Magic Mushrooms Show Promising Results for Treating PTSD and Depression
Psilocybin, the psychoactive compound found in magic mushrooms, has been shown to be highly effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Psilocybin has long been utilized by those wishing to expand their spiritual revelation through the psychedelic journey it provides, but now, scientists are beginning to explore the unique relationship it has with our brains, and how it can be used as an effective treatment for mental health patients.
According to a 2013 study conducted at the University of South Florida, psilocybin has a profound effect in stimulating what is known as neurogenesis. This phenomena results in the growth and repair of brain cells in the hippocampus, which is said the be the center of emotion in memory in our brains.
In the study, researchers strived to understand the effect psilocybin has on the brain. To do this, researchers trained lab mice to be afraid of an auditory tone, followed by an electric shock using conditioning. Over time, the mice developed a fear of the tone, as they understood that it would be followed with an electric shock. The mice’s exhibited level of fear was documented by researchers, with some mice remaining immobile for prolonged periods of time, essentially stuck in a fear response. These responses were much like how veterans with PTSD would react to certain stimulus that trigger traumatic memories.
Once the groups of mice were conditioned to fear this auditory tone, researchers split the mice into three groups. One group would be injected with low doses of psilocybin, another with a high dose, while the third group was injected with an inert saline solution. The three groups of mice were then reintroduced to the auditory tone to see how well they could relinquish their fear. Of the three groups, the one which received a low-dose of psilocybin were most successful in overcoming their fears.
This study is exceptional in that it provides compelling evidence in the effectiveness of psilocybin being used for alternative forms of therapy for those who suffer from PTSD. About 11-20 out of every 100 veterans suffer from PTSD. Non-veterans in the U.S. also suffer from PTSD, often stemming from a life experience involving serious accidents, life-threatening illness, physical or sexual abuse, or natural disasters. PTSD can be easily triggered with a memory or stimulus, causing intense fear and anxiety, and can be extremely debilitating.
Already, there are several trials taking place across the country utilizing psilocybin for treating PTSD and depression. Organizations like the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies are championing the study and use of psychedelic compounds like psilocybin in treating psychiatric disorders. The time of prohibition for the use of psychedelic compounds for medical treatment is nearing the end, and the potential it shows for treating patients gives us a glimpse of a promising future.