Can Mushrooms Delay Genetic Aging & Improve Mental Health?



With so many new trends and a vast pool of information to draw from in the health and wellness industries, knowing where to begin to optimize our personal health sovereignty can be challenging. With the sweeping global craze that the coronavirus pandemic has caused over the past 3 years, more and more people are investigating what options they have for improving their overall health and immunity. While traditional avenues and Western medicine remain a pillar of our modern health systems, countless individuals and local communities have begun exploring more alternative and natural techniques that can be utilized daily or on an as-needed basis for continued improvement in wellbeing. A holistic view of health ties in the importance of mental, physical, and emotional well-being working in tandem with each other, and the recognition that any one of these factors being out of balance can disrupt our overall experience of life as human beings. The value of proper mental, emotional, and spiritual health has become increasingly important during this time in human history.


According to a study conducted in Italy by Laura Pazzagli and Johan Reutfors from 2015-2020, “antidepressant use was on average 20% higher in each month of 2020 when compared with the same month for the period 2015-2019, with an increase of more than 30% in the first four and the last two months of 2020.” While antidepressant medications may be helpful for some people, others find little to no improvement in their mental health and experience a variety of unpleasant side effects. This has led to increased research in one of the most exciting forefronts of alternative medicine, the therapeutic use of psychedelics and plant medicine for improved and long-lasting healing in mental and emotional health.

One recent study suggests that psilocybin, which is the naturally occurring hallucinogen found in some mushrooms, shows promise in delaying genetic aging and improving mental health. The study’s hypothesis aimed to investigate the relationship between telomeres and “the beneficial neuropsychopharmacological effects of psilocybin on genetic aging.” In other words, the researcher studied the scientific action of psilocybin on the central nervous system and the beneficial effects it has on the mind and human behavior. For a bit more background, telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that affect how rapidly cells age. They are combinations of DNA and protein that protect the ends of chromosomes and help them remain stable. As the telomeres become shorter and their structural integrity weakens, the cells age and die quicker. “It has been proposed that telomeres function as a “psychobiomarker” as they are partially regulated by psychological factors. In essence, a healthy lifestyle and a positive outlook on life are generally associated with longer telomeres, while vice versa, an unhealthy lifestyle and a negative/pessimistic mindset are associated with shorter telomeres.”


Within the study’s abstract author Christopher B. Germann cites a myriad of sources providing evidence of what influences telomeres. “There are numerous factors that influence telomere attrition, for instance, maternal genetic predispositions, in utero stress levels, quality of diet and availability of certain fatty acids, alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, sleep patterns, a variety of social/interpersonal variables, fitness, and physical exercise, exposure to environmental toxins such as traffic pollution, and various chemical compounds found in plastics.” The study also draws on the beneficial effects of meditative states of consciousness and how the therapeutic use of psilocybin can induce states of consciousness that are “neurophysiologically and phenomenologically significantly congruent with meditative states.” The direct inference here is that taking magic mushrooms can create the same type of brain activity that’s reached when one is in a deeply meditative state of mind.

Taking this information into account and considering a variety of subjective data from firsthand accounts and interviews, many individuals have found countless benefits from intentional meditative practices. Science and a large body of studies continue to establish that deep and rapid healing can occur at the quantum level from meditation. “Quantum meditation (advanced Saral meditation) works at a conscious level far beyond the molecules or atoms regressing difficult disease processes with less and fewer sufferings. Quantum is a million times smaller than an atom, and like a photon, is a wave of energy, an invisible vibration waiting to take physical form out of consciousness.” Within the main study referenced in this article “The Psilocybin – Telomere Hypothesis”, the primary investigator, Christopher B. Germann, also speculates on prior research demonstrating that “a single dose of psilocybin can cause life-changing transformative experiences (≈ 70% of healthy volunteers rate their experience with psilocybin amongst the five personally most meaningful lifetime events, viz., ranked next to giving birth to a child or losing a loved one). They postulate that these profound psychological events leave quantifiable marks at the molecular genetic/epigenetic level. Epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. Studies have shown repeatedly that intentionally thinking about something or someone can cause your brain to release neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that allow it to communicate with parts of itself and your nervous system. Neurotransmitters control virtually all a body's functions, from hormones to digestion to feeling happy, sad, or stressed.


