then, extracted the psilocin and psilocybin from the mushroom Heim and Wasson brought from Mexico.

Years later, a prominent Harvard psychologist and Albert Hoffman’s colleague, Timothy Leary, read Wasson’s article. The findings intrigued him, and he began experimenting with the magic mushroom’s effects on the human mind and behavior. Nonetheless, his and Hoffman’s experimentations sparked controversies over the well-being of their subjects. Their colleagues at Harvard were concerned with how non-random their subjects were selected. The Harvard Crimson accused Leary and Hoffman of promoting the psychedelic drugs from the mushroom instead of merely researching.

In 1963, Harvard fired both Hoffman and Leary after Hoffman induced psilocybin to an undergraduate student outside the campus. This time, their research, the Harvard Psilocybin Project, came to an end. Despite being banned from academia, both of them were able to promote psychedelic use during the Counterculture Movement in the 60s to early 70s and became an icon of the movement’s followers. Due to the increasingly popular counterculture, healthcare authorities started to ban the use of psychedelic drugs and LSD.

Today, scientists are looking for alternative avenues to study the potential of the magic mushroom. In 2019, Johns Hopkins University initiated the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research to test psilocybin’s treatment potential for Lyme disease, opium addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more.

The use of alternative herbal treatments, such as magic mushrooms and premium cannabis, has gone through rigorous medical and socio-political movements. But science keeps evolving and unlocking the mysteries of these fungi for everyone’s general welfare.

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