Get ready world, “magic” mushrooms, which contain the psychoactive compound psilocybin, may soon become the standard go-to for reversing what the World Health Organization says is the number one cause of disability on the planet: depression.
A brand new first of its kind study published in The Lancet reports that psilocybin mushrooms were able to lift the severe depression of all twelve human volunteer participants, even though they had been struggling with the disease for an average of over seventeen years and despite that fact that none of the subjects had found relief with multiple rounds of standard anti-depressant medication.
“This is the first time that psilocybin has been investigated as a potential treatment for major depression,” says lead study author Dr Robin Carhart-Harris of the Imperial College London, where the study took place. “Treatment-resistant depression is common, disabling and extremely difficult to treat. New treatments are urgently needed, and our study shows that psilocybin is a promising area of future research.”
What is most remarkable about the study is that the depression symptoms lifted considerably following just a single treatment dose of psilocybin for every participant in the study, and for a majority of them the antidepressant effects of the mushrooms were still in effect three months after the dosing.
Amazingly, five of the original twelve severely depressed patients were in complete remission from depression three months after the study took place, even though they were following no other treatment plan.
“Previous animal and human brain imaging studies have suggested that psilocybin may have effects similar to other antidepressant treatments,” says Professor David Nutt, who co-authored the study. “Psilocybin targets the serotonin receptors in the brain, just as most antidepressants do, but it has a very different chemical structure to currently available antidepressants and acts faster than traditional antidepressants.”
Depression is usually treated with selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which not only have a long list of negative side effects associated with them, including dizziness, insomnia, headaches, and even lower birth weights in infants, but need to be taken on a daily basis as well.
Psilocybin mushrooms, on the other hand, are entirely natural and do not need to be taken every day in order for one to experience their profound anti-depressive properties. They can be consumed when needed, and their benefit can last for weeks, months, or even years after each session.
“The key observation that might eventually justify the use of a drug like psilocybin in treatment-resistant depression is demonstration of sustained benefit in patients who previously have experienced years of symptoms despite conventional treatments, which makes longer-term outcomes particularly important,” says Professor Philip Cowen, a clinical scientist at the University of Oxford, in a linked comment on the study.
The truth is that a fast-acting and completely natural single dose anti-depressant that actually has higher remission rates than any other current treatment available could totally revolutionize the way depression is currently handled in mainstream medicine. Mother Nature has proven herself superior to chemical cocktails once again.
The only thing standing in the way is the law of course, as psilocybin mushrooms are still classified under Schedule I, despite this study, other similar findings, and their long history of medicinal and sacred use in indigenous cultures.