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Magic Mushrooms Cause Positive Changes For Months - Could Be Used To Treat Depression By Changing Mood and Anxiety

July 11th 2006

Magic Mushrooms Cause Positive Changes For Months - Could Be Used To Treat Depression By Changing Mood and Anxiety


Amazing new research from the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute believe that the resulting experience form ingesting the active agent in “sacred Mushrooms” apparently prompts “positive changes in behavior and attitude that lasts several months, at least.”  The researchers are still not sure where in the brain the agent, psilocybin works.

They do know that psilocybin mimics the effect of serotonin on brain receptors, as do some other hallucinogens.  The research is cited as “landmark” in a commentary by former National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) director, Charles Schuster.


Shuster believes the research marks a new systematic approach to studying certain hallucinogenic compounds.  Back in the 1950’s the hallucinogen showed signs of therapeutic potential into the nature of consciousness and sensory perception. 

Schuster says “Human consciousness…is a function of the ebb and flow of neural impulses in various regions of the brain-the very substrate that drugs such as psilocybin act upon. Understanding what mediates these effects is clearly within the realm of neuroscience and deserves investigation."  Comment on this Article at our Forum

The experiences have been descriptively identical to the spontaneous mystical / spiritual experiences people have reported for centuries.  Lead author, Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., said “A vast gap exists between what we know of these drugs-mostly from descriptive anthropology-and what we believe we can understand using modern clinical pharmacology techniques. That gap is large because, as a reaction to the excesses of the 1960s, human research with hallucinogens has been basically frozen in time these last forty years."  Griffiths is a professor with Hopkins' departments of Neuroscience and Psychiatry and Behavioral Biology.


There is a caution though.  The authors say there are substantial risks of taking psilocybin under conditions not appropriately supervised. "Even in this study, where we greatly controlled conditions to minimize adverse effects, about a third of subjects reported significant fear, with some also reporting transient feelings of paranoia," says Griffiths. "Under unmonitored conditions, it's not hard to imagine those emotions escalating to panic and dangerous behavior."

Two months after the ingestion, 79 percent of subjects reported moderately or greatly increased well-being or life satisfaction compared with those given a placebo at the same test session. A majority said their mood, attitudes and behaviors had changed for the better. Structured interviews with family members, friends and co-workers generally confirmed the subjects' remarks. Results of a year-long follow-up are being readied for publication.

They hope to study the effects of psilocybin on patients suffering from advanced cancer-related depression or anxiety, following up the suggestive research several decades ago.  They will also be investigating the drug dependence aspects. 

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