Magic Mushrooms May Help Treat Depression

By: | November 5th, 2017

Magic mushrooms may help treat depression

Image courtesy Robin Carhart-Harris/Imperial College London

A special ingredient found in magic mushrooms may treat people with depression by “resetting” the brain.

The ingredient in question is called psilocybin. Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic prodrug compound produced by more than 200 species of mushrooms, collectively known as psilocybin or magic mushrooms.

The fMRI imaging revealed reduced activity in certain parts of the brain after taking the drug

A team of researchers at Imperial College London conducted a study on 19 patients with depression in whom conventional treatment had failed. After taking the drug psilocybin, the patients showed reduced symptoms.

Psychedelic chemical treated depression by “resetting” the brain

Around 50 percent of patients described an “afterglow” effect that lasted up to five weeks. Many of the depressed patients described the feeling as having their brains “rebooted” or “reset.”

Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial College London, 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.

“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.”

The initial findings of the study are exciting, but a larger study is needed to explore this treatment further.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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