If you’re not familiar with mushrooms that are called “magic mushrooms,” these are a type of fungi that contain psilocybin. This compound is considered “psychoactive,” which can cause strong hallucinations that are similar to the ones from lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) drug. Aside from this, psilocybin is reported to provide feelings of euphoria and even spiritual insight.

The Human Trial

In the United Kingdom, magic mushrooms were banned in 2005. They were classified as a class A drug, which is the most dangerous of all categories.

But even though they have been deemed harmful and should therefore not be used, research is allowed. A small scale study was performed at the Department of Medicine at the Imperial College London and involved 12 patients who received psilocybin drug.

The participants had been clinically depressed for an average of 17.8 years. All of them did not respond well to standard medications, including electroconvulsive therapy and selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). After the research, the patients all showed signs of decreased symptoms for depression and the effect lasted for at least three weeks. What’s even better is that seven of the patients who received the drug had minimal symptoms for three months and five of them remained in remission for more than three months.

Its name may be funny, but its health benefits are not.
Its name may be funny, but its health benefits are not.

Uses of Psilocybin

Psilocybin in magic mushrooms could be the natural answer for depression. It is best known for the psychedelic effects it can give, but recent studies have shown progress. The compound could also help with the following issues:

  • Alcohol dependence
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • End of life anxiety or death anxiety

Some experts were against the idea of using mushrooms that contain the compound because they believe they have a negative effect on the mental health of the patients. But there are studies that prove there’s a much lower rate of suicide and psychological distress than people who use other substances.

How the Mushrooms Can Help Treat Depression

According to several other studies, magic mushrooms that contain psilocybin aim at the receptors in the brain for the hormone serotonin. This is what most drugs do, but antidepressants don’t act as fast as psilocybin and the chemical structure is definitely not the same. Depression is a serious problem and it affects almost seven percent of Americans of at least 12 years old. Some patients don’t respond well to other treatments and many of them relapse. But the researchers are optimistic about the mushrooms being a better treatment for depression.