One of the most fascinating advancements in science thus far must be the rise and proliferation of widespread effective drug use. One has simply to look at the history of medicine to know that only in the past one and a half centuries has medicine saved more lives than it has taken. Before the development of the germ theory of disease or safe, sterile practices, medicine was terrifying. Outdated concepts like bleeding, the humors, and the ingesting of mercury would be balked at in a modern society. But no longer do we leech, amputate, or even simply commit someone to an asylum. We have only to take a tiny little pill, no bigger than a pinkie, and we’re cured. It’s obviously more complex than that, but the utter simplicity with which we can treat ourselves is astounding.
However, the tradeoffs that we are slowly realizing are the unintended side-effects or consequences these drugs have on our brains. In spite of the perceived effectiveness of drug treatments, the mechanism by which it occurs is messier than one may initially comprehend. It has more of the precision of a shotgun than a scalpel. We inject ourselves with varying chemicals and neurotransmitters, and while it may remedy the afflicted area it can also unintentionally affect other sections of the brain as well (i.e. side-effects).
One of the touchy subjects related to drug use has been that of natural psychedelic drugs, like marijuana or mushrooms. The latter has had a more notorious history within the public knowledge, largely owing to the fat that it is a potent psychedelic, However, a recent article posted on The Atlantic suggests that shrooms can be medically beneficial. Psilocybin is the active component of shrooms and can amplify both the good and the bad. In this treatment that the article covers, the process is described as being laid out both by the patient and the doctor so that a clear, intended objective is outlined. Following this is the actual ingestion of psilocybin, and what follows afterwards is unique with each patient. The data is still being compiled, but according to Dr. Ross and his team (the practitioners in question) most of their patients have exhibited a notable reduction in anxiety.
It is research like this that is crucial in removing the stigma that is so readily attached to alternative medication like marijuana and shrooms. Of course, it must still be taken with care and moderation, but it is important to not discount these substances puely because of their negative cultural connotations.