A recent study has suggested that magic mushrooms may be a promising treatment option for depression in patients who have not otherwise responded to conventional medicine. Researchers from Imperial College London gave psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in mushrooms, to 12 clinically depressed people. After one week, all of them showed "a marked improvement in their symptoms."
"That is pretty remarkable in the context of currently available treatments," says Robin Carhart-Harris, a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London and first author of the latest study, which is published in The Lancet Psychiatry.
The equivalent remission rate for SSRIs is around 20%.
The study's authors are not suggesting that psilocybin should be a treatment of last resort for depressed patients. "Our conclusion is more sober than that—we are simply saying that this is doable," says Carhart-Harris. "We can give psilocybin to depressed patients, they can tolerate it, and it is safe. This gives us an initial impression of the effectiveness of the treatment."