Magic mushroom study finds ‘significant’ effect on depression

Magic mushroom study finds ‘significant’ effect on depression

Magic mushroom study finds ‘significant’ effect on depression

A single dose of psilocybin, the active ingredient in the class A psychoactive drug “magic mushrooms,” has a lasting and significant effect in treating depression that has not responded to other medications, a study has found.

Reviewed, mid-stage trial Published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, a single 25 mg dose of the drug, along with psychotherapeutic support, “significantly.[ly]reduced symptoms of depression in patients who had not responded to other medications.

Researchers say the study, conducted by British pharmaceutical group Compass Pathways, is the largest to date on the use of psilocybin as a treatment for depression, and that its findings pave the way for regulatory approval.

The use of psychoactive drugs to treat mental illness has been widely debated. Currently, only a very limited amount is approved by global regulators for medical use.

But more companies in recent years have begun exploring different ways to treat mental health conditions. The study is a step toward their regulation for medical use.

Ketamine is sometimes prescribed “off-label” for treatment-resistant depression, while esketamine, a related compound, is approved in the UK and US as a nasal spray.

Microdosing, or taking small amounts of psychotropic drugs, has also been anecdotally reported to be helpful, although researchers say more research is needed on its effects.

James Rucker, a senior lecturer at King’s College London and an author of the NEJM study, said the lack of effective treatment available for people with treatment-resistant depression could “severely affect patients and the people around them”.

“Treatment options are often limited, causing distressing side effects and/or stigma. Therefore, new treatment paradigms are needed, and clinical trials of new treatment methods are important.”

The research was carried out at 22 international sites, including King’s College London and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, which specializes in mental health.

About 233 participants with treatment-resistant depression took part in the study, receiving 1mg, 10mg or 25mg of psilocybin. Members of the first group acted as a control group, and neither the researchers nor the patients knew what dose they had taken.

Patients were followed for 12 weeks, with symptoms assessed the day before admission and at intervals thereafter.

Co-author Nadav Liam Modlin said the study showed the drug made “powerful emotional breakthroughs” for patients and helped them develop a “sense of connection to themselves.”

Some side effects of psilocybin, including headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and suicidal ideation, were reported in all dosage groups.

Only one patient had a “bad trip” that was managed with sedation, the researchers said. The psychiatric part of the experience lasted for hours and took place under supervision, after which the patients were free to go about their business.

Guy Goodwin, Compass’s chief medical officer and co-author of the study, said the company plans to start its own late-stage, or Phase 3, trial this year.

He said the results of the study showed that psilocybin “has a real pharmacological effect, a finding that is important for its recognition as a new treatment option in the future.”

The compound, called COMP360, has breakthrough designation from UK and US regulators, which could help speed the development and marketing of new drugs. Compass is also testing it for post-traumatic stress disorder and the eating disorder anorexia nervosa.



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