A groundbreaking study suggests that magic mushrooms could help relieve the symptoms of depression. Additionally, researchers concluded that patients who took psilocybin, i.e., a naturally occurring psychoactive compound present in magic mushrooms, experienced a great reduction in their symptoms a month after treatment. The patients also experienced a “reset” of their brains.
Specifically, in the clinical trials, participants suffering from treatment-resistant depression took 2 doses of psilocybin — ten milligrams followed by twenty-five milligrams, 1-week apart — whereas researchers focused on brain function changes after and before using psilocybin. Researchers concluded that the treatment resulted in “sustained and rapid antidepressant effects.”
In addition, comparisons of images of the brains of patients before and after using psilocybin suggested decreased blood flow in parts of the brain that play a role in processing emotional responses such as fear and stress. What’s more, researchers found elevated stability in another brain network, which has been previously associated with depression itself and immediate effects of psilocybin.
The study included nineteen participants. Head of Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London, Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, was the lead author of the study.
Dr. Carhart-Harris noted that they had found significant changes in brain activity in depression sufferers using psilocybin after failing to respond to standard treatments.
A few of their patients reported feeling ‘reset’ after using the drug. Namely, one participant noted that he felt ‘rebooted’; and another stated that after the treatment, he actually felt like his brain had been ‘defragged’ like a computer hard drive.
Dr. Carhart-Harris also pointed out that the treatment gave these patients the short-term ‘kick start’ required for breaking out of depression. He also stated that these imaging results could temporarily support a ‘reset’ analogy.
Furthermore, the results showed that participants scoring highest on “peak” or “mystical” experience had a greater change. This is actually consistent with the results from previous studies that have proven that such experiences could contribute to long-term changes in the values, behaviors and attitudes of those treated with psilocybin.