by Abigail Mullen
According to Nature, a recent study at the Imperial College London shows promising results for those suffering from treatment-resistant depression. In their recent paper published in Scientific Report, Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris and his coworkers studied the effect of a compound found in magic mushrooms, psilocybin, on the brains of 19 patients.
In this study, the researchers used MRI scans to look at their brain function before and after receiving psilocybin. The study looked at how two important areas of the brain reacted to psilocybin; the amygdala, which is associated with how fear and anxiety are processed, became less active, and the default-mode network, a system connecting brain regions, became more stable. The result of the effects on these two areas produced fast-acting antidepressant effects. Larger studies need to be done before psilocybin will be accepted as a treatment for depression, but this new approach looks encouraging.
In future studies, this group hopes to perform long-term trials, as the only data currently available is from short-term trials. Increased exposure to this mushroom will provide more information on how it functions with the brain and its effects over a long period of time, as well as potential side effects or negative outcomes. However, so far it is hopeful that there will be a new drug to treat patients who are resistant to current therapies.