Are We Really Moving Closer Towards Using Mushrooms In Therapy?

Lindsay Melka Share On:

Are We Really Moving Closer Towards Using Mushrooms In Therapy?

The possession and use of psilocybin, better known as “magic mushrooms,” was decriminalized in the city of Denver in May of 2018.  Denver was the first city to do so, with Oakland California also decriminalizing psilocybin soon after.  This does not mean that anyone can use mushrooms recreationally, but what it does mean is that the possession and use of mushrooms is not a priority in the eyes of the law.  

This also opens the door for more studies exploring the use of psilocybin as a therapeutic tool.  Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is backing the testing and use of psilocybin for the treatment of depression.  The FDA has even gone as far as calling psilocybin therapy a “breakthrough therapy”*.  Testing is still in the stages of ongoing clinical trials. But referring to the therapy as a “breakthrough therapy” is a big deal as it alludes to the substance’s effectiveness in studies so far.

Who Is Doing The Research?

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana**.  MAPS has approval from both the FDA and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to do research with Schedule 1 substances such as psilocybin.

What Studies Are Happening Right Now?

Johns Hopkins Study of Psilocybin in Cancer Patients

This study is taking a look at how psilocybin therapy may result in spiritual experiences for cancer patients.  The idea is that by eliciting spiritual experiences, there could be an increase in coping and a decrease in depression for these patients.  

Using BOLD fMRI to measure the effects of psilocybin on brain activity and connectivity

This study is specifically focusing on how psilocybin triggers autobiographical memory and how that impacts brain activity.  By looking at brain activity, this study is exploring how psilocybin therapy works on a biological level.  

A Pilot Study of Psilocybin-Facilitated Addiction TreatmentThis study is exploring the use of psilocybin therapy to assist those who are addicted to nicotine and are trying to quit smoking.  Participants have been resistant to other therapies in the past.

Effects of Psilocybin on Healthy Volunteers

A series of studies looking at spiritual experiences reported by healthy participants.  Seventy nine percent of participants reported an increase in personal well-being and life satisfaction after experiencing psilocybin therapy and having a spiritual experience.  Analysis of a follow up is currently in the works.

So how close are we to actually using mushrooms in therapy?

As of right now, the short answer is we don’t know for certain.  Psilocybin therapy and other psychedelic therapies are still illegal outside of these government supported studies.  Deciding to take psilocybin (even where it is decriminalized) can be dangerous without proper regulations and supervision.  Every clinical trial moves us closer towards a new treatment for depression and other therapies, but we are not quite there yet.   

References

* https://www.fda.gov/patients/fast-track-breakthrough-therapy-accelerated-approval-priority-review/breakthrough-therapy

** https://maps.org/about

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