Psilocybin mushrooms are fungi that contain the psychoactive compound psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychedelic compound capable of producing powerful hallucinations and mystical-type experiences, along with other effects.
Psilocybin is more commonly known as “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms.” More than 180 species of mushrooms contain psilocybin or its derivative psilocin, and the fungi have a long history of use in Mesoamerican spiritual and religious rituals. They’re also one of the most popular and commonly used psychedelics in the U.S. and Europe.
Psilocybin mushrooms are more than just a drug and sacrament, however. They’ve been used in therapeutic settings to treat a variety of ailments and disorders including cluster headaches, obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and addiction, and a recent resurgence in research into psilocybin’s therapeutic effects is showing promising results.
The Stoned Ape Hypothesis by Terrence McKenna posited that psilocybin caused the primitive brain’s information-processing capabilities to rapidly reorganize, which in turn kick-started the rapid evolution of cognition that led to the early art, language, and technology written in Homo sapiens’ archeological record.