Back in the 1960s, drugs such as LSD and mescaline were entirely legal.
These psychedelic drugs were just part of the culture.
And there was tremendous excitement among psychiatrists and mental health counselors around these drugs.
They used them to help with depression and anxiety and heal trauma.
They even used it to treat alcoholism — quite successfully, too.
Then the government made all these drugs completely illegal.
Recently, there’s been a lot more excitement around these drugs because they could have applications in mental health.
Thanks to a general loosening up of laws that started with medical marijuana, there may be new options.
The new marijuana laws have resulted in a resurgence of research in the mental health benefits of these drugs.
Magic mushrooms may treat anxiety and depression.
In this research, the investigators used what are commonly called “magic mushrooms.”
These are pretty easily obtainable almost anywhere in the world these days.
Just a caution — many mushrooms look identical.
Don’t go gathering psychedelic mushrooms without knowing what you’re doing.
You can easily kill yourself by eating the wrong mushroom.
Now, besides the benefit of being easily available, there’s another benefit of these mushrooms.
The active ingredient in these mushrooms is thought to be psilocybin.
The effects of psilocybin last around five or six hours.
And it’s a lot more gentle and easier on the system than drugs such as LSD or mescaline.
If the laws follow the science, psilocybin could become a valuable anxiety and depression treatment.
Please do not take this article is advocating that you disobey the law.
I’m just reporting on the science, and I’m not telling you that you should go out and take these mushrooms.
I think that they have an extraordinary benefit — especially for people who are extremely depressed.
And the science shows that they help.
In this study, researchers chose cancer patients to take different drugs.
It was probably an ethical consideration — giving healthy patients hallucinogenic drugs may have been a concern.
And the cancer patients would benefit from the pain relief if nothing else.
Anyway, the researchers gave one group a high dose of psilocybin and another group received a low dose.
Then they followed these patients very closely.
These were very sick cancer patients who are going to die of cancer.
And a lot of them are very depressed.
When people have severe, life-threatening cancer, they usually have depression and anxiety as well.
And the depression and anxiety are often just as bad or worse than the effects of cancer.
This study was an attempt to see if these psychedelic or hallucinogenic mushrooms could actually lower depression and anxiety.
And the anxiety and depression lowering results were incredibly dramatic!
Large decreases in depressed mood and anxiety, along with increases in quality of life, life meaning, and optimism, and decreases in death anxiety.
But were the results lasting?
In fact, they were.
At 6-month follow-up, these changes were sustained, with about 80% of participants continuing to show clinically significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety.
Why does giving depressed or anxious patients hallucinogenic drugs lower their depression and anxiety?
It seems that what is especially key is experiencing a mystical moment.
These were especially important when first taking psilocybin.
People who took these drugs and had a mystical experience the first time were much more likely to have very high benefits over the long run.
They reaped the benefits of lower depression and lower anxiety.
In addition, another benefit of hallucinogenic drugs is that:
lifetime psilocybin use was associated with significantly reduced odds of past month psychological distress and suicidality.
It seems that people who would occasionally consume it have a much lower degree of anxiety, depression, and distress in general.
So now let’s talk a little bit about why these works so well.
These drugs are known to light up certain areas of the brain:
Psychedelics modulate neural circuits that have been implicated in mood and affective disorders, and can reduce the clinical symptoms of these disorders.
It seems to me that drug such as psilocybin and LSD are especially helpful for some people.
People who need a better way to look at the future in a positive and optimistic light can really benefit.
Taking these drugs will increase the chances that you will have some spiritual moments.
And these spiritual moments will help you face the future with more confidence, more surrender, less avoidance, and less suffering.
The neurobiology of psychedelic drugs: implications for the treatment of mood disorders