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Single dose of psilocybin eased cancer patients' anxiety, depression for years (nbcnews.com)
238 points by neom 31 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 145 comments

I’ve taken mushrooms quite a few times. Sometimes, it’s just been mild and giggling at colors and nature. Pleasant, but just kind of a fun drug.

With a moderate dose, you tend to be introspective and consider your own life and relationships in different ways. There’s usually a lesson at the end.

With higher doses, it’s sometimes been just extremely confusing and not at all fun, to the extent that I’d forget my own name or what I’ve taken and basically just all memories. It’s very frustrating to be in that state, constantly trying not to fly away but not able to ground yourself. It’s a little disturbing, but not horrific. I think the reason for this is that I am afraid to lose my ego/die and I would actually benefit from a slightly higher dose to blast it away...

With really high doses though, it’s been a truly beautiful, enlightening experience. I still think of it sometimes. It’s very difficult to really explain in words, but it feels like kind of extreme empathy with all life. Buddhists would call it going egoless. I just felt very at peace: we all live, we all die, and it’s all okay. I’m not particularly religious or spiritual at all but that experience really changed me. It feels like life is in all these different forms, and you just happen to be one variation of it, but you could easily be any other living thing, so you just feel love and empathy for all life. And you know it’s finite and you’re not afraid of death. I would still attempt to avoid death, but I was just at peace with it if it was inevitable. Also, when you come back to reality you’re utterly, utterly convinced that you’ve experienced something profound, possibly, despite all your rationality, there’s a message form god inside this mushroom. It’s almost like the mushroom is laughing at you: “good luck going back to your normal life now.” You’re left with “wow? That was that?!” It’s annoying honestly, because I’m not religious at all and I know it sounds crazy to even say that out loud. Of course, that feeling does slowly fade away like a distance dream or memory.

A great story it reminds me of is “The Egg” by Andy Weir:


I had a similar experience. I was a burnt out YC startup founder in SF with a wife and kids whose life I was missing, and everything felt off track. I started working with a life coach, left my startup in the capable hands of my co-founders and moved to Raleigh. I soon thereafter had my first psylocibin experience. There were a bunch things shifting in me, but this experience blew my mind open and I haven't been the same since. (Much for the better, of course!)

During that first trip, in a few hours I went from seeing the universe as a mechanistic, "matter is all there is", reality, to directly experiencing that there is so much more. Since then I've gone much deeper down that path and I'm so very thankful for this beautiful medicine for opening my eyes and heart!

I think mushrooms can open us up to truths that we don't always want to confront and sometimes it allows us to cry and make peace with our existence.

When I grew mushrooms in college, I'd take massive doses of fresh mushrooms simply because I was flush with these amazing fungi.

So I took a massive dose of fresh mushrooms, which I think is a better way to go if you can make it happen, something like over 50g wet. As it sets in, I looked up at the night sky and a drop of water precipitated with all the moments of my life reflected inside it. It was as if I was a single drop from a large ocean. In some ways it was sad, this teardrop would pass someday and return to the ocean. I know it's okay, and I want to say that it's been a lot of fun spending time with everyone.

The experience reminds me of Blade Runner when the replicant confronts his own death.

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die."

"All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop." - Kabir

50g!? That seems like an insane amount of mushrooms to eat in one dose.

Edit: my apologies. I thought it was dry, not wet.

It's a large dose, but generally the conversion from wet to dry is 10 to 1.

My mistake.

He said wet, not dried

I went through a similar realization when I consumed mushrooms a few years ago. Truly beautiful understanding about how connected everything in the universe is, how we're all just a single thing. Even outside the trip, it is an objective notion, it is just that I had to go through the trip to really "know" it in my bones.

However, I now worry whether this has made me too malleable and less assertive. I often have to remind myself that there are people who would take advantage of you given a chance (the dark personality triad); the systems we live in can be very impersonal and hostile; and so we do have to lookout for ourselves and our family. Is there something you can share about this?

> However, I now worry whether this has made me too malleable and less assertive. I often have to remind myself that there are people who would take advantage of you given a chance (the dark personality triad); the systems we live in can be very impersonal and hostile; and so we do have to lookout for ourselves and our family. Is there something you can share about this?

I think if you're concerned about it, it's probably not a big problem for you. Being kinder to all living things includes being kinder to yourself and your family anyway :-)

There was an article here a few days ago talking about mental flexibility that described it as "a vice" is going too far on either extreme and "the virtue" is being balanced... too far one way and you're stubborn, too far the other way and you're gullible.

That article was on a different topic, but the lesson is being aware of the extremes and taking a bit of both is to be balanced, not to be contradictory.

This ties nicely into the two questions I have about the article.

First, have you seen clear, lasting changes in anxiety and depression? If the single-dose effect for cancer patients really is this strong, it seems like everyone who messed with mushrooms once in college should be 'treated' also.

Second, how well do those feelings of contentment stick around? The stories I hear of enlightenment on mushrooms, DMT, any other "entheogen" all have the element you describe of being unable to grasp the discovery after the trip, and once it's in hindsight I can imagine that memory being anywhere from comforting to aggravatingly out-of-reach.

> First, have you seen clear, lasting changes in anxiety and depression? If the single-dose effect for cancer patients really is this strong, it seems like everyone who messed with mushrooms once in college should be 'treated' also.

I think mushrooms can open the door, but you need to use them as a catalyst to take action in your day-to-day life to actually have lasting change. I've still been an asshole occasionally since taking mushrooms. Ultimately you're responsible for your own change, but mushrooms can help you want to change.

