A Dose Of Synthetic ‘Magic Mushrooms’ May Temporarily Relieve Treatment-Resistant Depression, Study Finds

Psilocybin, the psychedelic chemical found in so-called magic mushrooms, may help treat depression in some patients, according to a new study. The researchers said that a single 25mg dose of the synthetic psilocybin formulation significantly reduced depression scores in patients, but was associated with adverse side effects.

For the peer-reviewed study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers randomly assigned adults with treatment-resistant depression to a single dose of psilocybin. Patients with treatment-resistant depression had already tried several different medications to treat their depression, but none of them worked, Dr. Steve Levine told CBS News. Levine is senior vice president of patient access and medical affairs at mental health care company Compass Pathways, where he works closely with the study’s lead author, Dr. Guy Goodwin.

For the study, participants received a dose of 25 mg, 10 mg, or 1 mg, which was the control group. They also received psychological support. Levine said all of the patients took the doses in the presence of a therapist.

Three weeks later, the researchers assessed the patients’ depression using the Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), a common clinician-administered test used to assess depression, which varies from 0 to 60. They found those who had received 25 mg of psilocybin. dropped an average of 12 points on the scale. Those who received 10 mg lost 7.9 points and the control group who received 1 mg lost 5.4 points.

Freshly picked magic mushrooms reclassified as a Class A drug in the UK
The researchers tested a synthetic version of psilocybin, the psychedelic component found in so-called magic mushrooms.

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images


Taking a 25mg dose of psilocybin results in a psychedelic experience, Levine said.

“Patients don’t take this home, but it’s in a supervised medical setting, a room specifically designed to be therapeutic and supportive,” he said. “They lay down, wear a blindfold, listen to a curated music playlist. And most importantly, they’re followed all the time.”

The session lasted six to eight hours, and a therapist was there to support the patient and talk to him afterward, Levine said.

Levine said all patients took only one dose for the study.

“I wouldn’t say it’s not shocking, but it’s unusual in that any other treatment available for depression, most of them are drugs that have to be taken every day, and sometimes several times. times a day,” he said.

“It’s really unprecedented in the sense that it was just one administration,” Levine added. “Now that doesn’t mean we think it’s going to be curative. We think our treatment is likely to be used episodically.”

While the 25 mg group showed some remission of depression at three weeks, results were not maintained at 12 weeks.

And of the 233 participants, 179 showed adverse effects, including headache, nausea and dizziness. Suicidal ideation or behavior or self-harm occurred in all dose groups, which Levine said is common, especially since all patients had treatment-resistant depression.

“The findings are both intriguing and sobering,” wrote Bertha Madras, professor of psychobiology at Harvard Medical School, in an op-ed published in the same issue of the journal.

Madras, who was not involved in the study, highlighted many concerns about the potential risks of medical use of psilocybin, but noted, “Nevertheless, it is provocative that these agents show short-term benefits for depression in certain populations.”

She called the latest study “the most rigorous and powerful phase 2 clinical trial” conducted so far on the use of psilocybin to treat depression.

Levine said they are now in Phase 3 of the study, where they are further testing the 25mg dosage. He said if the drug ever becomes a regulated drug, it will likely be administered in the same way as the study – in a medical setting in which the patient is monitored by a specialist therapist all the time.

Oregon has already passed legislation that decriminalizes psilocybin. Colorado could become the next state to do so, with a move to allow controlled drug use on the ballot in midterm elections this month. The Colorado measure also proposes adding other herbal psychedelic drugs to the program, including dimethyltryptamine, commonly known as DMT.

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