Toronto Institution Just Got Federal Money To Treat People With Magic Mushrooms

Psychedelics aren’t just for experimenting teens and mystical shamans anymore, as controlled drugs once considered dangerous and useless to medicine enter the mainstream of mental health.

Magic mushrooms—particularly their active ingredient psilocybin—are the latest fad in psychiatric medicine, researching the chemical component that breaks new barriers in helping individuals experiencing treatment-resistant depression.

The drug took another leap toward mainstream treatment on Wednesday when the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) announced it has received Canada’s first federal grant to study psilocybin’s effect on treatment-resistant depression.

In a manner of speaking, Justin Trudeau just paid a bunch of people to trip on mushrooms. But for science!

It sounds like a fun (or potentially terrifying) time for test subjects, but it’s not necessary, as the studies will examine whether the psychedelic “trip” associated with magic mushrooms is necessary to take advantage of its reported antidepressant effects.

The funds will cover a new clinical trial at CAMH entitled “A proof-of-concept randomized controlled trial to demonstrate that the antidepressant effects of psilocybin do not require psychedelic effects.”

CAMH will recruit 60 adults with treatment-resistant depression for three years, in which groups will take either a full dose of psilocybin plus a serotonin blocker that inhibits the psychedelic effect of the drug, a dose of psilocybin plus a placebo blocker, and a placebo dose of psilocybin with a true blocker.

“There is a growing interest and knowledge about the use of psychedelic drugs to treat mental illness and addiction,” said Dr. Ishrat Husain, chief of the CAMH Clinical Trials Unit and principal investigator of the new CAMH study.

“Previous clinical trials have reported large and sustained antidepressant effects of psilocybin in combination with intensive psychotherapy.”

“If this study shows that psilocybin is still effective in treating depression without inducing a psychedelic state, it could eliminate the time-consuming and costly need for psychological support during treatment.”

This is not the first CAMH study on the benefits of otherwise controlled substances, and the Center has participated in previous studies involving psilocybin and ketamine.

If you believe you qualify for a possible but not guaranteed scientific mushroom trip (only a proportion of subjects are expected to experience psychedelic effects), CAMH recommends that you contact your healthcare provider and seek a referral to the Center for further review.

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