> Second, how well do those feelings of contentment stick around? The stories I hear of enlightenment on mushrooms, DMT, any other "entheogen" all have the element you describe of being unable to grasp the discovery after the trip, and once it's in hindsight I can imagine that memory being anywhere from comforting to aggravatingly out-of-reach.

I've had an egoless state for a couple hours or so afterwards, and then maybe for a couple days afterwards I'm generally more relaxed and happy: maybe I'll smile more and say hello to people I barely talk to. But the feeling fades after that. Lasting change happens if you really take the lesson to heart and create change in your normal life.

I've never dealt with non-situational depression or anxiety, but it might be useful to share a little of my experience with LSD.

On or around my birthdays for the past five years, I've been taking a moderate to very large dose of LSD. The lowest dose was around 100 micros, the largest was 10x that.

Me being me, with extensive planning, preparation, and a lot of help from my wife, my first dose in 2015 was the largest one.

The experience was moderately life changing. Things were already going pretty well, but after the trip, I was able to do even more 'personal brain cleanup'.

Specifically, it allowed me to release a big chunk of the personal arrogance I still carried. This has been a nearly life-long process, but the trip grealy accelerated it.

It also helped me further improve my (already pretty good) work/life balance. It's not that I loved my family more, it's just that the things that I already knew (time at work is a means to an end, time with my family is truly the most important thing) became more easily actionable.

Lastly, (for this reply...there more aspects than I have time to type up right now) it allowed me to read, understand and empathize with other people's actions more effectively.

"If the single-dose effect for cancer patients really is this strong, it seems like everyone who messed with mushrooms once in college should be 'treated' also."

Set, drug, dose, and setting all play huge roles in the effects one gets.

First, a lot of drugs on the black market aren't what they claim to be. So someone who tried what they thought were mushrooms in college might have gotten something else.

The dose of psilocybin one gets from black market mushrooms is also difficult if not impossible to gauge. So someone who tried mushrooms in college could have gotten too low or too high a dose.

Many people are also completely clueless when it comes to how to optimally prepare for and take drugs, and believe all sorts of myths and misconceptions about drugs. So many of those who took mushrooms in college probably did so in very poor circumstances, with no intention or even self-destructive intentions (such as those that often go hand-in-hand in binge-drinking), and possibly with misconceptions about what the experience will be like.

This is all very, very different from taking psilocybin or other psychedelics in a carefully designed study, with trained therapists who typically give days if not weeks of therapy before the sessions, during, and after the sessions, are given pure, precisely measured doses. The setting is designed for maximum therapeutic effect, as are the resources available during the session (such as having pictures of loved-ones on hand to focus on at the peak of the session). The sessions are usually done with light blocked out by an eye-shade, and with music carefully designed to facilitate the session. The therapists are on hand to give support and help the patient work through any diffcult experiences, and are encouraged to work through such difficulties rather than run away from them. Acceptance is encouraged.

Because of this careful preparation, planning, and professional therapy, the results are likely to be much different than casual mushroom use in college by people who are likely to be ignorant of psychedelics in general, and of how to properly run a therapeutic session in particular.

The contentment can stick around. I guess it depends on the person and the drug, and what happened and what was sought...

Maybe the problem is in the rarity and ineffability of the experience. We don't have a huge frame of reference for mystical-type experiences, and we don't have much of a common language to describe them. We rely on metaphors, the way we do when describing being in love.

When it's all over, you might think, "What the hell was that?" A memory of the feeling-of-the-thing, but no real word for what-it-is-like.

I believe it's intent that matters here. It's possible to have a life-changing experience on mushrooms alone, but I've had better luck reprogramming unwanted neural pathways by explicitly going into the experience with strong intent towards a goal.

Just to note and call out that not everyone has enlightening experiences with heroic doses.

I've had horrible experiences with a very large dose. I essentially passed out and when I awoke I genuinely thought I had died and was roaming as an invisible spirit. It wasn't until a friend interacted with me I realized I was still alive and began to come down.

I really think anyone should take care when experimenting with powerful hallucinogens. They aren't for everyone and have been known to trigger psychosis and other adverse reactions if one has a family history of mental illness.

The people that really suffer from drugs don't post here. Camille Paglia mentions some of the radical thinkers from the 60s lost their minds on drugs. Most people have little incentive to talk about having a bad trip on illegal drugs.

I have found that there is a mid-range of dosage that is "dangerous". In that range, one's perception is altered in an unpleasant way, yet the rush of joy that comes with a higher dose has not kicked in. You are left feeling nervous and even paranoid that the experience will never end. Take a bit more and it shifts into joy; you can embrace the weirdness and just let it take you away.

Here's kurzgesagt's rendition of "The Egg": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6fcK_fRYaI

Out of interest, at what kind of dosage did you have the enlightening experience? I've had plenty of introspective experiences, but not much further, at what seemed to me to be fairly high doses.

My apologies. It’s not exactly like “take this amount and you will experience this trip”. It’s like how one day you may only have a few drinks of alcohol and yet feel way more drunk than other times you’ve drank a lot more. But to roughly answer your question, I had a breakthrough experience on about 5g of magic mushrooms. I’ve also had it on 22g of magic truffles.

By the way, ever since these trips, I can’t enjoy much marijuana in the same way. Marijuana feels like the start of that trip now. It’s very weird.

I have always stuck in the 1.5g range, and feel comfortable doing that in public or alone. I think anything over 3 is entering dangerous territory. Not physically, but you are going to need to be cautious about when/where/why/who at that level.

