The Potential of Psilocybe Genus Fungi to Treat Depression and Some Addictions
The therapeutic use of the substance psilocin produced by the fungi from the genus named Psilocybe has been an interesting but also controversial topic of discussion among researchers since the 1950s until now. These fungi can synthesize several alkaloids such as psilocybin, which has hallucinogenic properties, but also muscarine, which is a toxic substance that stimulates that part of the nervous system called parasympathetic. The use of psilocybin in therapy has been spreading for several decades from America, spreading all over the western world. For the first time, the substance was isolated from a species called Psilocybe mexicana mushroom, but then more than 30 such species were discovered. Psilocybin mushrooms were used by the Aztec shamans in healing, religious and divinatory rituals, but also by the Mesoamerican populations. This natural organic compound is derived from the substance dimethyltryptamine phosphate which is known to be a brain stimulant, and which is found in more than 200 species of mushrooms of the Psilocybe genus. The liver breaks down psilocybin through the phosphorylation process resulting in psilocin, the substance that causes the psychoactive effect. Because the substance is used for relaxing the nervous system, its introduction into medicine and psychotherapy has brought great controversies until now.