Article by Travis Cesarone, Cannabis Life Network
Sometimes depression can hurt, literally. Interestingly, this has a lot to do with our Endocannabinoid Systems (ECS)—a network that consists of a few receptors and two neurotransmitters. Pain and emotions are tied together through these messengers. And, it is through the ECS that magic mushrooms and cannabis can often, although counterintuitively, have therapeutic effects. (1)
How does psilocybin alter the ECS?
Happiness can boost your endocannabinoid system, according to a few scientific studies throughout the past two decades. (1, 4-6) This is because a receptor that expresses with the happy-messenger, serotonin, can also help release natural cannabinoids in your body.
Also, a special form of serotonin acts as a nonintoxicating but still full agonist towards the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptor. (1) This means that a better mood can prevent cancer and other ailments – through our bodies’ own cannabinoids. And, there is a blissful feedback loop that occurs between serotonin and the ECS. After all, our endocannabinoids will boost serotonin and vice versa – the two systems crosstalk. (5)
Anandamide and serotonin go hand in hand in mental health therapeutics.
Serotonin and mushrooms a deeper synergy
The intoxicant in therapeutic mushrooms, psilocin, and its prodrug, psilocybin, is similar to serotonin. (1, 2) Therefore, psilocin will bind to a similar receptor as serotonin, namely 5-HT2a. In fact, this is one of the primary effects of magic mushrooms that has seen the attention of researchers.
5-HT2a is what binds magic mushrooms and cannabis into an intricate synergy given the receptor also helps release ECS messengers and their derivatives. In summary, serotonin will agonize an endocannabinoid that is crucial for everyday survival. But, psilocin flips this function and instead promotes non-associated and less important ECS derivatives that benefit therapy. (3, 7)
Serotonin releases the enzyme, PLC, once it docks to the 5-HT2a receptor, which will in turn help release the workhorse endocannabinoid, 2-AG (red path). After psilocin (purple path) occupies the 5-HT2a’s space, the receptor releases PLA2 instead of PLC.
Psilocin’s purple path possibly purports profound but unexplored impacts on ECS signalling. Magic mushrooms will drop the regular function of 2-AG in the feedback and instead focuses serotonin signalling on PEA as well as OEA, a major constituent in chocolate. Mushrooms chocolates, anyone?
Magic Mushrooms and the ECS—tied by a happy endorphin
Doubling back on the feedback loop and the fact that endocannabinoids boost serotonin—the ECS’s role isn’t exactly straightforward. (1, 4) Endocannabinoid activity can decrease the functionality of the serotonin receptors while still elevating their signalling activity. So, the endocannabinoid system regulates the effects of psilocybin. But, magic mushrooms will alter the endocannabinoid system, forming a synergistic connection. (4-7)
The endocannabinoid system acts as a safety net during a mushroom trip. But, not everyone will experience positive benefits from adding cannabis to psilocybin given a complete shift in the functionality and cross-talk between the ECS and serotonin system.