I took 5-6g when I was much younger and it was not an enjoyable experience on the whole, forgetting who/where I was, thinking I was other people. The most interesting part was everything arranging itself in sensible geometric patterns. No matter what I looked at, tree bark, the ground, the wall of a house, a pile of leaves, everything would appear structured as sort of repeating hexagons or octagons. That affect combined with occasional moments of profound peace felt revelatory, but I did not take mushrooms for a few years after that. I will almost definitely never do it again either.

I have not experienced the marijuana thing though :).

It’s somewhat problematic to determine the exact dose of psilocybin you’re getting when ingesting raw material. 1.5g of dried material might give you a range for the upper bound of psilocybin content, but it’s difficult to say. And dose is VERY important in planning what kind of experience you want to have.

I apologize if I violate some sort of code of conduct by asking this but is there a reliable, safe way you can recommend obtaining magic mushrooms or truffles? I found some online sources offering them but I’m not sure who is trustworthy?

At least in the EU you can legally buy the spores online.

Oh my God, 22g? As someone about to try it for the first time soon, I thought 4-5 was considered a high dose, I would have thought 4x that amount could be dangerous. (I'm not knowledgeable about drugs.)

Magic truffles need different doses to magic mushrooms.

Accurate dosing of mushrooms and other non-synthetic psychedelics is very difficult anyway, as the active compounds can greatly vary even within the same species and even within the same batch.

Also, with psychedelics the effects will vary from person to person, and even on the same person depending on that person's mood, body chemistry, how much and what they've eaten, what's going on with their life and their subconscious mind at the time, what their expectations are, their stage of development, where and with whom they take it, etc.

Not at all crazy, I share your experiences. The mushroom is a method to commune with something larger than ourselves. Although I share your lack of faith in traditional religions, the mushroom has me believing that the spiral does indeed go up (just as we know it goes down).

As someone with both relentless death anxiety and normal anxiety, this piques my interest. Have you had any full blown panic attacks while tripping?

I've had uncomfortable experiences. I don't know what would constitute a panic attack exactly. Get some supervision, stay in a safe place away from people. It's a journey. Even the good enlightening trip wasn't really a pleasurable experience: it was scary at times, but worth it.

I have with LSD, a truly terrifying experience. I think it can still be worth trying but things can surely go very wrong with anxiety and hallucinogens.

Exactly this. And doing post trip integration work with a therapist or a group is particularly helpful in weaving the experience into your life.

Hey, that was a good story. Thanks for sharing.

Some important details from the source:

- "Eighty percent of the patients reported that their symptoms faded, and the effects lasted six months, the 2016 study found. At the time, this long-lasting effect was a landmark finding."

- "The new study ... followed up with 15 of those patients nearly 5 years later, and found that up to 80 percent were still experiencing significant improvements in cancer-related depression and anxiety. Nearly all of the participants attributed their positive life changes to the psychedelic-assisted therapy."

- "Next, he said, researchers need to conduct studies looking at brain scans taken before and after people are given the psychedelics, and also look for biomarkers that could indicate changes in the body."

So this is a follow-up study. Do an experiment, check six months later, and five years later.

Incredible, really. Forget the drug: we have scientifically figured out a life-changing procedure for easing cancer patients' anxiety for _years_ with a single dose. And it's super cheap!

The article also says they're going deep into the research, scanning brains next. Hopefully we'll see results sooner than another five years. :-P

I think the more interesting news is that the government have even allowed such an experiment. Anyone know where this research took place?

P.S. NBC's summary doesn't say (anyone have a sci-hub link to the original?) whether (or how) they accounted for the difference in time. i.e., the world was much different than it was five years ago, and people's anxiety changes too.

Many of the studies are being conducted at NYU and Johns Hopkins. You can find studies at www.maps.org.

Disclosure: I am a participant in a double-blind study at NYU that is researching the use of psilocybin for alcohol use disorder. The results (wanting you drink less) have been incredible. Life changing. The team at NYU is amazing. This is not just taking medicine. It is done with therapy, psychiatrists who are present during sessions (“sitters”) and a heavy focus on set, setting and integration.

1) this study only had a six month follow up. Where did the headline pull five years’ from?

2) there was no placebo group, just low dose and high dose. The investigators called low dose “placebo like,” which anyone familiar with microdosing knows is bullshit.

3) the study size is still fucking tiny. With less than 30 subjects per arm, you can’t take the central limit theorem for granted. With 566 patients screened and 51 accepted, I’m particularly leery - especially since they offloaded all discussion of their exclusion criteria to a supplement no one ever looks at.

4) They used a crossover study. What this means is, as per their methods:

Patient enrolled at week 0. Got low dose (or high dose) at week 4, on average. Got the other dose (high, if the first was low) at week 9. Follow up with outcome measures at week 24.

Crossovers are used to amplify your sample size IFF the effect of the drug is expected to be significantly shorter than the time period between administrations.

In this case, that’s not true: NO previous research suggests that the mood effects of shrooms last significantly <4 weeks. And they know that, which is why their follow up was at 6 months.

In short, this study wasn’t “high dose shrooms show improvement in mood for six months, as shown by comparison to placebo.”

It wasn’t even “high dose shrooms show greater improvement in mood at six months than low dose shrooms”.

It’s “people that take high dose shrooms and then low dose shrooms show better mood in a few months than people that take low dose shrooms and then high dose shrooms, with statistically invalid tests, and no placebo to show that this wasn’t just baseline improvement because, hey, people do cope over time.”

