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The Mushroom: Life-changing (And Great With Pasta)

Comedian Joe Rogan, and a new generation of scientists, are diggin' them some psychedelics.

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Every once in a while I catch a glimpse of what I would consider progress.

‘Ole Tim Leary went so far with psychedelics in the 60s that the culture recoiled, and we needed a couple of generations to pass before we could take a good look at the drugs he touted.

That seems to be happening now, and lo and behold, it turns out that LSD and Magic Mushrooms are—well, let’s just say, maybe they aren’t only for stoners. This new wave of attention is making for a dynamic set of bedfellows. Comedian Joe Rogan frequently trumpets the mind-expanding virtues of psychedelics. And now the academics at Johns Hopkins are agreeing with him.

For more, check out these two pieces. The first is from the Economist, which provides a neat round-up of current and pending studies. Here’s a taste:

“The first clinical study of LSD in over 35 years, also on terminally ill patients, is expected to finish this summer. Peter Gasser, the Swiss doctor leading the experiment, says that a combination of LSD and psychotherapy reduced anxiety levels of all 12 participants in the study, though the statistical significance of the data has yet to be analysed.

“Research into LSD is not confined to medicine. Franz Vollenweider, of the Heffter Research Institute in Zurich, for example, is scanning people’s brains to try to understand how hallucinogenic drugs cause changes in consciousness.”

See the full text here:

And second, enjoy this little blast of unexpected science from the good folks at Time, describing how researchers at Johns Hopkins are using mushrooms as much more than an accompaniment to a nice pasta.

“The psychedelic drug in magic mushrooms may have lasting medical and spiritual benefits, according to new research from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

“The mushroom-derived hallucinogen, called psilocybin, is known to trigger transformative spiritual states, but at high doses it can also result in ‘bad trips’ marked by terror and panic. The trick is to get the dose just right, which the Johns Hopkins researchers report having accomplished.”

The article—look for the full text here—goes on to describe how the drug might prove particularly useful with terminally ill patients but seems to have a powerful, positive and lasting effect on just about everyone.

Sounds good to me. In Fringe-ology, I address the terminally ill at some length. But the book’s focus is on seeing all of us get through the night.  And in this case, finding something we can use in a field of study long-derided and left for dead fits right into my book.