What we think and feel truly have great influence over our lives, which is why so much research is being conducted into the studies of epigenetics, mindfulness, and human consciousness. “Epigenetics is demonstrated to play an instrumental role in human consciousness throughout the lifespan and over the course of multiple generations.” In the main study referenced in this article, the researcher states that “converging evidence indicates that telomeres are affected by psychological conditions such as chronic stress, depression, repetitive negative thought patterns, chronic rumination, and self-referential mind wandering.” Some of the literature referenced in their work provides strong evidence of the following pattern: “Positive psychological states are correlated with longer telomeres, whereas depression, chronic stress, and anxiety display a negative correlation.” The study aimed to investigate the primary hypothesis that was based on how psychological conditions affect telomeres and “that the therapeutic utilization of psilocybin exhibits significant beneficial effects on various aspects of psychological health.” The study was published in 2020 and concluded that “multiple pathways may be involved in the effects of psilocybin on telomeres” and that “future studies that integrate phenomenological (the study of phenomena) aspects of "higher states of consciousness" with quantitative assessment methods have significant potential to advance and deepen our understanding of the interactions between psychological, neuronal, and (epi)genetic processes.”

In closing, there is a great deal of research on the horizon indicating that psilocybin is an incredibly healing compound for a wide variety of ailments ranging from treatments for depression and anxiety to even potentially turning back the genetic clock and helping us live more youthful vital lives. While we may not have all the answers, we can continue to nurture our minds, bodies, and spirits in ways that the Earth naturally provides us with. While life is filled with ups and downs, there is great hope for the future of humanity, and we can continually find gratitude for the sheer marvel that it is to be alive and here on Earth at this time in history.

“When we look within ourselves with psilocybin, we discover that we do not have to look outward toward the futile promise of life that circles distant stars in order to still our cosmic loneliness. We should look within, the paths of the heart lead to nearby universes full of life and affection for humanity.”

Terrence McKenna (*1946;†2000)


 

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*All NANO articles aim to provide well-established scientific information paired with up-and-coming research that can be used as a starting point for further exploration and in making empowered decisions to improve all aspects of your health and life. As always, we encourage you to continue along an enlightened path by doing your own research, thinking critically, and trusting your intuition.

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References

Atasoy, O. (2013, August 13). Your Thoughts Can Release Abilities Beyond Normal Limits. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/your-thoughts-can-release-abilities-beyond-normal-limits/

Aubert, G., & Lansdorp, P. M. (2008). Telomeres and Aging. Physiological Reviews, 88(2), 557–579. https://doi.org/10.1152/physrev.00026.2007

Dhar, H. (2009). Meditation and Quantum Healing. Semantic Scholar. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Meditation-and-Quantum-Healing-Dhar/584a99f826c712f9dfd9aee138a5eea789635f2c

Germann, C. B. (2020). The Psilocybin-Telomere Hypothesis: An empirically falsifiable prediction concerning the beneficial neuropsychopharmacological effects of psilocybin on genetic aging. Medical Hypotheses, 134, 109406. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2019.109406

Jiang, H., Ju, Z., & Rudolph, K. L. (2007). Telomere shortening and ageing. Zeitschrift Für Gerontologie Und Geriatrie, 40(5), 314–324. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00391-007-0480-0

Liester, M. B., & Sullivan, E. E. (2019). A review of epigenetics in human consciousness. Cogent Psychology, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.1080/23311908.2019.1668222

Pazzagli, L., Reutfors, J., Lucian, E., Zerial, G., Perulli, A., & Castelpietra, G. (2022). Increased antidepressant use during the COVID-19 pandemic: Findings from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, Italy, 2015–2020. Psychiatry Research, 315, 114704. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2022.114704

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