A Guide to Psychedelics: What Psychedelics Are, Psychedelic Plants, Where Psychedelics are Legal, and Psychedelics for Mental Health

Photo Credit: Amazon

I decided to take a break on my magic mushroom- psilocybin microdose series, to address some information that is better addressed away from my experience pieces. This is important information, surrounding a lot of questions that I get from my following so, because my mission is to educate, inform, and destigmatize, here I am with a guide to psychedelics

What are Psychedelics; What’s the Definition of Psychedelics

When someone asks me: “what is a psychedelic?”, I want to go all the way to the beginning. I usually don’t in conversation but for this piece, I will. MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, says that the word psychedelic comes from the Ancient Greek word psychē. Psychē means: mind-manifesting.

Psychedelics, defined, are a subset of hallucinogenic drugs (though most are plants) whose primary effect is to trigger non-ordinary states of consciousness via serotonin 2A receptor agonism, as defined by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation. 

Types of Psychedelics; A List of Popular Psychedelics

Because the government has lied to us, many were under the assumption that the only psychedelic was magic mushrooms. In recent years, with legalization and support of cannabis, we are starting to understand that the list of psychedelics includes multiple others. And like I mentioned previously, many psychedelics are plants- the ones below- PLANTS.

Below is a list of psychedelics by type , and information about each of them, from a piece that I published last year, and some new insight. In the referenced piece, I talked about plants being medicine, even the ones that we classify as psychedelics. And they are! We are one of the only countries that don’t view plants as medicine- but they are (I’m working on an e-book for a late 2021 release discussing this)

And you’ll notice in the information below, that psychedelics are family, like cousins; many linked to one another. 

Psilocybin, magic mushrooms: found in about 200 species of mushrooms that contain the chemical psilocybin, magic mushrooms are distinctively shaped and have been used in native or religious practices for centuries. They grow naturally, all over the world even here in the United States in places like: California, Florida, Oregon, and Washington to name a few. Psilocybin- magic mushrooms are actually fruiting bodies, but can still be classified as a plant, and are a gift that keeps on giving. 

The OG psychonauts refer to magic mushrooms as the first body and first sign of technology. Ancient Pages wrote that:

“Some like the ancient Egyptians, for example, believed there was a special connection between mushrooms and gods. According to ancient Egyptians, wild mushrooms were the “sons of the gods”, sent to Earth by lightning. Only the Pharaohs were therefore allowed to eat them”. 

History tells us that plants were always consumed by humans!

Photo credit: Ancient Pages

DMT: is found in plants but also in rare species of toad. DMT has been and is used in spiritual practices, and both psilocybin and DMT are part of the tryptamine family, which are indole alkaloids found in trace amounts in the human brain. That’s right! The human body is a mirror to plants! Rumor has it that like cannabinoids, DMT is produced in the human body, only DMT is produced in the pineal gland being released when we dream, and the endocannabinoid system that humans and mammals have, is responsible for the production of cannabinoids. 

Are you noticing a trend? The government making us illegal. The government calling what we produce in our own bodies a drug. The government criminalizing what nature grows on her own. I digress

Ayahuasca: as described by Healthline, as an entheogenic plant (like all psychedelics), turned brew, made from the leaves of the Psychotria viridis and Banisteriopsis caapi shrub. The drink is/was used for spiritual and religious purposes, originating in South America. Fun fact, Psychotria viridis contains DMT. It’s like, 2 blessings in one. 

Peyote: per Britannica, is a small cactus found in the Chihuahuan Desert of southern Texas and northern Mexico. The tops of the cactus hold “mescal buttons,” which are known for their hallucinogenic effects and contain the alkaloid mescaline. Mescaline is a naturally occurring psychedelic protoalkaloid. Though the government made this natural growing psychedelic illegal, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) Amendments of 1994 gives Native Americans the legal right to use peyote for their religious services.

This needs to happen with Cannabis and Magic Mushrooms for Black/ African American people.

