A hope? We'll see.
Magic mushroom has long been thought by enthusiasts to have therapeutic uses. With the drug's ability to " induce profound-feeling experiences", what effects can it actually do to our brains? Most importantly, can it help depressed people?
For one, brain-imaging studies were able to show how overactive areas in the brain of people suffering depression are targeted by psilocybin, a hallucinogenic compound found in magic mushrooms. So, to put this to test, Robin Carhart-Harris of Imperial College London and colleagues have conducted the first ever clinical trial last year. Having only 12 participants and no control group, they've found reduced symptoms of the illness after just after two sessions of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy.
And with these encouraging results, Carhart-Harris and his team further studied the topic. Now having 19 people with depression who were not helped by usual treatments, they've asked each to take 10 mg dose of psilocybin and increased this to 25 mg after seven days.
When scanned, it showed that the activity of some neural circuits in the brain have been reduced after the intake. Participants even said they felt immediate improvement in mood! What's more is that the elevation has lasted for up to five weeks!
“We have shown for the first time clear changes in brain activity in depressed people treated with psilocybin after failing to respond to conventional treatments,” says Carhart-Harris. “Several of our patients described feeling ‘reset’ after the treatment.”
“This is further evidence that psilocybin may turn out to be effective for the most stubborn depression,” says Paul Morrison, of King’s College London. “Developments in this area are a priority in psychiatry. Some people can go through years of suffering, which resist all standard therapies.”
Researchers warned, though, that non-assisted and self-medicated psychedelic drugs can be dangerous. Thus, one should wait for further research and should consult medical practitioners.
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