How can psilocybin affect mental health? – Forbes Health

Researchers say psilocybin is one of the safest psychedelic drugs thanks to its low toxicity, low potential for abuse, lack of long-term adverse effects, seemingly no potential for physical dependence, and rarity of overdose.

Without FDA approval or regulation, there are no widely accepted dosage recommendations for psilocybin, but it is often taken at 10 to 50 milligrams. Medical dosage tends to take an individual’s weight into account.

According to recent and ongoing research on psilocybin and mental health, psilocybin is safest when taken under the supervision of licensed health professionals. “Licensed health professionals with clinical experience in mental health care or counseling will understand subjective effects and subjective experiences [of psilocybin therapy] [in] mental illness patients,” says Dr Ekaterina Maliyevskaya, Chief Innovation Officer and co-founder of COMPASS Pathways in London. “The therapist’s role is very important to ensure a safe experience and quality of care.”

Psilocybin treatment is probably safest in a calm and quiet environment, often with music. “Currently, the best practice is for patients not to get into arguments, not to read the news, not to watch TV before the session, but to focus more internally,” says Dr. Maliyevskaya. “The session environment should not be stimulating so that they can continue their own inner journey without being influenced by the environment.” A stimulating environment can become unsettling, disorienting and anxiety-provoking for the individual, she adds.

Psilocybin side effects, risks and what you should know before use

Psilocybin is not recommended for people:

  • With (or at risk of) psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as psilocybin can be damaging or aggravating and can interact with certain medications
  • For cardiovascular problems, as psilocybin can increase blood pressure and heart rate (prior assessment by a practitioner can help determine if you are a candidate)

Hallucinations are common in a psilocybin session—or “trip/trip”—and while they can be eye-opening and welcome for a participant, they can also be frightening or disturbing, says Chuck Reason, director of clinical and translational research at Usona Institute in Madison, Wisconsin. These frightening hallucinations are also known as a bad trip, where you may become anxious, agitated, confused and/or panicked. Although this can happen at any dose, it is safest to start with a low dose and see how it affects you before increasing.

Higher doses of 13 milligrams or more, according to Brown University, can lead to:

  • Facial flushing and sweating
  • A delayed sense of time
  • A feeling of detachment from your body

Signs of a potential psilocybin overdose include:

  • dizziness
  • Numbness of parts of the mouth
  • Shaking or sweating
  • nausea

Psilocybin use may carry a risk of serious, long-term psychiatric conditions, depending on dosage and underlying conditions, including hallucinogen-related persistent perceptual disorder (resulting in memories of the psilocybin experience) and drug-induced psychosis (loss of sense of reality).

The risk of these conditions makes it very important to be examined before use by an appropriately trained/educated medical practitioner who can help determine if you are a good candidate for treatment and who will help guide/monitor the process.

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