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News & Blogs » Antibody News » Clinicians Use Psychedelic Mushrooms To Treat Depression
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Clinicians Use Psychedelic Mushrooms To Treat Depression

Nov 29, 2017

Researchers have been interested in the beneficial effects of recreational drugs for decades, however, not many studies have been able to prove a direct correlation between drug use, altered brain activity, and positive effects on psychological disorders. Most studies analyzing the effects of recreational drug use mainly focus on the “psychedelic state” rater than post-treatment effects on brain activity and/or mood. However, throughout history various hallucinogens, such as magic mushrooms and LSD, have been used in conjunction with psychological support to treat psychological disorders ranging from addiction to anxiety and/or depression. To better understand the role hallucinogens may have in treating psychological disorders, researchers of the Imperial College London measured brain activity and emotional state of patients suffering from treatment resistant depression (TRD) after receiving the magic mushroom psychedelic compound psilocybin. Psilocybin produces its hallucinogenic affects because it is a non-selective serotonin 2A receptor agonist structurally similar to the neurotransmitter serotonin, and therefore can activate open serotonin receptors. Researchers were interested in identifying how psilocybin affects post-treatment cerebral blood flow (CBF) and emotional state in order to prove their direct relationship. In the study, 19 TRD patients were given 2 doses of psilocybin 1 week apart (10mg and 25mg). Compared to pre-treatment basal levels, treated patients 1 week post-treatment showed decreased depressive symptoms as well as decreased CBF in the temporal lobes, specifically within the amygdala, the region of the brain responsible for processing emotions involved in depression, stress, and fear. 5 weeks post-treatment, 47% of treated patients still showed signs of decreased depressive symptoms and reduced CBF. From this study, researchers believe that psilocybin may allow patients to go through a “reset” therapeutic mechanism, which allows their brains to “reboot” from a depressive state to a non depressive state.


Carhart-Harris, R. L., Roseman, L., Bolstridge, M., Demetriou, L., Pannekoek, J. N., Wall, M. B., ... & Leech, R. (2017). Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression: fMRI-measured brain mechanisms.  Scientific reports  7(1), 13187

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