Shit study. Shit shit absolute bullshit.

Edit: My bad. I was looking at the original crap study. Not the 5 year follow up of the crap study. Old crap still crap.

I noticed this in the study paper too:

"Participants who reported use of cannabis or dronabinol were instructed not to use for at least 24 h before sessions."

I wonder why there isn't any number of how many people used cannabis during the trial or its effect compared to people who didn't.

>2) there was no placebo group, just low dose and high dose. The investigators called low dose “placebo like,” which anyone familiar with microdosing knows is bullshit.

Care to elaborate? Microdoses are supposed to be below the active threshold.

Microdosing is beneath the hallucinogenic dose range, but not below the range of having any effect at all - eg, Prochazkova 2018, Anderson 2019 (both of the 2019 Anderson pubs).

I’m not saying the microdosing studies are well done, but they surely prohibit taking for granted that microdosing is a placebo. What little evidence there is tilts away from that.

>but they surely prohibit taking for granted that microdosing is a placebo. What little evidence there is tilts away from that.

No, I don't believe that's true. In fact, this meta study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6364961/

actually explicitly mentions that the body of research doesn't support your claim about microdosing and placebo.

It really is a miracle drug when taken in microdoses (and a complete mind fuck in larger doses) but be careful. If you have any trauma in your past that you’ve pushed down to be dealt with later, psilocybin will dig all of that right back to the surface. I love it.

I wonder where/how you can get it. Are there any medical tests going on that you can participate in?

So, not a lawyer but I'll give some non lawyer advice.

You can buy spores online because the active psilocybin is not in them. They are mushroom spores (it's all so stupid to make illegal, but that's another debate)

You can grow them very easily in spare space. You grow the mycelium in a jar with brown rice flour and vermiculite, there comes a point where you expose the jar to some light to help stimulate growth. Like any natural growing mushroom. Then you put them in a container that remains humid, and again light helps them grow as theyll grow towards it. Think of a mushroom growing under a leaf off rotting tree bark in the forest, same concept.

They're decriminalized where I am (denver) and easy to find. Not legal to grow and cultivate, but do it for personal use and noone is going to bother you. Start selling or distributing, yeah, no need for that. Dont do that, federal law is still backwards and you can technically get in some trouble.

Unless you know someone who deals this is the right answer. To add to this you can get spore syringes, and sometimes kits, from smoke shops. You may have to ask around and visit a few shops. Directions are easily found online.

You are totally right, but like anything illicit, Caveat Emptor... Had a former roommate who grew magic mushrooms from a spore syringe. She was convinced they were of good quality, but she was growing them in a terrarium on the floor in a shared room with a large pet rabbit. Cleanliness and Hygiene were sorely missing. I'm not a mycologist, but even my untrained eye knew something was way off with the mushrooms she was growing. She did not end up selling them, but took her lots of convincing not too.

Moral? The closer you can get to know those growing / harvesting the better. I've always had good luck through my connections for herb. I imagine in recreational 420 states, it's harder to ask the dispensary where to get Magic Mushrooms though.

in the US it's still schedule 1 https://www.vox.com/2014/9/25/6842187/drug-schedule-list-mar...

So it's difficult to get even for legit research.

The most reliable way for HN readers (in the US) is probably illegal via the darknet. (Tails OS + TOR)

With psychedelics, many people say, "you don't find it, it finds you".

If you are not averse to mysticism and observation-creation and all that stuff...

Just mindfully, focusedly set an intention and then keep your eyes peeled.

Here in Iceland it grows in a few places in the wild around the capitol. There are usually group pickings after the first cold spell of autumn (september/october). Have gone a few times.


They don't seem to have any current psilocybin studies, but they do have an MDMA study.

If you want to spend a bit of money, there are several legal mushroom retreats in Mexico. And probably elsewhere in South America.

Most people don't get it through medical studies, of course — they get it through the dark web, knowing the right people, or less commonly by growing their own.

Psilocybin is genuinely fantastic, one of the greatest gifts of nature to humanity.


This seems pretty simplified but I wonder if someone should try to grow their own.

I am curious about other hallucinogens that are easy to produce or good if legally available.

jfi, I live in india.

You can grow your own and many people do. In fact I would guess that most people grow them or get them from acquaintances who do.

But I would very much recommend that anyone who tries this is very well informed on the subject at least. It is a process which requires care, high degree of hygiene and experience so the product doesn't get contaminated.

At best one would not only inform themselves rigorously but also consult an experienced grower during and after the process.

Do you have a good reference to going about it?

I found some consistent sources but I would still doubly make sure if there are any established forums or papers to look into.

shroomery.org is the ultimate source of psilocybe information.

PF Tek - is an easy method to grow any quantity of mushrooms.

Cleanliness in growing mushrooms is on par with cleanliness for brewing beer. You are making a nutrient rich environment for your fungus. Best not have it contaminated with an organism that is antagonistic to your goal.

it's not actually illegal to buy + grow psychedelic shrooms in the majority of states.

I'm not a biologist, but a biologist friend of mine suggested that these results are specious because it is impossible to double-blind test the effects of psychedelic drugs. Does such skepticism have any merit?

There is merit to that skepticism but if effect sizes are large enough then it doesn't matter. You don't need to double blind to figure out the impact of gunshots on cardiovascular health.

So the problem is something like it's pretty obvious when someone has taken a psychedelic and no one has figured out a good placebo that can honestly blind the observer.

