Welcome to the inaugural episode of my new series: Your Brain On Drugs. Join me as we take a deep dive into the science of how the popular psychedelic drug (or medicine) psilocybin, commonly known as magic mushrooms or shrooms, affects the brain.
V I D E O S__M E N T I O N E D Magic Mushrooms Trip Report: 5g Heroic Dose https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l19gxs6Tczc
Yo what’s up guys, welcome to the Dabs Of Reality Show. I’m your host Tom Crawshaw and this is episode number one of Your Brain On Drugs. Now, today we’re going to be talking about your brain on psilocybin , which is also known as magic mushrooms. Now in this video guys I’m going to break down exactly what happens when we ingest psilocybin from the terms of the brain science, what happens in the body, and also some of the benefits that you could get from this pretty incredible compound.
But before we get into all of that, as usual, hit that subscribe button below if you’re not already subscribed. And there’s a whole bunch of references and links in the description, including a free meditation and a whole bunch of other stuff that I’m going to be talking about in this video. And listen let’s open the conversation as always, drop me a comment below. Let me know if you’ve had experiences on psilocybin. Let me know if there’s any other science that I should be looking at and considering when making these videos. And if there is a specific compound that you want me to create a video on, put that in the comments as well because this is going to be a pretty awesome series. We’re going to be covering all sorts of different psychedelics.
And also a quick disclaimer, this video is for informational and educational and harm reduction purposes only. I’m not condoning the use of any illicit substances. Everything that I share in this video is purely from my own research to help inform and educate. So listen, before we start into the real science of this conversation, I want you to reconsider. Now, if you think magic mushrooms are just for those free thinking hippies and that they could actually be quite dangerous, then you need to think again because there is a study being done at the Johns Hopkins University and psilocybin was given to 36 healthy individuals. Now, two thirds of these individuals rated it as the top five most meaningful and spiritual experience of their lives. And they also reported benefits, longterm benefits, 14 months after the study with no signs of any sort of addiction or any negative psychological consequences.
So it sounds like a high dose of psilocybin could actually be very beneficial for many, many people. So there is a growing body of scientific literature that is pointing to the benefits and the mechanism of action for compounds like psilocybin. And just from my own perspective, from the five grams heroic dose that I took of psilocybin, one of the most mind blowing transformational experiences of my life. Definitely something that I will never forget. You can find a link for that video flashing on the screen now. I’m going to put the link in the description if you want to take a deeper dive on that trip report.
So what exactly happens in the brain when we ingest psilocybin? Well, psilocybin gets broken down into psilocin , and these are the active constituents that have the psychotropic effect. Now, if we look on the screen, we look at psilocybin and we look at serotonin, the neurotransmitter. We can see how similar these molecules are together. It should be pretty obvious that the psilocin is what’s attaching to the serotonin receptors and specifically, the serotonin [HT2A receptor 00:03:36] . Now, this receptor has been specifically known to play a role in mood, in anxiety, schizophrenia and consciousness itself. And specifically the serotonin system plays a massive role in a whole host of bodily functions. Everything from your circadian rhythm, to your mood, to appetite, to cognitive function, to sexual behavior and a whole bunch of other systems.
So by using a little bit of logic we can see that ingesting psilocybin, that then gets broken down psilocin in the liver, gets absorbed into the body. The psilocin attaches to the HT2A receptor, and it triggers downstream effects specifically in the serotonin system. And this is just one of probably many ways that psilocybin and psilocin affect the brain. So there’s something else that I want you to consider when thinking about the brain chemistry, the neurotransmitters and things like that. So what happens is, the psilocin attaches to the receptor. Okay, so it sends off an [excitatory 00:04:45] signal. Now that excitatory signal is going to get sent off to a whole bunch of networks because of the axons that are related to this specific receptor. Now, that excitatory signal triggers an inhibitory signal in other receptors. So this is why we see a net decrease in activity in certain parts of the brain.
