Science is finally getting around to actively researching something that medicine people have always known; mushrooms are good for you. But unfortunately, although psychedelic mushrooms have been around forever, their medicinal and therapeutic effects haven't been cemented by researchers- yet.
Researchers are exploring ways to harness the therapeutic potential of muscimol for its anti-inflammatory, mental health, and pain relief effects.
What is Muscimol?
Muscimol is one of the main psychoactive components of the Amanita muscaria mushroom. It's classified as a drug because of its effects on the human body. However, scientists and researchers have already found that it has medicinal effects that you can harness for therapies.
Amanita muscaria, a red-capped mushroom with white spots, can be found in deep forests. It’s the same mushroom you might see in Alice in Wonderland or Super Mario Bros. because of its distinctive look. This mushroom is packed full of ibotenic acid, which converts into muscimol during the drying process of the mushroom.
How Does Muscimol Work?
First, A Biology Lesson
If your eyes didn't glaze over on hearing that there was a lesson, listen up because this will help you understand how this drug can help therapeutically. In biochemistry, a receptor is a chemical structure that receives and transforms energy before sending it to biological systems. So it basically receives data in the form of energy, translates it into something your body can understand, and sends it along where it needs to be.
Muscimol has been shown to react specifically with the GABAA receptors. GABAA receptors interact with your central nervous system, specifically with inhibitory signaling. This is the receptor your anesthesiologist is targeting before surgery. By introducing certain energy to that receptor, they can trigger it to inhibit or shut down your central nervous system, so you sleep through the surgery.
Your central nervous system controls most functions in your body, from your awareness and movement to your thinking and all five senses. It is a ridiculously important system and adding effects to that receptor guarantees that you will experience the system differently.
Muscimol and the GABAA Receptor
Muscimol reacts with the GABAA receptors. The chemical structure takes the muscimol inside and converts its energy to shoot along to the central nervous system. All this science mumbo-jumbo and biochemistry is just to say that introducing muscimol to your system is going to have widespread effects on all your senses, your way of thinking, and pretty much every aspect of your experience in your body.
What Are the Effects of Muscimol?
Muscimol affects your central nervous system.
Muscimol has hallucinogenic properties, so it triggers non-ordinary states of consciousness, applying that non-ordinary state of consciousness to every aspect of your central nervous system.
Effects of muscimol can include:
• Euphoria and Tranquility
• Altered Sense of Hearing, Taste, Smell, Sight, And Touch
• Dream-Like State of Mind
• Vivid Dreams
How Can Muscimol Be Used Therapeutically?
Muscimol is a GABAA receptor agonist. These types of molecules are being increasingly researched for their positive effects on various mental health issues, from sleep and insomnia to addiction and pain disorders.
Psychedelic medicinal companies are constantly doing more research into how compounds like muscimol can make a difference in people’s health. Researchers are looking into muscimol's efficacy in treating:
• Muscular Pain
• Insomnia and Other Sleep Disorders
Because of muscimol’s unique interaction with the GABAA receptors, there’s a lot of hope in the scientific community that muscimol can be used for even more therapies than have been found. This has led to a staggering amount of research being done right now on the subject.
Harnessing The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Muscimol
Why is Inflammation Bad?
Inflammation isn't bad; it's usually your body's response to trauma or illness. Think of when you run your shin into a table, it gets all red and swollen. That's your body inflaming the site by sending more blood there. Your blood carries all the nutrients and healing compounds needed to start healing the bump and working away at the bruise that will inevitably form.
However, when inflammation runs rampant, it's a problem. For instance, high levels of inflammation in the brain (created by way too much cortisol) have been linked to multiple mental illnesses, from depression to anxiety. Certain studies have even suggested that too much inflammation can start to dissolve tissue like your brain is on fire.
Add to that the threat from inflammation-based illnesses, such as those brought on by auto-immune disorders, or the role that inflammation plays in sepsis, and inflammation can literally set your brain on fire, turn your body against itself, or make your body start decaying while still alive like a zombie.
How Muscimol Might Help
Although not necessarily related to the psychedelic effects, muscimol is being researched for anti-inflammatory properties. Although not yet in human trials, researchers have been looking into how the application of muscimol can help curb inflammatory responses in mice with sepsis. By curbing the inflammation in their little bodies, the study looks to loosen the hold of sepsis. They've had promising results, showing that muscimol inhibits the anti-inflammatory response and even gives the mice a better chance of surviving sepsis.
Using Fairy Tale Mushrooms to Feel Better
Amanita muscaria looks like it's straight out of the pages of Alice in Wonderland, but it's being researched for more than just its ability to take you to a different plane. With promising research being done into how it can affect inflammatory responses, sleep disorders, and many mental illnesses, Amanita muscaria and the muscimol it creates have the potential to be a good trip for your mind and body.