The counter-argument I've heard is well, should everything in medicine be subject to the double-blind gold standard? Or put another way, is there a class of experiments where the double-blind standard is not applicable to? Is it right to discount a class of experiments just because the proponents of the double-blind standard can't figure out a way to make the double-blind applicable?

I'm a hacker not a doctor, but my instinct is "well, if the only tool you'll accept is a hammer, it's kinda up to you to make this thing look like a nail."

We also don't do double blind tests for surgeries. We must have an accepted process for determining if a particular type of surgery is effective for various conditions. Applying the same standard here would make sense.

Although maybe we should.

I would love to find this study again, so far, no luck: someone decided to test an 'active placebo' for ACL surgery, of making four incisions in the usual places, but not actually scraping away at the ligament. It was comparably effective as the actual surgery.

This left me thinking that stimulating the immune system by causing trauma might be an underutilized medical technique.

The trial can, and should, be double-blinded. With psychedelics, both the patient and observer know if they've received psychedelics vs. placebo.

That's often used an excuse to perform studies without control groups, which is not a valid argument. There must always be a control group. That's one of the main flaws in this study.

As for considering the studies specious: Not true. If the active group has considerably improved scores relative to the control group, then it doesn't really matter if they know they received true psychedelic drugs. In fact, some of the downstream effects might be due to psychedelics acting as a sort of super placebo.

If someone tells you they're giving you psychedelics to study antidepressant effects and then you spend the next 12 hours tripping, you're going to feel that something profound has happened. Being primed to expect improvements in depression and anxiety combined with the extreme disorientation of a psychedelic might be enough to elicit the antidepressant response.

"With psychedelics, both the patient and observer know if they've received psychedelics vs. placebo."

That's not necessarily true. With MDMA, which can arguably be considered a psychedelic, some people who were given a placebo during the research studies swore they got MDMA, and had very productive sessions.

Some people also don't hallucinate even on psychedelics like LSD, which usually cause visual hallucinations, so even with those it's possible for placebos to be effective.

Rick Doblin originally designed his MDMA studies to use a lower dose of MDMA as a placebo, but found that it actually tended to make people with PTSD worse than using an inactive placebo (because the small dose would be enough to bring up old trauma, but not large enough for the people to feel safe in dealing with it, so they re-buried the trauma after being re-traumatized with it, making them worse), so he gave the FDA the choice of using the active placebo and making subjects worse or using the inactive placebo and not making them worse but giving up the double-blind nature of the trial, and they chose the latter.

The results are not specious. MAPS.org has excellent information about the progress of the trials for psilocybin and MDMA. It works and I speak from experience.

I've experienced this firsthand. It reminds you of who you are in a deep, basic way.

I need to be open here that I originally misread the title and missed the "cancer patient" part!

I just had a single dose of psilocybin way back when and it calmed me for years. I have not been a cancer patient.

That said, a lot of my depression and anxiety was rooted in losing my father to cancer at the age of 10.

What do you mean by "calmed me for years"?

It gently blew away some basic hangups and insecurities I had about myself, stuff I'd been wrestling with for a while as a young adult. I think I was in my early/mid twenties. Examples: how other people saw me, my image, my superficial appearance, the future, my difficult longing to be loyal (to people, beliefs, institutions) in ways that weren't bringing energy back to my life.

It's not like the habits I'd built worrying or caring about those things went away overnight, but they did very rapidly stop having top priority in how I directed my energy. That brought immediate and sustained relief.

I was instead reminded of my own capacity to appreciate simple aspects of life, stuff I'd come to take for granted. Suddenly I remembered that I could let go of all that stuff and that there was this whole ground of life under my feet and all around me, that it was there to support me all along.

Here are some examples of things that felt profound, that I relearned or maybe even had a chance to learn deeply for the first time ever:

- Just being outside in the park with a couple of friends gave me so much peace and joy. We sat and found pleasure in the most basic stuff. We giggled. We had our minds blown.

- Woah... look at those ducks, they live in this park. This is where they live.

- Trees are alive, breathing, and likely aware of us on some level or another. Their bark seemed like an elephant's skin to me. Life is everywhere.

- The sun and earth are locked together. It's up there all the time, just buzzing, and its energy is amazing and abundant. Like holy shit it's powerful can you believe that thing is up there? Don't look at it!

- Check out that man jogging. He's just pulsing with life and vitality. I want to jog! It looks so satisfying and quenching to be alive like that!

- Everyone has their own reality. My reality is different from your reality and that's just fine! If someone tries to come at you with their reality, that's fine, it's their reality! I have my own reality and you have yours.

- People are deeply remarkable.

- I can make some pretty nice rhythms with just a rock and a wooden back-scratcher. I can pretend that the rock is my friend. That's fine to do and it's fun. I can refer to it as "my friend, the rock!" and introduce it to my human friends, and this will be plenty of fun and is perfectly acceptable. No shame, just a little silliness that's all.

- At this time I'd made a habit of looking at my face in the mirror to check on different blemishes or see how I "looked". After my little mushroom journey, I remember looking at myself in the mirror and seeing through all my scars of age and my blemishes, looking into my own eyes and seeing myself, a living being with emotions and spirit and needs and vitality. It felt so good to just acknowledge my own basic being on a simple level. Maybe this moment could serve as a metaphor for the rest of the experience.

I didn't have any "negative" experiences except for one moment where I saw that there was some stuff inside of me that felt pretty shadowy, stuff that I could get stuck in if I focused on it. I decided not to focus on it and that was that.

But my intuition is that if I ever did eat mushrooms again and did have a "bad trip", it would most likely feel something like an intense grieving, realizing and processing difficult stuff I've accumulated over the course of my life and remembering who and what I care about.

