The pharmaceutical sector has neglected psychedelic research in the past. Fortunately, there is a blend of clinical and anecdotal studies displaying the potential of psychedelics disease-modifying therapeutics. Psilocybin-supported psychotherapy has shown positive results in treating cancer anxiety, depression, and TRD [treatment-resistant depression]. After several years of scientific latency, Psilocybin research has shown interest in finding many unanswered questions.
Humans have been using psilocybin for more than a century. The molecules have a strong impact on cognition, behavior, thoughts, retrospection, and spirituality. In the 1950s, it was established that this compound has a little propensity for overdoses, habit formation, or addiction. Unfortunately, there is an increase in opioid use in the US regardless of age. Less than a decade ago there have been significant drug overdose deaths and suicides.
To combat this stigma different agencies associated with mental health services, substance abuse, public education, and preventive services came together. Unfortunately, they couldn’t slow down the rate of depression, overdose, and suicide. Government rules and societal taboo has put a brake on psychedelic research, which grabbed attention and was kick-started again.
Psilocybin Discovery center was started by Compass Pathways in London. The center is focused on developing optimized psychedelic or relevant compound that targets 5-HT2A receptors. They have developed the COMP360 psilocybin formula and are currently investigating its effectiveness in TRD patients with support from certified and licensed therapists.
Psilocybin is a Schedule 1 drug in the US and Class A drug in the UK. Across the decade the therapeutic potential of psychedelics has been displayed in psychiatry. Psilocybin has a molecular structure that is similar to the psychedelic compound available in Magic Mushrooms.
It penetrates the central nervous system and how it impacts is still ongoing research. It affects the human mind and brain, so research is concentrated on identifying its potential for mental illness therapy.
A large trial including 233 patients with hard-to-treat depression experienced huge benefits. They had been using a couple of antidepressants with little success. After they received psilocybin, the patients entered the psychotic state for 4 to 6 hours and when they returned to their normal state went home.
In the trial, the dose of 25mg of psilocybin was administered under the monitoring of a psychiatrist. No adverse events were reported and the drug was well-tolerated without any negative effects associated with cognitive function. Within three weeks of therapy, the participants experienced a decrease in their depression levels.
More than 100 million population struggles with TRD and so this study has given hope and progress in the right direction. However, there is a need to study psilocybin therapy with more participants.
Read also: Do You Know When Antibody Tests for COVID-19 is Normally Done?
Quit Smoking Research
In a small study with 15 participants, research was conducted to find out if psilocybin therapy will help longtime smokers drop the habit. After six months the abstinence rate was 80%, which is higher than the success rates reported in smoking cessation trials.
The habit to quit smoking is not a biological response to psilocybin like other medications affecting nicotine receptors directly. It needs careful preparation in a therapeutic environment, deep reflection about their life, and triggers an impulse to change.
During the psilocybin sessions, the participants were monitored by a couple of research therapists. The participants wore earphones and eyeshades. Their preferred music was played and they were urged to focus and enjoy internal relaxation.
Cancer Anxiety Treatment Study
A Psilocybin therapy study involved 51 cancer patients struggling with depression and death anxiety. The patients experienced a decrease in depressed mood and cancer fear, and this enhanced their life quality. After six months, about 80% of participants showed a significant decrease in depression and death fear due to cancer.
70% of participants reported this experience as a spiritually momentous lifetime event or a meaningful life experience. The traditional way of handling cancer patients’ psychotherapy including antidepressants and behavioral therapy takes months.
In some cases, it is not effective but the drugs used trigger addiction and side effects. Psilocybin therapy shows the potential to change mood and behavior but needs proper administration to reap the best results.
Therapeutic psychedelic research future in using psilocybin with psychiatry support holds massive potential to treat mental challenges and save lives across the globe.