Psilocybin, a psychedelic chemical found in so-called magic mushrooms, may help treat depression in some patients, a new study found. The researchers said that a 25-milligram one-time dose of the synthetic formulation of psilocybin significantly reduced depression scores in patients — but was associated with adverse side effects.
For the peer-reviewed study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers randomly administered a single dose of psilocybin to adults with treatment-resistant depression. Dr. Steve Levine told CBS News that patients with treatment-resistant depression had previously tried several different drugs to treat their depression, but none of them worked. Levine is the senior vice president of patient access and medical affairs at the mental health care company Compass Pathways, where she joins the study’s lead author Dr. Guy works closely with Goodwin.
For the study, participants who received either a 25 mg, 10 mg or 1 mg dose were the control group. He also received psychological support. Levine said all patients took the dose in the presence of a physician.
Three weeks later, the researchers rated the patients’ depression using the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), a common physician-administered test used to rate depression, ranging from 0 to 60. as it happens. He found that he was given 25 mg of psilocybin. The scale dropped an average of 12 points. Those given 10 mg dropped 7.9 points, and the control group given 1 mg dropped 5.4 points.
Taking a 25-milligram dose of psilocybin creates a psychedelic experience, Levine said.
“Patients are not taking it at home, but it is in a supervised medical setting, a room specifically designed to be therapeutic and supportive,” he said. “They lie down, they get dressed and blindfolded, they listen to a curated playlist of music. And most importantly, they’re present the whole time.”
The sessions lasted six to eight hours and there was a therapist to support the patient and talk with them afterward, Levine said.
Levine said all the patients took just one dose for the study.
“I wouldn’t say it’s not shocking, but it’s unusual that any other available treatment for depression, most of them drugs that have to be taken every day and sometimes several times a day,” he said.
“It’s really unprecedented in the sense that this was just one administration,” Levine said. “Now, that’s not to say that we think it’s going to be curative. We think our treatment is more likely to be used episodic.”
While the 25 mg group showed some remission from depression at three weeks, the results did not persist for 12 weeks.
And out of 233 participants, 179 showed adverse effects, including headache, nausea, and dizziness. Suicidal thoughts or behavior or self-injury occurred in all dose groups, which Levine said is common, especially since all patients had treatment-resistant depression.
“The findings are both interesting and grim,” Bertha Madras, professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, wrote in an editorial published in the same issue of the journal.
Madras, who was not involved in the study, outlined several concerns about the potential risks of medical use of psilocybin, but noted, “Nonetheless, it is provocative that these agents show some short-term benefit for depression in selected populations.” Huh.”
He called the latest study “the most rigorous and well-conducted phase 2 clinical trial ever conducted” on the use of psilocybin to treat depression.
Levine said they are now in the third phase of the study, where they are testing a further 25 mg dose. He added that if the drug ever becomes a regulated drug, it would be administered in the same way as in the study—in a medical setting in which the patient is monitored full-time by a specialized physician.
Oregon has already passed legislation that decriminalizes psilocybin.To do so, with an initiative to allow regulated use of the drug on the ballot in midterm elections this month. The Colorado remedy also proposes adding other plant-based psychedelic drugs to the program, including dimethyltryptamine, more commonly known as DMT.