_on beauty and neurons

Psilocybin is an illegal substance in some places, and I do not encourage or condone the use of this substance where it is against the law. This article is an accumulation of research from a general study of mycology, all references can be found below. 

I think that beauty is (and the industry is going) far deeper than the common enemies such as taught flawless skin, toned muscles or gut health. I believe that we are entering a world where beauty products will be able to influence the very fibres of the brain and these could even be 100% natural. My vision is seeing science and nature collide on your very own neurones.

I want to look at two mushrooms. Each one produces a unique molecule or compound which in turn interacts with the nervous system in a different way. These are the erinacines (from the Lions Mane mushroom) and psilocybin (the main psychoactive compound found in magic mushrooms and, of course, its legal analogues). Both of these molecules promote the release of nerve growth factors (NGF) in the brain.

To understand the importance of both these elements my research is the following. The erinacines have been under the microscope for around the last 30 years, spearheaded by Hirokazu Kawagishi, who found that they can effectively repair nerves after trauma, and even reverse the effects of Alzheimers disease. In a recent study, a French laboratory found that it increases nerve growth by 14.8% by increasing myelin regeneration in the neural sheath.

Separately, psilocybin’s effects are attractive because - apart from seeing the infinite universe through your third eye - it temporally restructures the hierarchal communication in the brain, and encourages new neural pathways to be used –– Michael Pollan examines and illustrates this in his book ‘How to change your mind, the new science of psychedelics’. Additionally psilocybin’s legal analogues have been found to increase nerve tip growth by 7%.

Two fascinating points to underline here is that when these compounds are stacked, there is synergy: a resulting cumulative effect of 22% increased neurogenesis. Moreover, the greater you dilute it, the more active it becomes.

In conclusion, the results of the studies show that there are two natural and very accessible compounds that have a pronounced effect on your health as a neural supporter.So, while psilocybin is a known psychedelic and the effects aren’t indicative to a ‘normal’ working or social life, the analogue may be non-psycho active compound which still exhibits the same neural benefits. 

Do I think this could start replacing creams and serums on the high street ?
No. But I do think this has a place next to todays supplements with a specific purpose. Also I believe it could have a place in neural therapies to support traditional treatment and therapies and could be used as a preventative measure against degenerative diseases.

How long until this could be available? Mushroom compounds have been widely available for many years as nutrition supplements, mainly consisting of 8 well known species. These supplements have been aimed at over all health benefits. However, there are now supplements marketed to specifically target nerve stimulation and function (some with the use of ‘nootropics’) but we are yet to see the above compounds together and on the shelf. 

That being said, knowing that all this stems from medical research this could potentially expand the limits of how we understand beauty - as a researcher and consumer. Watch this space.


Photography & Research Callum Toy @
References / Bibliography
G. Petri, P. Expert, F. Turkheimer, R. Carhart-Harris, D. Nutt, P. J. Hellyer and F. Vaccarino.
2014. Homological scaffolds of brain functional networks
Hirokazu Kawagishi, Cun Zhuang and Ellen Shnidman. 2004. The Anti-Dementia effect of
Lion's Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceum) and its clinical application.
Michael Pollan. 2018. How to Change your mind. the new science of psychedelics. ISBN
Paul Stamets. 2005. Mycelium Running. ISBN 978-1-58008-579-3
The Joe Rogan Experience, #1385 Paul Stamets, 2019

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