Studies show the number of people using psychedelics increases over the summer months. Additionally, people are more likely to try psychedelics for the first time during the summertime. This is likely a result of summer activities where psychedelic use is common, such as festivals and outdoor concerts. Further, psychedelics, like magic mushrooms, also pair well with outdoor activities and can help folks connect with nature.
Thinking about trying psychedelics for the first time this summer? Let’s talk about the safe use of magic mushrooms.
First, know that magic mushrooms are considered relatively safe. While you can have a negative experience, there is very little risk of overdose. However, you can do a few things to stay safe and make the most of your psychedelic experience.
You can use a dosage calculator to figure out a good starting point. For beginners, we recommend starting with a low dose. You can increase the dose slightly after an hour if you’re feeling good.
Use psychedelics this summer in a safe and comfortable environment
Take the time to think about your environment and whether or not you will feel comfortable and safe. If you’re planning to use in a large social environment, such as a festival, ensure you have an isolated space you can escape to if you need it. You may also want to consider exploring magic mushrooms for the first time before the event in a more relaxed environment, like at home.
Take the time to think about who you are with and your level of comfort and trust with them. Also consider other parties’ experience with psychedelics and whether or not someone you know will be sober in case of an emergency.
A trip sitter can be a trusted friend who is sober and there to support you while tripping this summer. They will make sure you stay safe. It should ideally be someone with experience in psychedelics, but that isn’t required. They can make sure you drink some water, bring you your comfort items, or help you get back to your safe space if needed.
Set intentions and use them to create a pleasant mindset to set yourself up for a positive experience. Some nervousness is normal, but you should feel optimistic about the experience overall and that it will enhance your life somehow.
Don’t consume other substances while tripping, including alcohol.
Mushrooms can cause temporary increases in heart rate and blood pressure, making them potentially unsuitable for those with cardiovascular conditions.
Learn more about how to prepare for a psychedelic trip.
Psychedelics can bring up thoughts and feelings you may feel unprepared to deal with. Know this is normal and that you will get through it. If you can, allow yourself to give in to the journey and remember that no matter what happens, it will end. Learn more about how long mushrooms last. Also, remember that there is little risk of overdose.
Setting intentions can help create positive energy around your experience and provide you with a goal or mantra to return to if you begin feeling uneasy.
Setting trip intentions is when you state what you intend to accomplish through your actions; in this case, the psychedelic experience. It’s a commitment to what you want from the journey or what you want it to be about. These intentions can be used to guide you on your trip.
This doesn’t mean every time you try magic mushrooms you need to be doing deep work on yourself. If you’re planning to use mushrooms at a festival, your intention could be as simple as allowing yourself to let go of stress and enjoy the experience.
Learn more about setting intentions.
Additionally, being prepared to manage potential anxiety or negative feelings can help you get through those potentially rocky moments during your trip.
Managing Negative Feelings During a Trip
Negative feelings can sway how your trip goes, but if you have skills to manage these they can help you to return to a good place.
There are numerous ways of managing anxiety or negative feelings during a psychedelic trip so take the time to consider what might work best for you.
- Remember that having a good or bad experience is not like a light switch. It’s not pass/fail. If you start to feel a bit off, you can always shift the experience in a happier direction.
- Have comfort items on hand. For many people, these are sensory items that make them feel good, like a soft blanket, pillows, stuffed animals, etc.
- Change your environment. Negative feelings may be triggered by something in your environment. Changing location can remove those potential triggers and give your brain space to reset, refocus, and find calm.
- Turn on soothing music you’re familiar with. Music can distract our brains and trigger positive emotions. Don’t listen to music that reminds you of specific bad experiences.
- Talk to someone you trust.
Stay safe this festival season and use responsibly. If you’re feeling nervous, consider microdosing the first time. Learn more about microdosing.
Studies have demonstrated the neuroprotective properties of cannabis can help with traumatic brain injury by reducing secondary damage after the initial trauma, which has contributed to the interest in exploring alternative treatments like psychedelics for traumatic brain injuries.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. In Canada, 2% of the population lives with a traumatic brain injury. There are 18,000 hospitalizations each year, and traumatic brain injury typically occurs in 500 out of every 100,000 individuals annually. That is approximately 165,000 people in Canada impacted by traumatic brain injury every day. This equals 452 people every day, or one person every 3 minutes.
