Psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms, may be an effective treatment for depression, scientists said.
A pilot study of psilocybin’s use in cases of treatment-resistant depression showed it was safe and effective. Of 12 patients given the drug, all showed some decrease in symptoms of depression for at least three weeks. Seven continued to show a positive response at three months. Five remained in remission beyond the three months.
Robin Carhart-Harris, who led the study at Imperial College London’s department of medicine, said many patients described a profound experience. Magic mushrooms have been used since ancient times, both for recreation and for religious rites. Psilocybin acts on the serotonin system, suggesting it could be developed for treating depression. WHO estimates that some 350 million people are affected by depression.