Psilocybin or magic mushrooms seen to help treat depression, addiction [study]

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Psilocybin or magic mushrooms
Credits: Arp/Wikimedia

With cases of depression and mental health issues accelerating during the COVID-19 pandemic, a study released by Johns Hopkins University found that psilocybin, commonly known as magic mushrooms, could treat depression, neuropathic pain, and many illnesses with unmet medical needs.

In a study published in November, researchers found that two doses of psilocybin, combined with psychotherapy, produce “rapid and large reductions in depressive symptoms.”

While psilocybin remains among the most restricted drugs in the region, recent amendments in regulations have paved the way for more clinical research and trials of the substance.

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Psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, is part of the list of Schedule I substances by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. These substances are classified as having no medical use and a high potential for abuse.

Dr. Alan Davis of the Psychedelic Research Unit at Johns Hopkins University said this move has delayed crucial treatments.

“It’s taken decades to overcome that kind of stigma, and we still deal with it to some extent,” Davis said.

 An important use of psilocybin or magic mushrooms

Results of the recent research by Johns Hopkins University experts, however, uncovered an important use of the substance.

“One week after the treatment was completed, about 67-percent of people had a clinically significant response,” Davis said, “and 58-percent of people were in complete remission from depression.”

These results, according to the study, are four times more effective than any antidepressant drug available today.

Psilocin, which is present in most psychedelic mushrooms together with its phosphorylated counterpart psilocybin, work by activating certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as  5-HT2A, 5-HT2B, and 5-HT2C.

Alan Kozikowski, an American medicinal chemist, and drug designer told Observer that psilocybin-like drug targeting specific receptors in just the right amount could be an “effective treatment for opiate addiction as well as eating disorders—two conditions that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic havoc and social-distancing isolation can trigger—and treatment-resistant epilepsy.”

Just recently, the Canadian government has allowed people in the country with a terminal illness to possess and consume psilocybin or magic mushrooms and later granted 16 healthcare experts the same exemptions.

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