Researchers and clinicians are always investigating new treatments for mental health conditions. As their understanding of disorders and afflictions grows and they gain insight into the clinical applicability of new treatments, solutions to previously chronic and intractable conditions emerge.
For instance, psilocybin therapy uses psychedelic substances in conjunction with traditional psychological therapy to address several behavioral health disorders. The research into the effects of the new treatment has been promising for patients suffering from debilitating mental conditions.
Despite its novelty, psilocybin therapy is well understood and backed by ample evidence. Under a doctor's supervision, psilocybin can safely and effectively treat depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
Some sensational headlines have dismissed psilocybin therapy and attempted to mystify it, but research has proven that the treatment is a game-changing solution for individuals whose conditions don't respond to traditional treatments.
Psilocybin is a psychedelic compound found in psilocybe mushrooms. The hallucinogen grows naturally and has well-documented mind-altering effects. Native American cultures have used psychedelics both medicinally and as a component of religious rituals for centuries.
When taken recreationally, it's commonly referred to as "shrooms" or "magic mushrooms." Psilocybin became illegal in the 1970s and remains a banned substance in most of the United States.
Attitudes on the substance's harmful effects and therapeutic value began changing in the late 2010s, and a few localities decriminalized psilocybin in 2020. As research-based support for its treatment value has expanded, a push for decriminalization and legalization has swept the country.
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Psychedelics were widely studied and embraced as a viable treatment through the 1960s. Researchers investigated countless applications of psychedelics for many conditions. However, in the 1970s, the Drug Enforcement Agency classified psilocybin as a Schedule I drug, making it illegal and ending all research.
But in the pursuit of viable treatments for patients with chronic and seemingly intractable mental illnesses, psychedelic drugs presented themselves as a viable solution. New legislation allowed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve studies and clinical trials involving it, and psilocybin therapy is now considered a breakthrough treatment.
Psilocybin therapy is a hybrid treatment being studied in conjunction with several psychological conditions. In these research studies, doctors administer small doses of psilocybin and then conduct traditional talk therapy sessions.
The psilocybin used during this therapy is extracted from mushrooms, synthesized, and then produced as a capsule. The entire process, from mushroom growth to post-ingestion therapy, is strictly regulated.
Following sessions in which the patient takes psilocybin, a trained clinician engages in talk therapy with them. Both the patient and the psychological professional analyze the psychedelic experience and explore the ways it illuminated the patient's understanding of and relationship to their condition(s).
Psilocybin therapy is administered according to rigorous scientific standards and is usually provided within the context of clinical trials.
Before any psychedelic use, patients undergo an intake session. During that session, the provider educates the patient on psilocybin, the effects of the treatment, and its safety.
Both the provider and the patient work together to create a trusting clinical relationship. Establishing confidence maximizes the likelihood of successful psilocybin therapy.
The next phase of treatment involves the ingestion of psilocybin via capsule. The patient is placed in a relaxed environment and lies down while the drug takes effect, and they often listen to a curated selection of music or soothing sounds.
A team of therapists monitors the patient for eight hours. The session is designed to help the patient look inward. The supervising therapists are present to assess the patient and guide them through any anxiety they experience. If a reasonably high dose is not administered, then a second session may be necessary.
Following the psilocybin session, patients participate in another talking session. Working with the therapist, they unpack their psychedelic experience and explore the ways in which it further revealed their condition(s). The integration phase focuses on self-reflection and exploring the "trip" taken during their psilocybin session.
Medical marijuana helps reduce this inflammation and decrease the frequency of spastic episodes by preventing pressure from affecting the nervous system. Many MS patients claim that marijuana has a profound effect in treating the muscle spasms, balance, bladder control, tremors, speech, and eyesight issues caused by their condition. Some wheelchair-bound MS patients even say they can walk unaided thanks to their marijuana use.
Early research indicates that cannabis's can reduce the autoimmune attacks responsible for the symptoms of MS.
Psilocybin research is still ongoing, so scientists' understanding of the substance is continually evolving. Still, they have demonstrated its ability to treat treatment-resistant depression and anxiety, particularly in patients with terminal illnesses.
Many psychotherapy researchers believe it can also help patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder, drug and alcohol addiction, and severe depression that doesn't respond to traditional interventions.
Research in this area is just starting, but studies are being conducted on psilocybin's clinical efficacy with other conditions such as bipolar disorder, anorexia nervosa, post-concussion headaches, PTSD, and amnesia.
Psilocybin therapy is a safe treatment method. The doses of psilocybin are small, and they're administered with a psychiatry professional's supervision. There is a wealth of clinical research supporting its efficacy.
Primarily, the use of psilocybin is highly effective for patients with anxiety and depression that resist conventional treatment methods such as antidepressants or SSRIs. It offers tremendous hope for those who have adhered to prescribed treatment plans and continued to suffer from vexing symptoms.
Although psilocybin is mind-altering, the substance itself is not habit-forming. Better yet, patients cannot overdose on it when they're treated in a clinical setting, and there is no risk of developing an addiction to it. Psilocybin does not pose the same serious health risks as more classic psychedelics such as LSD, MDMA, DMT, or ketamine.
The therapeutic effects of psilocybin on the human mind can open up an individual's consciousnesses and decrease the potency of their depressive symptoms. By placing the patient in a calm state, the expansiveness achieved with the help of the psychedelic can allow for newfound self-discovery and introspection. For those reasons, psilocybin is poised to provide breakthrough therapy for patients dealing with major depression, psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidality, and other life-threatening mental conditions.
Many psychedelic studies have shown that psychedelic therapy can effectively treat depression. Patients with depression commonly experience symptom reduction after taking psilocybin. Neuroscience researchers have noted sustained response to treatment and improved daily function in those with severe symptoms.
Most of those studies have focused on depression that's linked with a terminal illness like late-stage cancer. Studies into psilocybin's effectiveness with other types of depression are ongoing. Many researchers hypothesize that psilocybin can permanently treat depression and improve patients' quality of life.
Psilocybin remains illegal as a treatment in the United States, except for in Oregon. It is not yet an FDA-approved treatment for any condition, so it can't legally be prescribed for anything.
Clinical trials of psilocybin are still being conducted to determine its effectiveness for people with various conditions. Some such conditions include depression and anxiety secondary to a terminal illness, severe depression, manic depression, OCD, anxiety, Parkinson's, opioid addiction, and alcohol use disorder.
Currently, psilocybin treatment is only legal in Oregon under the supervision of a doctor at a licensed facility. Several other cites have decriminalized the possession of psilocybin, but they have not yet enacted legislation legalizing its therapeutic use.
The FDA allows for and supports clinical trials that involve psilocybin, though, and researchers and clinicians across the country are currently conducting them.
Many American academic institutions are recruiting healthy volunteers for clinical trials with psilocybin. Your primary healthcare provider or the FDA may be able to help you locate upcoming studies in which you could enroll.
The National Institute of Health also maintains a database of clinical trials that are either currently recruiting or pending future recruitment.