Who would have thought? Psilocybin, an active ingredient of magic mushrooms, has been the centre of several research and clinical trials worldwide. Why? Because of its psychedelic effect and its potential positive impact on people suffering from severe depression.
Psychedelics can help with Severe depression
Psilocybin is not only present in Magic Mushrooms. In fact, it is present in more than 200 varieties but Magic mushrooms are the most known of them due to its psychedelic effect and use as part of religious rituals. It is banned in most countries and restricted under the UN convention.
But this could change … Current trials in the UK and the US show positive signs. And Ireland has just joined them.
Current trials in the UK and the US show positive result of psilocybin as a drug to treat depression, and especially patient with long term depression who have already gone through therapy and other existing drugs without success
Psilocybin also shows promising sign on:
- Helping cancer patient reducing end of life depression
- Help treating other mental illness such as anxiety, food disorders.
- Help reducing smoking and addiction
fMRI scan on patients brain showed reduced blood flow and resting activity from the Amygdala, which is often overactive in depression or anxiety patients
Patient testing the drug report different experiences, in general encouraging them to face their depression.Much of the neuroscience of psilocybin remains unknown, but compared to common antidepressant which tend to dull emotions to help people cope, psilocybin encourage people to face their depression which can provide long term shift in mindset.
Source: Guardian – Psilocybin effect on Depression
And Ireland is next. Dublin has just started its own trial with 7 Irish people. There are many similar study now around the world but it is still a very complex process to get such trials approved due to the illegal aspect of Magic Mushrooms. Again, the initial results seem to be quite positive, but I guess we will have to wait for more trials to confirm. This is a pity as many people with Mental illness or distress would have loved to be part of that initial trial, but the access requirement have been ” stringent”. As mentioned above, psilocybin also seem to have positive effect on patient with mental disorders such as anxiety or food disorders for instance.
Source: Irish Times
Psilocybin-assisted mindfulness meditation
But that’s not all. A team of researchers in Zurich University have found persisting positive effect of Psilocybin-assisted mindfulness meditation. Their study, a randomized double-blind study on 38 experienced meditators over a 5 days retreat showed an altered state of consciousness (ego dissolution) and changes in brain connectivity.
Results are inline with previous study that examined the combination of psilocybin and meditation.
This relates clearly to the clinical trials above, but it sounds that adding mediation to the mix could also anchor longer term brain changes to help sustain the progress made by patients.
It doesn’t matter how you look at it, it sounds like something we ‘d love to see some acceleration in the trials. As in Ireland, I can only imagine a lot of people would be willing to try something natural which could take them out of their state, provide a boost, a trigger nearly. Personally, I did try Magic Mushrooms when I was younger, and I must say I did not like the sensations at the time. It might not be suited for everyone. But if you have been on pills for a long time and see no progress, then it might be a different story. So let’s hope this becomes more widely available in the future, and follow the steps of medicinal marijuana.