Tobacco: Yep, sort of shocked? Don’t be. Tobacco has mind altering impact….something hid by the government because they want cancer dollars. Directly from Britannica:

“Native to the Americas, the tobacco plant bears distinctive large leaves that are a particularly concentrated source of nicotine. Nicotine is the chief active ingredient in the tobacco used in cigarettes, cigars, and snuff and is an addictive drug. The drug has a unique biphasic psychoactive effect”.

Cannabis- THC: THC is considered a psychedelic cannabinoid due to the psychoactive impact it provides. Cannabis, though given a horrible reputation by our horrible government, is a mind and body healing plant- one of the only ones. Cannabis- Sativa, THC- for short is tetrahydrocannabinol,and is present in all parts of both the male and female plants but is most concentrated in the flowering tops of the female plant. 

A plant grown all over the world because it’s so magical, has a history of being consumed during spiritual ceremonies/ religious practices. This was until the U.S government made the plant public enemy number one due to racism and this country’s love for it. 

Where Are Psychedelics Legal in the United States

In the United States, Oregon was the first state to legalize magic mushrooms/ psilocybin mushrooms. They did this through Initiative Petition 34/ IP 34, which allows those suffering from depression, anxiety, and anyone that would benefit, a new treatment option by creating a licensed and supervised psilocybin-assisted therapy system. So, the proper way to say this is, Oregon is the first state in the U.S to legalize psilocybin for medicine .

Cities in the United States that Decriminalized Psilocybin- Magic Mushrooms

  • Denver, CO
  • Oakland, CA
  • Santa Cruz, CA

There are a lot of cities working on decriminalization and legalization. A good resource for this information is  Decriminalize Nature

Where Psychedelics are Legal Globally; Countries that Decriminalized Psychedelics

This gets a little tricky because some countries have laws where legalization is only applicable for a particular consumption method. For example, states allow CBD but only in oil form, and ban CBD flower because they ban smoking CBD. 

Always check this information before making plans to travel and consume. Things change all of the time! As for countries that are relaxed and tolerant of psychedelics:

  • Brazil
  • Jamaica
  • Netherlands
  • Peru
  • Portugal (the GOAT- they decriminalized everything!)
  • The United Kingdom

Psychedelics for Mental Health; Psychedelics for Anxiety, Depression, and Addiction

The U.S National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health conducted a study on psychedelics for mental health and stated a few things:

“We did not find use of psychedelics to be an independent risk factor for mental health problems.

“Controlled studies have not suggested that use of psychedelics lead to long-term mental health problems.”

“Psychedelics are not regarded to elicit violence and dangerous behavior leading to suicide or accidental death under the influence of psychedelics is regarded as extremely rare. LSD and psilocybin are consistently ranked in expert assessments as causing less harm to both individual users and society than alcohol, tobacco, and most other common recreational drugs”.

There are always concerns for those with mental health conditions, and the consumption of anything that can cause mind-altering/ psychoactivity. I always recommend research and chatting with your therapist, psychologist, medical professional. They may say no, you may say yes, but at least a conversation will take place and that is where we must start collectively- conversation. Conversation is a great way to destigmatize. 

Psychedelics for anxiety, depression, and addiction have been studied and researched a lot, and I mean A LOT over the last few years, but really, many many years. The NCBI (listed above) gave us some results. 

But I’ll end the piece with information from Medical Xpress regarding research and studies in the psychedelic space:

  • In a 2017 study of psilocybin and depression, researchers at Imperial College London gave psilocybin therapy to 20 patients with treatment-resistant depression, who reported benefits as long as five weeks after treatment. The study found that psilocybin decreased activity in the amygdala, which processes emotions like fear and anxiety. 

From the researchers in the study: “We know that when someone is on a therapeutic dose of a psychedelic, there’s a dramatic increase in communication across brain areas,” Johnson said. “My theory is that what we’re seeing with psychedelic therapy is more like what we normally associate with talk therapy. Psychedelic therapy prompts a therapeutic process, and people learn something by transcending their sense of self and getting out of their own way”.

  • A 2019 survey of more than 1,000 people from across the world who microdosed on LSD found that repeated microdoses were followed by “improvements in negative moods, especially depression” as well as increased positive moods and energy levels.

Written by: Veronica Castillo

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