What Are the Benefits of Utilizing Psilocybin Therapy for PTSD and Other Forms of Trauma?

Addiction Recovery Publishing Nutrition January 19, 2024

What Are the Benefits of Utilizing Psilocybin Therapy for PTSD and Other Forms of Trauma?

There is a statement that is often read at the end of recovery meetings known as the “Acceptance Statement.” It reads, “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me. I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.” This lack of acceptance is often what turns people away from psilocybin therapy for PTSD before they have even heard of how it may be able to help.

There is still a stigma that surrounds psilocybin therapy; much of it still derives from the belief that psilocybin (commonly referred to as “magic mushrooms” when referencing it as an illicit substance) can only be used as a “street drug.” Unfortunately, this stigma stops many people from potentially benefiting from psilocybin therapy, especially psilocybin therapy for PTSD. 

The English philosopher Herbert Spencer once said, “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” We must not have “contempt prior to investigation” when it comes to psilocybin therapy.

What Exactly Is Psilocybin?

A very distilled version of psilocybin is that it is the chemical compound that is found in various types of mushrooms and fungi. However, the history of psilocybin makes it much more important than its mere chemical makeup.

According to the 2022 article, Analysis of Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy in Medicine: A Narrative Review, “Psilocybin-containing mushrooms can grow all over the world and appear to be ubiquitous across many cultures. Evidence of the use of neurotropic fungi exists from Northwest Mexico, dating over 2000 years old. However, cave paintings from Spain depicting a bull and what appears to be neurotropic mushrooms (which commonly grow on cow and bull manure) have been dated back to between 6000 and 8000 years ago.” But, yes, it is true that from historical cultural significance, psilocybin has also been used as an illicit substance simply for a euphoric effect.

The reason that psilocybin and psilocybin therapy are so stigmatized today is that it is classified as an illegal illicit substance throughout the United States (however, this classification is slowly changing in many states). Because of its classification, psilocybin and those who use it have been viewed in a negative light. Yes, as with any other substance, psilocybin can be abused. However, it is becoming more and more apparent that psilocybin is much more beneficial than simply a euphoria-inducing substance.

What Exactly Is Psilocybin Therapy?

Again, distilled down, psilocybin therapy is the use of psilocybin in a controlled setting to address certain issues of addiction and/or mental illness. Of course, it is certainly much more involved than that definition offers.

The first thing to understand is that psilocybin therapy has been deemed safe, as long as a licensed therapeutic professional performs it. According to the 2021 article, The Therapeutic Potential of Psilocybin, “Of all psychedelic drugs, psilocybin is reported to have the most favorable safety profile. Despite the lack of studies investigating the comparative efficacies of psilocybin and psychedelic drugs for the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders, the vast evidence-based data that exist for psilocybin alone suggest that psilocybin may be the most efficacious psychedelic drug for treating such disorders.”

The next thing to understand is that psilocybin therapy works in a complex way to release certain chemicals in the brain that can help alleviate specific emotional issues associated with mental health and addiction. According to The Therapeutic Potential of Psilocybin, “Psilocin reacts agonistically with serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) type 2A (5-HT2A) receptors to produce a ‘mystical-like’ hallucinatory effect due to induced frontal hyper-frontality, which in turn mediates its anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects. One possible anti-depressant mechanism of action of psilocybin is via deactivation or normalization of the hyperactivity of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC).” 

While that may be a mouthful, essentially what it is saying is that psilocybin can naturally help the brain process issues associated with mental health disorders. This may be especially true with issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What Exactly Is PTSD?

According to the write-up, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, by Doctors Bisson, Cosgrove, Lewis, and Roberts, “PTSD is a mental disorder that may develop after exposure to exceptionally threatening or horrifying events. Many people show remarkable resilience and capacity to recover following exposure to trauma. PTSD can occur after a single traumatic event or from prolonged exposure to trauma, such as sexual abuse in childhood.” PTSD is also much more prevalent than many people may think.

