In a new study, psilocybin, a synthetic version of the mind-altering substance found in magic mushrooms, improved severe depression -the treatment-resistant kind- for up to twelve weeks.
The 25mg psilocybin tablet induces a dreamlike state in patients, increasing the likelihood of successful psychological therapy.
“This drug can be extracted from magic mushrooms, but that is not the way our compound is generated. It’s synthesized in a purely chemical process to produce a crystalline form,” said Goodwin, the chief medical officer of COMPASS Pathways, the company that makes COMP360 and carried out the study.
Experts in the field are pretty excited about the study as it looks promising.
“They clearly found a dose effect and clinically meaningful improvement in just three weeks,” said Dr Matthew Johnson, a professor in psychedelics and consciousness at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. He was not involved in the new study.
“The maximum effect (was) seen the day after receiving the treatment. This contrasts with standard antidepressants, which take several weeks to reach maximum effect,” said Dr Anthony Cleare, a professor of psychopharmacology and affective disorders at King’s College London. He did not participate in the research.
However, before this drug derived from magic mushrooms would be available for clinical use, experts said there are several issues that require further study.
Clinical trials – the “waking dream.”
The clinical trial was conducted at 22 locations in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and seven European countries.
25-milligram dose of a synthetic psilocybin, COMP360, as compared to a 10-milligram and 1-milligram dose in the randomly selected, double-blind clinical trial.
Therapists were on hand to provide support.
In the UK, participants were severely depressed for more than a year and were around 40.
For six to eight hours, the patients lay on a bed in a quiet room and went on a psychedelic “trip,” which one described as “a waking dream.”
“It can be extremely positive, but it can also be extremely negative,” Dr. Rucker told BBC News. “For example, difficult memories from the past can surface at the same time as feeling a reconnection with yourself and your feelings.”
After receiving treatment, one in three was declared no longer clinically depressed, and one in five saw a major improvement in 12 weeks.
Magic mushrooms cure -the aftermath
Patients were evaluated a week after trials. Some in all groups experienced side effects such as headaches, nausea, extreme tiredness, and suicidal thoughts.
While the researchers have reassured that these side effects are typical, experts have expressed concern that it could be more than passing and presents a potential danger.
However, many experts maintain that the magic mushroom extract may revolutionise mental illness treatment.
“Psilocybin may [one day] provides a potential alternative to antidepressants that have been prescribed for decades,” says University of Edinburgh head of psychiatry Prof Andrew McIntosh.
Some, however, worry about the longevity of the drug’s effect as it wears off after 12 weeks.
“Depression can be a long-lasting problem, and much longer follow-up periods than 12 weeks should be used,” Dr Ravi Das, from University College London, said.
More trials have been called for.
According to experts, it could be three years before this drug is available for clinical use.
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