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Prince Harry reveals magic mushroom trip in new book Spare but will it help break the psilocybin stigma?

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulJan 09, 2023 | 17:08

Prince Harry reveals magic mushroom trip in new book Spare but will it help break the psilocybin stigma?

Excerpts from the Duke of Sussex’s upcoming memoir detail his encounters with the psychedelic magic mushrooms. We have a look at how celebrity encounters with the psilocybin are switching up the narrative surrounding the psychedelic.

According to leaks from his soon-to-release autobiography, Spare, the British Royal reveals his tryst with magic mushrooms at FRIENDS star Courtney Cox’s home in Los Angeles in 2016. Having spotted a “box of black diamond mushroom chocolates”, Prince Harry grabbed a fistful and wolfed them down, drowning them with tequila.

Prince Harry then recounts his psychedelic trip as the mushroom high kicked in after he went for a toilet break,

“Beside the toilet was a round silver bin, the kind with a foot pedal to open the lid. I stared at the bin. It stared back. Then it became . . . a head. I stepped on the pedal and the head opened its mouth. A huge open grin. I laughed, turned away, took a p***. Now the loo became a head too. The bowl was its gaping maw, the hinges of the seat were its piercing silver eyes. It said, ‘Aaah’.”
- Excerpts from Prince Harry's memoir - Spare

His fun fungal encounters were not a one off. The Royal Prince admits to having taken psychedelics several times for fun and therapeutically, saying psychedelics allowed him to escape and “redefine” reality and to see “the truth”.

An increasing number of celebrities have detailed their encounters with magic mushrooms as of late, with most describing their experiences as “life altering” and some coming out of the experience with a revitalised take on life.

Here are a few big names who have been familiar with magic mushrooms:

Mike Tyson

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The former boxing heavyweight champion of the world recounts his battles with depression and suicidal tendencies before being introduced to psilocybin mushrooms.

"I did all this stuff, and once I got introduced to the shrooms ... my whole life changed. To think where I was - almost suicidal - to this now. Isn't life a trip, man? It's amazing medicine, and people don't look at it from that perspective. I am cured."
- Mike Tyson in an interview with Reuters

Kristen Bell

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Having struggled with ineffective anxiety and depression medication for years, The Good Place actress became curious about magic mushrooms after reading Michael Pollan’s How To Change Your Mind.

"There are aspects to those two particular drugs [psilocybin and LSD] that the places you can go in your brain are much deeper and more healing than anything else," 
- Kristen Bell in an interview with the Hypochondriactor podcast

Kasey Musgraves

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

After going through a bad divorce that left her faced with anxiety, addiction and depression over the years, the American country singer turned towards magic mushrooms for aid.

“It was completely life-changing in so many ways, but it also triggered this whole big bang of not only the album title but the song Star-Crossed and the concept, you know, me looking into the structure of tragedies themselves as an art form throughout time.” 
- Kasey Musgraves explaining how she turned heartbreak into art through psychedelics in an interview with Apple Music

Jon Hopkins

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Having struggled with social anxiety and concomitant isolation, the British electronic musician's experience with psilocybin mushrooms switched that around and got his creative juices flowing in his latest album, Music For Psychedelic Therapy.

“There’s no way the extraordinary beauty of these moments cannot enhance your life. I’m not advocating for people doing these things, but, for me, they keep the wonder of being alive present.”
- Jon Hopkins in an interview with The New York Times

Psilocybin mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms or shrooms, are a type of fungi that contain the psychoactive compound psilocybin. Despite its archaic Schedule I certification in the United States - meaning that it is illegal to manufacture, buy, sell, or possess without a prescription - there is a growing body of research suggesting that psilocybin may have therapeutic potential for a variety of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and addiction.

One of the most promising areas of research on psilocybin is its use as a treatment for depression. Currently available treatments for depression, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can be effective, but they do not work for everyone and can take weeks or months to produce a response.

Several small, controlled studies have shown that a single high dose of psilocybin can produce rapid and sustained improvements in symptoms of depression. In one study, researchers found that a single treatment with psilocybin resulted in a rapid and sustained improvement in symptoms of depression, with effects lasting up to five weeks after treatment.

Psilocybin may also have potential as a treatment for anxiety. Like depression, anxiety can be treated with medications and therapy, but these treatments can be slow to work and may not be effective for everyone.

Another study found that a single high dose of psilocybin given in a supportive and structured setting produced rapid and sustained improvements in symptoms of anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer diagnoses. Other research has suggested that psilocybin may be effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder.

Currently, studies conducted by over 130 active clinical trials across the United States have evidence to support the administration of psilocybin alleviates severe anxiety and depression in cancer patients. 

In addition to depression and anxiety, there is also some evidence to suggest that psilocybin may have therapeutic potential for other mental health conditions, such as addiction. Currently available treatments for addiction, such as medication-assisted treatment and behavioral therapies, can be effective, but they do not work for everyone.

A small, controlled study found that a single high dose of psilocybin given in a supportive and structured setting resulted in a significant reduction in cigarette smoking in a group of tobacco smokers who were not seeking to quit smoking. Other research has suggested that psilocybin may be effective in treating other forms of addiction, such as alcohol and opioid addiction.

It is important to note that the research on psilocybin as a treatment for mental health conditions is in its early stages and more research is needed to fully understand its potential therapeutic benefits. Psilocybin is a powerful and potentially dangerous substance, and it should not be used outside of a controlled and supervised medical setting.

The results these trials have observed over the years are the foundation of psychedelic therapy - a process that utilises the effects of psychedelics in altering one’s perception of self and providing a space to process trauma and angst completely. This is coupled with the presence of a controlled environment and a trained professional to guide you through the journey of healing.

Though still outlawed in most parts of the world, the increasing number of studies demonstrating its medicinal use have started paving the way for a promising future for the substance.

Last updated: January 09, 2023 | 17:08
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