Magic mushrooms are safest recreational drug, according to new study

Psilocybin mushrooms may be classified as a Schedule I drug alongside chemical substances such as MDMA, Heroin, LSD, and Methaqualone — but the substance is significantly less harmful than its classification indicates. According to the Global Drug Survey 2017, psilocybin mushrooms — known on the street as magic mushrooms or shrooms — is the safest of all recreational drugs, with only 0.2 percent of takers needing emergency medical treatment. It’s a much lower rate in comparison to MDMA, which records 1.2 percent of users needing emergency care, or even alcohol, which has a rate of 1.3 percent.

The annual survey is the biggest of its kind, and gathered responses from 115,523 participants from over 50 countries. Of the total respondents, 10.4 percent or about 12,000 reported the use of magic mushrooms. Of that, only 13 men and four women said they sought emergency medical treatment.

“Magic mushrooms seem to carry the lowest acute risk of harm of any drug,” the report said, noting that while it is still not entirely risk free, smaller dosing units and the mushrooms’ “intrinsic safety” make them much less harmful than any other drugs.

“Death from toxicity is almost unheard of with poisoning with more dangerous fungi being a much greater risk in terms of serious harms,” Adam Winstock, founder of the Global Drug Survey, said in a report on At the same time, Winstock did point out that while mushrooms (and psychedelics in general) are non-toxic, combining mushrooms with alcohol or using them in unfamiliar settings can increase the risk for accidental injury, panic attacks, disorientation, and other unpleasant symptoms.

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Still, Winstock said that as far as recreational drugs go, shrooms are the least likely to cause any lasting damage on one’s body and lifestyle. “People don’t tend to abuse psychedelics, they don’t get dependent, they don’t rot every organ from head to toe, and many would cite impact upon their life as profound and positive. But you need to know how to use them,” he said.

Putting the “magic” in mushrooms

Magic mushrooms are one of the most common psychedelic drugs, alongside LSD. Its psychedelic compound, psilocybin, sends the brain into hyperdrive, superpowering communication between its networks, according to a report on Citing a 2014 study, the report said that people who were injected with two milligrams of psilocybin displayed stronger activity and communication between regions of the brain that don’t normally talk to each other. This finding explains the heightened sensory experiences and altered perceptions of time and space typically reported by magic mushroom users.

A known hallucinogen, magic mushrooms can trigger out-of-body experiences and the feeling of time slowing down. It also has less intense effects — magic mushrooms have been found to have relaxing effects, similar to that of marijuana. It is also being explored as a natural alternative for dangerous psychiatric drugs prescribed for mental illness, in particular, depression and anxiety. Citing another study by researchers from New York University, the report said that 60 to 80 percent of participants reported reduced anxiety and depression six and a half months after one psychedelic trip.

The report went on say that while tripping on psilocybin, one patient who had suffered from severe anxiety went on “an emotional journey” that allowed him to realize how his anxiety was not something he should worry about.

Despite its benefits and safety as a substance, magic mushrooms still remain illegal in the United States — making the legal consequences possibly the biggest risk in taking a substance that has been determined to be generally safe for one’s health.

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