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Magic Mushrooms Could Effectively Treat Posttraumatic Stress

— January 11, 2022

Psilocybin and psychotherapy have proven to be effective in treating mental health conditions.

A new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that magic mushrooms (a psychedelic drug) are safe and effective for treating conditions like posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  The research team, led by Dr. James Rucker, a clinical scientist from the National Institute for Health Research, reported that small doses of psilocybin, which is found in magic mushrooms, can ease symptoms of mental health conditions that are resistant to other forms of treatment.  Psilocybin also does not have any side effects in healthy individuals.

The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, in partnership with COMPASS Pathways, performed the study and found that up to “six patients” can be administered doses of “either 10mg or 25mg” at one time and will experience a decrease in distressing symptoms.  Their report is a necessary “first step for experts to prove the safety and feasibility of psilocybin as a treatment alongside talking therapies for a range of conditions including treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and PTSD,” scientists said.

A sample of 89 participants who hadn’t used psilocybin within a year signed up for the clinical trial.  From this sample, the research team picked sixty people at random to receive psilocybin in a lab setting.  After the psilocybin was administered, the patients received psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress and other conditions.  The remaining 29 participants acted as the control group and received a placebo combined with psychotherapy.

The participants were monitored in the controlled environment for six to eight hours.  They followed up with the team after twelve weeks and were assessed for changes to mental status, including “sustained attention, memory, planning, as well as their ability to process emotions,” the team reported.

Magic Mushrooms Could Effectively Treat Posttraumatic Stress
Photo by Nandhu Kumar from Pexels

Rucker said, “This rigorous study is an important first demonstration that the simultaneous administration of psilocybin can be explored further.  If we think about how psilocybin therapy (if approved) may be delivered in the future, it’s important to demonstrate the feasibility and the safety of giving it to more than one person at the same time, so we can think about how we scale up the treatment.”  He continued, “This therapy has promise for people living with serious mental health problems, like treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and PTSD.  They can be extremely disabling, distressing and disruptive, but current treatment options for these conditions are ineffective or partially effective for many people.”

Professor Guy Goodwin the chief medical officer at COMPASS Pathways, added, “This study was an early part of our clinical development program for COMP360 psilocybin therapy.  It explored the safety and feasibility of simultaneous psilocybin administration, with one-on-one support, in healthy participants, and provided a strong foundation to which we have now added positive results from our Phase IIb trial in 233 patients with TRD, and from our open-label study of patients taking SSRI antidepressants alongside psilocybin therapy.  We are looking forward to finalizing plans for our phase three program, which we expect to begin in Q3 2022.”

In July of last year, Yale researchers administered a single dose of psilocybin to mice and this does “prompted an immediate and long-lasting increase in connections between neurons,” they reported.  The results showed that posttraumatic stress and depression could be effectively treated.

“We not only saw a ten percent increase in the number of neuronal connections, but also they were on average about ten percent larger, so the connections were stronger as well,” said senior author Alex Kwan, associate professor of psychiatry and of neuroscience at Yale.  These findings show promise for the treatment of major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder.


Magic Mushrooms Are Safe to Treat Mental Health Conditions, Says Another Landmark Trial

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