Thousands of people on Reddit and Twitter reported that a couple of dosages of psilocybin mushrooms healed their corona-ravaged senses, despite the fact that scientists are skeptical. Over the last year, a growing number of people have gone to Reddit and Twitter to give anecdotal accounts of how magic mushrooms helped, or even cured, COVID-related anosmia-ageusia (loss of taste and smell).
The majority of the stories follow the same pattern: Someone gets COVID, loses their sense of taste and smell, and either never gets it back—or gets it back, but everything tastes like gasoline (AKA parosmia, which means a distorted sense of smell)—until they take one or several doses of shrooms, and somehow they’re healed.
Sebică (a pseudonym) from Romania, who is a 20-year-old, had a similar experience. He lost his sense of taste and smell for 2 weeks after contracting COVID in October 2020, followed by year-long parosmia. Sebică took 0.8 grams of liberty caps once a week for 2 weeks last October. He took 1.5 grams in November, and everything came back, as he disclosed on Reddit. After using mushrooms, his senses returned more and more with every psilocybin session, and everything tasted and smelt normal while on mushrooms.
It’s not impossible to believe that mushrooms could help with a neurological problem. Psilocybin is known for increasing the green hue of grass or sounds, among other clichés. It also causes vivid hallucinations by affecting perception, mood, and cognition by activating serotonin receptors in the brain, specifically in the prefrontal cortex. Shrooms can also cause people to experience synesthesia, a condition in which one sense is perceived as another—for example, hearing colors and seeing sounds.
However, Barry Smith, the director of the University of London’s Institute of Philosophy and the founding director of the Center for the Study of the Senses, is less convinced of shrooms’ healing powers. “There’s not much evidence or reason to believe that psilocybin could help people recover from COVID-related anosmia rapidly,” implying that there may have been a genetic foundation that made this possible.
To truly validate the notion, Smith says that research, where participants’ taste and smell were objectively examined before and after a dose of psilocybin, would be required. Even then, our own awareness of our senses is unreliable, he continues to share: “What we’ve found with patients is that when their sense of smell returns, they say it’s still not back to normal […] yet when we test them, it’s much better than they think.”
So, while the jury is still out on the taste and odor-altering abilities of mushrooms, it is curious to see that they have helped several people get back some normalcy after getting COVID.
In similar news, people have reported cannabis preventing COVID.
Photo via The Atlantic