Antidepressants could treat depression, however, they have adverse effects such as emotional blunting, indifference, or apathy. Meanwhile, a new research that consists of two studies indicated that magic mushrooms could treat depression without undergoing these side effects.
The first study was published in the journal Neuropharmacology. Meanwhile, the second study was printed in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology. Both studies were led by Leor Roseman, a member of the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London (ICL) and other colleagues.
Magic mushroom is also called psilocybin mushroom, which contains psychedelic compounds such as psilocin, psilocybin, and baeocystin. It is reported that these mushrooms have been used since prehistoric times. It is used in spiritual and religious rituals in Mesoamerica before. It is now considered one of the most recreational psychedelics in the United States and Europe. Magic mushrooms could treat illnesses and disorders such as headaches, anxiety, addiction, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorders, according to The Third Wave.
In the first study, the scientists examined 20 people with moderate to severe depression, who had been given two dosing sessions with the magic mushroom compound known as psilocybin. The team thinks that this drug could restore and strengthen the emotional responsiveness in the brain.
The researchers scanned their brains using functional MRI before and after the drug was taken. The participants were also provided psychological support before, during and after the intervention to evaluate the treatment of depression.
The results showed that after the treatment, the patients felt better. They were emotionally responsive and could reconnect with their emotions. The MRI also showed a stronger response to emotive faces and there was more activity in brain’s amygdala, which is an emotion-processing region linked with depression.
In the second study, the team evaluated 20 volunteers who undertook two treatment sessions with magic mushroom. They gave them questionnaires to examine this “mystical-type experience” that involves feelings of unity and a lack of boundaries between the self and the universe.
The results showed that the volunteers had better mental health in the long-term as they felt strongly this “mystical-type experience.” The symptoms of depression were also diminished and the participants experienced mental benefits that lasted for weeks.
The researchers are now planning to conduct larger trials involving a healthy control group to examine the effects of magic mushroom compared with an existing antidepressant, according to Medical News Today.