A Psychedelic Compound From Magic Mushrooms Opens Up The Brain Of Depressed People, Study Suggests UK News
The psychedelic component in magic mushrooms helps open up the brains of depressed people and make them less anchored in negative thought patterns, according to a study.
Researchers found psilocybin made the brain more flexible, even weeks after use.
They suggest that the results suggest that psilocybin could be an alternative approach to treating depression because it works differently than regular antidepressants.
Patterns of brain activity in depression can become rigid and reticent, they said, but psilocybin may help the brain break out of a rut in ways traditional therapies can’t.
Professor David Nutt, head of the Imperial Center for Psychedelic Research, said: “These results are important because for the first time we are finding that psilocybin works differently than traditional antidepressants – it makes the brain more flexible and fluid and less locked into negative thinking patterns in the brain association with depression.
“This supports our initial predictions and confirms that psilocybin could be a real alternative approach to treating depression.”
The publication’s senior author, Professor Robin Carhart-Harris, former director of the Imperial Center for Psychedelic Research, now based at the University of California, San Francisco, said: “The effects observed with psilocybin are consistent in two studies comparing related to making people better off. and has not been observed with a conventional antidepressant.
“In previous studies we’d seen a similar effect in the brain when people were scanned while taking a psychedelic, but here we’re seeing it weeks after treatment for depression, suggesting a ‘carry over’ of the acute drug effect.”
Psilocybin is one of several psychedelics being researched as a potential therapy for psychiatric disorders.
The latest findings are based on analysis of brain scans of around 60 people being treated for depression, led by Imperial College London’s Center for Psychedelic Research.
Results from two combined studies show that people who responded to psilocybin-assisted therapy showed increased brain connectivity not only during their treatment, but also for up to three weeks afterwards.
The opening effect was associated with people reporting improvements in their depression.
The researchers said that similar changes in brain connectivity were not seen in those treated with a conventional antidepressant, escitalopram, suggesting the psychedelic acts differently in treating depression.
The team said the results, published in the journal Nature Medicine, are a promising advance for psilocybin therapy.
However, they said while the results are encouraging, patients with depression should not attempt to self-medicate with psilocybin because ingesting magic mushrooms or psilocybin without study conditions may not have a positive outcome.