Australia's magic mushrooms collected for medical research (2024)

Australia's first legal collection of native "magic" mushrooms could provide medical options to treat severe depression, alcohol and drug addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the fear experienced at the end of terminally ill people's lives.

Key points:

  • This will be Australia's first legal collection of magic mushrooms
  • They will be studied for their psychoactive properties
  • The research could provide the foundation for tailored medical psychedelic treatments.

University of Queensland mycologist and evolutionary biologist Dr Alistair McTaggart has been given approval to collect and catalogue psilocybin mushrooms found growing in cow manure and leaf litter on damp forest floors after rain.

The federal government is investing a total of $15 million in grants to support Australian-led research into the use ofmushrooms, ecstasy and ketamine to combat illnesses such asPTSD, major depressive disorders, addiction and eating disorders.

"Psychedelic mushrooms are taking off, everyone's talking about them," Dr McTaggart said.

"In America the USDA [United States Department of Agriculture]has fast tracked psilocybin treatment.It's considered a breakthrough therapy," Dr McTaggart said.

"With COVID-19 right now, I think there's never been a better time to start looking for therapies for mental health."

Australia's magic mushrooms collected for medical research (1)

Trip into the unknown

Globally, 200 species of mushroom produce psilocybin —a natural psychoactive compound with hallucinogenic effects similar to LSD.

But little is known about the 20-30 species of psychedelicmushrooms in Australia, with Dr McTaggart's research to investigate whether they are native, edible, poisonousor adaptable for medicinal use.

Some, like the golden top mushroom, or Psilocybe cubensis —that is commonly found growing in cow pats —may originate from overseas.

Australia's magic mushrooms collected for medical research (2)

At The University of Queensland, the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation project will investigate the DNA of the mushrooms and their psychoactive properties.

Dr McTaggart is keen to tap into the knowledge of citizen scientists who photograph fungi and collaborate with researchers interested in cultivating promising genetic strains to tailor-make specific medical treatments.

In Australia, it is illegal to cultivate, possess, use or supply psychedelic mushrooms.

But, like medicinalmarijuana, Dr McTaggart saidthat wouldchange, in line with other countries.

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Psychedelic renaissance

Edith Cowan University's school of medical and health sciences psychologist, Dr Stephen Bright, hopes to conduct clinical trials of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in Western Australia for treatment resistant depression.

"The research that we're talking about here — in terms of understanding the native psilocybin species — could contribute to the international psychedelic science renaissance," Dr Bright said.

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In 1970, disgraced US president Richard Nixon's "war"on psychedelic drugs froze research into the therapeutic benefits of mushrooms.

Recent international trials at Johns Hopkins Centre for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research have revealed psilocybin's potential.

One treatment session with psychedelics is said to have achieved what years of psychotropic drugs and counselling hadnot been able to accomplish.

However, scientists also stress the risk of mistaking "magic"mushrooms for "deadly"mushrooms and warn that self-medicating hallucinogens for depression or anxiety could actually do people harm.

"It needs to occur in a clinical environment, where there are trained facilitators, psychologists, social workers [and]psychiatrists who are able to set up the right conditions because it can be challenging at times," Dr Bright said.

"With depression, it allows people to consider their core beliefs of who they are as a person, how they relate to other people and where they fit in the worldand those core beliefs are what's driving the depression."

Australia's magic mushrooms collected for medical research (5)

Dr Bright described psilocybin as a non-addictive drug that couldhelp treat addictions, explaining that people who use mushrooms on a frequent basis become tolerant quickly and do notget any effects from it any more.

"Psilocybin has almost a fail-safe built into it, to make it relatively safe as a drug — provided it's done within the right setting, given the extreme state of consciousness that it produces."

Doctor Tom May is the principal research scientist in mycology at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. Hehas compiled a catalogue of Australian fungi.

He said Dr McTaggart's genomic sequencing work would be important to be able to tell species apart.

"There has been a lot of interest in hallucinogens for many decades, but moving into a laboratory setting means that things can be tested and refined to really work out specific kinds of therapy using specific versions of the different compounds," he said.

Dr McTaggart will also test the hypotheses that the Australian native mushroom Psilocybe subaeruginosa has spread globally to become the most commonly used psilocybin in the medical world.

"This species, or a close relative, is now the foundation of patents and research in Europe and the United States," he said.

Posted, updated

Australia's magic mushrooms collected for medical research (2024)


Can mushrooms be used as medicine? ›

First peoples of North America used puffball mushrooms (Calvatia genus) as wound healers. Although mushrooms have long been used by various cultures, only recently has modern science rediscovered what the ancients knew long ago—that mushrooms can be deep reservoirs of powerful medicines.

