May is Mental Health Awareness month, and with some new laws passed in Oregon recently, I wanted to shed a little light on "Magic Mushrooms". Magic mushrooms are called such because they contain a psychoactive ingredient called psilocybin.
While magic mushrooms are taken for their mind-altering effects, psilocybin is being studied for its potential benefits in the field of mental health.
The New England Journal of Medicine has recently published the biggest clinical trial of psilocybin so far.
A total of 233 individuals suffering from depression that was not responding to standard treatments participated in the study. The participants were living in 10 different countries.
During the trial, the participants were given a form of psychological support along with a single dose of a specific synthetic psilocybin. The dose administered could be either 25mg, 10mg, or 1mg, which was used as a control.
The results are as follows:
At week 3, the 25 mg dose of psilocybin showed significant improvement in depression symptoms compared to the 1 mg dose, but there was no significant improvement with the 10 mg dose.
At week 3, 37% of the individuals in the 25 mg group showed a more than 50% improvement and met the response criteria.
By week 12, only 20% of the individuals in the 25 mg group continued to experience benefits.
77% of all participants experienced side effects such as headache, nausea, and dizziness.
The study found that psilocybin has long-lasting effects, as a previous study showed that 2 doses of psilocybin could have effects that lasted up to 12 months. However, the current study only tracked the results for 12 weeks.
Psilocybin is considered illegal in many countries, but certain states in the US have recently made it legal for medical purposes. Oregon is one of the few states that has regulated psilocybin which is very exciting for the world of mental health!
To be honest, I think psilocybin is going to be huge for medicine within the next 5-10 years. It's already helped so many people as an under-the-radar therapy. Keep your eyes peeled for more in the news in the coming months!
Goodwin GM, Aaronson ST, Alvarez O, et al. Single-Dose Psilocybin for a Treatment-Resistant Episode of Major Depression. N Engl J Med. 2022;387(18):1637-1648. [link]