Tag Archive: Psilocybin


Mind-altering compounds, such as LSD and psilocybin, stirred controversy in the 1960s. As the counter-culture’s psychedelic drugs of choice, the widespread use – and abuse – of hallucinogens prompted tougher anti-drug laws. That also led to a crackdown on clinical studies of the drugs’ complex psychological effects.

However, now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has begun to approve limited research into the potential benefits of psychedelic drugs.

No one is more aware of the stigma attached to psychedelics than Rick Doblin, director of the Multi-Disciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a drug development firm that funds FDA-approved clinical trials to examine the potential therapeutic uses of psychedelics.

Doblin says the virtual blackout on research that resulted from aggressive federal drug-control policies in the 1960s finally began to ease in 1990, when new regulators at the FDA decided to take a fresh look at psychedelic drugs.

UCLA researchers found the psychedelic compound, psilocybin – found naturally in certain mushrooms – can ease end-of-life anxiety in cancer patients.

“They decided they would put science over politics and permit research to go forward,” he says. “They were willing to acknowledge that these drugs could be administered in a safe-enough context and that there were promising hints of potential benefits and therapeutic uses. Today, there is more psychedelics research taking place than in the last 40 years.”

One especially active focus of FDA-approved research has involved MDMA – also known as “Ecstasy.”

This potent drug is being studied for its potential therapeutic value for sex-abuse victims and combat veterans suffering from chronic, treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

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Magic mushrooms’ active ingredient psilocybin enables users to experience more vivid recollections.

A drug derived from magic mushrooms could help people withdepression by enabling them to relive positive and happy moments of their lives, according to scientists including the former government drug adviser, Professor David Nutt.

Two studies, for which scientists struggled to find funding because of public suspicion and political sensitivity around psychedelic drugs, have shed light on how magic mushrooms affect the brain.

Nutt, from Imperial College London, was sacked as a government drug adviser after claiming tobacco and alcohol were more dangerous than cannabis and psychedelic drugs such as ecstasy and LSD.

He believes prejudice and fear have prevented important scientific work on psychedelic drugs. Research began in the 1950s and 60s but was stopped by the criminalisation of drugs and stringent regulations which made the work costly.

“Everybody who has taken psychedelics makes the point that these can produce the most profound changes in the state of awareness and being that any of them have experienced,” said Nutt.

The drugs had been used for millennia, he said, since psychedelic mushrooms grew in the Elysian fields of Greece. Aldous Huxley wrote The Doors Of Perception about the insight such drugs gave him into the life of the mind.

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The active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms decreases brain activity, possibly explaining the vivid, mind-bending effects of the drug, a new study finds.

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The decreases were focused in regions that serve as crossroads for information in the brain, meaning that information may flow more freely in a brain on mushrooms. The findings could be useful in developing hallucinogenic treatments for some mental disorders.

“There is increasing evidence that the regions affected are responsible for giving us our sense of self,” study author Robin Carhart-Harris, a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial College London, wrote in an email to LiveScience.

“In other words, the regions affected make up what some people call our ‘ego.’ That activity decreases in the ‘ego-network’ supports what people often say about psychedelics, that they temporarily ‘dissolve the ego.'”

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Cancer survivor Lauri Reamer lived in constant dread that her disease would return, until she took a psychedelic drug in a Johns Hopkins University study.

The 48-year mother of three was given psilocybin, the main ingredient in the “magic mushrooms” of the 1960s, as a remedy to ease anxiety. She spent most of her first “trip” crying, then emerged from the next with less anxiety, better sleep and happier relations with family and friends, she recalled.

The experience “really cracked me open,” said Reamer, an anesthesiologist at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore before she was diagnosed with leukemia. “It let me be in life again, instead of this place of fear where I had been living.”

Almost 40 years after Richard Nixon called former Harvard University psychologist Timothy Leary the most dangerous man in America for promoting use of hallucinogenic substances, there is a rebirth of interest in their therapeutic benefits. Reamer was enrolled in a clinical trial at Johns Hopkins to relieve fear of death in cancer patients, one of a half-dozen similar studies under way at New York University, Harvard, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of New Mexico.

The new research, largely driven by the psychiatric community, is also testing psychedelics for use against depression, chronic headaches and addiction as current scientists, much like their 1960s predecessors, seek to understand the “consciousness-expanding” effects of the drugs.

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ECSTASY pills would be given to Australian bushfire victims, flood survivors and soldiers suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, in a controversial proposal for a clinical trial.

Small overseas studies have shown the illegal party drug to be effective for traumatised patients who have not responded to other treatments. An Australian psychologist is now calling for similar research to be funded here.

Psychologist Stephen Bright, who is affiliated with a group of international clinicians pushing for the medical use of psychotropic drugs such as ecstasy, marijuana and magic mushrooms, said trials in the US and Switzerland showed ecstasy, or MDMA, was safe and effective.

”Patients were followed up for up to an average of 41 months after the last treatment sessions and the findings showed that the therapeutic benefits have been sustained over time,” said Mr Bright, an addiction specialist at Curtin University.

”We’ve had bushfires in Victoria, there’s been flooding in Queensland, we have troops in Afghanistan, there is quite a high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder. But half of people do not respond to [conventional] treatments. If we had this alternative then that would provide people with significant hope and the opportunity to recover.”

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Psilocybin can improve mental health

altAccording to new research by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, magic mushrooms can have long-lasting positive effects on people’s well-being. After their use of the drug, volunteers reported positive effects such as an increased sense of inner peace and increased ability to empathize with others.

It has been known for quite some time that the active constituent of magic mushrooms, psilocybin, can induce profound experiences. However, when the ‘trip’ becomes too strong, the experience often includes strong negative emotions such as anxiety and despair. The researchers, led by professor of behavioural biology Roland Griffiths, defined an optimal dose, inducing influential and mystical experiences without any negative side-effects.

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