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posted by martyb on Wednesday May 18 2016, @03:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the it's-magic! dept.

The BBC reports on a small trial (12 patients) that used psilocybin to treat "moderate-to-severe, unipolar, treatment-resistant" depression:

A hallucinogenic chemical in magic mushrooms shows promise for people with untreatable depression, a short study on just 12 people hints. Eight patients were no longer depressed after the "mystical and spiritual" experience induced by the drug. The findings, in the Lancet Psychiatry [open, DOI: 10.1016/S2215-0366(16)30065-7], showed five of the patients were still depression-free after three months.

Experts cautiously welcomed the findings as "promising, but not completely compelling". There have now been calls for the drug to be tested in larger trials.

From the study:

Psilocybin's acute psychedelic effects typically became detectable 30–60 min after dosing, peaked 2–3 h after dosing, and subsided to negligible levels at least 6 h after dosing. Mean self-rated intensity (on a 0–1 scale) was 0·51 (SD 0·36) for the low-dose session and 0·75 (SD 0·27) for the high-dose session. Psilocybin was well tolerated by all of the patients, and no serious or unexpected adverse events occurred. The adverse reactions we noted were transient anxiety during drug onset (all patients), transient confusion or thought disorder (nine patients), mild and transient nausea (four patients), and transient headache (four patients). Relative to baseline, depressive symptoms were markedly reduced 1 week (mean QIDS difference −11·8, 95% CI −9·15 to −14·35, p=0·002, Hedges' g=3·1) and 3 months (−9·2, 95% CI −5·69 to −12·71, p=0·003, Hedges' g=2) after high-dose treatment. Marked and sustained improvements in anxiety and anhedonia were also noted.

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  • (Score: 2) by Hartree on Wednesday May 18 2016, @11:51PM

    by Hartree (195) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @11:51PM (#348077)

    Interesting result with psilocybin. It's not clear though that the anti-depressant effects are due to the same neurological system that the hallucinations are. They may be. They may not be.

    Ketamine is another drug that's restricted here in the US for worries over recreational use. It's been found to be quite effective for very fast acting relief of depression. There's at least one study that's indicated that the anti-depressant effect is due to a metabolite of it that doesn't cause the "high", but instead impacts a different receptor. (AMPA receptor rather than an NMDA receptor). Even if it doesn't work out directly as a therapy, it shows an expected receptor very quickly damping down depression. That's likely to teach us things about root causes of depression.

    Ibogaine has long been at least anecdotally reported to be effective in treating addictions of some types. It being a schedule 1 substance has stood in the way of more research being done with it.

    Things that have powerful effects on the brain often turn out to be useful either as medicines or research tools, and restricting research just due to the drug laws is a bit short sighted, IMHO.

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