Can Psilocybin Treat OCD?

A new study that was authored and published in the Journal of Psychedelic Studies by Eddie Jacobs, a neuroethicist, suggests that psilocybin exhibits great potential as a treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder (“OCD”). Jacobs, who is from the University of Oxford and King’s College London, admits that the inadequacy of studies that research the therapeutic potential of psilocybin in the treatment of OCD is surprising.

Psilocybin is a psychedelic compound that is found in magic mushrooms. In the recent past, the FDA granted psilocybin breakthrough status designation for its use as an alternative therapy for major depressive disorder and treatment-resistant depression. Breakthrough therapy status simply means that the clinical evidence is clinically meaningful and supported with results that promise better outcomes than existing interventions. Apart from helping manage depression, psilocybin therapy has also been effective in helping terminally ill cancer patients come to terms with their diagnosis and has helped them deal with their end of life anxiety.

OCD is ranked as the 4th most common mental disorder, after substance abuse, depression and certain phobias. OCD affects roughly 2% of individuals at some point in their lives and is found to be disruptive as well as distressing.

Jacobs states that his interest in psilocybin as a treatment for OCD developed after he found out how little research had been done concerning this therapeutic outcome. He suggested that with the remarkable results produced from using psilocybin to manage anxiety and depression, using psilocybin to help treat OCD should also hypothetically be effective.

Until recently, only one study focused on psilocybin for OCD treatment and was carried out at the University of Arizona. This study, which was published in 2006, studied 9 OCD patients whose symptoms ranged from moderate to severe. Each patient had 3 psilocybin doses administered, at one-week intervals, with each dose more potent than the last. The results showed that all patients exhibited symptomatic relief from their OCD in the first 24 hours after their treatment was administered. The long-term effects weren’t as impressive but they were nevertheless, relevant.

Currently, Francisco Moreno and his colleagues, who conducted the 2006 trial are carrying out another clinical trial that is investigating the potential of psilocybin in treating OCD. Additionally, Yale University is conducting a similar trial that is studying the short-term effects of one psilocybin dose on a patient with acute OCD symptoms.

Jacobs adds that while it seems promising that psilocybin may be an effective therapy for OCD, the research is still far from completion. This is not the only psychedelic substance being used as an alternative treatment option. The different studies that have been done on different psychedelics in the recent years have produced remarkable results. For instance, the use of MDMA in psychotherapy treatment for individuals who suffer from PTSD as well as psychotherapy treatment using psilocybin for people with major depression has encouraged the scientific community take a closer look at these substances. The trend we see is clear enough and it would therefore not be far-fetched to say that psychedelic medicine may become a legal therapy option a few years from now. That possibility could be the reason why entities like Cybin Corp. are engaged in a lot of R&D in the psychedelics field.

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