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Mushrooms or Traditional Medicine for Treatment of Depression?

Psilocybin is a psychoactive ingredient found in magic mushrooms, which has been shown to be helpful in treating depression and many other mental illnesses. You can get them online at stores like shroom kingdom and experience the effects first hand.

However, what has been missing for some time is comparative research to see how well psilocybin therapy works compared to traditional methods. 

A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine provided only a few preliminary insights into this. Based on the study, I have summarized its goals and conclusions for you. 

The purpose of this study was to compare the efficacy of psilocybin and escitalopram in the treatment of depression. 

Escitalopram, often sold under the brand names Cipralex and Lexapro is an selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant. Many patients with depressive symptoms show signs of serotonin imbalance.  Serotonin is a very complex neurotransmitter that is naturally produced by the human body. 

We can write a whole series about this chemical, its role in the human body, and the research going on around it, but for now, it's important to know that serotonin is synthesized in the central nervous system and some of its functions include regulation of mood, appetite and sleep, as well as some cognitive functions such as memory and learning.

People with depression often exhibit lower than average serotonin levels, and medications such as escitalopram has been developed to help these patients regulate serotonin levels and relieve some of the symptoms of depression.

Sounds very useful, right? So where does psilocybin fit in, and what does it have to do with serotonin? When magic mushrooms are eaten, the psilocybin metastasizes to a sister chemical called psilocin. 

Once processed, psilocin is thought to stimulate serotonin receptors in the brain, effectively mimicking the body's natural serotonin. Under the supervision of a trained medical professional, psilocybin has been used as a natural alternative to medications designed to balance serotonin levels in the human body.

In other words, doctors are experimenting with mushrooms instead of medications to help regulate serotonin levels in depressed patients. It has been effective, but little research has been done so far to compare how effective it is with comparison to pharmaceuticals.

The study was involving patients with long-term moderate to severe depression. Psilocybin was compared with escitalopram for six weeks. Patients were assigned a 1:1 ratio and received comparative doses of the two drugs, depending on the group to which they were assigned. 

Finally, the patients were reassessed for their depressive symptoms to compare the effectiveness of the two treatment courses. Changes are measured by the Rapid Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology, Self-Report (QIDS-SR-16), and the difference in their scores on these reports before and after treatment.

In simple terms, people were scored according to the level of their depression, randomly divided into two groups, one was given a drug or the other without knowing what it was, and finally the results were studied. At the end of the test, their level of depression was reassessed.

Of the fifty-nine patients in the study, thirty received psilocybin and twenty-nine received escitalopram. QIDS-SR-16 is scored from zero to twenty-seven, with a higher number indicating a higher level of depression. 

At the end of the trial, patients in the psilocybin group saw an average decrease of 8 points in their QIDS-SR-16 scores, while patients in the Escitalopram group saw only a 6-point decrease in their scores. 

Although both treatments proved effective, it is worth noting that the psilocybin group saw an average thirty percent reduction in depression level compared to the escitalopram group.

In addition, secondary endpoints were studied, the work, social functioning, anxiety, and general health of patients in both groups were assessed. Similar patterns in favour of psilocybin were found in these trials. 

 

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