Here we will look at psychedelics for traumatic brain injuries, mainly where the research is headed and its promise for treatment.
Description of Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as a disruption in the brain’s normal function caused by trauma to the head. This trauma can be experienced in numerous ways, typically described as a bump, blow, or jolt to the head.
Children and older adults are at higher risk of experiencing a traumatic brain injury than an average adult—other than adults engaged in contact sports.
Is a concussion a traumatic brain injury?
The term traumatic brain injury sounds scary, and it can be. A concussion is considered a type of traumatic brain injury. Even though concussions are often seen as mild brain injuries (because they are generally not life threatening) the impacts can still be severe. This is important because concussions are common in many contact sports.
Signs of a concussion can be subtle (hard to identify) and may not show up immediately following injury.
The symptoms of a concussion can last for days, weeks, or sometimes even longer. Common symptoms include headache, memory loss (amnesia), and confusion. Amnesia usually involves forgetting the event that caused the concussion.
|Physical signs and symptoms||Other signs and symptoms||Symptoms that may occur days after injury|
Ringing in the ears
Fatigue or drowsiness
|Confusion or feeling in a fog|
Amnesia surrounding the event
|Concentration and memory complaints|
Irritability and other personality changes
Sensitivity to light and noise
Psychological adjustment problems and depression
Disorders of taste and smell
Related: Cannabis for Heacaches and Migraines
Treatment for Concussions
It’s essential to speak to a doctor if you think you’ve experienced a traumatic brain injury. Treatment focuses on physical and mental rest. Doctors recommend engaging in relative rest: reducing activities that require mental exertion but not eliminating all activities.
It’s vital to slowly add mental and physical activities back into your life and pay attention to how they impact symptoms. Resuming rigorous physical activity after a traumatic brain injury increases the risk of another brain injury. So, increase activity slowly and listen to your doctor.
Related: Mindfulness and Psychedelics
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated blows to the head. It can include behavioural problems, mood problems, and issues with cognition. While it can only be diagnosed in an autopsy, a 2017 study showed that 99 percent of former NFL players and 91 percent of college football players studied had CTE.
Some professional athletes experience significant adverse impacts of traumatic brain injury, including depression and suicide ideation. As a result of these symptoms, many athletes have turned to alternative treatment methods, such as psychedelics.
Several athletes have already turned to psychedelics to manage symptoms related to traumatic brain injury. The research is also underway.
A 2019 review stresses the importance of research into the use of psychedelics, such as psilocybin, for disorders related to consciousness based on previous preliminary studies. A 2021 review looked at historical data about psychedelics’ safety and potential therapeutic uses to outline the areas of interest for traumatic brain injury.
Neuroinflammation specifically refers to inflammation in the brain and spinal cord. Ongoing neuroinflammation can increase damage to the brain.
The 5-HT2A receptor, the one psychedelics like magic mushrooms act on, is well known to have the potential to regulate inflammation in the brain.
Neurogenesis is the growth and repair of brain cells which is essential for healing from a traumatic brain injury.
Psilocybin has been shown to support neurogenesis in the hippocampus, which plays a vital role in learning, memory, and mood. Scientists believe the damage to the hippocampus may account for some of the long-term emotional and cognitive problems experienced by those who have experienced a brain injury.
Neurogenesis in the hippocampus also supports recovery from PTSD.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change and adapt through growth and reorganization. After a traumatic brain injury, the reorganization of neural connections is an integral part of recovery, specifically relearning information and reforming memories.
Studies show that psychedelics promote neural plasticity, speeding up relearning in patients with traumatic brain injury.
Psychedelics for PTSD and Depression
It’s common for those who have experienced a traumatic brain injury to develop PTSD or depression.
Approximately 25% of people who experience a traumatic brain injury develop symptoms of major depressive disorder.
Psychedelics can also support the treatment of PTSD and depression, which, in turn, can support the overall recovery for those with a TBI.
