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Magic mushroom drug found safe for therapy

Wednesday January 5th 2022

Treatment of mental trauma or long-lasting depression with psilocybin may be one step closer after a new study found no detrimental effects.

Psilocybin is a psychedelic drug extracted from the psilocybe mushroom. It has been put forward as a possible treatment, in controlled settings and alongside talking therapy, for a number of mental health conditions, including treatment-resistant depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Researchers, led by Dr James Rucker of King’s College London, UK, explain in yesterday's *Journal of Psychopharmacology* that: "Psilocybin, a psychoactive serotonin receptor partial agonist, has been reported to acutely reduce clinical symptoms of depressive disorders".

They set out to study the safety of simultaneous administration of psilocybin to a group of healthy participants, looking at short- and longer-term changes in cognitive functioning.

In the study, 89 men and women were given 10mg or 25mg psilocybin, or placebo, in groups of up to six, with one-to-one psychological support throughout the session.

Although a total of 511 'treatment-emergent adverse events' were reported, lasting about a day each, "there were no serious treatment-emergent adverse events," the researchers report, "and none led to study withdrawal".

No clinically relevant differences were seen between the group in tests of cognitive functioning or emotional processing. Psilocybin was "generally well tolerated", the authors conclude.

Dr Rucker commented: "It's important to demonstrate the feasibility and the safety of giving psilocybin to more than one person at the same time, so we can think about how we scale up the treatment.

"This therapy has promise for people living with serious mental health problems, like treatment-resistant depression and PTSD. They can be extremely disabling, distressing and disruptive, but current treatment options for these conditions are ineffective or partially effective for many people.”

Rucker, J. J. et al. The effects of psilocybin on cognitive and emotional functions in healthy participants: results from a phase 1, randomised, placebo-controlled trial involving simultaneous psilocybin administration and preparation. *Journal of Psychopharmacology* 4 January 2022 doi: 10.1177/02698811211064720


Tags: Alternative Therapy | Brain & Neurology | Mental Health | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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