Mushrooms: Treatment for depression

The active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms is called psilocybin — and a new British study suggests it could safely be used to treat depression when other drugs have failed, offering hope to millions of patients worldwide.

The study, conducted by King’s College London and mental healthcare company Compass Pathways, administered psilocybin to 89 healthy adult volunteers.

The study compared the effects of 10mg and 25mg doses of psilocybin, and a placebo.

There were “no serious adverse events” and “no negative effects” on cognitive and emotional function among the volunteers that took psilocybin, according to a Compass Pathways press release.

Instead, the volunteers experienced “changes in sensory perception and positive mood alteration” — typical effects of psychedelic drugs.

“The results of the study are clinically reassuring and support further development of psilocybin as a treatment for patients with mental health problems that haven’t improved with conventional therapy, such as treatment resistant depression,” said James Rucker, one of the lead researchers from King’s College London, in the press release.

This is just the first of two phases in their testing — the second phase trial will involve over 200 patients with depression across Europe and North America.

More than 264 million people worldwide are affected by depression, according to the World Health Organization.

The most common pharmaceutical treatment is to take antidepressants like Prozac, which increase levels of serotonin in the brain to improve mood.

But this type of antidepressant doesn’t work for everyone, and is generally prescribed as a long-term treatment to maintain effectiveness.

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