Wow. That sounds pretty life changing. I'd love to try it but I'm afraid of the long term effects of a bad trip

That makes a lot of sense! Take your time and don't force yourself to try anything you don't feel comfortable with.

One thing I'll mention is that I waited a while before actually eating the mushrooms. I decided I was open to it a year or so before actually trying them out. It was important to me that I really felt ready and had a good environment, that the time was right, etc. I took the mushrooms with a couple of trusted friends who I felt comfortable with. We went to a big, beautiful park on a warm late summer day. There were some people out but not too many. Two of us decided to keep our phones in airplane mode. That was a very good move. Our third friend didn't put his phone in airplane mode and eventually had kind of a funny experience because he went off and met up with someone else like you might on a regular day when you haven't just eaten mushrooms, which opened him up to all kinds of different people and energies he hadn't anticipated or prepared for.

It's good to treat yourself a little bit like you would a little kid. Set up a safe environment that feels comfortable to explore, and buffer yourself from unpredictable external stimuli or people, e.g. news media or people whose energy might stimulate fear. It can be nice to have a kind, fun person as a guide, someone you trust and can enjoy time with.

I took a moderate dose. It wasn't a microdose, but nothing huge. I asked the person who gave me the mushrooms to help with this, since he had an idea of how strong they were.

If I were starting from scratch, I might consider microdosing first just to get a feel for what's possible, and to understand that it's possible to have a safe, nourishing experience.

Also: if you're worried the aftermath of a bad experience, you might consider building trust with a psychotherapist (I personally enjoy integral psychotherapy!) for a few months beforehand so that you'd have someone to process with if it did go the difficult route and you needed help integrating.

Does it remind you of who you are on a personal level, i.e. core values, aspirations, and what makes you happy? Or does it just remind you of your humanity, thus that you're connected to billions of other people through that alone?

Lower doses are more about the former, lots of introspection and viewing my life from an altered state.

Higher doses are all about the latter, a lot more ego death and huge weighty difficult to describe type emotions.

it can remind you of both, but mainly the first. I've read that during the peak of tripping LSD(assuming that something similar happens with mushrooms) your neurons and their patterns weaken, before being 'restarted' and forming even stronger bonds than before.

For me, more the latter.

i have experienced both depression and anxiety at different times in my life, and have just learned about psilocybin a few weeks ago. Though I've found my own peace (mostly) nearly two decades ago, I'm still determined to get to the bottom of this psilocybin thing!

Can you expand on what you mean by that? What did it mean for you to be more yourself?

Imagine that you are suddenly in a vacuum where social constructs do not exist, that you have no ego and that you feel connected to everything and at peace with the world. Who would that person be? For many people, it would be a new person.

It's a simplified explanation, but you get the gist of it.

I shared some more details in a different reply!

If interested in this topic, read “How to Change Your Mind” by Michael Pollan.

Or the classic Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley. More of a long essay and available free!


Also see Huxley's Island[1], his model of a utopia, where psychedelics are used for initiation. Huxley himself considered it his greatest work.

[1] - https://doorofperception.com/wp-content/uploads/Aldous_Huxle...

An incredible book. Changed my life.

That's not so surprising, given, that psilocybin dissolves ego almost completely even at standard recreational dosage.

We usually associate ourselves with ego and death is tightly linked with losing of ourselves.

But after you experience ego death once, you quickly realize that you're no longer afraid of death because there are no one who dies.

It certainly does not do this for everyone.

Some people's brains are very good at putting up barriers - it can't stop the hallucinations. It's hard to describe, but the brain can put up barriers. You can feel your mind cycling through stories - books you've read, TV shows and movies you've watched - to keep itself in control.

My "cycle" was like opening drawers and then closing them. The drawers were full of my own stories. Closing the drawers felt like me being unwilling to venture into the territory of the stories again.

What are the legalities surrounding it? TX of all places has legalized thc free hemp agriculture. Shrooms seem to be the next wave of legalization an in some ways it seems like it is already partly legal. Spores at least are legal.

> Shrooms seem to be the next wave of legalization an in some ways it seems like it is already partly legal.

Weirdly, fresh shrooms were legal in the UK right up to 2005, when they were put in the same category as heroin and cocaine. I remember walking past shops openly advertising them. (Peyote cactuses too, which according to Wikipedia are still legal.)

How is the legalization of a plant that explicitly cannot be used as a recreational drug related to the legalization of a mushroom which can be?

The cbd from hemp is used medicinally as are these shrooms. The recreational use is a complicating factor, but medicinal thc use paved the way fo recreational legality as well. Seeing a state as conservative as TX taking even a tiny step in that direction is surprising. I'm not sure how I feel about it all. Alcohol use is up, THC legalized, nictone use is down. We are legalizing and using soma, things that make us lazy, content and compliant. Shrooms may or may not fall into that category. It might make people "woke".

Your last statement does not make sense.

If your identity doesn't exist, there is nobody to die. It's one of those things that mostly makes sense if you've experienced it. For the record I wouldn't recommend it. Premature annihilation of ego can lead to shunyatta poisoning, or emptiness poisoning. The ego causes issues for sure, but if you kill it before you cultivate a deep understanding of compassion you can easily become a genuine villain.

I mean. I get the ego death thing when I’m mushed out. The phrasing of your statement didn’t quite make sense. I’ve done boomers more times than I can count. I prefer acid. Less introspection.

I understood it.

"Ego death" is the removal of a sense of self as distinct entity.