According to the National Center for PTSD, “About 5 out of every 100 adults (or 5%) in the U.S. has PTSD in any given year. In 2020, about 13 million Americans had PTSD… About 8 of every 100 women (or 8%) and 4 of every 100 men (or 4%) will have PTSD at some point in their life.” These are no small statistics, and they represent a greater need for proper therapeutic care when it comes to treating PTSD. It should also be noted that PTSD is not the only type of trauma that people struggle with. Thus, it is not the only trauma that psilocybin therapy can be effective at helping.

What Are Some Other Forms of Trauma Associated With Addiction and Mental Health Issues?

Trauma can come in many forms, and it doesn’t always result in issues of PTSD. Generally, PTSD results when trauma is not dealt with promptly (though this is not always the case). 

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA), “Individual trauma [is] an event or circumstance resulting in physical harm, emotional harm, and/or life-threatening harm. The event or circumstance has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s mental health, physical health, emotional health, social well-being, and/or spiritual well-being.”

Trauma can come from many different types of events, both isolated and over time. Some of these occurrences involve natural disasters, domestic violence, sexual abuse, unexpected loss, unexpected injury, and combat-related experiences. However, regardless of the exact cause of specific trauma, psilocybin therapy has been shown to be beneficial for treating it.

What Are the Benefits of Utilizing Psilocybin Therapy for PTSD and Other Forms of Trauma?

According to the 2022 article, The Efficacy of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy in Managing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A New Frontier?, PTSD can be treated via psilocybin therapy. It explains, “Results of several recent studies point to the possibility that PTSD treatment may benefit from the effects of classical psychedelics [psilocybin]… They may also play a therapeutic role in the management of PTSD by virtue of other acute effects, such as higher levels of emotional empathy, increased insightfulness, improvements in acceptance, and emotive transformational events, which has shown to be a key mediator in the long-term psychological change in other mental disorders.”

Psilocybin therapy can also be beneficial for those individuals who are sensitive to pharmaceutical medications. It is also a natural way to heal at the cellular level, rather than potentially having to a synthetic medication for an extended period of time (though, this in no way brings about any judgment upon the efficacy of mental health medications). Psilocybin therapy can also be highly effective because it has been shown to have very few side effects and it works well alongside other mental health and addiction treatment modalities.

Why Does Using Multiple Mental Health Modalities Matter?

When it comes to treating issues of mental health like PTSD, it is critical to take an individualized multi-faceted approach. Comprehensive mental health care is key for healing at the cellular level.

Now, the benefits of psilocybin therapy can be compounded when it is used in tandem with other types of therapies and therapeutic offerings. This is because the more attention one pays to their mental well-being, the more locked in one will be when working with their psilocybin therapeutic specialist. For example, one cannot fully engage with psilocybin therapy if they are not running at optimal nutritional levels.

Using Psilocybin Therapy for PTSD With Nutritional Therapy

As with other types of healing, psilocybin therapy must begin at the cellular level. No better way is there to ensure that the cellular base is in optimal shape than when an individual has exceptional nutrition. 

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we have a saying. That saying is, “Food is medicine.” This is because we know that when people struggle with issues of addiction and mental health, their vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant levels are often depleted to dangerous levels. Nutritional therapy can help get those levels back to where they need to be so other forms of healing can work at their ideal levels. 

Also, nutrition therapy is more complex than just eating well. According to the article, New Approaches to Nutritional Therapy, “Nutrigenetics/nutrigenomics, the study of the relationship between gene expression and nutrition, proposes that disease can be prevented and reversed by drastically altering the nutritional environment. Basic premises include: (a) people are genetically predisposed to develop some type of chronic illness; (b) expression of these genes is largely influenced by the environment; (c) food is a large part of this environment that affects gene expression; and (d) whole food, plant-based, nutritionally-dense diets positively influence genetic expression and the incidence of disease.”

