Science & Health

Mushrooms and OCD

In conjunction with a heightened interest in psychedelics, 2023 also saw that 1 in 40 adults live daily with the symptoms of OCD. With OCD affecting nearly 3 times as many women as men, and women making up an ever-growing area of psychedelic users; the bridge between using psychedelics for relief of mental health concerns may be shorter than we think.

Min read
Lydia Mcclendon
November 14, 2023

In 2023 alone, more than 5.5 million adults have utilized psychedelic medicine,  whether through LSD, mushrooms, or other entheogenic substances. In conjunction with a heightened interest in psychedelics, 2023 also saw that 1 in 40 adults live daily with the symptoms of OCD. With OCD affecting nearly 3 times as many women as men, and women making up an ever-growing area of psychedelic users; the bridge between using psychedelics for relief of mental health concerns may be shorter than we think. 

Psychedelic microdosing has become a hot topic for everyone from CEOs to stay-at-home moms who are finding focus, flow, and joy through microdosing protocols. (A is a schedule for both taking psychedelics and allowing time to reset between doses.) While most report benefits in productivity, there are just as many using this opportunity to take interest in the fun side of life again. Whatever your motivations may be for beginning a microdosing routine, there’s no wrong answer to exploring psychedelics; as long as you are safe, be mindful of your Set, Setting, and Source, as well as consider a coach or community for accountability, you should be able to start your journey of microdosing! 

The Focus on Psychedelic Mushrooms and OCD 

While the topics of alcoholism, anxiety, PTSD, and depression are at the front of the conversation, OCD is another mental health condition with co-morbidity symptoms across all of these other areas. Psychedelic mushrooms have been shown in recent studies to have a positive impact on rewiring the brain to develop new connections. So, why can’t that apply to other conditions? While more studies are sure to come up in the new year and beyond, we know from current research that microdosing and psychedelics can be powerful tools to handle your mental health better.

As psychedelics continue to enter the mainstream we hope to see further development in studies for a variety of conditions, and how microdosing and mushrooms can play an important part of resetting our systems so we can live better lives. 

The History of Psychedelic Use 

Psychedelics have a rich and diverse history of use dating back thousands of years. Various  cultures have used substances like psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, and ayahuasca in religious, spiritual, and healing ceremonies.  In the modern Western context, psychedelics gained popularity in the mid-20th century, particularly in the 1960s counterculture movement. However, due to legal and regulatory restrictions, research into their effects and mechanisms was limited for several decades.

How Psychedelics Impact the Brain’s Serotonin Receptors

One of the key aspects of how psychedelics work in the brain is their interaction with serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in mood regulation, and it's involved in processes like mood, cognition, and perception. Psychedelics, such as LSD and psilocybin, closely resemble serotonin molecules, allowing them to bind to certain serotonin receptors, notably the 5-HT2A receptor. Research, like a study published in the journal Cell Reports in 2016, "LSD and the Serotonergic System," has demonstrated the importance of these receptors in mediating the effects of psychedelics.

Psychedelics and the Default Mode Network (DMN)

The Default Mode Network is a network of brain regions that are active when the mind is at rest and not focused on the outside world. Psychedelics have the ability to disrupt the normal functioning of the DMN. This disruption can lead to a variety of perceptual and cognitive changes experienced during a psychedelic trip. A study published in the journal PNAS in 2012, "The entropic brain: a theory of conscious states informed by neuroimaging research with psychedelic drugs," explores the concept of the DMN's role in altered states of consciousness.

The Effects of Psychedelics on Perception and Cognition

It's worth noting that recent research, particularly the revival of psychedelic studies, has shed new light on the therapeutic potential of psychedelics in the treatment of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The field of psychedelic science is rapidly evolving, and ongoing research is continually deepening our understanding of how these substances work in the brain and how they can be used to promote well-being and mental health.

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Psychedelic Coaching and its Impact on OCD and Mental Health 

What is Psychedelic Coaching? 

Psychedelic coaching is a form of guidance and support for individuals who are using psychedelics, like psilocybin or LSD, as part of their therapeutic journey. It involves working with trained coaches or therapists who provide assistance in preparing for, navigating, and integrating psychedelic experiences.

Psychedelic therapy involves the supervised use of psychedelics to address mental health issues, excessive drinking, and an emerging myriad of other conditions.. This approach has gained attention due to its potential in treating conditions like OCD and it’s focus not just on the how but also the why behind it all. Psychedelic Therapy can be impactful in helping you find tools for developing healthier habits for the long term.  Psychedelic coaching provides individualized support tailored to each person's unique needs and goals. This personalization is vital in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of the psychedelic experience.  