Since the self no longer exists as a distinct entity, and since we regard death as the end of self, it becomes impossible to be afraid of death as death is no longer relevant.

The recent documentary Fantastic Fungi [1] covers psilocybin patients as well (alongside other fun fungi facts), worth a watch, IMHO.

[1] https://fantasticfungi.com/

The doses: - low dose (1 or 3 mg/70 kg) vs. a high dose (22 or 30 mg/70 kg)

Also they excluded people using benzodiazepines, SSRIs and MAOIs. I've taken mushrooms while on SSRIs and the trip is usually severely dampened.

> excluded ... SSRIs

Well, crap. I imagine it will be a few more years yet before I'm able to take a tiny dose. I'm a week in to taking Lexapro on top of Cymbalta, which I've been taking for over a year, and I'm hoping I can get some good results. Or at least even things out enough that I can tackle things enough to feel a little better and less anxiety.

In my experience the hallucinogenic effects are diminished but for me at least I still get a nice feeling of calm and well being. Usually the visuals are limited to a "shimmery" effect on clouds and trees, sometimes with some color but very mellow.

This is not medical advice. There are cases of serotonin syndrome from the combination of SSRIs and mushrooms. Use caution.

Thank you. Especially for mentioning serotonin syndrome. I've had supposed pain specialist doctors give me a half-dozen serotonin-affecting drugs, and then get aggrieved and hurt when I ask about serotonin syndrome. I've had something approaching it one night, and it was a terrible experience that I never, ever want to repeat.

So was it a high dose they were given? and is that pure psilocybin?

> dose of synthetic psilocybin

For those suffering from similar problems and want to stay legal while giving this a try, you can buy fresh truffles in the Netherlands and do it yourself. For the first trip, it’s very recommended that you get a tripsitter. If you want to try microdosing, it’s not necessary although it’s more of a long-term thing so travelling to NL for that might not be very useful. There are other ways to do this obviously.

The book by Michael Pollan, already suggested here, is a must read if you want to convince yourself and give it a try.

I can also recommend r/microdosing and r/psychonauts.

My experience after getting really high on cbd is I see two completely infinite worlds.

One the universe which is ever expanding and one mind where number of connection make it as big and complex as universe.

I never noticed this fact until I was high that all the universe complexity exist in our own mind. It has infinitely many layers.

That is one heck of an atypical CBD experience! Sounds more like 5-MEO-DMT territory. You’re doing something right man.

Incredible medicinal substance from nature. Not for everyone, like all medicines, but for those who it is suitable for, what a game changer. Have had some of the most profound life changing realizations of my life while on psilocybin.

As a reminder like all medicines and psychotherapy, they really should be done with and through a trained professional than on your own.

For someone with psychological trauma in his/her past, is it worth the risk of messing with one’s head?

I’m thinking about something like visiting a resort-like place (recommended here; forgot its name) where they have experienced ”mediators” that help you, and actual doctors.

There are conflicting reports about this. Some people with latent mental illnesses can have them triggered by psychedelics. But there are plenty of people who anecdotally report being able to deal with past trauma through them.

It's impossible to predict how you'd react, but it sounds like you're looking in the right direction. Find a safe, professional place, and start small. You definitely don't want to start with a high dosage.

This argument has never set well with me. It seems to be a case of affirming the consequent: if you have latent mental illness, then psychedelics can manifest it, therefore, if psychedelics trigger a mental health crisis, it must be because of latent mental illness.

I think it's quite possible, likely even, that psychedelics occasionally trigger mental health crises, sometimes long-lasting ones, in individuals who would not otherwise have experienced them.

They're also quite valuable, and that needs to be weighed against the risk. Having guidance and starting small, is good advice.

I definitely recommend finding somebody who will at least sit with you, better yet, find a guide. Also, in my experience, therapeutic MDMA was more useful at getting to and releasing past trauma than psilocybin. The guides are all underground in USA due to what were largely racist and fear-based laws that were enacted in the 70s and 80s.

^ this. MDMA is kind of like a psychedelic, but it's more of an emotional psychedelic. The first time I tried it, I thought "wow this would be an incredible tool for therapy". But with MDMA it's critical to go to a reputable source, do not buy it through an illicit trade (ecstasy).

edit: some other advice for MDMA. Do it with someone you trust, preferably someone who has done it before, don't do it in public, and make sure you don't have access to phones or any other means to contact people.

Right. And don't make any life changing decisions for at least six weeks afterward.

In fact, in the early 70's, it WAS used successfully as a tool for couples therapy.

MDMA has been used successfully to treat severe, treatment-resistant PTSD.[1]

This was done under the guidance of experienced, trained therapists, with therapy done before, during, and after the session.

[1] - https://maps.org/research/mdma

For those of you wanting to pick or grow your own mushrooms, I suggest watching Identifying North American Psilocybin Species by Alan Rockefeller.[1] He's immensely knowledgeable on this subject, and covers some interesting legal issues as well.

Also, keep an eye out for upcoming legislation on legalizing psilocybin and/or mushrooms in your local area. Vote and put pressure on your politicians to make this happen, if you believe it should.

To have the best, most constructive experience, I'd strongly recommend reading The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide by James Fadiman.[2]

No brief summary can do this book or the subject of having a good trip justice, but at the very least be sure to have an experienced person you like and trust sit with you during the entire time you're on the substance, and try to carefully prepare for the experience and don't just do it on a whim at a party or a concert. Though such settings could work out, you will maximize your chance of having a good experience by choosing a safe, quiet space, where you won't be disturbed.

