Psilocybin mushrooms (aka “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms”) are fungi that contain psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychedelic compound. More than 180 species of mushrooms contain psilocybin or its derivative psilocin. Psilocybin mushrooms have a long history of use in Mesoamerican spiritual and religious rituals, and are one of the most popular recreational psychedelics in the U.S. and Europe.
Psilocybin mushrooms have been used in therapeutic settings to treat a variety of ailments and disorders including cluster headaches, obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety, depression, and addiction.
While psilocybin mushrooms have been decriminalized in two North American cities (see “Legality” for details) they are currently illegal and categorized as a Schedule I controlled substance in the U.S. Recently, however, the FDA and DEA have allowed a number of small, highly controlled human studies on their potential for use in medical and psychiatric settings.
CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. Cannabidiol has effects on the brain. The exact cause for these effects is not clear. However, cannabidiol seems to prevent the breakdown of a chemical in the brain that affects pain, mood, and mental function. Preventing the breakdown of this chemical and increasing its levels in the blood seems to reduce psychotic symptoms associated with conditions such as schizophrenia. Cannabidiol might also block some of the psychoactive effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Also, cannabidiol seems to reduce pain and anxiety.
Cannabidiol is most commonly used for seizure disorder (epilepsy). It is also used for anxiety, pain, a muscle disorder called dystonia, Parkinson disease, Crohn disease, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
Ashwagandha contains chemicals that might help calm the brain, reduce swelling (inflammation), lower blood pressure, and alter the immune system.
Ashwagandha is a plant. The root and berry are used to make medicine.
Ashwagandha has a lot of uses. But so far, there isn’t enough information to judge whether it is effective for any of them.
Ashwagandha is used for arthritis, anxiety, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), balance, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), trouble sleeping (insomnia), tumors, tuberculosis, asthma, a skin condition marked by white patchiness (leukoderma), bronchitis, backache, fibromyalgia, menstrual problems, hiccups, Parkinson’s disease, under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism), and chronic liver disease. It is also used to reduce side effects of medications used to treat cancer and schizophrenia. Ashwagandha is used to reduce levels of fat and sugar in the blood.
Ashwagandha is also used as an “adaptogen” to help the body cope with daily stress, and as a general tonic.
Some people also use ashwagandha for improving thinking ability, decreasing pain and swelling (inflammation), and preventing the effects of aging. It is also used for fertility problems in men and women and also to increase sexual desire.
Eurycoma longifolia is a tall, slender evergreen shrub-tree commonly found in Southeast Asia. Malaysian men claim that tea made from this plant improves their sexual abilities and virility. As a result, this plant is in such high demand that it is now considered a “protected” species.
The root and bark of Eurycoma longifolia are commonly used orally for treating erectile dysfunction, increasing sexual desire, treating male infertility, and boosting athletic performance. Some research supports the use of Eurycoma longifolia for sexual desire and male infertility. But there is limited scientific evidence to support its other uses.
Some of the chemicals seem to affect how the body produces the hormone testosterone. Research in animals and humans suggests it might increase testosterone in the body.
Shiitake mushroom is used for boosting the immune system, HIV/AIDS, lowering blood cholesterol levels, hardening of the arteries, diabetes, eczema, colds and flu, treating prostate or breast cancer, and as an anti-aging agent. It is also used for hepatitis B, herpes, high blood pressure, and stomach ache.
Reishi mushroom is a fungus. Some people describe it as “tough” and “woody” with a bitter taste. The above-ground part and portions of the below-ground parts are used as medicine.
Reishi mushroom is used for cancer, aging, boosting the immune system to prevent or treat infections, and for many other reasons, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
In combination with other herbs, reishi mushroom is used to treat prostate cancer. Also in combination with other ingredients, reishi mushroom may be used for viruses, such as the human papilloma virus (HPV), genital herpes, and cold sores.
Chaga is a fungus. It produces a woody growth, called a conk, which is used to make medicine.
People take chaga by mouth for heart disease, diabetes, stomach and intestine cancer, liver disease, parasites, stomach pain, and tuberculosis.
Chaga is also considered an adaptogenic herb. Adaptogens help increase the body’s ability to resist the damaging effects of stress. The adaptogenic properties of chaga make it excellent at helping resist fatigue, anxiety, and stress related depression.
Horny goat weed is an herb that has been a traditional remedy in China for centuries. It’s used for low libido for men and women, symptoms associated with menopause, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, pain, joint pain, and other conditions.