Need help dealing with depression?
Numerous depressed patients likened the treatment to having their brains "rebooted" or "reset".
LONDON-A hallucinogen found in magic mushrooms can "reset" the brains of people with untreatable depression, raising hopes of a future treatment, scans suggest.
Magic mushrooms contain psilocybin and its derivative psilocin - which have been classified as illegal Class A drugs in this country since 2006.
Comparison of images of patients' brains before and one day after they received the drug treatment revealed changes in brain activity that were associated with marked and lasting reductions in depressive symptoms. However, this remains a small study and had no "control" group of healthy people with whom to compare the brain scans.
While the sample size was limited, the scientists concluded that psilocybin is promising for treatment-resistant depression, especially when used to "reset" the brain, with blood flow back to state it was in prior to depression. Therefore, researchers have made a decision to see if these hallucinogens are really that good, so they started analyzing the effect of psilocybin on the brain. "Psilocybin may be giving these individuals the temporary kick-start they need to break out of their depressive states and these imaging results do tentatively support a reset analogy".
The participants were each given two doses of psilocybin at 10 mg and 25 mg respectively, with the second dose being given a week after the first. Then, they performed fMRI brain scans on them both before and after taking their doses. The scientists were looking to study brain response before and after ingestion, and during the "after-glow" of tripping that is characterized by mood improvement and stress relief.
A study on just 19 deeply depressed people undertaken by a team at Imperial College London discovered that psilocybin, the hallucinogenic ingredient in magic mushrooms appeared to cure depression for several weeks in more than 50 per cent of those tested.
Psilocybin also induced increased stability in another brain network previously linked to depression.
Despite their findings, researchers said people who suffer from depression should not self-medicate.