The article also explains how “Nutrigenetics has given rise to ‘Nutritional Medicine’ or ‘Nutritional Therapy’, a system of healing based on the belief that food, in its whole and natural form, provides the substance needed to obtain and maintain a vibrant state of health.” That is what we focus on here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, and we do so by focusing on healthy food that promotes the “gut-brain axis.”

Focusing on the Gut Microbiome

Many people may not realize how important the food we eat is to our whole mind-body wellness. This is because many people are not aware of how directly linked our “gut” is to how our brain properly functions. Now, this is known as the “gut-brain axis.”

More and more studies are coming out that show just how important maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is to maintaining a healthy mental and emotional outlook. This includes addressing the anxiety and depression that is often associated with PTSD.

According to the peer-reviewed article, Gut Microbiota’s Effect on Mental Health: The Gut-Brain Axis, “Depressive disorders are characterized by both neuroplastic, organizational changes and neurochemical dysfunction. Illness is thought to begin when there is deregulation of these systems and can largely be attributed to cytokine release secondary to an exaggerated systemic response to stressors. Endotoxin infusions to healthy subjects with no history of depressive disorders triggered cytokine release and the subsequent emergence of classical depressive symptoms.” What this means is that by manipulating the gut’s composition, one can manipulate their mental state. This works in both the affirmative and the negative.

The good news is that it is neither hard nor unsatisfying to attain a healthy gut-brain axis. At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab we have a nutritional therapy program that only offers gut healthy food that is prepared onsite by our world-class chefs. This base of healthy eating best ensures that one is ready to fully participate in effective psilocybin therapy.

Using Psilocybin Therapy for PTSD With Surf Therapy

Another highly effective modality that can be very complimentary to psilocybin therapy is surf therapy. Fortunately, where we are located on the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island has some of the best surfing in the world. Exclusive Hawaii Rehab is located just a mere 15-minute walk from the world-class surf break, Honoli’i, which is ideal for both surf therapy and surfboard meditation.

Surf therapy has also been shown to be specifically helpful for those individuals struggling with PTSD. According to the journal Frontiers in Psychology, “One environmental context that has received less attention is water-based physical activity, with researchers suggesting that swimming and other water-based activities (e.g., kayaking, surfing) may provide superior benefits for the promotion of human well-being due to greater affordances. These activities have heightened the psychological benefits (e.g., reduced anxiety, depression, and perceived stress, increased positive affect, and increased quality of life) associated with exercise and nature among US war veterans. Further, there is increasing evidence suggesting that participation in action and adventure sports, such as surfing, is meaningful and life-enhancing.”

Another physical activity that can also benefit those who participate in psilocybin therapy is yoga. As with surf therapy, it has been shown to have many positive effects.

Using Psilocybin Therapy for PTSD With Yoga

Yoga offers a level of mindfulness that can greatly benefit psilocybin therapy for PTSD. Also, those are not the only positive aspects.

According to the International Journal of Yoga, “Yogic practices enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.” These are all benefits that, like psilocybin therapy, can help one heal at the cellular level.

The Importance of Comprehensive Care For Healing at the Cellular Level With Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

There is another statement that is often read at recovery meetings around the world, known as the “Responsibility Statement.” The statement reads, “I am responsible, when anyone, anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of [recovery] always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.” At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we also take this responsibility very seriously.

This is why we only offer individualized comprehensive care at our 30-acre luxury recovery center on Hawaii’s Big Island. That care includes such exclusive modalities as psilocybin therapy. At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, our hand will always be outstretched for anyone who wants help to recover. The key is to reach out and grab it.

Psilocybin therapy has been shown to be especially useful in treating people with trauma (specifically post-traumatic stress disorder). There are many studies now showing effective results (many with combat veterans and active duty service members). With all of the positive data surrounding psilocybin’s efficacy, it is important to get a better understanding of what the therapy can possibly do for you. If you feel like you are struggling with issues of addiction or mental illness, especially concerning trauma, we can help get you on the right road to recovery. For more information on how psilocybin therapy can be an effective tool for treating issues of trauma, please reach out to Exclusive Hawaii Rehab today at (808) 775-0200.