Can hallucinogenic mushrooms be used to treat depression? – Sciencetimes

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What are hallucinogenic mushrooms?

A hallucinogenic mushroom is a part of the mushrooms belonging to the genus Psilocybe and the mushrooms belonging to the genus Gymnopilus. A mushroom that causes hallucinations when absorbed into the body. It is known that psilocybin can induce hallucinations and changes in euphoria that last for up to six hours, which is why mushrooms containing psilocybin are also called magic mushrooms.

Mycena galericulata containing psilocybin ⓒ Dan Molter (shroomydan)

natural substance psilocybin

Psilocybin is a natural substance present in more than 200 types of mushrooms and is converted to psilocin in the body and then excreted in the urine through the liver. Mushrooms containing psilocybin produce powerful hallucinogenic effects even in small amounts, but are known to be safe and non-toxic when consumed in moderate amounts. However, some people may experience panic attacks and seizures after consuming them. Therefore, when drugs are divided based on addiction and abuse, psilocybin is at the highest level, and its use is very strictly regulated in most countries. In most countries, including Korea, use and even possession are illegal.

The chemical structure of psilocybin ⓒ Cburnett

The brain becomes more fluid and connected

Although psilocybin is even banned for medical use in most countries, there is nevertheless growing evidence of its positive antidepressant effects. A study published in the journal Nature Medicine in April found that the psilocybin mushroom, or hallucinogenic mushroom, transforms the brain into a more flexible and connected state.

British psychologist and neuroscientist Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris and his research team conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a method of visualizing active regions of the brain on a computer screen, of depressed patients who were prescribed psilocybin therapy. (Brain scans that may be possible), they found that the brains of patients receiving psilocybin treatment appeared to be more connected than before. The above results suggest that parts of the brain that showed limited connectivity within the prescription isolated area were more connected with other areas.

It has been confirmed that the brains of patients who were prescribed psilocybin are reborn in a more fluid and connected state ⓒ AP

Research by Dr. Carhartt-Harris suggests that the popular idea that psilocybin mushrooms ‘reconnect the brain’ may be true to some extent, and suggest that antidepressant effects stem from ‘increased brain network integrity and connectivity’ do. For example, if brain-brain connections are assumed to be metropolitan and metropolitan traffic, respectively, some brain regions or networks in people with depression appear isolated due to excessive traffic accumulation.

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However, after taking psilocybin, the patient’s traffic is relieved, the traffic is distributed throughout, and the brain connections are increased. Meanwhile, Dr. Carhartt-Harris said in a TEDx Talk in 2016 that taking psilocybin as a clinical drug could be the most profound experience of your entire life.

It turns out that the psilocybin mushroom could make the brain reconnected. © Getty Images

Regarding the above results, according to Prof. Matthias Liechti, professor of clinical pharmacology at Basel University Hospital in Switzerland and a consultant at New York-based psychedelic medicine startup MindMed, the increased functional connections in the brain are associated with ‘increased flexibility’ and ’emotional It said that it could correspond to ‘relaxation’.

Works faster and lasts longer

Also, unlike common antidepressants, which have a slow effect, psilocybin appears to be effective even after small doses, and even lasts longer.

How psilocybin works is not yet fully understood. However, the above study is of great significance because it may explain why psilocybin mushrooms are beneficial for people with depression. Although current studies are still limited to small clinical trials, the results on the benefits, safety and efficacy of psilocybin in the treatment of depression and other psychiatric disorders are encouraging. Researchers in Germany are also conducting a phase 2 trial (EPIsoDE study) in 144 patients with treatment-resistant depression and are studying the effect of psilocybin compared to placebo.

Additionally, studies have shown that psilocybin, LSD, and other hallucinogens such as ayahuasca, when used effectively, may have effects that are not limited to depression. For example, recent studies suggest that they are promising for treating anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and nicotine and alcoholism.

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