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Hallucinogenic mushrooms unexpectedly helped people with…

Scientists from the universities of London and Cardiff conducted a study on the substance psilocybin, derived from “magic” mushrooms of the Psilocybe genus. It demonstrated effectiveness in treating chronic depression.

Psilocybe mushrooms are known for their ability to induce altered states of consciousness in humans. These mushrooms are extremely common in nature. The active compound extracted from them is psilocybin alkaloid. Chemically, psilocybin bears resemblance to serotonin, the “happiness hormone.”

British psychiatrists decided to test how psilocybin would affect patients with severe chronic depression resistant to treatment. For their study, they recruited 19 volunteers suffering from prolonged depression. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), they examined the state of the patients’ brains before the experiment began, after which the patients started taking psilocybin.

At the start of the experiment, they received 10 mg each, and a week later, another 25 mg of the substance. The effect of the intake proved to be quite strong, and almost all participants felt relief from depressive symptoms almost immediately. According to the scientists, the patients compared their new state to a computer reboot.

“Some of our patients described the feeling of ‘reboot’ after treatment and often used computer analogies,” they wrote. The effect of psilocybin lasted for up to five weeks after intake.

MRI scanning also showed significant changes in the activity of those brain regions directly linked to mood. Specifically, a decrease in blood flow was recorded in the amygdala – a region of the brain that plays a key role in forming emotional reactions, as well as in the temporal lobes.

Despite such impressive results, scientists remain cautious and advocate against the potential self-treatment of people with mushrooms or their components. Furthermore, as noted in the article, a sample size of 19 people is insufficient to confirm an effective treatment method.

“More research is needed to see if this positive effect can be replicated in a larger number of patients. But the initial conclusions are exciting, paving the way for further research,” the authors concluded.

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