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Anyone who is familiar with Super Mario Bros understands the significance of mushrooms. The colorful fungi featured in the game gives Mario special abilities, like fire power, star power, or giant height. He eats one mushroom, and suddenly he can overcome the approaching obstacles whether it be a piranha plant, a Koopa, or Bowser.

In reality, this scientific study shows that mushrooms can also battle depression.

Magic Mushrooms For Depression Treatment

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Psilocybin is a chemical in ‘magic mushrooms’ that creates a sensory overload of saturated colors and patterns for the person who ingests them. This occurs since the brain becomes ‘hyperconnected,’ so to speak, and this increases communications between the various regions. Science is working to manipulate this ability to manufacture drugs for the treatment of neurological conditions. (1)

For thousands of years, human beings have used the benefits of psilocybin mushrooms, whether for psychological, spiritual, or recreational reasons. Unfortunately, tight legal regulations have stunted the exploration in this area. Yet a research center in the UK has achieved promising results for psychedelic drugs for treating depression.

The Study

The researchers at the Imperial College London administered psilocybin, the active component in these mushrooms, to twelve volunteers. The six men and six women have been diagnosed with moderate or severe depression for approximately 17.8 years, and their previous treatments were unsuccessful.

All of the patients’ symptoms noticeably improved within the three weeks of the psychedelic trip. Three months later, five of the twelve were in complete remission with no trace of their previous disorder. (2) Compare this to the 20% chance of recovery for people who treat their depression with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), the mainstream treatment at this point.

The Doubts

It should be noted that all of the participants experienced temporary anxiety before and during the trip, yet there was no other unexpected side effect for the duration of the study.

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In addition, the researchers admit that this is a small sample group, and there was no placebo used during the trial to ensure its validity of the results.

Administered In the Future?

Despite these hesitations, the preliminaries are optimistic. Perhaps this can alter the view of the government and the medical companies about research on illegal drugs.

Professor David Nutt, the senior author of the research, one of the UK’s leading experts on drugs, and a former senior advisor to the UK government on drug policy, described the cultural and scientific relevance of the study, as well as the difficulties they encountered to receive the sanction for the research.

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He said, “Every interaction, applying for licenses, waiting for licenses, receiving the licenses, applying for contracts for drug manufacture, on and on, involved a delay of up to two months. It was enormously frustrating, and most of it was unnecessary.

“The study result isn’t the remarkable part. It’s the fact we did it at all.” (3)

Sources:

(1) David J. How Magic Mushrooms Change Your Brain. http://www.iflscience.com/brain/magic-mushroom-chemical-hyper-connects-brain/ Accessed: Sept 12, 2016.

2) Tom Hale. Magic Mushrooms Shown To Ease Severe Depression In Groundbreaking Study. http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/magic-mushrooms-shown-ease-severe-depression-groundbreaking-study/  Published: May 18, 2016. Accessed: Sept 12, 2016

(3) Dr Robin L Carhart-Harris, PhD, Mark Bolstridge, MD, James Rucker, MD, Camilla M J Day, MD, David Erritzoe, MD, Mendel Kaelen, BSc, Michael Bloomfield, MD, James A Rickard, PhD, Prof Ben Forbes, PhD, Amanda Feilding, Prof David Taylor, PhD, Prof Steve Pilling, PhD, Prof Valerie H Curran, PhD, Prof David J Nutt, DM. Psilocybin with Psychological Support for Treatment-Resistant Depression: an Open-Label Feasibility Study. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(16)30065-7/abstract. Published: May 17, 2016. Accessed: Sept 12, 2016.

Image Sources:

https://www.sociedelic.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/F2.large_.jpg

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