The potential of psilocybin, the main active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms, in treating depression and anxiety has been on the radar lately. A recently published study has not only corroborated earlier findings but has also shown that psilocybin could provide a rapid-acting treatment solution for depression, with effects that last for up to two weeks.
The clinical trial was conducted from April 11th, 2019 to October 12th, 2021 at the psychiatric university hospital in Zürich, Switzerland. It was registered with clinicaltrials.gov (NCT03715127) and the results were published in eClinicalMedicine in December 2022.
Researchers conducted a double-blind placebo controlled study involving 52 participants suffering from major depressive disorder but with no underlying somatic condition. The participants received either a single moderate dose of psilocybin (0.215 mg/kg body weight) or placebo and both groups received psychological support. Changes were monitored for a period of 14 days from the day of the single administration.
Results favored the use of psilocybin in treating severe depression. Those in the psilocybin group had a greater reduction in symptom severity compared to the placebo group. Symptom reduction in the psilocybin group lasted for at least two weeks. There were no significant adverse effects reported in both groups showing that psilocybin at such a dose is safe and well tolerated by most people.
The researchers have recommended larger randomized trials with longer follow-ups to inform future direction in the treatment of severe depression. Interestingly, only one month ago we published the results of a similar study, which found that a single dose of psilocybin may relieve treatment-resistant depression.