MAGIC mushrooms could be used to fight depression instead of conventional medicine, experts have claimed.
Researchers say they contain an active ingredient, psilocybin, that has no negative effects on brain power or emotional function.
It gives users a psychedelic experience including hallucinations, euphoria and altered moods.
Previous studies suggest psilocybin – banned in almost every country – can help treatment-resistant depression.
The new research, conducted by King's College London and mental healthcare company Compass Pathways, administered psilocybin to 89 healthy adult volunteers.
They compared the effects of 10mg and 25mg doses of psilocybin and a placebo.
'No negative effects'
Researchers say they found "no serious adverse events" and "no negative effects" on cognitive and emotional function among the volunteers.
Instead they experienced "changes in sensory perception and positive mood alteration", which are typical effects of psychedelic drugs.
Dr James Rucker, consultant psychiatrist and lead researcher from King's College London, said: "This is the largest controlled study of psilocybin to date.
"The results of the study are clinically reassuring and support further development of psilocybin as a treatment for patients with mental health problems that haven't improved with conventional therapy, such as treatment resistant depression."
Dr Ekaterina Malievskaia, chief innovation officer and co-founder of COMPASS Pathways, said that if future trials go well and prove its efficacy, they hope to have the treatment on the market by 2025 and bring hope to those suffering with severe depression.
She told The Times: “This is a very challenging population to treat. The more treatment failures they have, the less the chance they will respond to subsequent treatments."
However, she added that without information from larger trials she would not recommend people to self-medicate.
The signs and symptoms of depression
Mental health can affect people in different ways.
But there are some common signs to look out for:
- down, upset or tearful
- restless, agitated or irritable
- guilty, worthless and down on yourself
- empty and numb
- isolated and unable to relate to other people
- finding no pleasure in life or things you usually enjoy
- a sense of unreality
- no self-confidence or self-esteem
- hopeless and despairing
“Patients with severe mental illness should not be taking psilocybin, and others should not do so recreationally,” she said.
“We just don’t know yet the magnitude of the effects or whether higher levels are safe.”
Last month, scientists in the US revealed they had also been studying the effects of magic mushrooms as a treatment for depression.
Researchers from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine found that just a single dose of psilocybin has antidepressant effects within hours.
In comparison, traditional antidepressants can take much longer to have a positive effect and don't last as long.
Despite the drug showing promise as a treatment for depression, it carries a seven-year prison term for possession in the UK.
Figures show that one in every four people suffer with depression in the UK, with the number continuing to climb.
Most patients respond positively to medical treatments and cognitive behavioural therapy, but around a fifth cannot be helped and are classified as having treatment-resistant depression.
Source: Read Full Article