The Effects of Magic Mushrooms on Depression
In most countries magic mushrooms are illegal, but people use the hallucinogen for thousands of years.
The Imperial College London in a controlled study found the active ingredient in magic mushrooms psilocybin; they said that it might aid treat depression.
Psilocybin is naturally occurring psychedelic, and it resets the brain.
More About the Study
At Imperial College London a team of researchers conducted a study of 19 participants with depression diagnosis. They got a dose of this active compound and researchers monitored the brain activity before and after.
In the first dose, the participants got 10 mg, and the second dose was one week later and was around 25 mg.
The brains of the participants were imaged with the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging, i.e., fMRI before and after they got the doses. The participants reported their depressive symptoms by filling out clinical questionnaires.
Both the brain activity and the responses of the participants showed improvement after the treatment with psilocybin.
The results of the treatment were sustained and rapid antidepressant effects. Half of the participants did not show signs of depression. Also, they showed a change in the activity of their brain which lasted around 5 weeks.
The scans made before the treatment and then one day after showed that there was an influence on 2 key areas. The default mode network became more stabilized. This default mode network relates to many interconnected brain regions.
And the amygdala became less active. The amygdala is responsible for the memory and response of emotions, especially for anxiety and fear.
Opinion of the Head of Psychedelic Research
The head of psychedelic research, Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris notes that this drug seems to have a resetting effect on the brain.
Psilocybin might be giving these participants the temporary and necessary kickstart in order to break out of the depressive states, and the imaging results support a reset analogy.
It is crucial to note that this study was made in regulated environment by professionals. The researchers warn people to not self-medicate since there is no guarantee that the same results will occur.
Also, 19 participants are not enough in order to validate an efficient treatment method. It is like that because there was no control group to compare the effects of this active compound.
According to the senior author of the paper, David Nutt larger studies are necessary to see if this effect which is positive might occur in more people. However, these findings provide another treatment to explore.
In order to better understand the role which the drug has in relieving the depression symptoms, the researchers will begin a new trail to compare psilocybin with a well-known antidepressant early next year.
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