Magic mushroom compound psilocybin may help treat depression, study finds
The naturally occurring psychoactive compound psilocybin can significantly reduce symptoms of depression, according to data from the largest trial of its kind ever conducted.
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LONDON – The naturally occurring psychoactive compound psilocybin can significantly reduce symptoms of depression, according to the largest trial of its kind ever conducted.
Psilocybin was given to 233 patients who had already tried at least two antidepressants with little success, suggesting that the compound could have enormous benefits for those suffering from difficult-to-treat depression.
After receiving the psilocybin, the patients entered a “dreamwalking-like” state for four to six hours and then left the clinic after returning to their normal state.
The trial found that a 25 mg dose of psilocybin, given along with psychological support, produced a reduction in depression levels three weeks after treatment.
The research, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, was conducted internationally by London-based COMPASS Pathways.
About 100 million people worldwide suffer from treatment-resistant depression, and so the findings are a step in the right direction, says James Rucker, consultant psychiatrist and senior clinical lecturer at King’s College London, who was involved in the study.
“Our challenge now is to investigate psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression in larger trials with more participants, comparing it to both placebo and established treatments,” Rooker said. King’s College London press release.
The drugs were tested at doses of 1 mg, 10 mg, and 25 mg, and adverse effects reported in all groups included headaches, nausea, and suicidal thoughts.
However, there were not equal numbers of “severely depressed” participants in each dose group, according to Ravi Das, an associate professor at University College London’s Institute of Mental Health, which “doesn’t seem to be recognized in the paper,” as Reuters reports.
Critics have also expressed concern that it could lead to an increase in the use of magic mushrooms in non-pharmaceutical settings.
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