Magical Mystical Mushrooms

The hallucinogenic effects of the plant alkaloid called psilocybin, found in so-called magic mushrooms, or "shrooms", has been shown to induce the same mystical and spiritual experiences people have described for centuries, in sacred writings and other literature, according to Johns Hopkins researcher Roland Griffiths and colleagues. "A vast gap exists between what we know of these drugs—mostly from descriptive anthropology—and what we believe we can understand using modern clinical pharmacology techniques," he says. The present study, published in the journal Psychopharmacology, showed that these hallucinogenic experiences can affect behavior and attitudes in individuals using the drug for several months, at least. The research marks a new systematic approach to studying hallucinogenic compounds that researchers in the 1950s hoped would have therapeutic potential or value in investigating consciousness and sensory perception.