About Psychedelics

Psychedelics like LSD and magic mushrooms could help treat mental health conditions say scientists

Research into how psychedelic drugs such as LSD and magic mushrooms can treat mental health conditions should be “resurrected”, according to a study authored by a former government chief drugs adviser, among others.

The scientists behind the study, which include former government chief drugs adviser, Professor David Nutt, said such psychedelics are an effective tool against a number of mental health conditions and that the war on drugs has led to “decades of global research paralysis”. Professor Nutt was sacked as chair of the advisory committee on the misuse of drugs in October 2009 over his view that ecstasy and LSD are less dangerous than alcohol.

The study published in the scientific journal, Cell, called for “the resurrection of research into the neuroscience and therapeutic application of psychedelics”. Psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin, the active compound in magic mushrooms, were the subject of extensive scientific research in the 1950s and 1960s but are now classified by the Home Office as ‘Schedule 1’, meaning they are deemed to have no medical value.

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The authors of the study said “depression and tobacco smoking trials have shown that in some people psilocybin can produce clinical remission”. They add that psychedelics are thought to produce such results by disrupting activity in the brain involved in habits of thought and behaviour. Such disruption is said to not only help individuals gain insights into their conditions but also provide a window of opportunity in the days that follow for them to engage better with psychotherapy. nn dmt

Professor Nutt cautioned against people self-medicating with psychedelics and said that the drugs were administered in the presence of therapists meaning participants in trials were prepared for the psychedelic trip. “Our depressed patients almost always have a very tough trip and we don’t think they’d be safe having a trip like that in the middle of a field or in their own bedroom without professional care,” he added.

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