...the immediate effects of psilocybin are not as important for clinical benefit as the longer-term effects. That's because psilocybin increases the expression of genes and signalling proteins associated with nerve growth and connectivity, he says: "We think that the antidepressant effects of psilocybin may be due to a possible increase of factors that activate long-term neuroplasticity."
Now more evidence is coming to light about these beneficial effects:
Far from expanding your mind, the hallucinogenic chemical found in magic mushrooms induces widespread decreases in brain activity, researchers report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Psilocybin has been revered for centuries for its ability to induce mystical experiences, and has potential therapeutic value for various psychiatric conditions. The drug is known to activate serotonin receptors, but how this produces its effects is little understood.
And this reduction in brain activity is what helps with depression:
Depression involves hyperactivity in the mPFC (medial prefrontal cortex), leading to the pessimistic outlook and pathological brooding characteristic of the condition, so mPFC deactivation could alleviate those symptoms.
Which all rather begs a question! Why, when these mushrooms have killed no-one, cause no long-term health problems and may even be beneficial, did the UK government make possession of them a criminal offence in 2005?