Throughout human history, psychedelic plants and organisms (such as magic mushrooms, peyote, and ayahuasca) have been used in “sacred spiritual and healing ceremonies” by native groups of Central and South America for centuries. A natural component of so-called magic mushrooms, psilocybin, produces psychoactive effects and could help treat diseases such as PTSD and depression, according to a new study.
Research conducted by King’s College London and published this week shows that small doses of the substance “were generally well tolerated” and had no short- or long-term harmful effects on healthy people.
It is the “largest randomized controlled trial of psilocybin conducted to date,” according to the study, which found that the mushroom component can create “a non-ordinary state of consciousness characterized by changes in emotional state and perception, including experiences of self, space and time,” according to a statement from the university.
The work “is an important first demonstration that simultaneous administration of psilocybin can continue to be explored,” said Dr. James Rucker, lead author of the study. For the research, 89 healthy participants were selected, and 30 were given 25 mg of the psychoactive ingredient, while another 30 were given 10 mg. For comparison, the other 29 received a placebo. All were monitored for 12 weeks after the dose.
“Psilocybin induced expected and transient psychedelic experiences. These included 86 reports of hallucinations, 57 of altered mood, 56 of illusion, 15 of euphoria, and 11 of altered perception of time,” says the study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
As a result, Rucker said “this therapy holds promise for people living with serious mental health problems, such as treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and PTSD,” as these diagnoses can be extremely disabling, distressing, and disruptive, but current treatment options for these conditions “are ineffective or partially effective for many people.”