Now, you would have thought that the whole brain’s going to lights up, but that’s just not the case with psilocybin. Specific areas like the default mode network, which is one of the major connector hubs, one of the major communication hubs in the brain for various different systems that actually gets quiet and down and also in higher doses gets shut down, which we think may be leading to this concept of ego death, which is a loss of sense of self, which is contained in the default mode network. So the science shows that the lesser activity in the brain, the stronger the trip.
Now I’m going to give you a little analogy to kind of think about what I’ve just explained to you here. So imagine that there is a route that you usually take into the city, right? So imagine if that route was blocked, yeah. You’d have to go around, you’d have to take all the country back roads that you don’t usually drive on. And this is what’s happening in the brain when we take psilocybin. The big connector hubs of the brain gets shut down, so those communication channels have to take the back roads. And this is why we see particular things like hallucinations and shapes and colors. And we see a heightened sensory experience. Our vision gets sharper. Our touch gets more tactile. Our taste gets way more intense. And our hearing as well, music is a major part of many psychedelic trips. And just the intricacies that you can pick up on in the music that you listen to. So this is all a result of this communication going in around different pathways in the brain.
Now on screen, you can see the example of the crosstalk that happens in the brain versus a placebo. You can see that there is just so much talk happening that doesn’t usually go on day to day.
So I want to come back to this idea of the default mode network deactivation because this is the central method of action that we feel psilocybin is having on the brain. Now, this is the place where information is collected and stored and put into context and allows us to make decisions and think about things. So it’s essentially the conductor of global brain function. And you can see on screen what the default mode network kind of looks like. And another way to think about the default mode network is your sense of self or your ego. So it allows us to think, it allows us to come up with ideas, it allows us to ponder certain things. We can do metacognition. So think about thinking. And this is all possible within the default mode network.
So what are the consequences of default mode network deactivation. So it actually allows us to see with our eyes shut. We’re able to take in the bigger picture without putting ourselves at the center of it. We stop perceiving the world through the filters of ourselves and we start to let in all that extra information that had been filtered out previously. And I think this is one of the main reasons why people have such a profound, long lasting impact from just a single high dose of psilocybin.
So I’m just going to share with you here some findings from a study published in 2016. They detailed a specific phenomenology of psilocybin experience, and these include a profound shift in attention, unity consciousness, increased introspection, positive emotional state, and a transcendence like experience. And these characteristics, this phenomenology is consistent across the board with many, many different participants.
Now, when we look to the therapeutic application of this particular drug, this compounds in which the JohnS Hopkins University is now doing some real solid science on, we think that by resetting the default mode network, we’re able to assist with conditions like depression, anxiety, obsessive, compulsive disorder, potentially ADHD, and things like this. And these conditions are associated with a hyper active default mode network.
For example, when someone’s depressed, generally, they’re thinking a lot and they’re going in specific loops over and over again. And overthinking is really not good for your health. It’s important that we get into our bodies, we get outside of ourselves instead of being contained in that little box of self, of ego that’s all about you and all about what’s important for you in that moment.
And listen, guys I’m sure many, many more benefits and treatments will come from the research that’s happening on psilocybin right now. I envision treatment centers popping up all over the world where people can go, whether they have a condition or not to have an experience, that’s just going to open up their mind, reconnect them with their true authentic selfs. Reconnect them with their heart space and be able to move forward through life with less worries, less stress, less anxiety and to be able to embrace the eventual concept of you leaving this planet. And it’s been incredibly useful in those studies of people with terminal prognosis, like cancer and heart disease and these things.
Anyhow, we’re really just scratching the surface. Funding’s coming into this space. So the next few years are going to be extremely, extremely exciting. Anyway, this just about wraps up today’s video. This is the start of the Your Brain On Drug series. I hope you’ve enjoyed the first episode. If there’s something that you want me to include in the next future episodes, if there’s a specific compound you want me to discuss, then leave that in the comments below. Hit me a like on this video if you’ve enjoyed it. And if you’ve not subscribed once again, please do that right now so you get updates for more of these videos in the series. That’s it from me guys. Appreciate you watching to the end if you’re here this far, and I will catch you in episode number two.