According to a new study, magic mushroom could be the solution depressed people have been seeking for. Magic mushrooms have been found to contain psilocybin, a psychoactive compound that can lead to a reduction of depression for people battling with this mental problem. The latest study highlighted that this Fungi may effectively ‘reset’ the activity of key brain circuits known to play a role in depression.
Over the years clinical trials have been conducted on how psychedelics that are found in magic mushrooms can help in the treatment of depression and addictions and the results have been promising.
Researchers at the Imperial College London researchers used psilocybin – the psychoactive compound that occurs naturally in magic mushrooms to treat a small number of patients with depression, monitoring their brain function, before and after. And the result showed that the images of patients’ brains changes in brain activity which showed a marked and lasting reduction in depressive symptoms and participants in the trial reported benefits lasting up to five weeks after treatment.
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Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial, who led the study, said: “We have shown for the first time clear changes in brain activity in depressed people treated with psilocybin after failing to respond to conventional treatments.
“Several of our patients described feeling ‘reset’ after the treatment and often used computer analogies. For example, one said he felt like his brain had been ‘defragged’ like a computer hard drive, and another said he felt ‘rebooted’.
“Psilocybin may be giving these individuals the temporary ‘kick start’ they need to break out of their depressive states and these imaging results do tentatively support a ‘reset’ analogy. Similar brain effects to these have been seen with electroconvulsive therapy.”
Another study was also conducted on 20 patients. They were given two doses of psilocybin which were then followed by a second dose the next week. Of these, 19 underwent initial brain imaging and then a second scan one day after the high dose treatment. The team used two main brain imaging methods to measure changes in blood flow and the crosstalk between brain regions, with patients reporting their depressive symptoms through completing clinical questionnaires.
Immediately following treatment with psilocybin, patients reported a decrease in depressive symptoms, such as improvements in mood and stress relief.
MRI imaging revealed reduced blood flow in areas of the brain, including the amygdala, a small, almond-shaped region of the brain known to be involved in processing emotional responses, stress and fear.
The researchers of the Imperial College also re-acknowledged the positive findings found in the magic mushrooms, stating that the results is in complete absence of a control/placebo effect and further stressing that it would be dangerous for patients with depression to attempt to self-medicate.
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Professor David Nutt, director of the neuropsychopharmacology unit in the division of brain sciences, and senior author of the paper, said: “Larger studies are needed to see if this positive effect can be reproduced in more patients. But these initial findings are exciting and provide another treatment avenue to explore.”
The authors currently plan to test psilocybin against a leading antidepressant in a trial set in the coming years.