Magic mushrooms could be used to treat depression, study says

published on May 23, 2016 by Nick Waddell in Cantech Letter

A range of mental health issues may benefit from treatment with psilocybin, the active ingredient found in magic mushrooms, say a new study.

The research, published last week in the medical journal The Lancet Psychiatry, looked at the effect of psilocybin on patients with unipolar treatment-resistant depression. But the study’s authors say the conclusions suggest it could be used to treat various conditions, including alcohol dependence, obsessive-compulsive disorder and end-of-life anxiety.

Researchers from the Imperial College London, conducted a trial of six men and six women with with moderate-to-severe, unipolar, treatment-resistant major depression. The subjects received two oral doses of psilocybin (10 mg and 25 mg, 7 days apart) in what the study referred to as “a supportive setting”.

The researchers found the psychedelic effect of psilocybin kicked in between thirty and sixty minutes after initial dosage, peaked after two to three hours and subsided after six hours. They found all patients were anxious during the onset of the drug, that most had “transient confusion or thought disorder” and that some had headaches and/or nausea. But the study noted that in the one week to three months after the treatment the group showed “marked and sustained improvements in anxiety and anhedonia”.

One shortcoming of the study, aside from its small size, is that there was no control group. The study’s lead author concedes that the results are encouraging but need to be followed up with more comprehensive studies.

View the full article