Are mushrooms good for bipolar? ›

Psilocybin, the primary psychoactive component of psychedelic 'magic mushrooms', may have potential for treating depressive symptoms, and consequent applications for bipolar disorder (BD).

What psychedelic means? ›

1. : of, relating to, or being drugs (as LSD) capable of producing abnormal psychic effects (as hallucinations) and sometimes psychotic states. 2. : produced by or associated with the use of psychedelic drugs. a psychedelic experience.

Where is psychedelic research being done? ›

The Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research is leading the way in exploring innovative treatments using psilocybin.

What is the most medicinal mushroom? ›

Ganoderma lucidum (Curtis) P. Karst. Long known as the “mushroom of immortality”, Ganoderma lucidum, also known as ling zhi or reishi, is one of the most widely used medicinal mushrooms in the world today.

Which mushroom has anticancer property? ›

Shiitake mushrooms are native to East Asia. They are grown worldwide for their supposed health benefits. They are valued in some cultures as an anti cancer agent. The fresh and dried forms of the mushroom are commonly used in East Asian cooking.

How mushrooms are good for PTSD? ›

There is some evidence in animal studies to show that psilocybin, the psychedelic compound found in “magic mushrooms,” may act by stimulating nerve cell regrowth in parts of the brain responsible for emotion and memory.

Does eating mushrooms help mental health? ›

To date, studies have shown that psilocybin therapy is beneficial in relieving symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and other mental health disorders. Psilocybin has also shown effectiveness at easing fear and anxiety in people with terminal cancer.

What mushrooms are good for brain disease? ›

Lion's mane contains substances that may contribute to nerve growth. Some studies have suggested that taking lion's mane may boost thinking and memory processes. It may also help protect against Alzheimer's and other types of dementia .

What psychedelic drug is used for therapy? ›

Standard psychedelic therapy

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What is modern psychedelic? ›

Modern psychedelic rock is a genre with roots tracing back to the music and culture of the 1960s. Artistes might differ in execution, but the songs aim to recreate the perception-altering effects of hallucinogenic drugs like LSD.

What is the root of psychedelic? ›

The term 'psychedelic' is derived from the Greek words ψυχή (psyche, 'soul, mind') and δηλοῦν (deloun, 'to manifest'), hence the term 'mind manifesting'.

Who invented psychedelic? ›

Albert Hofmann (11 January 1906 – 29 April 2008) was a Swiss chemist known for being the first to synthesize, ingest, and learn of the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Hofmann's team also isolated, named and synthesized the principal psychedelic mushroom compounds psilocybin and psilocin.

What ended the psychedelic era? ›

By the end of the 1960s, the trend of exploring psychedelia in music was largely in retreat. LSD was declared illegal in the US and UK in 1966. The linking of the murders of Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca by The Manson Family to Beatles songs such as "Helter Skelter" contributed to an anti-hippie backlash.

How big will the psychedelic industry be? ›

The market for psychedelic substances is projected to grow from $2 billion in 2020 to $10.75 billion by 2027, a growth rate that may even outpace the legal US cannabis market. In the Table, we summarize the largest publicly traded psychedelic companies, all of which filed their initial public offerings in 2020 or 2021.

What is the pharmaceutical use of mushrooms? ›

Information on the ethnomedicinal uses of some mushrooms such as Pleurotus tuber-regium used for headache, stomach pain fever, cold, constipation; Lentinus squarullosus for mumps, heart diseases; Termitomyces microcarpus for gonorrhea; Calvatia cyathiformis for leucorrhea, barreness; Ganoderma lucidum for treating ...

Which mushroom is used to make medicine? ›

Medicinal mushrooms such as shiitake, maitake, and reishi have been found to have antitumor and immunostimulant properties. Men will probably reap health benefits simply from adding shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms—good sources of B vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants—to the diet.

How do you make medicine with mushrooms? ›

The Tincture Recipe
  1. Soak 1/2 of the mushrooms in 190 proof Everclear for 2 weeks, shaking regularly. ...
  2. Strain, retaining mushroom solids, and set aside liquid.
  3. Add unused 1/2 of mushrooms to the alcohol drained mushroom solids and soak in hot water (130-160 degrees) for 12 hours using a crockpot set to warm.
Dec 19, 2020

How do mushrooms help your body? ›

Mushrooms are one of the best sources of selenium, which helps your body make antioxidants that can reduce cell damage. Mushrooms are a good source of vitamins B2, B3, B5 and B9, also known as folate. B vitamins are essential for cell growth and formation.


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