The ethical aspects of psychedelic coaching are of paramount importance. Ensuring the safety, consent, and well-being of participants is a priority. Guidelines and ethical principles, as discussed in publications like "Ethical considerations for psychedelics research and treatment in psychiatry" in The Lancet Psychiatry in 2020, help shape responsible and ethical practices within the field of psychedelic therapy.

Potential Benefits and Risks of Microdosing Psychedelic Mushrooms for OCD 

While not all medicines are created equal, mushrooms are a natural wonder that can help create new pathways in our brains and develop stronger connections. For those living with OCD that can mean microdosing and mushrooms could provide much needed relief in resetting the pathways that lead to obsessive thoughts. 

Based on anecdotal research, a community of people are beginning to believe that psychedelic mushrooms may have the following potential benefits for those suffering from OCD. 

1. Reduction in obsessive thoughts 

Microdosing psychedelic mushrooms, such as psilocybin, has been suggested as a potential approach for reducing obsessive thoughts in individuals with OCD. Although there is a lack of specific studies on microdosing for OCD, research on psilocybin's potential for reducing rumination and obsessive thinking, as seen in "Psilocybin with psychological support for treatment-resistant depression: six-month follow-up" in Psychopharmacology in 2018, provides a foundation for exploring this avenue.

2. Enhanced emotional regulation 

Microdosing may also offer benefits in terms of emotional regulation. By promoting feelings of well-being and reducing anxiety, microdosing could help individuals with OCD manage their emotions more effectively. However, empirical research directly linking microdosing to emotional regulation in the context of OCD is limited and requires further investigation.

One of the primary risks associated with microdosing for OCD is the lack of long-term scientific research on its safety and effectiveness. While anecdotal reports are positive, more rigorous studies are needed to establish the long-term consequences and risks associated with microdosing, particularly for individuals with OCD.

People's responses to microdosing can vary significantly. What works well for one person may not be effective for another. Understanding these individual variations and the factors that influence them is crucial.

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The Future of Psychedelic Therapy for OCD 

Research into the potential benefits of psychedelics for OCD is indeed ongoing. There's growing interest in substances like psilocybin, MDMA, and LSD, and their possible therapeutic effects. Clinical trials are exploring how these substances might help alleviate the symptoms of OCD. These studies are crucial for understanding the safety and efficacy of these treatments.

The regulatory landscape around psychedelics is shifting in some places. For example, in the United States, some cities have decriminalized certain psychedelics, and the FDA has granted "breakthrough therapy" status for psilocybin in treating depression. However, there's still a long way to go, and navigating these legal hurdles is complex. Ensuring patient safety and responsible use is essential.

Challenges and Opportunities for Psychedelics and OCD

Psychedelics offer an alternative approach to traditional treatments, potentially providing rapid relief from OCD symptoms. The opportunity lies in harnessing this potential while addressing the challenges. The landscape of mental health treatment is evolving, and psychedelics are a part of that evolution. Traditional treatments like therapy and medication will remain essential, but the integration of psychedelic therapy could offer new, effective options for those who haven't found relief with existing methods. It's exciting to see mental health care evolving to encompass a more holistic approach.

It's clear that there's a growing interest in this area, and research is gradually uncovering the potential benefits. The relationship between psychedelic mushrooms and OCD is a topic worth watching. While we don't have all the answers yet, the potential is promising. It's essential to keep a close eye on the emerging research to understand how these substances might fit into the treatment of OCD. Ethical and transparent research practices will be essential in establishing psychedelic therapy as a legitimate mental health treatment.

At Retreat, we take our role in promoting open and informed conversations about mental health and psychedelics seriously. Whether you are a part of our community, have found us on social media, or have explored our guide and course;  we know that it takes all of us to continue to push psychedelics to the forefront for mental health reform. Reducing stigma, educating the public, and fostering a well-informed, safe, and supportive environment is a key part of our mission at Retreat. For those looking for deeper connections in real life to help handle mental health better, we've got IRL retreats opening now. The potential benefits of these substances for those struggling with OCD and other mental health conditions is an exciting frontier in mental health care that has the potential to transform lives.

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About the Author

Lydia Mcclendon

Lydia Mcclendon is a freelance writer and editor within the world of psychedelics, plant medicine, parenthood and the intersection of working in marketing for a taboo industry. She has written for a wide variety of publications, worked within editorial coordination, and loves the creativity and chaos that creative content brings.

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