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Psilocybin v Anti-depressants

New study indicates that the active ingredient in 'magic mushrooms' (psilocybin) is 4 times more effective as a therapy than anti-depressants.

Recently, as reported in OGN, the US state of Oregon voted to become the first state to legalise access to psilocybin for all adults. A new study strongly suggests this was a good decision.

Small scale preliminary human trials have investigated the effect of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in treating major depressive disorder (MDD). This new study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, offers the first peer-reviewed published data showing efficacy for this particular mental health condition.

This is important as it's estimated that some 300 million people worldwide suffer from the debilitating condition of MDD.

For the trials, a total of 24 subjects were recruited with at least two-years documented history of depression, with all subjects being required to wean off any anti-depressant treatment before the trial commenced. The treatment process resembled the general protocol used in most psilocybin studies. Two doses of psilocybin were administered to each subject, spaced two weeks apart. A number of psychotherapy sessions both preceded and followed the active psilocybin sessions.

By the end of the study, 71 percent of the subjects displayed more than a 50 percent reduction in depressive symptoms after four weeks. In comparison with studies focusing on the efficacy of antidepressants on MDD, psilocybin therapy was four times more effective.

“The magnitude of the effect we saw was about four times larger than what clinical trials have shown for traditional antidepressants on the market,” says Alan Davis, from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and corresponding author on the study. “Because most other depression treatments take weeks or months to work and may have undesirable effects, this could be a game changer if these findings hold up in future ‘gold-standard’ placebo-controlled clinical trials.”

Philanthropist Tim Ferriss, who financially supported this preliminary study, calls this new research a “critically important proof of concept.” A well-known advocate for psychedelic medicine, Ferriss says these promising results are only the beginning of a major paradigm shift in mental health treatment.

A larger Phase 2 trial testing psilocybin for MDD is currently underway.

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