New research has discovered that psilocybin may free up the brains of individuals suffering from depression more effectively, in comparison to antidepressants. Psilocybin is the active hallucinogenic compound found in magic mushrooms, and it belongs to a class of drugs known as psychedelics. Psychedelic substances usually affect an individual’s senses, altering their emotions and perception of time as well as their thinking.
Psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin and MDMA are currently being studied for use in treating various mental health conditions. This particular study’s results show that these substances could help treat severe depression. However, the researchers warn against consuming psilocybin outside a clinical setting.
The study’s author, Professor David Nutt, stated that this discovery was important and exciting. He is the current head of the Center for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London. Nutt explained that depression promoted a negative way of thinking, which made it hard for individuals to free themselves from this cycle.
For their study, the researchers administered psilocybin to all participants in one clinical trial. After this, they conducted a randomized controlled trial in which some individuals received antidepressants while some received psilocybin.
Participants from both studies underwent therapy with registered mental health professionals during this period. The researchers took brain scans before the therapies were administered and again after their administration. The researchers found that the administration of psilocybin opened individuals’ brains up and allowed them to become more flexible. The researchers also observed increased connections between various regions of brains in scans that were taken after the drug had been administered.
However, they did not observe any changes in the brains of individuals who were treated using regular antidepressants. They noted that patients treated with the psychedelic were more likely to record an improvement in their mood weeks after the treatment’s administration.
In the report, Nutt added that their findings supported initial predictions and confirmed that psilocybin could be used as an alternative therapy to current treatments for depression. However, the senior author of the study, Professor Robin Carhart-Harris, added that the group was unable to determine how long the changes in brain activity would last.
Unlike standard antidepressants that are consumed daily, psilocybin only needs to be administered once or twice in order to produce the same effect. However, more studies are needed to confirm this. Actually, a number of companies, including Silo Pharma Inc. (OTCQB: SILO), are already looking to commercialize psychedelic-based formulations for the treatment of mental health disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Researchers also plan to look into how brain connectivity is affected during the treatment’s administration in other mental health conditions. The study’s findings were reported in “Nature Medicine.”
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