So-called magic mushrooms could help reduce depression symptoms, study finds

Henrietta Brewer
October 15, 2017

Numerous study participants voluntarily described a sense of their brains rebooting after just two psilocybin experiences. So-called magic mushrooms might do the trick, according to a new report.

All patients reported feeling relieved and "rebooted" after taking magic mushrooms.

"Through collecting these imaging data", Carhart-Harris said, "we have been able to provide a window into the after effects of psilocybin treatment in the brains of patients with chronic depression".


"Several of our patients described feeling "reset" after the treatment".

The drug may be giving the patients the "kick start" they need to break out of their depressive states, he said. To find out exactly what brain mechanisms are involved in garnering such positive effects, researchers focused on a small group of 19 participants, all of whom experienced treatment-resistant depression.

Over the last decade or so, a number of clinical trials have been conducted into the safety and effectiveness of psychedelics in patients with conditions such as depression and addictions, yielding promising results.


The participants were each given two doses of psilocybin at 10 mg and 25 mg respectively, with the second dose being given a week after the first.

The subjects also underwent brain imaging, which measured changes in blood flow and signals transmitted between brain regions. Nineteen of those people had brain scans done immediately before the first dose was administered, and then again after the second, larger dose was given.

The scans reveal significant reductions in cerebral blood flow to the temporal cortex specifically in the amygdala, an effect that researchers correlate to decreased depressive symptoms.


Commenting on the findings of the study, the head of psychedelic research at Imperial College, Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris said that the depressed brain which was being "clammed up" was "reset" after the psychedelic experience. The fMRI scans showed how psilocybin affected the area of the brain which controls emotional responses. The scientists also warn that the research is still in its early stages, and that people suffering from depression shouldn't attempt to self-medicate with mushrooms.

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