Can magic mushrooms really help you understand bitcoin?

Name: The shroom boom.

Age: Ancient rock art in Castilla-La Mancha in Spain suggests that Psilocybe hispanica, one of the mushrooms that contains the psychoactive compound psilocybin, was taken in religious ceremonies as long as 6,000 years ago.

Oh, I thought it was a current boom, pass notes being a newsworthy column and everything. There’s more evidence of hallucinogenic plant species among native people of Mesoamerica in pre-Columbian times. The Aztecs were enthusiasts.

Interesting. Still quite old, though. Psilocybin mushrooms became popular with hippies in the 1960s and 70s.

Getting nearer. Take them today, and you might get to understand bitcoin.

Finally! Whoa … Says who? Christian Angermayer: “It was the single most meaningful thing I’ve ever done in my whole life,” he said, about his first psychedelic trip in 2015 in the Caribbean (where it’s legal). He said it provided the insight required to get his head round the cryptocurrency.

Who is Angermayer? A new-age space cadet? Actually, a 43-year-old German billionaire investor. He has an unconventional portfolio that includes space travel, as it happens, as well as crypto, special purpose acquisitions companies, films, cancer drugs, Covid drugs …

And psychedelics? According to an interview on Bloomberg, the financial website, a psychedelics-focused biotech company he founded was valued recently at $2bn.

Is he in it just for the money? He says he wants to make the world a happier place. To that end he has turned to psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. His company, Compass Pathways, is looking into ways it can be used to treat depression and its share price has doubled since its September listing.

Does one company, however successful, make a boom? Or were you just looking for a word that rhymes with shroom? A recent study found that psilocybin – combined with psychological therapy – can be an effective way to treat depression. And in the US, non-psychedelic mushrooms about which various health claims are made are increasingly being used in coffee, energy drinks and other beverages. Boom!

But the last time I … I mean a friend, picked and ate a bunch of liberty caps in a field, the ground started to breathe, and I – I mean, they – spent five hours conversing with a dandelion. Ah yes, one of the authors of the above study does warn against “DIY treatment”.

Do say: “Remind your friend that magic mushrooms are a class A drug in the UK.”

Don’t say: “Next time, forget the dandelion, concentrate on bitcoin – it will all become clear …”