Be sure you don't have any other responsibilities for the day of the trip and perhaps the day after as well. Eat lightly the day before and day of the trip. Some people like to fast a bit, though make sure to stay hydrated. Have a clear, specific intention for the trip, and try to take something you've learned from the trip and make it a concrete part of your life afterwards. Depending on what you want to get out of the experience, you might also want to have some pictures of people you care about and maybe a rose to look at near the peak of the trip. There's a lot more to be said about this, and I'd really recommend you read the guide for more. The Secret Chief Revealed, about an underground psychedelic therapist, is another great resource.[3]

If it is going to be your first time, make it really special. You'll never have a first time with this substance again, and you really don't want to squander the opportunity. Some people spend a lot of time later in life chasing the magic of that first time, and it's never the same.

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcL-7u80kjs

[2] - https://www.amazon.com/Psychedelic-Explorers-Guide-Therapeut...

[3] - https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Chief-Conversations-Undergroun...

If you pick wild mushrooms be careful. A lot of people eat these by mistake and die. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galerina_marginata

is there a way to invest in psilocybin?

For-profit conference people that made money running cannabis conferences have started running psychedelic investment conferences but I have been told by those on the circuit that they are bullshit money grabs and that you should not attend. Two years from now they'll probably be real and still run by the same bullshit artists as today.

You could invest in quasi-legal grow ops in areas where mushrooms have been mostly decriminalized, like Oakland, California. You could invest in the largest marijuana companies that are the most likely to pivot to other plant medicines.

But, otherwise, basically, no, there is no reasonable way to invest in psychedelic mushrooms right now. Possibly buying domain names.

Something I did predicting the future of this industry was buy buylsd.com 5 years ago for $1500 (not operating now obviously until that's legal but another ten years would be a long time, I think). www.buymushrooms.com will similarly go up enormously in value in a future with widely legal drugs, at least as long as that is still a future with .com type in traffic and prioritized search engine rankings. I don't own buymushrooms.com but that would probably be a great investment at $10k, questionable at over $100k.

If you are an accredited investor you could follow companies like Orthogonal - https://www.orthogonalthinker.com It doesn't seem like you can easily invest right now.

Sounds like you have to invest in their entire portfolio to get exposure to their nascent psilocybin research.

contribute to MAPS

That's a donation rather than an investment but they might take money for their B-corp wholly owned subsidiaries at some points. Donating money to MAPS and getting on their conference and private dinner circuit as a big money person is for better or worse the way to eventually gain access to those kinds of deals, but I know they've been wining and dining enough billionaires at this point that they don't really need the money and other non-profits in the space are better opportunities.

I'll likely be starting some kind of non-profit in the space with Thomas Ray within the next year. Check out his research:

https://www.transformpress.com/breadth-and-depth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygDULQ9AY7c https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxrAUIIbkeM

fourstar 31 days ago [flagged]

Ah. Here we go. The tech vultures wanting to get their hands on everything and commercialize it.

"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."


Or, framing it in another light, maybe they want to support something they have tried and believe in.

You know you're on ycombinator, right? It seems perfectly natural to want to commercialize something people want.

Sure maybe today’s HN. Not the one I joined 12 years ago. When there were actual hackers.

HN was Startup News before it was Hacker News. It has always had a strong entrepreneurial orientation.

nicehat 30 days ago [flagged]


There sure has been a shift though. You'd be just the guy to shed some light on these changes.

For example, when did flagged comments become unreadable, rather than simply folded up by default? I'd like to see the logic on that one, if any was given at all.

Was there an algorithm change that lets popular stories under active discussion on touchy subjects get disappeared with a few flags, or was that here from the start too?

Are there any logs you can point me to that would reveal the scale of removed stories over time?

It's hard to know what specifically you're referring to, but to the extent that I understand your questions, the answer is that things have worked that way for many years, certainly before I started moderating in 2012.

There was no need to post all those sibling comments; I didn't reply sooner because I simply hadn't seen this yet. That's one reason why the site guidelines ask you to email hn@ycombinator.com instead of posting like this in the threads.


nicehat 30 days ago [flagged]

If this is not the appropriate channel to ask these questions, could you :do your job: and point me to it?

nicehat 30 days ago [flagged]

Dang do these questions bother you for some reason? If the answers aren't damning why avoid answering?

nicehat 30 days ago [flagged]

Not rhetorical questions above. Come on bud, make some kind of answer, or point me to where the answers are.

Yep, the worst thing about dying is the process, so this is a pretty big win for those that works

I'm really skeptical of studies like this. There's a lot of motivated reasoning in proving the medical benefits of recreational drugs to aid in legalization; medical marijuana was one such example. And usually in threads like this it's almost always users coming up with glowing conversion stories of how LSD changed their life.

I don't like how HN has blind spots like these culturally. Just how Ritalin was used for ADHD in children and the worries of overdiagnosis should really make people skeptical about this, if just to make you think what the side effects or problems were from something that is a useful cure.

Can you link me to a study that doesn't have a motivated reason for proving something behind it?

Example #4,990,275 of an effective treatment denied to Americans, because we bizarrely allow a police agency (DEA) to set national medical policy.

Although it's happening slowly, this is clearly in the process of changing.

Are they medically allowed anywhere?

medically I don't know but in the Netherlands you can buy magic truffles in Smartshops the same way you can buy weed in coffeeshops.

How do you guys all seem to have these experiences? I'm in Europe and would not have a clue how to test this.

There is a clear survivor basis in this study...

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