McNair Scholars Research Journal


Lisbette Zavala


Mesoamerican cultures utilized the power of entheogenic substances for hundreds of years before the scientific interest in psilocybin - a natural growing, hallucinogenic mushroom. In the brief time before federal criminalization, psilocybin was used in a number of studies and trials that demonstrated therapeutic potential. Once psilocybin gained popularity for recreational use in the 1960s counterculture, the Controlled Substances Act scheduled both psilocybin and psilocin in Schedule I, where it remains today. It was not until nearly three decades later that psilocybin was reexamined for its efficacy in several mental illnesses and substance use disorders. With stricter guidelines, safer regulations, and technological advancements, we see a renaissance of psilocybin research and psilocybin- assisted therapies that exhibit safety and efficacy. Recreational psilocybin use is briefly examined with an emphasis on set and setting, a critical component to hallucinogenic experiences. This comprehensive literature review acknowledges both the Indigenous and modern-day contexts of psilocybin. In addition, participant diversity and psychedelic experiences in historically marginalized racial and ethnic communities are explored. More in-depth research on psilocybin is required, but current studies provide preliminary evidence that psilocybin is misscheduled due to its healing properties for patients with multiple forms of depression, near-death anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), substance use disorders, and addictions. In the recreational setting, on the other hand, life-changing increases in mindfulness and spirituality are commonly reported. Finally, the lack of racial and ethnic diversity among participants in emerging data is acknowledged, with solutions to this issue advocated for.