The Depression-Fighting Powers of 'Shrooms
A small study by a research team in London suggests that psilocybin, an hallucinogen found in magic mushrooms, can "reset" the brains of people with depression.
Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial College London, told the BBC News website that the psychedelic experience "reset" brains that had "clammed up" because of otherwise untreatable depression. "Patients were very ready to use this analogy," Carhart-Harris said. "Without any priming they would say, 'I've been reset, reborn, rebooted,' and one patient said his brain had been defragged [like a computer] and cleaned up."
According to the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, psilocybin worked on two areas of the brain: the amygdala - which aids in the process of emotions like anxiety and fear - became less active, while the "default-mode network" of various connected brain regions grew more stable under the hallucinogen's influence.
Professor Mitul Mehta of the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London told the BBC he was impressed by the fact that "brain changes occurred in the networks we know are involved in depression, after just a single dose of psilocybin." Despite the promising results of the study, the researchers stressed that people should not self-medicate for conditions like depression.