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Mushrooms as Medicine? Psychedelics May Be Next Breakthrough Treatment

by Hannah Ray
Mushrooms as Medicine? Psychedelics May Be Next Breakthrough Treatment

Soft lighting. Furniture that is comfortable. Wall art to decorate the space.

For the uninitiated the setting could appear to be a living space. However, it’s not. It’s a facility for research specifically created to create a sense of the feeling of comfort and ease.

A session of psilocybin is underway.

The couch is filled with an individual. They are wearing eye shades and headphones. The music is soft and gentle. The research group has two members in attendance to assist in guiding the session throughout the eight hours. A large portion of the time will be spent in contemplation and quiet.

A medical professional is on-site in case of an emergency.

Despite the semblance of normalcy the session of therapy is anything but normal.

Psilocybin is the active ingredient inside “magic” Golden teacher spores also referred to as “shrooms,” is a powerful psychoactive.

Although it’s about 100x less powerful than LSD It is capable of altering perceptions of time and space, creating vision distortion, joy and mystical sensations.

In contrast to marijuana which experienced significant changes both in terms of the support of legalization as well as recognized therapeutic benefits such as MDMA has been in the news for its attention in recent times for it’s potential to cure PTSD (some scientists believe that the drug may receive Food and Drug Administration approval within 2021) Psilocybin is not able to enjoy the same amount of cultural significance.

It is possible to be forgiven to think that “shrooms” as just a relic of the excesses of the 1960s psychedelic era.

Don’t make any mistake: Psilocybin has a number of medical benefits that could be derived from it.

The current state of research on psilocybin

Studies have shown that psilocybin may be able to treat a variety of behavioral and psychiatric issues, though it’s still waiting to be granted FDA acceptance for any treatment.

Its potential signs are Depression, obsessional-compulsive disorders stopping drinking, smoking as well as cocaine addiction the cluster headachesTrusted Source and cancer-related or other mental distress that comes with the end of life.

A number of high-profile projects have come up in the past few time across Denver, Colorado, and Oregon to make psilocybin mushrooms illegal.

But experts believe they’re not likely to pass.

Psilocybin mushrooms are classified as a Schedule I drug as per the Drug Enforcement Administration, meaning they’re classified as having “no currently accepted medical uses and a high risk of misuse.”

Others Schedule I drugs include marijuana, MDMA, and LSD.

Despite the stigma of social media as well as legal red tape researchers are moving forward with clinical trials to get FDA approval.

The Dr. George R. Greer is co-founder as well as president of Heffter Research Institute which is which is a non-profit research centre that studies the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics and psilocybin in particular The following is his explanation of his motivations

“Our purpose is twofold. One, to conduct research that will help us to understand the brain, the mind and how it all functions, and secondly helping to alleviate suffering by using therapeutic psychoactive substances.”

This institute has focusing on two major areas of research in psilocybin addiction and cancer-related psychiatric diseases. The treatment for cancer-related psilocybin is considered as one among the most promising research areas related to the medication.

But, when considering the huge variety of possible indications for psilocybin it’s crucial to remember that the research conducted is also varied, ranging from single pilot studies, to Phase II or III approval trials conducted by the FDA.

Here’s what latest research suggests regarding psilocybin treatment in some possible indications.


Depression is one of the most extensively researched treatments for psilocybin. In fact, as Healthline previously published in the past Psilocybin therapy received “breakthrough therapy” designation (a review speed process) in the FDA for treatment of depression.

The Usona Institute, an institute for research in psychedelics, has been in planning stage of their phase III trial which is likely to start this year.

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Other addictions and smoking cessation

In a brief pilot study conducted by John Hopkins University Trusted Source Researchers discovered that psilocybin treatment significantly decreased smoking habits over 12 months of follow-up.

Matthew Johnson, PhD Associate Professor of psychiatry, behavioral and psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who was the study’s leader.

He believes that psilocybin could be used to treat other addiction disorders that involve substance use like cocaine and alcohol addiction.

“The general notion is that the basis of these disorders is a narrowing of the behavior and mental repertoire,” he told Healthline. “So that psilocybin, when well-planned sessions have the capacity to get someone out of their routine and give them the possibility of seeing a bigger perspective and create mental flexibility that people are able to step out of these issues.”

In reality, a tiny open-label research study byTrusted Source on psilocybin and dependence showed that after treatment both heavy and drinking consumption of alcohol decreased.

Researchers from Alabama are currently conducting clinical trials of psilocybin-based therapy for cocaine addiction.

Psychological distress resulting from cancer

“There’ve seen some promising initial outcomes in such areas as treating overwhelming anxiety that is experienced by people who are at the end of their lives, and who have been diagnosed with advanced stage cancer.” Dr. Charles Grob, professor of psychotherapy of UCLA’s UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine has told Healthline.

Grob is also associated to Grob, who’s also associated with the Heffter Research Institute, has extensive research on psilocybin and written studies on the subject, which includes, among others, a pilot studyTrusted Source in 2011 about Psilocybin therapy for anxiety in cancer patients.

A double-blind, randomized study conducted by Johns Hopkins in 2016 found that one dose of psilocybin dramatically improved health and well-being, as well as reducing anxiety and depression among people who have life-threatening cancer diagnoses.

“The one thing we have the strongest evidence for is the cancer-related depression and anxiety. It’s a pretty solid conclusion and I’d be shocked that those findings didn’t stand to the test,” Johnson said, who was a participant in the study.


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