Magic Mushrooms May treat Depression: Study

Psilocybin Mushrooms, popular with party goers which are better known as Shrooms or Magic Mushrooms, are now found to have some therapeutic benefits for treating depression, anxiety and other psychiatric problems.

Magic mushrooms are a kind of illegal drug, banned by many countries, and are often chewed to achieve hallucinogenic effects. Psilocybin and psilocin, present in mushrooms are the primary ingredients which cause these effects. But now, the scientists from the Imperial college of London found that the same active ingredient, Psilocybin have an anti-depressant effect along with some other benefits.

The conclusions are made from two studies among which one is published in ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ (PNAS), and the other published online by the British Journal of Psychiatry.

The first study measured the changes in the brain activity of 30 volunteers, who were infused psilocybin into their blood. The MRI scans of those volunteers showed that activity decreased in “hub” regions of the brain – areas that are especially well connected with other areas.

From the second study, the scientists found that psilocybin enhanced volunteers’ recollections of personal memories. Hence they suggested using it as an adjunct to psychotherapy.

They also found that psilocybin reduced blood flow in the hypothalamus, where blood flow is increased during cluster headaches, helping the sufferers to reduce symptoms. This decrease in the oxygenation and blood flow in certain parts of the brain is also correlated to the intensity of the effects reported by the participants, including visions of geometric patterns, unusual bodily sensations and altered sense of space and time.

However, the scientists said that they are still exploring the potential benefits of psilocybin by doing further investigations.

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