New Treatment For Depression: Magic Mushrooms!

Ever since the human intelligence took a giant leap towards scientific advancement in medicinal science, wonderful things are being explored lately with amazing properties. Likewise Magic Mushroom scientifically known as psilocybin mushroom has been put to use for about 9000 years due to their psychedelic properties but apart from their unlawfully intake enjoyed by hippies and Aztecs, scientists now believe that one day this mushroom can be sold as a regular anti depression drug.

Photo credit: afgooey74/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Photo credit: afgooey74/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The magic present in this Magic mushroom comes from psilocybin that is an active substance present in these mushrooms known to cause hallucinations, euphoria just like LSD drugs. However a trial, which took years to complete, proves that psilocybin is present with anti depression properties. Twelve volunteers with mild and chronic depression were chosen for the trial and were treated with two doses of psilocybin to each of them.

Since this drug is not freely available in UK and permission from Home Office is mandatory for this drug, therefore these volunteers needed to be presented before psychiatrist as well.  The whole motive of this trial was to study whether this drug is feasible to be used against depression or not. But after a weeks treatment the signs of depression were gone in eight volunteers and after 3 months of treatment, five volunteers walked out depression free. It is also a good thing that only minute side effects were noticeable.

That’s not the happy ending of this research. The research upon these mushrooms being very difficult to carry out due to different factors, researchers were not able to make sure that whether it is the psilocybin present in the mushrooms that treated the volunteers or not. That’s why the researchers have warned people from taking these mushrooms as an anti depression drug since it is a class “A” drug and is completely banned. Its possession and usage can result in either seven years in jail or lifetime imprisonment if distributed.

This trial was carried out by a bunch of researchers at Imperial College London, South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, King’s College London, University College London, the Royal London Hospital, and the Beckley Foundation and was funded by Medical Research Council.

After its successful completion, the research was uploaded online in the Lancet Psychiatry Journal and is open access. This is means that anyone interested in the research can read it.

The full trial of this research could not be possible because MRC placed some placebo restrictions over this research since the drug could be used by anyone for inappropriate causes and it wouldn’t be possible to differentiate between people taking it illegally or taking it as a medicinal drug.

Psychedelic drugs have potent psychological effects and are only given in our research when appropriate safeguards are in place, such as careful screening and professional therapeutic support. I wouldn’t want members of the public thinking they can treat their own depressions by picking their own magic mushrooms. That kind of approach could be risky,” says Dr Robin Carhart-Harris.

While justifying the medical research on banned drugs for different conditions like depression, Prof. David Nutt says:

It is important that academic research groups try to develop possible new treatments for depression as the pharmaceutical industry is pulling out of this field‎. Our study has shown psilocybin is safe and fast acting so may, if administered carefully, have value for these patients”.

The scientific trial on Magic mushroom was carried out in a controlled manner.  The volunteers were provided with a pleasant room along with some good music and two psychiatrists to control the outcome or adverse reactions caused to intake of psilocybin if any. One of the volunteers namely Kirk Rutter who hailed from London told that he was very heartbroken by the death of his mother and couldn’t recover no matter how hard he tried. But after being prepared by creating a positive atmosphere around him, he finally took the pills.

This is what Kirk Rutter said about his experience after taking psilocybin:

Both times I experienced something called ‘psychedelic turbulence’. This is the transition period to the psychedelic state, and caused me to feel cold and anxious. However this soon passed, and I had a mostly pleasant – and sometimes beautiful – experience.

There were certainly some challenging moments during the sessions, for instance when I experienced being in hospital with my mother when she was very ill. And during the high-dose session I visualized my grief as an ulcer that I was preventing from healing so that I could stay connected to my mother. However, by going through memories, and feeling the love in our relationship, I saw that letting go of the grief was not letting go of her memory”.

He further stated that taking this drug was not a quick fix to recovery from this condition but improvement was certain. David Nutt said that carrying out this research wasn’t easy, different barriers had to be eliminated like getting ethical approval while as getting the research through along with adherence to official rules and formalities was the hardest one.

The founder of Beckley and co-director of the trial programme Amanda Feilding along with David Nutt says: “The results from our research are helping is to understand how psychedelics change consciousness, and how this information can be used to find breakthrough treatments for many of humanity’s most intractable psychiatric disorders, such as depression, addiction and obsessive compulsive disorder.


(1) Magic mushroom ingredient tested as depression treatment

(2) Magic Mushrooms Shown To Ease Severe Depression In Groundbreaking Study

(3) Magic mushrooms lift severe depression in clinical trial

Main image credit: afgooey74/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

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