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Psychotropic drugs

Psilocybin shows potential as treatment for depression

First of its kind clinical trial shows drug found in ‘magic mushrooms’ reduces symptoms of severe depression.


The psychedelic drug found in ‘magic mushrooms’, psilocybin, relieved symptoms of severe depression in a small trial of 12 patients

Psilocybin, the psychedelic drug found in ‘magic mushrooms’, has previously been found to help patients with drug addictions, end-of-life anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders.

Researchers from Imperial College London conducted a small trial to test the drug in moderate to severe depression.

A group of 12 men and women were given two single doses of psilocybin (10mg and 25mg) a week apart. Patients’ average score on the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptoms, which determines a patient’s level of depression before, during and after treatment, dropped from 19.2 out of 27, indicating severe depression, to 7.4 one week after the second dose (P=0.002). The average score three months later was 10.0, indicating mild depression (P=0.003).

Reporting their findings in The Lancet (online, 17 May 2016)[1], the researchers say further trials with more rigorous designs are needed to fully explore the therapeutic potential of psilocybin.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/CP.2016.20201222

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Supplementary images

  • "Magic" mushrooms that contain psilocybin

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