Learn more about using psychedelics for PTSD and Depression.
Final Thoughts on Psychedelics for Traumatic Brain Injury
Psychedelics are being used by many athletes to manage the long-term impacts of traumatic brain injury. Research is underway to develop a deeper understanding of how psychedelics help heal the brain.
Preliminary evidence suggests that psychedelics could help restore some of the damage and improve psychological symptoms associated with injury. However, it’s important to note that this research is still pre-clinical, but more people are investing in it.
Psychedelics, such as magic mushrooms, are making waves when treating complex mental illnesses like major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Approximately 9 percent of Canadians have experienced PTSD in their lifetime, with men being more likely to experience trauma but women more likely to develop PTSD symptoms. Here we will discuss using psychedelics to treat PTSD and what the research says, so far. But first, let’s define what post-traumatic stress disorder is.
PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that results from having experienced or witnessed trauma. Though it is important to note that not everyone who experiences trauma develops PTSD and what is considered traumatic differs between people.
People who have experienced trauma often have intense, disturbing thoughts or feelings related to that experience long after the trauma event(s) have passed.
PTSD symptoms fall into four categories:
- Intrusive thoughts. Repeated, involuntary memories, frightening dreams, or flashbacks of the traumatic event. For some, flashbacks may feel like they are reliving the traumatic experience.
- Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event. This may include avoiding people, places, activities, objects, and situations that bring distressing memories. They may also resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it.
- Negative thoughts and feelings. This may include distorted beliefs about oneself or others (ex., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted”), ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt, shame, significantly less interest in activities previously enjoyed, or feeling detached from others.
- Reactive symptoms may include being irritable and having angry outbursts, behaving recklessly or self-destructively, being easily startled, or having problems concentrating or sleeping. (source)
Mental health professionals, such as psychologists and psychiatrists, use various methods to help people with PTSD recover. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one evidence-based treatment that is often used in combination with medication.
While these treatment methods are effective, many people find that psychedelics provide additional benefits for treating PTSD, particularly since treatment can be fairly complex.
Psychedelics have shown promise in treatment for psychological disorders and received breakthrough therapy status in 2019 for major depression. In Canada, psilocybin has now been approved for end-of-life care use by a limited number of health professionals.
Does the research support the use of psychedelics to treat PTSD?
A 2013 study found psilocybin stimulates neurogenesis (the growth and repair of brain cells) in the hippocampus, the brain’s centre for emotion and memory. In the study, mice given psilocybin overcame fear conditioning far better than mice given a placebo. These results support the hypothesis that psilocybin can help break the traumatic cycle in patients with PTSD.
Other acute effects that substantiate their potential therapeutic role in the treatment of PTSD include:
- Emotional empathy
- Increases in creative divergent thinking
- Enhanced mindfulness-related capacities
- Increased insightfulness
- Reduced avoidance and increases in acceptance and connectedness
- Long-term increases in the personality trait of openness
A 2020 study provided psilocybin therapy and group therapy sessions to survivors of the AIDS pandemic who reported feeling demoralized. At 3 months, researchers saw significant reductions in participants’ symptoms of demoralization.
Psychedelics are not an alternative to traditional treatment methods for PTSD. Those diagnosed with PTSD or experiencing similar symptoms should speak to a mental health professional.
If you decide to use psychedelics to treat PTSD with or without the support and guidance of your mental health professional, please use them responsibly and take the time to prepare for the experience.
Since psychedelics can bring up a lot of feelings, they can leave people feeling vulnerable. Because of this, we stress the importance of taking care of yourself psychologically after the experience. For some, this may mean seeking support from their mental health professional. For others, this may mean seeking support from friends and loved ones and engaging in therapeutic activities such as journaling.
Learn more about integration after a psychedelic experience.
Research has focused on a psychedelic dose of magic mushrooms, but that doesn’t mean that microdosing won’t have similar therapeutic benefits.
Until we know more about using psychedelics to treat PTSD, it’s up to your personal choice if you want to microdose or try a psychedelic dose.
A psychedelic dose may lead you to experience ego death, which can be healing but also may be overwhelming. A microdose may provide therapeutic benefits with less intensity.