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Magic mushrooms may prove beneficial to depression sufferers

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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
1/24/2012 (7 years ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

Psilocybin, used by ravers and hippies, may have therapeutic effect on distressed brain function

"Magic mushroom," a type of mushroom that goes under the official name of psilocybin, is frequently abused by hippies or those who attend raves. The mushroom gives users a hallucinogenic rush, akin to LSD. Illegal in the United States, some British researchers now say the mushroom may prove beneficial for those who suffer from depression.

Research on psilocybin has yielded positive results for its medicinal potential. Psilocybin has shown to be helpful for terminally ill cancer patients dealing with anxiety. Preliminary studies on its use in treating depression are also promising.

Research on psilocybin has yielded positive results for its medicinal potential. Psilocybin has shown to be helpful for terminally ill cancer patients dealing with anxiety. Preliminary studies on its use in treating depression are also promising.

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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
1/24/2012 (7 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Magic mushroom, depression, brain function, medical appllication


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "We have found that these drugs turn off the parts of the brain that integrate sensations - seeing, hearing, feeling - with thinking," David Nutt, co-author of the study and researcher at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom says.

Britain's former chief drug adviser, Nutt has previously published controversial papers about the effects of various drugs. Nutt was asked to leave his government position in 2009 because "he cannot be both a government adviser and a campaigner against government policy."

Scientists explored the effect of psilocybin on the brain, documenting the neural basis behind the altered state of consciousness that subjects reported after using magic mushrooms.

Research on psilocybin has yielded positive results for its medicinal potential. Psilocybin has shown to be helpful for terminally ill cancer patients dealing with anxiety. Preliminary studies on its use in treating depression are also promising.

Psilocybin is illegal in the U.S. Considered a Schedule 1 drug, along with heroin and LSD. Psilocybin has been found to "have a high potential for abuse and serve no legitimate medical purpose in the United States," according to the Department of Justice.

Nutt's study was preliminary and small, with only 30 participants. The study found that the more psilocybin shuts off the brain, the greater the feeling of being in an altered state of consciousness. It's not the same as dreaming, because you're fully conscious and aware, Nutt says.

People who use the drug report varying degrees of mental consciousness. "Some people say they become one with the universe," he said. "It's that sort of transcendental experience."

However -- Roland Griffiths, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says it's counterintuitive that a hallucinogenic drug would de-activate rather than stimulate key brain regions. Griffiths was not involved in Nutt's study, but has also researched the effects of psilocybin.

Even if this drug gets approved some day, don't expect to be able to pick up a prescription for psilocybin at your local pharmacy, Griffiths says. There are the expected potential dangers. Some people have frightening experiences while on psilocybin. The fear and anxiety responses of magic mushrooms can be so great that, when taken casually in a non-medical setting, people can cause harm to themselves or others. They may jump out a window or run into traffic because of a panic reaction.

The drug would have to be administered in a controlled setting in a hospital, if found in further research to be an effective and safe therapy for certain mental illnesses, Griffiths said.

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