Words: Eva O’Beirne
Scientists have found that small doses of the psychedelic drug psilocybin, which is found in ‘magic mushrooms’, help with disorders such as treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and have no short or long-term side effects in healthy people.
In the first-of-its-kind human trial by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, researchers used a sample of 89 “healthy” participants with 60 being chosen to receive either a 10mg or a 25mg dose of ‘magic mushrooms’ in a controlled lab environment.
After the doses were administered, the patients received one-to-one support from trained psychotherapists. The remaining 29 participants received a placebo drug, as well as psychological support. The participants were closely monitored for six to eight hours and they were regularly checked in with by IoPPN for twelve weeks.
However, the study did not define what a “healthy” person was or whether the participants suffered form these disorders.
National Institute for Health Research Clinical Scientist Dr James Rucker commented on the progress of the study: This is the largest ever randomised controlled trial with psilocybin published in a peer-reviewed journal.”
“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. 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.”
The study found that the psilocybin doses did not have any short or long-term negative effects on the patients.
In an earlier study by Imperial College London, researchers compared the effect of psilocybin to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), in a group of 59 people with moderate to severe depression. The study found that symptoms of depression were reduced more quickly and effectively in the psilocybin group than the SSRI group over a six week period.
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