New Study Finds That Magic Mushrooms Can Help Treat Depression

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Using psychedelics to treat mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, and PTSD is nothing new. Still, the practice may not be as common as engaging in traditional talk therapy or taking antidepressants. But a small study shows promise for using magic mushrooms (the type of mushroom that contains psilocybin or psilocin) to treat patients with depression.

In the new study published in Nature Medicine and conducted by researchers from the Imperial College London, psilocybin (the hallucinogenic compound found in fungi) was found to be more helpful in treating depression than a conventional antidepressant.

In the trials, researchers compared before and after brain scans of two sets of participants: one group that was given psilocybin, and another group that was given psilocybin or an antidepressant called escitalopram. After examining the brain scans, the results concluded that the antidepressant was slightly less effective. Results showed the psilocybin helped areas of the brain communicate better with one another, and researchers believe it could lead to an “emotional release.”

Researcher and senior author of the study David Nutt, head of the Imperial Center of Psychedelic Research, said in an interview with New Zealand public-service radio broadcaster RNZ: “This is the first time we find that psilocybin works differently from conventional antidepressants – making the brain more flexible and fluid, and less entrenched in the negative thinking patterns associated with depression.”

One study published in the National Library of Medicine says antidepressants may only improve depression symptoms for 40 to 60 people out of 100. But given the fact that 8.4 percent of all U.S. adults experienced a “major depressive episode” in 2020, a psychedelic treatment like magic mushrooms, may be a welcomed alternative to traditional medication.

While Nutt and other researchers confirmed psychedelic treatment might be a prescribed option in the future, he confirmed that psilocybin should never be self-administered. Consult a healthcare professional to learn more about psychedelic medicine and whether magic mushrooms are the right treatment option for you.

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